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Thread: Round 1: Eastern Europe

  1. #49
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    Nessebar to Constanta

    Not a great deal to feature so I'll keep it short. I'm tired. We ride the road to Varna, which is decent enough but some hilly winding stages with tough traffic to pass.

    We cross the border in to Romania. It's uneventful, but we're given a canine welcome. Woof!



    We roll up in Constanta, which Dave has expertly deliberated is 'a Shit hole'. He's not wrong- not nice words, but sadly we're not in the mood for ethnic ruggedness.

    Things pick up in the evening. We find a realy good little open air restaurant called the Grill House. The lady in charge is charming and speaks great English so we're lucky as our Romanian stands at zero. We eat for buttons.

  2. #50
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    Wet drizzly afternoon back here in Blighty Rob ... so you're brightening my day bless ya

    I too loved Turkey, have good friends over there. Istanbul is ffffantastic

    Keep up the good work ... ride safe

    Adventure.GS
    Tours, training or custom made earplugs ... it's all here.

    "If you want the rainbow then you have to put up with a little rain" Dolly Parton

  3. #51
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    Constanta to Brasov

    We check out of the hotel. My lonely planet book seems to have gone missing, although I am totally disorganised today and things have been stuffed everywhere. Unusual for me. I had the feeling someone had been in my room. Anyway, what a strange thing to lift. Ho Hum, bit annoying because we were at the stage of the trip where it was probably going to get most helpful.

    The morning of riding is all dull and hard work, the only highlight being the bridges across the Danube. Other than that, shite. The main route out of Constanta to the A2 Bucharest bound is full of Romania's worst drivers. Nothing we can't handle, but you just can't relax so much. After ditching the motorway, and a lunch stop we make towards the Carpathians, and seeing them on the horizon is a revelation. We head off of the main drag to a minor road taking us in to the hills. We stop amongst the fields of Sunflowers for a few piccies. This is what it is all about, we tell ourselves.



    The Carpathians beckon in the background.



    Then it is into the hills and it is wonderful. The traffic thins out. The beauty of the country shines through. We ride a road that was so bendy we couldn't hae gotten much more than 20mph on the speedo. We rejoin a main thoroughfare. Some peddlars spy us at some roadwork traffic lights but I stop so far back they have to run up to us.. By the time they get there the lights have changed and we're off. Ya sucks boo to you. Sorry, I can't have you ruining the ambience, I've already lost me book today, and plus I'm in the riding groove, so ner.



    We stop for afternoon tea at a Motel and it's a nice spot. The local football team coach pulls in and everyone circles us on the bikes as we get ready to head off. A young lad wants a photo with me. That's cool. I climb off the bike and plop him in the seat. He barely touches the bars, but the photo will be cool and it has sure made his day.

    It is grand motoring in the Carpathians, but I'm having a few problems with my eyes and am a struggling contact lens wearer- so for the last leg I find a local in a Fiat who is driving spiritedly as the sun gets low and the light begins to drop. I think he tumbles that he is the pace car and he does the job admirably. He takes us all the way into Brasov, some 30 or so miles.

    We roll in and find the nearest (expensive) hotel. The Aro Palace. It is nice, with a sort of 1980's charm in reception, but the rooms are spot on. We wander out for a beer or three. Ursus is the latest hot tip for beer lovers. Dinner at Prato's, very good, but we're sat with Germans watching the footy so we go back to the hotel. England lose on penalties, but they were total durge, so just desserts.

    I sleep well thankfully and it is a god send.

    About 800 miles from Istanbul now. Blimey.

  4. #52
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    Brasov to Ramniu Valcea

    There is a time to surf, and a time to wax your board. Today, my friends, was a time to Surf. Oh yes.

    We checked out of the Hotel in Brasov and made for UKGSer's own Gavin Bell's pad for a coffee. We had a good chat and get may good tips for the forthcoming days, which is really great stuff. Gavin is a good bloke and a font of knowledge for the region. Special thanks to him, as I had not done much planning beyond where we were, and a bit of local knowledge goes a long way, which it has. Next time around I'll be buying some beers for sure.

