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Dave Barrett
25-05-07, 09:45
I’m not sure whether this post belongs here, or under “Member Supported Charities”, but since at present this post is concerned with the journey, I hope this is the correct place.

I've finally put my money where my mouth is and this coming Sunday (27th May), I'm heading off to one of the twin-towns of Bühl - Kalarasch (in German), or Calarasi (with lots of various accents over and under most of the letters) in Moldova.

Moldova is officially the poorest country in Europe and apparently one of the poorest nations worldwide. Bühl has committed to helping the orphanage in Calarasi by carrying out a number of fund-raising activities, the main one being a number of local people carrying out a sponsored cycle ride (yes, with pedals!) next year from Bühl to Calarasi – a total distance of approx. 2,700km. If anyone is interested, the website is www.jeder-kilometer-zaehlt.de

As part of the preparations, I’ll be riding the route from Bühl to Calarasi, to determine road condition, traffic conditions etc. In addition, I’ve been tasked with providing a status report on the orphanage, since the only available pictures are pretty old and no-one is really sure how it is today. The current information looks pretty grim, with up to 140 children in a run down building complex with very basic/poor sanitary conditions.

If I get the chance, I’ll post some news on the journey there and back. On my return, I’ll add some pictures.

Now the questions/requests:

Has anyone any recent experience of the border crossings from Moldova into Transnistria and then into Ukraine? I’d like to visit Odessa whilst I’m there, but keep reading very mixed reports about Transnistria, including a lot of advice about why you shouldn’t even go there.

Is anyone in the area (Hungary/Romania/Moldova/Ukraine/Bulgaria) over the next 2 weeks that would like to meet up for a couple of days riding?

Has anyone any recent experience of unleaded fuel availability in Moldova, Ukraine and Bulgaria?

Bilks
25-05-07, 10:15
:eek:

I was there feb 97, having driven through Romania, not having access to my maps i think the boarder crossing was Isia?
Be prepaired for a long wait at the boarder, customs, visas,customs again, all adds upto a long time with burocracy.
I ended up in Chisnau (capitol) didnt see many fuel stations, and not a place to go looking after dark, few street lights and lots of Police on each corner.
Best wishes for your trip, it'l be an experience you wont forget!

Bilks.

Dave Barrett
25-05-07, 12:41
Hi Bilks,

Thanks for the reply. I've read in many places that to save money, the Moldovan government don't bother with street lighting anymore, since electricity costs are too high.

I've just come back from a meeting with the cycling group. Their interpreter (a Romanian guy) has assured me that lead-free petrol shouldn't be a problem, so hopefully my cat will still be OK when I return.

Sergeant Pluck
25-05-07, 14:02
We rode through Romania / Moldova / Transdeneistra / Ukraine last year.

Moldova: no problems with cops, roads: dreadful but not as bad as parts of the Ukraine, borders in and out: no problems at all (can't remember what we did about Visa's - I think we got them before we left), people: desperate but very welcoming and friendly - big problems with the mafia apparently but we didn't see anything. Wild-camped with no problems. We liked Moldova.

Transdnhoweveryouspellit: Border guards officious but it's hard not to laugh at how archaic and strange the whole system/situation is. Didn't have any run-ins with the cops or locals as we were through the place in a couple of hours. We were told that transit Visa's were only available in Tiraspol, which, in order to visit, would require a Visa! IIRC we ended up getting them at the border with no problems - but I'd advise checking (maybe on horizons-unlimited) as the deal probably changes every day.

Ukraine: Much more officious at the border. Absolutely everyone on the make, border guards, cops, everyone. Speed traps everywhere, got pulled over about every 3 minutes, and taxed each time. Take plenty of low value dollars, although everyone very jovial and friendly as they relieve you of your cash! Roads vary from brand spanking new motorways to some really unbelievably bad roads in some of the towns and villages. Some stunning countryside in the Ukraine.

We had no problems finding unleaded petrol - but fill up when you can not when you have to, as you can go a long way before finding a filling station.

Happy to help out with any other questions/information if I can :thumb

Pluck

Dave Barrett
25-05-07, 20:19
Hi Sergeant,

Thanks very much for that - it's put my mind at rest on a number of issues. I'd already read about the number of police "controls" and have been saving 5 Euro notes for a number of weeks now for this purpose.

Visas seem to be no longer necessary for EU passport holders, but thanks for the tip about transit visas from Tiraspol. I was planning exactly that route to Transnistria, so will see what the possibilities are.

Many thanks once again and best regards

Dave

Dave Barrett
05-06-07, 07:11
After 4600km, 9 countries (including one that doesn’t officially exist!), one time zone, one puncture and one accident, I’m back home. I need to wade through the 300-odd photos and my scribblings, then I'll post a full report sometime soon.

Sergeant Pluck
05-06-07, 08:10
:clap

Bilks
05-06-07, 09:44
:clap :clap

rocks
05-06-07, 13:03
Nice one.. hope the accident wasnt bad..
Cannot wait to see the pics.

Dave Barrett
05-06-07, 17:19
Thanks for the kind words, chaps!

"Accident" is probably a bit OTT. I'd been riding through torrential rain for several hours and was cold, wet and muddy. On a stretch of new tarmac, a car in front of me braking really sharply, and tryinf to avoid a collision, I locked the front wheel, with the bike (thankfully!) sliding around the car. With ABS, I'd probably have hit him. Only damage was the engine bars (the original BMW ones) ground halfway through, a bit ground out of the rocker cover and the left hand pannier ground down to make it a bit thinner! Absolutely not scratched whatsoever on the handlebar ends or mirrors - seems the bile was well designed to crash.

The only problem was that afterwards, the bike started misfirind under heavy load. I stopped at BMW Wien the next day, where they diagnosed cracked spark plugs - apparently they're quite sensitive to breaking down/cracking in the event of an impact. New spark plugs certainly solved the problem.

For me - just badly bruised on the left shoulder, thigh and hip. I need a new jacket and trousers, but the armour did its job.:bow