Silja Goes Cycling – First Days

Part 3 of Silja’s first bicycle journey across Europe.

Silja Pelago Saimaa

After swinging back and forth in a ferry for 11 hours, I finally found myself in Stockholm. The easy part of the travel was now behind. From the harbour I went straight to Gamla Stans Cykel, where Martin kindly helped me disassemble the bike so it could be taken on a train. He started telling me to do it myself, but then all of a sudden the bike was in parts and in a box. So fast I didn’t even have time to film it.

Next morning I headed to the train station with a massive bike box and an ikeabag filled with stuff. With the help of my friend Kevin we managed to get the box and bags into the train. There was no way I could’ve done it all by myself, and as the train took off I already started worrying about switching to another one in Malmö. Luckily people tend to get helpful when they see a small girl with a huge box and a heavy bag on her shoulder. With the help of many strangers, I got to Copenhagen and finally to Pedal & Co., where the bike was put back together.

Copenhagen is one of my favorite cities, and being hosted there by a friend (Tuuli) is the best you can have. We had a real commune since two of my good friends were also visiting at the same time. We slept long, cruised around the city, visited different skateparks and ate cheap but well. Copenhagen is definitely a bike-city, one that inspired me for this trip. I enjoyed my time there so much that I almost forgot about my bike trip, and stayed in the city for a few days more than planned.

On Sunday evening the sadness of leaving creped up on me again. This time it was for REAL, I would be alone from now on. My friends comforted me and cheered me up, and by monday morning the worries had disappeared and excitement taken it’s place. After packing my bags and watching the newest episode of Game of Thrones, I was finally ready to hit the road. With shaking hands I drove away from the city. My padded bikingpants made my Brooks saddle more comfortable than ever, but the bike was harder to steer as it was heavier than what I was used to.


As I finally made my way out of the trafficklights of the city, I started making progress. I didn’t have a plan for the first day, I just thought I would see where I end up, and cycle for as long as I have power to continue. I made the stupidest mistake of leaving my handlebar bag open, and dropping my phone on the ground, thus shattering the screen. Neither i stopped to eat at a city I passed and ended up riding 35 km more in search for food. At the end of the first day I had cycled about 80 kilometres, over 30 more than what I thought I would. Almost half of the day I had a strong wind blowing against me. The memory of paddings in my bikingpants had disappeared, and my butt was hurting like hell. When I finally reached a city that had restaurants, I was so tired that I almost fell asleep on a pizzerias table. Putting up a tent didn’t feel like a good idea since a storm was rising and I was super tired. Luckily I managed to find a bed & breakfast place near the small city of Faxe, and even got the price hackled down by 300 krones.

Next day I had clearly got the hang of it. In the morning it rained and I made slow progress, but after lunch I felt like I had gained superpowers. I joked with one restaurant’s waiter about getting to Rodby by the evening. It was 1pm and Rodby was over 80 kilometres away. But what do you know, my legs just rolled like they had done it all their life. I sang alot, talked to my self and made funny notions about buildings and people that I passed by. Evening came and I was suddenly in a small village next to Rodby, where I was to spend the next night. It was the first time I used (a community for travelling bicyclists) in order to find accommodation. I was hosted by a lovely couple, who had a messy house in the middle of the coutryside, and a household full of animals: 2 dogs, 5 cats and a nosebear.

The superpowers that had pushed me to cycle 105 kilometres in one day, were gone the next. My legs were stiff, neck was hurting and I was on the edge all the time. It took me twice as long to get to the ferry than I thought it would, and once I crossed the border to Germany, I was already frustrated about how late it was and how I was getting nowhere. I couldn’t find a good cycling map, nor a place to eat at, so I ended up stuffing myself too full at McDonalds, then regretting it straight after. I had cycled for about half an hour when I noticed my gorillapod was gone. Also, everytime I took my jacket off, it started raining, and when I put it back on, it stopped. I continued cycling, trying (and failing) to swallow the tears of frustration.


For some reason I had already developed a strict goal / amount of kilometres that I had to reach in one day. I don’t know where this subconscious thought came from, because the whole meaning of this journey was to make progress in my own pace, without hurrying. After realizing this, I let go of the plan of getting to Lubeck the same day, and started enjoying the bikeride again. It was getting late and I was running out of fuel, when I stopped to take a break next to a small river. The shitty map I had didn’t have any signs of campinggrounds, and my phone was running out of battery. I thought I would just try to find a forest to camp in, and continued cycling. 10 metres after, a trafficsign that had a poster taped into it caught my eye. I had to turn back to read it properly. “Bike-travellers welcome! Water, service, shower, room.” the sign said. I followed its directions to a small farm, where I was welcomed by a smiling family who run the farm, host travellers and teach kundalini yoga.

The universe definitely has it’s ways. The family asked me to join them for a dinner, and I got to sleep in a small cottage outside their yard. At night a storm arose, and as I watched the thunder and lightnings from my little porch, I was very happy I wasn’t sleeping in a tent. This morning at the breakfasttable my host Helge asked me for help: they needed a video to advertise their business. In return he offered me free food and accommodation for another day. I decided to stay here and return the favor. To give back, and also to remind myself, than I’m in no hurry.



This is Silja’s first proper long journey on a bike that will go for over 2500 km. Follow her on Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter for updates. Until next time.

Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.