Captain Fawcett's Great Expedition Leg Two - Part Two
5 am. It takes a lot to get an old man excited, however the new and unknown is a sure fire winner. Today I venture to a country I have never visited before, Estonia & the Via Baltica await. Onwards!
DAY 15 - TALLIN, ESTONIA
The boat for Tallinn! Impending chaos looms thanks to the Youth Song and Dance Celebration. At last! An opportunity to show off my Morris Dancing skills, gleaned from a short-lived membership of the Terrington St Clement Folk Society!
Battling through biblical storms, finally made it to meet Peter & Noa, whom I’d met at several Barber Connects, at their Nope Barbershop. Great guys! Alas, our attempt to visit the Dance Festival was in vain, for with the streets were rammed with cavorting crowds we were unable to get anywhere close. What a pity. I now felt rather silly wearing my brightly coloured ribbons and anklet bells. Hey Ho.
Consoled by top grub at a splendid traditional Estonian restaurant. And then it hammered down. Later, I remarked on the dreadful weather to the von Stackelberg Hotel receptionist. “It’s always like this here,” she retorted. Balls, thought I, for despite wishing to drop a few kilos, I’m loathe to shrink in the rain.
Half way round the trip. 213 kilometres from the Russian Border. Tally ho!
DAY 16 - TARTU, ESTONIA
Before leaving Tallinn I met Maiga & Mihke, owners of Kuninghabe (Kings Beard) and the Captain’s esteemed Estonian & Latvian distributors. Lovely, cheerful couple! And so to the prestigious I.L.U shop in Ülemiste Shopping Centre and Kaubamajailumaailm Beauty World in the Viru Shopping Centre. Hugely pleased to see Captain Fawcett’s products beautifully displayed and in good company. A great job, well done!
We then visited the UNESCO 14th century Heritage Old Town. As a member of the Hanseatic League, over six centuries ago Tallinn had prosperous mercantile links with King’s Lynn. Trade helps the World go round, what ho?!
At a huge ‘King’s Feast’ at the Old Hanse restaurant I was presented with a delightful medieval style leather flask embossed with the CF logo. How lovely!
LATER THAT DAY…
As I left Tallinn it was once again bucketing down. When the rain stopped, the wind whipped up, every gust a side swiper. Exhausted by fighting the gale to keep the bike upright I could have easily pulled over and slept on the verge, for this was really dangerous. Bone-chilling rain set in. I eventually arrived in Tartu in need of coffee (I don’t drink coffee) and electrodes to my frozen nether parts. If only I knew where I’d stashed the Ball Wax…
Dried off at the delightful Heritage Antonius Hotel and jumped back on my bike to meet friends at the Khaled Barbershop in the Kvartall Shopping Centre. Egad! Their great shop is situated on the second floor! Negotiated the lift with Khaled’s help and rode through the Mall. Law abiding citizens watched open-mouthed! Unhealthy interest from security. Blagging it, we promised not to start the engine again ;}> and made it to the Barbershop riding through Lego & Crocs stores.
Greeted by Terje, shop manager & Khaled’s delightful wife, I settled down to cheese, grapes and biscuits. Lord, can I eat anymore?! ‘Beard Meets Food’ springs to mind! Khaled most generously tidies up my beard.
I talk with hairdresser Iryna, who shared a story of true horror, having recently escaped to Estonia fleeing the Russia/Ukraine war. My very best to her and her family.
Too full for dinner. Yet strangely found space for more ice cream at La Dolce Vita.
Then it started to rain. Thank You & Good Night.
DAY 17 - RIGA, LATVIA
Great breakfast at the Antonius Hotel, shared with fellow Bentley Driver Club member Rodney Twiss & his charming wife Regina. True eccentrics after my own heart. Hope to catch up at Goodwood!
The road calls and I’m bound for Riga. Another first for me. Let’s Ride!
In Riga it belted down. Pulled into burger bar to find my bearings. Joined by Wolfgang a KTM rider from southern Germany who’d kept pace with me on the road. We talked the TET (the Trans Euro Trail) a hazardous challenge best ridden in pairs. Not for me - these days I favour a hot bath and comfy bed, 200psi Egyptian cotton sheets are but a bonus.
Lovely Vita stood in the street to wave me into Kowarows Barber Shop where I was impressed by the black and gold decor, a beautiful luxurious interior! Recalled Dubai or similar oil rich state.
In treacherous Riga rush hour traffic, I headed to the old town, arriving unannounced at the Wood Religion Barber Shop. Edgar, the Harley riding owner, showed me round. Delighted to see a couple of Captain Fawcett Booze & Baccy products on the shelves. Huzzah! Wood Religion is the oldest Barbershop in Riga, fitted out like a Gentleman’s Club, as once found in St James. Edgar now has 7 Barbershops in Latvia including ‘Knockour’, catering for hip skateboard sports bar dudes. Popped down to take a look and I was made most welcome. Thank You!
