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   The beginning had been managed, the first kilometres passed. In such event, the main thing is – do not change your mind at the last moment. A few days before to start my journey, I was looking for the answer to the question – ‘whether to drop everything and go nowhere, to unknown places no one's ever heard of and no one knows what for?’ Well, of course I had certain expectations for this trip, but still it was only a result of my imagination.
On the one hand I had quite a lot – a sufficiently nice job on television with a good, for that moment, salary and a flat in the centre of St. Petersburg, a city that I love very much. I putin a lot of effort to move from my home town of Kurgan to St. Petersburg. On the other hand, I had an irresistible dream to travel around the world by bicycle, and this dream did not leave me in peace for a long time. Three years after the move, when I finally got a stable earth beneath my feet, I had to make a serious choice.
   Seeking an answer to my question I watched the world around particularly intense. I don’t consider myself as a too superstitious person, but at that moment I was ready to believe in anything that could give me some confidence.
When I worked on television, my boss used to play with a given her by somebody toy-‘top’, to help her to make her mind with some not so important decisions. ‘Top’ was a cone-shaped hexagon on which sides were written inscriptions – "yes" , "no" , "go”, "stop" , "buy" , "sell". When she could not decide what she actually wished for, she untwisted the ‘top’, and after a while it stopped at one of the sides where was written an answer.
During a day, she untwisted the "top" a dozen of times, and I, observing of this process, was guessing, what question she wants to receive an answer for – whether to go for a date tonight, whether to buy a dress that has been noticed yesterday or whether to fire an employee …?
One morning, when she had not yet come at her workplace, I took the ‘top’ and asked it a direct question –whether should I go to the travel? Strong movement of my fingers untwisted the ‘top’ so that it rotated about a minute and then it gave me a direct answer – "go".
The next test was the reading of a horoscope for the year 2010, where among some nonsense about various phases of constellations was written: «… go to travel around the world, it will help you to have a rest from your work …» I was very surprised by this specific answer to my question that I had once again been given, because it was the first horoscope ever which dropped on me in the Internet.
As a resident of St. Petersburg, I believe in local legends of this city. One of the legends says- ‘if to make a wish and throw a coin into the ‘Chizhik-Pyzhik’, then in case, if that coin remains at it – the wish will come true ». ‘Chizhik-Pyzhik’ is the name of the little bird whose monument is installed on the embankment of the River Fontanka, in the centre of St.-Petersburg. This monument is a very small in size, and a platform on which it is installed is no more than 40 squared centimetres.
The monument of the ‘Chizhik-Pyzhik’ is located over the river, but  three meters below of a level of the embankment, where cheerful romanticists throw their coins into it. Looking at the number of coins which were in the river, and those which actually remain at the ‘Chizhik-Pyzhik’, you clearly realize that the chances are insignificantly small. In the past I never threw any coins into the ‘Chizhik-Pyzhik’, but decided to try my luck. But previously I decided to prepare myself for this with full responsibility.
I started to collect all the coins and change, given me at stores, I exchanged all the large coins on a bigger amount of cheaper ones,  my friends gave me cheap coins of the 5 and 10 kopecks, as nobody used them anyway. In a week I had a whole bag of coins - a very impressive one in size.
On April 29th, a pleasant spring sun was shining, I walked slowly towards the River Fontanka embankment in the hope that there will be no one, and I will be able to throw my coins until the victorious finish. The ‘Chizhik-Pyzhik’ was waiting for me in a proud loneliness. I got my bag of coins out of the rucksack, opened it and placed it on a border in front of myself. About one minute I stood motionless, trying to concentrate on my wish as much as possible.
The first coin bounced off of the Chizhik-Pyzhik and flew down into the river. Even slight breeze can influence the flight trajectory of an almost weightless coin. The second coin was followed the first one. The third coin, having hit on a flat platform, jumped upwards, made a few turns in the air and fell back to the platform. It was only the third attempt, and it was successful.
I even become puzzled by what happened and threw another coin which also remained on the platform. As card players say, I decided ‘don’t tempt fate’ anymore and stopped throwing. I folded back my bag of coins and went home very pleased. Now it was possible to tell with more confidence that the bowl of scales outweighed to the side of the travel, to leave everything what I had at that moment and go towards unknown.
So, I left my job and moved out of the place where I lived. I also brought my few belongings to my friend Sergey and stayed myself at his flat for a while. Just a few days of preparation for the travel, and then the moment had come.
 
My friend Nikita made for me a pie, with "wake up your dream" on a front-side.
 
