First of three stages of our ExpeditionPlus! tour from St. Petersburg to Istanbul
Join us for 4 days in St. Petersburg before the start of this tour on our St. Petersburg Extension
Our 2007 ExpeditionPlus! from St. Petersburg to Istanbul begins with a seventeen-day stage. We gather in historic Saint Petersburg, built by Peter the Great in 1703 as a strategic outpost to defend his empire. The city was constructed on the Neva River where it could also serve as a port. By the end of the 18th century it developed into one of northern Europe's most regal cities. We will offer an optional three day extension in Saint Petersburg for those who wish to visit this wonderful city before pedaling west. After leaving St. Petersburg we will spend just over two weeks riding through historic regions and stopping to enjoy three rest days along the way. Cities we'll visit include Tallinn, Estonia, Kaliningrad, Russia and Warsaw, Poland.
Day 1: Gather in St Petersburg
Highlights:Most of us will meet in St. Petersburg a few days early to be tourists and see this wonderful city built by Italian architects beginning in the early 18th century. Our biking expedition starts today with an afternoon shuttle to Gatchina, a picturesque suburb located about 40 km. south and a little west of St. Petersburg. Once we've settled into our hotel, we will fit bikes and while some take a ride, others may want to visit the palace built by the lover of Catherine the Great (Prince Grigoriy Orlov). The palace is renowned for its park ensemble, including a number of the most perfect works of landscape art and numerous lakes with beautiful islands. In 1796, Gatchina received the official status of "city" and its own emblem, subsequently becoming the main residence of the Russian tsar. After exploring town we'll have dinner together tonight.
Day 2: A day of cycling in rural Russia
Highlights:We'll pedal from Gatchina to Kingisepp and then on to Ivangorod. Anyone wanting to shuttle the busy road into Ivangorod will have that option (last year just about everyone pedaled this section). Distance: 124 km (77 miles).
Day 3: Ride from Ivangorod to Toila, Estonia
Highlights:We pedal today from Ivangorod to Toila, Estonia, a 70 km ride. Our hotel tonight is west of Sillamae, a fascinating, planned Soviet industrial town. Distance: 69 km (43 miles).
Day 4: Pedal to Palmse in Lahemaa National Park
Highlights:We parallel the E20 European highway today and we may have to take it for brief portions as we wind our way to our destination this evening. Our hotel tonight is located in Lahemaa National Park. Distance: 113 km (70 miles).
Day 5: Pedal Palmse to Tallinn through Estonia's Lahemaa national park
Highlights:We'll depart early today so we can take time to enjoy our ride and the views of this spectacular natural area. This evening we are in Tallinn, the capitol of Estonia. Estimated distance: 92 km (57 miles).
Day 6: Tallinn layover day
Highlights:We'll have all day to explore Tallinn. We begin with a brief orientation walk together to explore the city; then you are on your own to relax and enjoy this wonderful "Hansa" town. Tallinn's old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Day 7: Ride Tallinn to Haapsalu
Highlights:Did you get enough sleep? We'll be pedaling through Estonia during mid-summer nights and the longest days of the year. Since we're north of 59 degrees north latitude the sun doesn't set on the solstice until almost 11 p.m.! If you get up with the sun you'll rise this morning at 4 a.m. Estimated distance: 137 km (85 miles).
Day 8: Haapsalu to Hiiumaa & Saaremaa Islands
Highlights:We take two ferries and pedal about 120 km (75 miles) as we ride towards the coast where we can jump on our ferry tomorrow for Latvia.
Day 9: Ferry from Saaremaa Island, Estonia to Ventspils, Latvia and on towards Liepaja
Highlights:We take a mid-morning ferry today to Ventspils, Latvia. From Ventspils we pedal south along the coast towards Liepaja. From Estonia to Klaipeda, Lithuania, our destination tomorrow, it is 195 km (120 miles). We'll cover that today and tomorrow, but exact mileage for each day depends on how far we get today and where our hotel is.