    After heading from Gavin's we head for the Transfăgărășan Highway which is an hour and a half or so away. We stop for some odd soup.

    The riding is fun, but to say there are pot holes in some of the roads on the way is the understatement of the century. There's nothing quite like high speed pot-hole avoidance. Dave's quote: "Today, I shall be mostly avoiding pot holes". You get it. Anyway, I'd hit a few inevitably, resulting in one of the Wunderlich Crash Bar bags flying off my horse. Thankfully, Dave notices and picks it up.

    We stop for soup. Interesting combo, this.



    As we turn to head North to South for the Transfăgărășan the clouds gather over the hills and it starts to rain. It progressively works to a downpour.

    We stop- it is time for waterproof jackets and liners.



    Upside- bike and my nasty trousers both needed a wash anyway. It makes for a tricky, but challenging ascent and I really enjoy the run. I've lost Dave but we're only going one way so carry on. Evidently he chickens out and waits for the rain to ease up under a bridge. Near the top I wait for him for a while and take some pictures.



    Look, there's Dave!



    I also make a short video of him looking down whilst he's climbing up the pass. I narrate and take the piss He rolls up and we carry on.



    All things wiggly..



    Only one other biker seen today going our way... a guy on a Russian registered Honda, who we continually play tag with as we stop take photos and pass each other. We move to the other side of the pass and the weather is much different, drizzle petering out to nothing and ultimately dry sunshine below.

    A little video but not much. I'll post the ascent one when I get a bit of bandwidth. Bonus point if you can see the local Jendarme giving a wave.



    I zip on and have half an hour of 'spirited' riding and it is ace. Really using the brakes hard, and throwing the bike about. My, my, this bike is somewhat loaded up don't you know.. But wow- this road is the gift that keeps on giving- once out of the high pass part you are presented with a fast 'valley' section, and then a very technical wibbly-wobbly section by a lake. Mile after mile. It is just great. I resolve to stop at the next café or petrol station, but there are none. A word of warning there, make sure you're ready for a long ride with nothing and be prepared as such. It's a big place. Eventually I stop at a Caravan selling drinks and crisps. Dave rolls up, having been flagged down by a French Cyclist looking for accommodation. There's nothing for 31km and Dave broke the bad news to the Cyclist. He says he has a tent so 'OK'. Good job that- Dave can retrieve luggage, but I doubt he could carry a portly Frenchman and a bicycle.

    We were heading for Hunedwara, but a look at the Garmin says 'arrive 23:47'. Clearly out of reach, so we settle on Ramnicu Valcea. We pass on the hotel that promises 'Sexy Show' and 'Sexy time' and pitch up at a place in the centre. The car park security tells us where to put the bikes. He has a gun, so we do as we're told. Later the security guy lightens up and we have a laugh, and he watches some of my video from the day. After the relative warmth of the Turkish people the Bulgarians and Romanians were far more stony faced and reserved, but if you give something they open up and give back.
    The hotel itself is quite adequate. The electrics again are a bit crap. I pull the card thing off of the wall trying to get the leccy to work in the room.

    Dinner at the 'OK Sport Pub' is pretty good and the waitress very friendly and bags of fun. If I could take her with me I would. In fact, if I'd have probably asked she'd have probably said yes..

    Bloody hell did it storm last night, still better than during the day I s'pose.

  5. #53
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    Loving it.

    I have a chicken & gravy pie, frozen peas and oven chips for tea.

    PUI since 2004


    [url=https://www.TickerFactory.com/]


  6. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr K View Post
    Loving it.

    I have a chicken & gravy pie, frozen peas and oven chips for tea.

    Life's an adventure...............aren't you out tonight with your fellow North East crew?
    JohnnyBoxer



    So many roads...........So little time......

  7. #55
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    How you have time or inclination to post this stuff whilst on your adventure.. including video's ... is beyond me .... but keep it going

  8. #56
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    This brings back some good memories, Rob, although the road looks to be in a lot worse condition that it was 7-years ago.
    Am I detecting a trend for trashing hotel rooms?

    ballistic

  9. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr K View Post
    Loving it.