By the time I’d checked in to the Hotel Kristofs, all the restaurants were closed. Balls! Having not eaten a sausage for some hours, I was famished. Resorted to Maccy D’s. May God help me for I ate of the mighty Cheeseburger & Fries swilled down with Fanta and it was good!
Off to bed for tomorrow I ride to Lithuania.
DAY 18 - VILNIUS, LITHUANIA
Truly excited about visiting the birthplace of so many of my work colleagues. It’s a 200 hundred mile ride so time is of the essence.
Arriving in Vilnius, I went straight to ‘Beardland Barbershop’. Politely declined a beard trim having had six such procedures in a matter of days. Opted for the Nose & Ear waxing instead. Good Lord! Truly painful! You know when you’ve been plucked! Great crew, great Barbershop.
Raced across town to the superb Shakespeare Boutique Hotel. Picked up by Gintaras & Simone who recently moved back to Lithuania after 14 years in King’s Lynn. Simone, now an MP’s aide, took me on a private tour of the Lithuanian Houses of Parliament. What a treat! After being presented with some lovely gifts, Gintaras and I went to a traditional restaurant, Berneliu Uzeiga, in the old town. Fantastic mushroom soup in a bowl made from bread!
Nearly 6pm and I still had two more appointments. Man, this was gonna be real tight!Arrived somewhat breathless at ‘The Lady Barber’. Refused the most generous offer of yet another Beard Trim (Jeez I’ll have none left) but had a great laugh with the gals. Pop by and say hello if you’re in Vilnius!
Last stop, my dear chum Elidijus at Elizaro Artele Barbershop. Met his delightful wife Zivile and Paulius his extraordinarily tall (or maybe I’m extraordinarily short) biker/barber brother. And Vadim, his chief Barber with a beard to die for! Lovely third generation shop run by a chap in the know! The heritage shines through. Took my leave via one little naughty ice cream. I slept. For tomorrow I invade Poland.
DAY 19 - OLSZTYN, POLAND
After a superb breakfast I ride to meet Captain Fawcett’s esteemed Lithuanian distributors Liutauras & Aiste at their ‘In Beauty’ HQ. Delighted to meet Professor Eugenijus Skertstonas, an author of no little repute! Eugenijus presents me with a signed copy of his book ‘Vyras ir Veidrodis’ (The Man & the Mirror), a treatise on Gentleman’s Style. Unbelievably it features Captain Fawcett products. Truly humbled! Also, a great interview with Urte from the prestigious Stilius (Style) magazine!
After a second breakfast of Tea & Pastries I head south west to Poland. Emerging from a thunderstorm into sunshine, I set course for the twisties to Olsztyn. Check into the Krzyne lake-side Hotel Przystan with its own private beach. Blimey! The restaurant is first class. I order a virgin Mojito, Pad Thai & Ice Cream. Knackered after riding nigh on 300 miles. In bed by 9.30. For tomorrow looms large.
DAY 20 - POZNAN, POLAND
Lovely lakeside breakfast! I ride out of town by the scenic route via Ostroda where I’m advised there is a famed patisserie. Unable to locate the Holy Cake I settled on a garage sausage and rode hard and fast over 220 miles to reach my dear friend Adam Szulc’s Barbershop by 5pm. Wowzer what a welcome!
Greeted by Adam’s whole family, all his Barbershop crew and more than 40 of his esteemed clientele including a number on motorcycles! Amazing! Union Jacks in abundance, a delightful home-made Polish pastries and pots of superbly brewed English Teas including Earl Grey. Simply splendid! Marcellina, the daughter and a girl in the know, had even taken the trouble to source ‘real’ non UHT milk. Thank you so much! First cup of tea in three weeks. Bliss!
Spoke with a huge number of interesting people including the owners of a cosmetic manufacturing company Pan Drwal who had travelled down from Gdańsk to say hello and had a strange conversation where I confused Warsaw with Walsall. Thank God I don’t drink anymore.
Signed a few tins of Captain Fawcett’s world renowned Hair Pomade and was presented with H-D goodies from the local HOG Chapter. Respect to all Brothers in the Wind.
Luckily just next door to my hotel was a restaurant - Dmuchawce. I settled for KLUCHY RECZNIE ROBIONE ZAPIEKANE Z BOCZKIEM, SZPINAKIEM W SMIETANIE which loosely translates as casserole-potato dumplings with bacon, cream and spinach. Huge! And most tasty!
