Well, we’re leaving for our summer holiday tomorrow morning. I guess I am long overdue for updating you on our lives.

School finally finished on June 31st. The last week the kids went swimming in the mornings and had really relaxing afternoons. It made for some very slow days for us. Then we spent the last week preparing Narnia for next year. There is SO much work that goes into the school, mostly because rooms have to be transformed into classrooms or made from scratch. I didn’t mention this in my last post about differences between Slovakia and America but here’s a big one: Paint. If you touch a wall, a little bit of paint comes off. It’s like chalk. So if you repeatedly rub up against a wall, you will expose the layer under the paint.  So when I had to paint at school, I wasn’t really that surprised when they said that we had to pour equal amounts of water into the paint.

Last weekend two of my sorority sisters came to visit! Kjersten is studying in Spain for the summer and Melissa has an internship in London. They got in late Thursday night and on friday they explored the city downtown and went to the museum while Burke and I were at work. Saturday we went to Strečno castle. It was pretty cute except that on the way back we discovered that the alleged 20:24 train doesn’t exist. So we had to take a taxi through the low tatras and when you combine taxis+mountain roads+Slovak driving… yikes I wasn’t the only one with an upset stomach. The girls left early the next morning, but we squeezed a lot in during the visit. Kjersten has already posted a blog about it with much more details and pictures so you should check that out. I stole this one though:)

Credit to Kjersten

Credit to Kjersten

Yesterday there was a little unexpected incident. It shouldn’t inhibit our trip much, but I was laying on the bed and my hair was loose, enticing Niči to swat at it. No big deal when I had long hair, but now that my hair is close to my face it was a bit more dangerous and when he pawed at it, he missed a little bit scratching my eye and just piercing my eyelid. I went to the doctor right away and she said I she didn’t think I would need any stitches and should be fine with some drops, but I spent the rest of the day with a patch on my eye. Arrrg.

So now that we are on the brink of leaving, we have been busily preparing our apartment, our bikes and ourselves for this trip. We are still hoping to get two packages yet today or else we’ll have to buy a few more things or go without. Anyway, here are the long awaited details of our trip!

We will take the train to Bratislava and then fly to Stockholm. We’re flying Ryanair, which keeps its prices low by using airports way outside of the city. So we will spend the first day riding to the Swedish capital and then spend a day or two there before taking a ferry to Finland. We’ll arrive in Turku and spend one night there and then immediately leave the next morning for a long ride to Helsinki where we’ll spend another day or two. (I used to LOVE the band Architecture in Helsinki, so I am excited about this) Then we’ll take another ferry to Tallinn, Estonia and the bicycle trip will really begin. We’ll follow the coast of the Baltic Sea through Estonia and halfway into Latvia to the capital Riga. Then we’ll cut across to Liepaja and ride the coast across the border into Lithuania to Klaipeda. Then we’ll cut back inland and go around Kalliningrad (We would have loved to go through, but visas were an expensive pain so Russia will have to be another trip altogether). We’ll go into Poland and depending on how long our trip has taken us so far, we’ll either catch the train at Suwalki or continue on to Warsaw and get the train there, or maybe ride all the way home.

The plan is to ride about 100 kilometers (60 miles) a day and stop every three days and rest for the entire day. Our bicycles are official touring bikes and are outfitted with four panniers each. In our bags we’ll have everything from a tent, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, extra clothes, camping stove, waterproof pants and jackets, first aid kid, bike repair tools, food, pepper spray, etc. You wouldn’t believe how much effort goes into getting all this stuff together, but extra thanks to our parents who have helped by sending some things from the US to us here:).

If you are the praying type, we would love for you to pray for us and our trip. There are a lot of variables going into this but we are mostly concerned with safety and health. We will be doing a daily devotional in the morning and working our way through different stories in the Bible as we go. We are hoping that this will bring us closer still to our Lord and Creator, without whom certainly none of this would be possible.