    I have a chicken & gravy pie, frozen peas and oven chips for tea.

    I actually feel really bad having read that now Chris

    Quote Originally Posted by Bryn View Post
    How you have time or inclination to post this stuff whilst on your adventure.. including video's ... is beyond me .... but keep it going
    Aye, ta. Funnily enough it's quite therapeutic and it's good way of recalling some of the bits and bobs. That aside, it'll be a lot of posts to make at once next year

    Quote Originally Posted by ballistic View Post
    This brings back some good memories, Rob, although the road looks to be in a lot worse condition that it was 7-years ago.
    Am I detecting a trend for trashing hotel rooms?
    The road is good on the very wiggly showpiece bit, but poor in other parts for sure.

    Re: Hotel rooms? I could not possibly comment Brian


  10. #58
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    Here's a longer bit of footage of the schlep up the Transfagarasan in the rain..


  11. #59
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    Ramnicu Valcea to Timiosara

    I am up, unfortunately a poor night of sleep, lots of dog barking and then once that calmed, one hell of a storm. Eyes like two of the proverbial holes in the snow. I switch on the TV, hunting down the music channel which I normally do but haven't bothered with whilst abroad so far. I'm rewarded: Some accordion based europop Boy Band. Splendid. That makes for a chuckle punctuated packing session.
    We went for an 8am breakfast, Dave is uncharacteristically late. He's had little sleep and is struggling. We'll need a day off again soon.

    Out of town and we're held up by some roadworkers clearing a rock face. There's a huge tailback. We amble up to the front on the bikes, milling amongst the people out of their cars and wandering about, clearly bored. I think they have been there for some time. We chat for 20 minutes with a Polish truck driver before being ushered on and head through. We have a clear run with no traffic and then drop off to some excellent minor roads. Real GS territory yet again.

    We do another pass type road. A little music. I love music on the bike. Anyhow, for this run, I feel something epic coming on. I rarely listen to the Who's Quadrophenia, but when I do it always proves memorable. The power of the music is all enveloping and riding along to the music is moments of total joy. We emerge from the pass to the lowlands floating along to the track 'Is it in my head'.. A beautiful few moments to the lyric "I see a man without a problem". Everything is flowing riding, it's rare perfection and the road runs on for what seems like ages.

    In the afternoon we drop by Hunedoara and stop at the Castle. Real Hammer House of Horror stuff..



    On the road once more we realise we're not going to make Novi Sad in Serbia- just a bit too far, so resolve on Timiosara.

    Mandatory amusing sign on the way..



    If I can summarise the roads west towards Timiosara- it is like an arcade game with endless credit. I always liked doing the run from the A1 along the A604 to Oakham- it's about 15 or so miles of pure bliss, you can get a proper lick on, overtake and shift, a few curves, all good fun. The road to Timiosara is like a two and a half hour version of that, with a couple of odd pot holes and surface changes thrown in for good measure. Happy days.

    We check into the North Star Contintental Hotel and are given a thoroughly miserable welcome. Everything is too much trouble. 'This is a local hotel for local people' we thinks. A girl we chatted to earlier back at Corvin Castle said 'The problem with Romania is it doesn't like tourists'. At the time I wasn't sure that was entirely fair or true, but on this showing that theory might hold some water in certain places.

    We do have a nice Italian meal in the town square so it's not all bad. On return to Hotel misery we find that the bar in the basement has become a sort of titty bar. Just fancy that. I decide the budget has been abused enough so we speedily exit (plus the Doris dancing on the pole looked like an apprentice beekeeper )

    Time for bed.

