An Karelien interessiert? Englisch lesen fällt schwer? Es gibt auch eine deutsche Variante dieser Geschichte!

If we run out of bread, we eat cake...
(Old Karelian saying) / by and with Frank Brächter...


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We wanted to visit the
classical destinations of the
Russian Republic of Karelia...

But not in the usual way
with a river-cruise on a vessel...

We did it by bike!


Further information’s (Lots of links...)

With a little patience the extensive border procedures are not worth mentioning. We are waved through the car file by a customs officer to a small cabin. It will take some time...
We are in Russia! The road is unlike my imagination quite smooth! Why is the bench panel missing in every bus stop cabin we have passed?

The border at Värtsila!
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The border lies between the Finnish village Värtsila and the Russian city with same name and only she stops the ride for a short moment...
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The monastery on the island Valaam can be reached from Sortavala. The city seems not to be very interesting on first sight, so she is mostly lacking a second chance...
Proof: Bike and sign Sortavala
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Now and then there are people sitting on the roadside to sell berries. Is it worth the effort? The road is still well used, lots of cars with Finnish numberplates... The next adventure of daily life in travelling is coming up: Shopping!!! Shopping... How does a Russian shop look like? What do they offer? The shops are mostly quite insignificant, they are called Magazin written in Cyrillic blockletters or Produkti written in Cyrillic blockletters. They offer nearly everything.
Not far from Sortavala’s harbour there is a snack bar in a cabin, Karelian food is offered there... Delicious!!!
We meet a melancholic exile-Karelian there...

It takes not much time till we are heading towards Valaam in an chartered water taxi. The story of the exile-Karelian has an lasting effect. The quay is crowded, we are not arriving alone. Not everything was worn like this... We take a look at the surrounding till the other tourists are gone... The whole monastery is embedded in nature. Besides the monastery, small chapels can be found on the different islands belonging to Valaam. Epic walks are possible without meeting somebody else. With a little help by a Finnish tourist we can take a look inside one of the chapels... Thanks!

The monastery island

Fahr’  mit’m Finger nach!!!
Valaam is well visited, but there are plenty of quite places left. The monastery has seen better times in the past...
Valaam: Small chapel The official site of
The Valaam Monastery

Photo-gallery: Valaam
(Images of Karelia)
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At Suojärvi the A 131 and the
A 133 meet... The A 131 goes on in northern direction and the A 133 leads to Petrozavodsk...
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We are on the road again.
The more we ride towards east, the less foreign cars we see. Yes, we are in Russia! The surface gets rougher, maybe to rough for western coaches.

Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for dusty dirtroads... Nothing can wipe this stupid grin off my face...

Heading east we see a small wooden chapel on hill. Everything is still calm and quiet. But the increasing traffic and the tarmac surface are the signs, Old wooden chapel... that we are approaching Petrozavodsk, the capital of Karelia. The capital is well equipped: Two airports, one train station, one train station, one harbour for hydro foils and ferries and last but not least a university.
We are looking for a quiet place at the shore of the Lake Ladoga... Just as we had made our camp, we meet a "Black Metal-Band"... The place wasn't that remote... The surprise was on both sides. We were the highlight of their birthday-party...

The capital of the Russian Republic of Karelia

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It began with a great iron foundry and cannon factory established by Peter the Great. Catherine the Great gave the village it’s name...
As the capital of Karelia Petrozavodsk is now the centre of industry, culture and science...

Photo-gallery: Petrozavodsk
(Images of Karelia)
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Open air museum of
wooden architecture

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A must is Kizhi!
ensemble belongs to the UNESCO world heritage.
The rules of visiting and working-time of museum island Kizhi Church of the Transfiguration Kizhi open air museum
Photo-gallery: Kizhi
(Images of Karelia)
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Kizhi can reached from the harbour of Petrozavodsk by hydrofoil, just the trip on such a hydrofoil is amazing!

The open air museum Kizhi is outstanding!!!

Every building, no matter what, Farm building... is build without a single nail. Only wood has been used, the raw material of the north. Especially the Church of the Transfiguration is breathtaking with it's 22 domes...

There will never be enough time on a visit to Kizhi...

Our next camp was a real paradise, but only for the mosquitoes...
ThatI decided to go ahead on my own without breakfast, my left ankle had reached 1½ of the normal size due to mosquito-acupuncture.
I disliked being the breakfast...

Looking for a mosquito-free place I cycled a while in the fresh cool air and finally found a place to wait... But they didn't came...

No mosquitoes...! I went further to Medvezegorsk. Nothing...
The shore of Lake Onega offered a mosquito-free place just in reach of Medvezegorsk. I enjoy the evening without any buzzing sound!
The mosquitoes arrived in the morning...

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The well-used M 18 passes the dull industry town Medvezegorsk in north-south-direction. A bit of the M 18 can be avoided by using the A 132... Top Bottom

Spasskaja Guba
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Aiming south there is a decision to make, should I mix directly with the lorries or later? I decided for the second alternative! Maybe I change my mind about a visit to the waterfalls of Kivach... At Spasskaja Guba leads a unnamed road into the M 18, following the map this is a trespass to the A 131 north of Suojärvi...

Till Vohtozero I do not regret my decision, behind Vohtozero the road is just a double track. My curiosity awakes! Why should I go back? Terminus... Slowly but steady I go forward, until a bridge looks more or less like a gigantic play of mikado! The river is not fordable due the fragments of the bridge and the uneven ground. A Russian angler shows me a Russian map without use for me. My position is somehow north of the A 133, therefore I decide to ride as south as possible...

Right to nowhere

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A quite good dirtroad leads to Vohtozero, the map shows a connection to the M 131 north of Suojärvi... The map promised more... Top Bottom

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A small wooden chapel can be seen from far above Veskelys...
The A 133 runs through the place...
Déjà vu? Top Bottom

Some paths in southern direction have to be found. My map shows due to the scale none. But it seems to no problem, because there is wood cutting and transporting in process ... My suspicion confirms with the sight of brand-new wooden bridges, even the construction workers are still there... Why? Quite solid... The next bridge gives the answer, it is partly wrecked... As it withstands a test of its statics, I push and heave my fully loaden bike across the beams... In the evening I see a familiar chappel on a hill!
It's done! I know where I am!

Without any alternatives I have to use the same road to go back, some vista are worth a second try, Calm... some uphill's definitely not...
I remembered a sign with "Baari" on it and I wanted to take a closer look at it... The bar was gone... But I sat there with a cup of tea in my hand and a illustrated book covering the Sortavala area on my knee's and had an English conversation with a composer and his friends form Moscow! The building around the corner was also featured in the illustrated book and turned out to be a hotel. I got a room with supper and breakfast...
A brilliant end!

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The place Harlu accommodates a colony for artists, every cabin has its own piano... The attraction is a stone-wood-building from the Finnish past, it is now used as an hotel!
Hotel Top Bottom

This should be the end of the story...

To the horizon... I crossed the border to Finland on the next day and did a little cycling there...

But that's a different story!
Frank Brächter thanks for your attention!

Further information’s (Lots of links...)

And the others?

Their story: Go (North-) East - Radtour durch das russische Karelien 1999
Only available in German!

Where were they...? Later we found out, that we have missed each other in a classical way! They turned to early into a westerly direction and I moved to far into the north...

The other route...


An Karelien interessiert? Englisch lesen fällt schwer? Es gibt auch eine deutsche Variante dieser Geschichte!

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