- Two amateur cyclists have planned to cycle between the capitals of Lithuania and Germany, illustrating the Lithuanian cyclist community’s determination to support Ukraine after the Russian full-scale invasion.
- After leaving Vilnius and crossing Suwalki – Olsztyn – Gdansk – Slupsk – Szczecin, in 6 days, we successfully reached Berlin and raised the Ukrainian flag near Brandenburg Gate. The total distance we did was 1211 km or ~200 km per day on average.
- We successfully raised the money fund of 2117,85 EUR that we transferred to NGO Blue/Yellow after the trip.
- Our idea was to draw attention to the fact that EU governments spend a tremendous amount of money paying for Russian oil&gas. We encouraged communities to act immediately, requesting to stop oil&gas imports and squeezing Kremlin’s core revenue streams.
- Bicycles were an excellent tool for demonstrating an alternative way to move that doesn’t require fossil fuels. With this also we wanted to emphasize the importance of switching to renewables.
It was February. I kept thinking about where I could go cycling from my hometown Vilnius this year. Previously, straight from my garage, I had gone to Greece, Latvia, and Poland. “Poland… why not extend this direction by reaching Germany…”. That’s how Berlin appeared on our horizon.
In the beginning, it was just another idea for cycling vacation week. But, after russia brutally invaded Ukraine, as for most Lithuanians, our all thoughts were about how we could help. Suddenly, we discovered a way to bring more meaning to our trip: “we could raise the money fund for Ukraine on the way and, with our example, demand EU governments to get rid of russian oil faster.”
Active preparation started two weeks before leaving. Before leaving, besides traditional route, logistics and accommodation planning, this time, we had to spread the message about our idea.
I spent most of the time organizing digital campaign stuff and promoting initiatives among the communities.
The plan was ambitious – to hit 1200 km in 6 days. Therefore most of the weekends were dedicated to physical preparation.
On 2022 April 29th morning, we finally put ourselves on the road. With excitement and joyfulness for most of the day, we cycled through Lithuania regions, while in the afternoon, we reached the Polish border.
We met Florian – a french guy living on a bicycle for two years already. He used to be a resident in Turkey. Later, he decided to escape 9 to 5 life and began to travel. He now was coming from Finland and heading to Krakow.
In the evening, we reached Suwalki successfully, as was planned initially.
The following day we kept riding on Polish soil. I used to travel here several times before. Therefore I knew small and calm village roads that are ideal for getting to know East Prussian heritage. We made a stop in Gizycko – a trendy summer tourist destination town known for the Masuria Lakes. Afterwards, we swung by to check Hilter’s bunker in Gierloz.
Olsztyn was the next planned checkpoint to stop. Lovely place to visit – the friendly atmosphere, cosy oldtown, tasty food. All you need after another piece of 200 km.
A segment from Olsztyn from Gdansk was a shorter one. And that was a good choice because we didn’t have pre-booked accommodation, which meant we needed more time to find a decent place.
Having a more extended evening, we spent time communicating our story to raise the money for Ukraine. Things started moving on, and the fund began to fill up eventually.
Honestly, I’ve never collected donations for similar purposes. It was a very new experience for both of us. Therefore we worried if we were going to succeed. However, this was the first evening when I thought, “perhaps it is feasible”.
Another day on the road. We started slowly riding through Tricity of Gdansk-Sopot-Gdynia along the coast. The bicycle roads here are incredible. Normally the sea coast zone is occupied heavily by summer tourists. However, the season had just started; we enjoyed less traffic.
I always wanted to visit the northernmost part of Poland – the Peninsula of Hel, but we had to skip it this time. After lunchtime, car traffic began to grow. We were short on time and decided not to risk it. However, we made an extra stop in Leba and dedicated an hour to sunbathing.
Today we did another 200 kilometres. In the evening, the first signs of tiredness came to us while sitting in the restaurant of Slupsk. This year we managed to plan an intense trip. Tomorrow should be even more…
Day five was the most challenging. Distance from Slupsk to Szczecin was supposed to be the longest over the whole trip. We left even before 7:00 AM.
Instead of going on Eurovelo 11, we modified the route and have chosen the main road connecting Slupsk, Koszalin and Szczecin. It was not so bad. The brand new highway was broad and had plenty of space for cyclists.
Perhaps not the most picturesque route, but it was cloudy and rainy all day. In such weather conditions, riding along the sea coast isn’t something you would enjoy.
After 10 hours of riding, we were in Szczecin. Traditional dinner, a couple of beers and sleep.
Compared to other days, this was “an easy walk”, only 165 kilometres. We started to believe – we were going to make it.
After an hour, we left Poland, entered Germany, and continued to cycle in Unteres Odertal National Park. Fantastic scenery and lovely bicycle roads. Germans know best how to utilize the riversides best for touristic purposes. It ended the minute we thought such a road would continue till Berlin.
The last 70 kilometres were not so much fun, but still acceptable. In the afternoon, we successfully reached the finish, and this was the end of our mission to cycle from Vilnius to Berlin in 6 days.
Thanks for reading “Bicycle tour from Vilnius to Berlin raising funds for Ukraine.”!