Day 10: Pedal to Klaipeda
Highlights:Our ride today takes us on to Klaipeda where we spend the night. Take time to explore the timber-frame architecture in Klaipeda, a part of its German heritage. The town is also a major port and has the bustling busy feeling associated with a port. Jurkane-Klaipeda 168 km.
Day 11: Klaipeda, Lithuania to Nida, Lithuania
Highlights:Our short ride today takes us from Klaipeda towards the Curonian Spit, a "World Heritage Landscape in Danger" formed of a sand spit enclosing the Curonian Lagoon. This spit is 98 km long and between .4 and 4 km wide. Klaipeda-Nida 47 km.
Day 12: Nida, Lithuania to Kaliningrad, Russia
Highlights:This is a day to explore the unusual former Soviet exclave of Kaliningrad. Kaliningrad (Königsberg) was the capitol of East Prussia which was separated from the rest of Germany after World War I when the German territory formerly belonging to Poland was given back to Poland. After World War II the former German territory of East Prussia was made a permanent part of the Soviet Union. Are you confused yet? Today Kaliningrad is an exclave of Russia, at least we think it is.
Day 13: Kaliningrad, Russia to Olsztyn, Poland
Highlights:We pedal south and east today into Poland. Our destination is Olsztyn with its wonderful 14th century Gothic castle, rebuilt often over the centuries. Today and tomorrow we are in Poland's "Lake District", an area heavily glaciated in the last glacial period and similar to Minnesota with its 10,000 lakes. Distance: 122 km (76 miles).
Day 14: Olsztyn to Pultusk, Poland
Highlights:We'll be in Pultusk tonight, on the banks of the Narew River. The Narew is a tributary of the Bug River. Together they flow into the Vistula, Poland's principal river. Pultusk has a curiously large town square, the result of two squares combined in the 14th and 15th centuries. Distance: 152 km (94 miles).
Day 15: Pultusk to Warsaw, Poland; Beginning of Stage 2
Highlights:Stage 1 cyclists will arrive in Warsaw, located on the bank of the Vistula River, by mid-afternoon today. Stage 2 riders should plan on arriving today and meeting the cyclists as they roll into town. Later this evening, we'll enjoy a final/welcome dinner this evening to celebrate the end of the riding portion of Stage 1 of the Expedition (though it won't end until day after tomorrow). We will also welcome those joining Stage 2 of the journey which begins today. Distance: 70 km (43 miles).
Day 16: Explore Warsaw
Highlights:This morning we'll have a short orientation walk of Warsaw and then you are free to go off on your own and enjoy all of the sightseeing opportunities this city has to offer. Warsaw is on the UNESCO World Heritage list as well. Here is their description: "During the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944, more than 85% of Warsaw's historic centre was destroyed by Nazi troops. After the war, a five-year reconstruction campaign by its citizens resulted in today's meticulous restoration of the Old Town, with its churches, palaces and market-place. It is an outstanding example of a near-total reconstruction of a span of history covering the 13th to the 20th century."
Day 17: Pedal Warsaw to Kazimierz nad Wisla; End of Stage 1
Highlights:We say goodbye to anyone leaving the Expedition today while the rest of us head off to Kazimierz nad Wisla (Kazimierz on the Vistula). Indeed, we follow the Vistula most of the way to this historic village, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Distance: 135 km (84 miles).
HighlightsBicycling Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, Saint Petersburg, Russia, Kalinigrad, Russia, Lahemaa National Park and Hiiumaa & Saaremaa Islands, Tallinn, Estonia, Warsaw, Poland
Includes17 days, 16 nights accommodation, 16 breakfasts, 11 dinners; group shuttle to Gatchina from Saint Petersburg; guided walk in Tallinn and Warsaw; 3 rest days
CountriesEstonia, Latvia, Poland, Russia
Begin/EndSaint Petersburg, Russia / Warsaw, Poland
Arrive/DepartSaint Petersburg, Russia / Warsaw, Poland
Total DistanceAbout 1,314 km (817 miles)
Daily Distance70 - 152 km (43 - 94 miles)
What to ExpectMostly flat riding with some headwinds possible
Click on the "pins" for details about each day's highlights.
San Jose, CA