Truly fantastic day! Huge thank you to everybody who contributed so much to it.
DAY 21 - BERLIN, GERMANY
After waffles at the Solei Boutique Hotel, back at Adam Szulc Barbers I discover, Adam’s dear wife Paulina has taken my washing home and returned it cleaned and pressed! The Szulc family rock! Make sure you grab a copy of Adam’s latest book (in English) ‘Barbering. A Complete Guide to Men's Haircuts’, currently a US Top Ten best-seller.
Quick beard line tidy up thanks to Nikodem. Then met renegade Chemical Engineer turned Barber, Tom at the Greaser Barbershop, inspired by 1950s US greaser culture, exemplified by Coppola’s movie ‘The Outsiders’. Stay Gold.
Berlin or Bust. Arrived hot and bothered and headed to ‘Beardy Boys’ Barbershop, recommended by Jaap the Captain’s Dutch distributor. No meeting had been planned, in truth, and the shop was closed so left some judiciously placed stickers and a business card. Chanced upon ‘Hokey Pokey’ the famed ice cream parlour reputed to be the best in Berlin. Treated myself to a triple Vanilla, Chocolate & Caramel tub, devoured still in my bike kit in the sweltering heat. Magnificent.
Arrived at the Honigmond Boutique Hotel looking like an unkempt Vagabond (which I suppose I am). No matter! For tomorrow is another day!
DAY 22 - EISENACH, GERMANY
Up early at 4.30am. No appointments and 2 days to reach Luxembourg. I program the twisties. Today should be fun.
I ride through the deserted Sunday morning streets of Berlin. I now get up at the time I would have once fallen into my pit. Having drunk & snorted enough for two lifetimes, I’ve been sober for the last seven years. I have no regrets and don’t miss the hangovers or wondering what the hell I said last night. My last drink was a glass of Malbec in the Malmaison in Manchester, November 5th 2016. Huzzah!
Famished and with cafés closed, I sat on a park bench and made a cheese sandwich with warm freshly baked bread. Met a fox cub in dire need of water. We shared a one way conversation. He/she viewed me cautiously but ran off when I reached for my camera. A truly wonderful encounter.
After a hair-raising ride, arrived at the delightful hill top Berg Hotel with stunning panoramic views over the Eisenach countryside. Calmed by a bowl of delicious cold Cucumber soup and Roast Duck, which my pal the Fox would love to have shared. Head to my pit knackered but with a broad smile. Today has been good!
DAY 23 - HELPERKNAPP, LUXEMBOURG
Shared breakfast (different plates ;}>) with Bruno the delightful Labradoodle who was masquerading as Wolfhound. Took a short walk up the hill to look at a huge tower called Burschenschaftsdenkmal. Try saying that with a mouthful of Wiener Schnitzel.
Rain threatened. I legged it to Luxembourg on the insanely fast moving auto route.
I was due to meet Natalie, daughter of my dear departed friend Angelica who had lived with my close friend Frank, who has also travelled on. We shared a delightful lunch. I was reintroduced to Milos, Natalie’s young son whose life still stretches before him.
I left and made for The Old School Barbers in Lintgen 3 miles away. Closed, as is usual on a Monday, so left Great Expedition Stickers & badges next door and I headed to the Temp d’or Hotel Vieux Chateau, my accommodation for the night. Wowzer! It’s a 12th century castle set in 500 acres of private forest! Just stunning! Superb, beautifully decorated rooms. I will be back. Joined briefly by my dear chum, Ashleen, whom I worked with many moons ago on a disaster movie called ‘Save Angel Hope’. I should say it wasn’t intended to be a disaster movie and some of the crew are yet to be paid! Meanwhile, the hotel conjured up a salad going to the trouble of creating a carrot Moustache. Marvellous!
DAY 24 - ANTWERP, BELGIUM
Wow, this must have been one of the quietest and most tranquil places I have ever laid my head. Surrounded by forest and deep valleys I could have stayed forever.
Headed North to Wemperhardt on the Luxembourg/Belgian border and I dropped into see Tom and the crew at the Old School Barbers in the Massen Shopping Center. Pushed my bike into the centre and right up to the shop where it was great to chat with Tom, himself a keen biker. We spoke of Bikes, Captain Fawcett, Bikes & Captain Fawcett & Bikes. A truly lovely, hugely popular store. Great decor and loyal clientele who travel miles for a great hair cut.
I took my leave and headed North. Country number 12. I’m on the home stretch now! No time for twisties, I ride fast through ever increasing amounts of traffic.
On the outskirts of Antwerp, tailed 4 orange clad police motorcyclists who cleared a path through the mad rush hour. A blast! Cars were pulling over both left and right to let this cavalcade of authority pass unhindered with yours truly tagging behind!
