The general plan this year was for a circle of the Baltic Sea, taking in countries that were new to us in the van including the Baltic States, Finland and Sweden. As always, though, we had to start and end in Britain, because that’s where we store the van, on a farm in Dorset. After crossing the Channel from Dover to Calais on 1 June we took a dip into France, first to visit a cemetery in the Somme where lie the remains of Norma’s grand-uncle. We then moved swiftly through Belgium, Germany and Poland, making our first real tourist stop at Torun, in north central Poland. In Lithuania we visited a massive park with enormous statues cleared from all over the country after the end of the Soviet era. In the far north-east of Estonia, in the town of Narva, we gazed from the Castle Hermann over the river to Russia and the matching castle the other side. And so, finally along the Baltic Sea coast, to the wondrous city of Tallinn.
The ferry to Finland weaved its way through the myriad islands of the Helsinki archipelago on its way to the port. Helsinki was great, a lovely waterfront city. We enjoyed a tourist trip round the harbour and the nearby islands. From Turku we took a large ferry across the Baltic Sea towards Sweden, but stopped off on the Aland Islands. Yet another ferry, then, over to Sweden and to Stockholm. There were several other lovely places to see in southern Sweden, and we stopped by the water in several little harbours and ports. However, we had to keep moving by this time. We drove quite quickly across Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, all countries we know quite well, and crossed the Channel back to the UK in late August.