On the suburb of St.Petersburg, in a court yard, surrounded by similar multi-storey apartment buildings on Pulkovo highway, I stood in the company of only two persons – Sergey and his friend Diana……..
Up to this point in my mind was the conventional stereotype that people who are going to travel around the world are always having an impressive farewell ceremony similar to the farewell to a war. ‘We haven’t got any particular plans for the evening, so just drop by for a visit!’ – shouted Sergey to my back, giving me a hint that I shall be back in a couple of hours :)
I had to spend an hour and a half to get from Pulkovo highway to the ‘Finnish’ train station. I planned to get out of the hustle of the city as quick as possible and therefore I had bought a ticket to a local train to Vyborg.  Waiting for the train departure, I called to another friend of mine Semen, who lives near to the train station. After a while he came to say good bye. We chatted a little bit and Semen took a few pictures.
 
Waiting for a train. Photo by Semen Kotenev.
 
Two and a half hours of the way to Vyborg had passed under the weight of awareness of a coming journey. And not even awareness, but imagination, because a brain is not able to realise it to the end, it can only imagine. Psychological pressure of a coming is probably not less, than of the past. I hope, in some months, I will have an opportunity to compare.
I was glad, having got off the train, to throw away my thoughts about the future and to plunge myself into the present. My journey has begun! And yet there is no any difference from an ordinary weekend cycling trip.  Then, in an hour of my travel it started to rain and the idea about sleeping in a wet forest did not warm me at all, but I remembered a sign - rain in a beginning of a journey is a sign of good luck. Soon the rain stopped, and in the sky above the Saymensky canal appeared a rainbow. It was very beautiful. I found a place for a tent on the bank of the canal and with the sunset went to sleep. So, May 29th, 2010  -  the beginning of my travel around the world.
 
Rainbow over the river.
 
The first part of the way I decided to go through Scandinavia which is best suited for the initial stage. Good roads, low traffic and beautiful scenery– this is exactly what needed for a yet inexperienced cyclist. In 3 days in Helsinki my friend Sergey should join me, that very one who was waiting for me to visit him in a couple of hours after my departure.
From Vyborg, I went to the north through the cities of Lappeenranta and Kouvola, having made a little hook. I wanted to finally check my equipment and my skills to be convinced that I'm ready to go further. This was a good idea, because everything was going not as easy as I wanted to, but I still had a time and an opportunity to fix it. I had my rucksack been too heavily loaded and therefore it was really uncomfortable for me to cycle, as my back and shoulders are get tired very quickly. Having contacted Sergey, I asked him to buy for me a bag that can be attached on the handlebar of my bicycle to shift there a part of the things out of my rucksack. On the second day I had to repair the wheels twice due to punctures.
 
Fix my bike.
 
As approaching Helsinki, all the roads became wider and traffic become more intense. And here I go on a wide road with a dividing strip on the middle of the road. Cars are passing by fast, but it doesn't disturb me, because I cycle on a wide strip on the right, which is separated by a white continuous strip. Sometimes drivers make a signal, passing by, and I think that it is a sign of support to the brave bicyclist, and I am glad that I shouldn't share the road with anybody, as there are no cars on my side of the road. The reality has crept imperceptibly in the form of a police patrol.
One short signal of a police siren let me know that there is something wrong. I stopped and get off the bicycle. Police, a young and beautiful girl and a lad, walked closer and told me that this is a highway and it is not allowed here to go by bicycle because it is dangerous.
That side of the road on which I was cycling is a safety side where cars move down for an emergency stop. How on earth would I have known about these local rules? I don’t drive a car, and anyway, in Russia everybody is driving anywhere they want to. Of course, I did not start to argue with the police officers and only asked them how then can I reach Helsinki?
My device GPS suggested for me this road. The police officers told me that I need to go on an old highway, where is low traffic and therefore it is much more safe. They offered their help to transport me to the old highway and I agreed.  Finnish police use big Volkswagen Transporters as police cars, so there weren’t any problems with the transportation of my bicycle.
While they were busy with placing my bicycle and stuff into cabin of the car, I took a seat in a part for transporting criminals. Having placed my stuff, they looked out of the car, checking where the mad bicyclist is and having seen me “behind the cage” – they laughed.  In five minutes policemen dropped me off on an old highway and wished me good luck.
To the middle of next day, on 1st of June, I met my friend Sergey in Helsinki, at an arranged in advance place. He brought me a travel bag to put on a wheel, and I brought him an already quite impressive luggage of stories. Further we move together.
 

 

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