Baltic Sea Circle 2017 was an unforgettable experience. In June and July our team of five friends from the Stuttgart area, #170 Team Knut, drove nearly 10,000 km around the Baltic Sea. We often drove for hours without seeing another human being but were frequently accompanied by numerous reindeer, elk and deer. On other days we encountered one highlight after another, which meant that we brought a total of 6,000 photos and hours and hours of video back with us.
Here are some of the details of our trip:
We had a little time for sleep. Having to cover a distance of at least 600 km a day (often on roads riddled with potholes) and having to ensure our basic needs were just about met meant that there was very little time for anything else. At the start we laughed about statements such as ‘participants soon become as scruffy as the countries they are driving through’. But in Russia, our experiences of wild camping in sub-zero temperatures and going for days without a shower meant that we soon understood what they meant. Living in such close quarters was something we had to “take on the nose”, quite literally.
But this did have its advantages. When we were crossing into Russia, the customs official inspecting the roof box full of wet walking boots was noticeably put off by the smell. And when he opened the boot to find dirty crockery (from our last meal of whale), he couldn’t stand it any longer and waved us through the border control.
Despite the conditions not being entirely relaxing, our enthusiasm for the rally never waned. From having to cross several different terrains and climate zones in one day, waking up on a pure white sandy beach, hiking to the real North Cape in a completely exhausted state or suddenly finding an elk ‘in the car’, each of us has our own unforgettable highlight of the trip. We didn’t do too badly in terms of culinary experiences either. Our diet of fast food and petrol station snacks was enriched by steaks fresh from the grill in Sweden, Russian specialities in the Soviet Café and our midnight snack of whale and stew at the North Cape. We were sometimes really in need of these, such as when our patched tyres failed to hold in a remote area of Russia or when one of us was flat out on the back seat with a fever.
We were extremely impressed by the hospitality of the Russian people. When we found ourselves standing disorientated in a backyard, feeling slightly queasy, a Murmansk couple came to our rescue. Despite language barriers, they spent what seemed like hours on the phone and then accompanied us halfway across town, just to get us to our destination.
We were also completely bowled over by our Pajero. Loyal and unfailing, aside from small things such as the broken dipped headlights, it carried us over the often gruelling terrain. The MANN-FILTER products we had fitted (thank you again!) also played a valuable part in this. Thank you Pajero!
And thank you to everyone who made this amazing adventure possible in the first place – our families, friends and of course all the donors and sponsors are quite simply the best!
For more info, see: teamknut.com/blog