Travel Madness

It seems that whenever I return from Finland to Germany, my internet decides to call it quits… This happened once again last month, when I was returning to Germany; my internet was out of order for 2 weeks!  Then I had a 10 day trip to Northern Italy, returned briefly to Germany for 2ish days and last Friday flew back to Finland for my summer holidays and dear Afri 🙂 

She’s been having a wonderful time being here, as my Mom has been spoiling her a bit!

 

As I had previously mentioned, this post would be about our return trip to Finland, which kind of was a disaster!

*Pre-warning to those travelling with the CNL (City Night Line)-train of the Deutsche Bahn: pet owners are required to reserve and buy their own compartment in the night trains! These can be anything from 50 e up to over 129 e (the latter happened in our case…), so it is a good idea to reserve it on time to avoid unexpected surprises.*

 

As you may have probably guessed from the above statement, we ended up paying a rather large extra sum for our train… And this train was also in the end 2 h late, almost jeopardizing our ferry. Recently there has been a lot of problems with the trains of the DB; they are either veryvery late or then just get cancelled. I am not entirely sure why the situation is such, but I encourage anyone travelling with or without pets in Germany to really keep an eye on them. 

We did get a replacement train from Copenhagen to Stockholm, but because the first one was so late, we did not make our shuttle bus for the ferry and instead had to take a taxi to the harbor. 

 

*Quick Tip for Swedish Taxis*

One thing I have learned from travelling in Sweden is that taxi drivers can pretty much decide ANY price on their services! (Once upon a time I ended up paying 60ish e for a 10 minute taxi ride. For approximately the same amount of time, I now paid a little over 10 e) And these prices can be extremely high, higher than the typical Scandinavian taxi prices (which are already quite high to begin with). So always check the starting price and ask for an estimation to your next destination to avoid getting ripped off. The Tourist infos are always great places to ask for advice on reliable companies, they usually know their stuff. 

Our ferry was once more Viking Line, as it is very reliable and in my opinion the most pet friendly out of the other ferries travelling the Baltic Sea. Once again, we were not dissapointed!

 

Africa was showered with attention and she was loving it 🙂 We were actually rather surprised by the amount of Hovvy people on the ferry! It’s funny how in Germany (which is the Hovawart’s land of origin) Afri is constantly mistaken for another breed, but in Scandinavia people tend to recognize the Hovawart. Great to see that 🙂

Another thing I learned on this trip was to ALWAYS reserve a cabin for overnight trips. I thought since it’s *only* a 10 h ferry ride, we’d be fine without one, because we were going to be in Turku very early in the morning.

Big mistake! Thankfully I had Afri guarding my stuff, but it was veryvery uncomfortable being on the floor. Needless to say, never again!

From Turku we took a train to Helsinki, which was comfortable. We were both very tired as we arrived home, however my journey wasn’t entirely over as I had to fly back to Germany the very next day 😀

 

 

 

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Be Sure to Always Check Your Tickets

Yesterday I booked our ferry tickets to Stockholm. We will be arriving in Heidelberg a little earlier as I had made a bit of a mistake with the date on the train ticket… Nothing dramatic, I had just booked it 1 day earlier than planned. So now I booked the ship also a day earlier.  

Thankfully I checked, it would’ve been oh so uncool to arrive on Thursday morning in Stockholm, realize our train isn’t there and then discover that it left the day before… So, always remember to check ticket dates very carefully!

Today I bought Afri some stuff from the petstore; 2 leashes (I really don’t like her current one. It’s very heavy and chunky.), 3 new toys and a sort of “grooming kit”. Medium thin leather leashes are my favorite because they are very comfortable in your hand plus durable. Afri needs to desperately have her nails clipped before the trip, as at the moment she has these killer talons. 

Her stomach has calmed down again, I’m really hoping it wont start acting up again before or during the trip.

 

 

A Slight Change of Plans

Ok, so first of all, the train tickets have been bought! They arrived on Wednesday and I booked them on Sunday. Pretty good for Deutsche Bahn especially since they came to Finland. It just has my train ticket because DB doesn’t allow pet tickets to be bought in advance. Hopefully sometime in the future they will do something about it. 

 

So then the title… Well, I mentioned that our plan was to go with the ferry from Helsinki to Travemünde. Unfortunately we had to change it because the price would have been RIDICULOUS for a oneway trip. So then I looked at the Baltics option again and did some proper research.

