Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: North Carolina
Bikes: Specialized Sirrus, Bianchi Volpe, Trek 5000, Santana Arriva tandem, Pashley Sovereign, among others
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My first ever trip to Europe was a bicycle tour circling Estonia in 1999, with overnight stops in Tallinn, Koeru, Tartu, Viljandi, Parnu, Orissarre(sp?), Kaina and Haapsalu. I am so happy I chose Estonia. It was a little off the beaten track for western tourists, so it wasn't overly crowded. Yet it was everything I could hope for in a bike trip. It was flat and there was an abundance of services. (but bear in mind I stayed in hotels/pensions and did not camp.) I understand it can be a bit damp, but it never rained during my entire ten day trip. Overall, traffic was seldom an issue, though it was busy in Tallinn.
That was nearly 10 years ago. While not bad then, the situation may be even better now.
As for the bike, I toured on what was then a 12 year old sport touring bike, a sort of mid-level bike that I carried on the plane with me. I carried everything I needed in one set of medium sized rear panniers. The good people at my pension in Tallinn stored my bike box while I was touring. If you prefer to buy a bike in Europe, you should have no problem finding something suitable. I do have one caution. At the time I was in Estonia, bike shops and good bikes for sale were few and far between, but that situation may have improved since then also. However, I think you would have better purchase options in Germany, as you suggest. The last time I was in Germany, about five years ago, there was a huge sporting equipment retailer near Zoo train station in Berlin (unfortunately, can't remember the shop's name), and they had a large selection of bicycle touring bikes and gear. I don't know the exchange rate for the Australian Dollar, but the lousy value of the USD would make a bike/gear purchase in a Euro currency nation nearly cost prohibitive (at least on my salary.)
There is a bike club in Estonia dedicated to touring. They have been involved in setting up mapped bike routes around the country. These routes did not exist when I was there, so I cannot speak for them. You may find helpful information on the club's website. http://www.bicycle.ee/vantaaga/index.php?keel=eng