Eventually, riding in the wrong direction down one way streets and wildly off road through actual city parks - I arrived hot and bothered at the brilliant Baberazzi Barbershop. Phew was I glad to be here! After a couple of bottles of coke (once it would have been a couple of lines) I had regained my composure and had a great time catching up with Beng and his stylish barbers.
To cut a long story short, after absolute traffic hell, I arrived at Hotel Franq to find there was no parking. Rescued by a delightful cove who turned out to be none other than the resident Michelin starred Executive Chef Tim Meuleneire who on my behalf orchestrated a room upgrade! Just brilliant.
After washing and changing I went to thank Tim for his generous assistance, whereupon he suggested as the restaurant was quiet, would I care to eat there? Fantastic. My meal of Langoustine Soup followed by Lamb Cutlets was preceded and supplemented by an array of beautiful gourmand treasures. The Thai style Salad on a base of meringue was to die for! Went to bed delighted & replete. Thank you Tim.
DAY 25 - ZOOTBOMMEL, NETHERLANDS
Before leaving, met with Sandra, who used to work at Captain Fawcett before moving to Antwerp some years ago. A delight to meet her again after such a long time!
Headed to the lovely Chaplin’s Barbershop. After a lovely chinwag with Rinni, I left Antwerp and aimed for Hoogstraten, 25 miles north.
Excited to visit the totally bonkers biker & barber chick Karolina Uzaite aka Lady Barber Q. Dear Karolina had made a scrumptious Cheesecake and between us and a client we polished off half of it. A delight to be in Lady Barber Q’s hugely energetic and animated company, a Free Spirit! Long may she reign!
Other 25 miles on, I arrived at the picture postcard town of Zaltbommel. Stopping to take a photograph of a castle I was accosted by a young cove, who turned out to be Daniel, from MacLaine’s Barber Shop. Making use of his military career, he’d been sent out to find me in case I was lost in the field.
Bert. MacLaine’s proprietor, who was wearing a tartan kilt, greeted me with a host of bearded ne’er do wells including esteemed Captain Fawcett Ambassador Erik de Winter. A truly brilliant reception! The beers were flowing and Daniel went off in search of Herring!
Raw herring with onions & gherkin in a bread roll, known locally as a Broodge Haring, is a love/hate local delicacy. I love it. Spent a few hours in the delightfully Scottish themed shop. Bert is an honorary member of the Clan MacLaine and regularly visits his Edinburgh kinfolk to add to his kilt collection. What a man, what a Barbershop! Och Aye!
Saying ‘beannachd leat’ I left for a Bed and Breakfast, welcomed by Marjolein to an old thatched ferryman’s cottage in the nearby village of Alem. Went to Bert’s for dinner, his home is on the banks of the huge River Waal, a major shipping channel. You could idle the day away watching ships pass peacefully by. Bert’s delightful wife Elise had prepared a most excellent barbecue - two Barber Q’s in one day! We ate homemade pizza followed by Beef Steak & Lamb & Apricot kebabs. Superb. Did I mention the local Ice Cream?! What a splendid evening. Having been driven back to my B&B by Guus, another kilt wearing barber, I fell into sleep. What a truly fantastic day. Thankyou to everyone!
DAY 26 NETHERLANDS TO NORFOLK
I awoke early, said goodbye to mine B&B host and packed up the bike for the last time on Leg 2. Headed to Utrecht to meet my old pal Pascal Bannink aka Monsieur Moustache.
Pascal’s Barber Shop is one of the most delightful and quirkiest spaces I have ever visited and I’ve been to a few! Housed in a pillar of a decommissioned lifting bridge, the main shop has a 240 degree view which, once upon a time, would have afforded the Bridge Keeper uninterrupted views up and down the canal.
It’s a veritable man cave of period delights! Just stunning and well worth the detour from Amsterdam & Rotterdam. Be sure to tell the Monsieur the Captain sent you.
I had an hour to reach the ferry. Just time for one last Broodge Haring, then rode like a madman in pouring rain to the boat.
I first arrived in Holland with my pal Jerry, as a penniless bum way back in 77. The adventures we’ve shared would fill a book. Names changed to protect the guilty & innocent alike.
Slept through the 6 hour crossing for I was pooped immaculate. Docking at 19.45 this weary Road Warrior rode the 3 hours home through heavy rain. Still haven’t shrunk.
What a ride!
2 wheels . 26 Days . 13 Countries .4 Ambassadors . 5 Distributors . 3750 Miles . + 5 Kilos
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting GERONIMO!”
Attrib to Hunter S Thompson, Bill McKenna and more