If we would’ve gone via the Baltics, it would have taken approximately a week because they don’t have trainlines connecting the countries directly. Busses do go, but they do not sadly allow dogs on a lot of them, especially big dogs like Afri. I did try to see if DB had a suggestion, but their suggestion was going either via Belarus or Russia, meaning extra Visa costs and a lot of extra hours. Russia seems to possess a fairly good railway system, in the sense that they have trains that go to almost all of the Baltic countries. 

There has been talk about building a connecting railway system for the Baltics, and hopefully it’ll happen in the next few years. Fingers crossed!

So now, the solution to our little problem? Going the other way! As in, via Sweden and Denmark.

 

We’ll be taking the ferry to Stockholm and go with various trains to Heidelberg. It’ll be one long train ride, 18ish hours which includes the time needed for changing. We’ll be travelling with Viking Line which is my favorite ferry company anyway and highly recommendable! Pets are only about 15ish euros, so it’s a great deal! With  Finnlines a pet is 96 e, so that’s quite a big difference. 

For trains going through Europe, I recommend checking out Deutsche Bahn. Even if you don’t want to buy from them, they can still give  you pretty good ideas regarding train transportation all around Europe! 

Afri’s stomach has been acting up a bit this week, it could be potentially nerves because she has a bit of a stress stomach and is probably sensing that something “big” is about to happen. 

Tomorrow I’m going to go an buy myself a new suitcase which I told myself I would do in the beginning of this year. I’m stuck between 2 choices, can’t decide which one I like more!

 

 

A Trip to the “Vettist”

 Yesterday evening Afri went to the vet to have all the needed vaccinations done plus a small checkup to make sure everything is ok. Afri got a Duramune shot as well as one for rabies.

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“Who could I bark at today?”

 

 

The vaccinations were marked into her pet passport, her microchip was also checked and we are pretty much ready for take off! Afri had no problems whatsoever with the vet, only the microchip reading device made her slightly nervous as it made weird sounds.                    

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“These vet visits are oh so tiring!”

The vet also checked her teeth, gums, heartbeat and ears and all was good 🙂 So we can check off vet visit from our checklist! 

Planning

As a bit of a pre-warning, this is one very looong entry!

In almost exactly 1 month Afri’s journey to Germany will begin! Initially I thought we would be flying from Helsinki to Frankfurt, but was left a bit unsure of it since she would have to travel in the cargo department and be all alone surrounded by strange noises etc. Plus she would have to travel in her own doggy box.

One can probably imagine how HUUUGE that box must be as she is a Hovawart and weighs approx. 33 kg… Taking the box, Afri, and luggage on the train by myself would basically be mission impossible. I could take a taxi from Frankfurt to Heidelberg, but that would cost most likely at least another 200 e.

So what to do?

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Afri in Estonia 2009

When we lived in Estonia, travelling  between Helsinki and Tartu was very easy with a dog. A ferry goes directly from Estonia to Finland and pets are allowed on board.

Perhaps we could take the ferry to Estonia first and then via train travel through the Baltics to Germany? Sadly it would take AGES! This is why:

  1. Ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn
  2. Bus from Tallinn to Tartu
  3. Tartu to Riga, Latvia
  4. Riga to Vilnius/Kaunas, Lithuania
  5. Vilnius/Kaunas to Warsaw, Poland
  6. Warsaw to Berlin
  7. Berlin to Heidelberg

There would be A LOT of changes and the trip would take close to 3 days when travelling nonstop. I tried to see if  Deutsche Bahn had a good travel plan idea from Vilnius or Tallinn, but their routes would have gone either through Russia or Belarus. Now these are both countries I would absolutely love to visit, but you need a Visa :/ And getting a Visa for just passing through is expensive.

Then I remembered that  Finnlines has a ferry going between Finland and Germany. There was our solution!

The ferry would take us to Travemünde, the very north of Germany close to Lübeck. We would then take a train from there down to southern Germany. Perfection!

The journey will be long;  27 hours on the ship, another 6 on the train. But I think it shouldn’t be a problem since we both have a lot of experience on travelling in ships. Also the ferry should be rather comfortable as well as the German trains.

This evening Afri is going to the vet for a pre-trip checkup and all the needed vaccinations + documents. Fingers crossed everything goes well 🙂