  12. #60
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    Timiosara to Sarajevo

    Today will be a day of differing countries that's for sure. We head out and on our way down to Sarajevo. We cross the Border straight forwardly into Serbia and towards Novi Sad. Serbia is quite pretty to my eye, and I'd like to see more, but for now we need to press on. From there it is Garmin taking us down to Sarajevo and on any road south I just don't think you can go wrong. We cross into Bosnia Herzegovina and it is all very simple and straight forward. Anywhere we've been so far, folks only want a Passport and V5. Nothing else. The only place they asked about a green card was Montenegro, but they didn’t want to see it.

    It's all square, squiggle, triangle again..



    Riding down to Sarajevo is pure joy, and there is a wonderful evening run in which deposits you from great biking to the hotel in about 5 minutes flat. I have some Ray Charles playing and from now on I'll associate that with my ride down there.. music brings back great memories for me.

    Hotel, was gear, shower, out for dinner and beer. Sarajevo has a great bar scene for sure. We run into some crazy Spain supporters who are having it large. All great fun.



    On the biking front the bad side is that now are some worries. The gearbox is starting to clunk a little. It jumped out of gear this morning and selecting 2 & 3 has become much more clunky. Fingers crossed for the moment and we'll see how that goes.

  13. #61
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    Sarajevo

    We have a day off in Sarajevo. What a great city. I walk almost 20km on the day off. Round and round. It's ace- a first class place and very relaxed. Great vibe. Nice bars as I've said, and good places to eat. We stay at the recommended Hotel Hecco, which is fine, a ten minute amble from the old town. It's adequate and pretty cheap with good covered parking.

    Here’s the Parliament building which you might recall the pictures of it being on fire during the Bosnian war, with the famous yellow Holiday Inn opposite where Martin Bell sent his broadcasts from. I remember it well and it is strange to be here.



    The scars of the war are everywhere



    My eyes have been giving me problems, and worse still I've managed to scratch my sun visor on the helmet so that it is not really useable. Very frustrating. I'd been using a pair of old Oakleys but they were pinching on the back of my head and it was a bit wearing. So I looked to source a new pair of sunglasses, and get these hooky Ray-Bans in the Bazaar there.

    Wanted look: Top Gun. Attained Look: Spud Gun. I also bought a nice red T-Shirt with 'Sarajevo' and a silly little cartoon man on it. The lady didn't have XXL for a fat knacker, but she had one specially printed up for me. I feel happy and sad at the same time.



    Time to start heading North tomorrow.

  14. #62
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    Sarajevo to Osijek

    I find my Lonely Planet book stuffed where it shouldn't be in my packing. Apologies to the people of Romania.

    Well now. Lonely Planet's extensive view of Eastern Croatia is summarised as thus: Zero. Nothing. Nada.
    Not to be deterred by some trustafarian called Pippa, we decide to explore the place. We didn't really know we wanted Osijek, we just wanted to head North as time was a' callin.

    The route out of Sarajevo is quite superb. I'm running out of superlatives to use, as you’ve probably guessed. It is a ten minute run through town, and then a fifteen minute run off to where the going gets really good. Why can't all capital cities be like this! Once we've cleared the suburbs the resultant run is quite, quite beautiful. I took a leaf from another thread here and slowed down a little (plus I'm worried about the gearbox) but the result was something rather special.

    We run through the hill, back to the flat lands and more lovely fields of Sunflowers, crossing in to Croatia once again. We land in Osijek and it looks like a fine place so we'll stay. Dave drops his KTM on the front of a Mercedes whilst we're jockeying around to get to the hotel. Thankfully there's no real damage and the fella couldn't have been nicer. How sweet.

    After gaining excellent modest accommodation at the Pension of the Hotel Waldinger we wander off for beers. Again, we're the right side of the tightwad index: Plenty of beers, wine and a good meal (and it was excellent, actually) for two for less than Ł30. We have pre-dinner drinks at a hotel by the river, accompanied by some heavy Zither from the local band. A sweet girl from the hotel enters us to a tombola. Again, we're initally flummoxed with our 'what do you want or how much' views, but the simple answer is nothing.. 'Would you like to enter the tombola?'
    Dave wins a daft whistle, and I get a large Osijek beer branded hand on a stick. Very handy. She also gives me a rather splendid bottle opener because I'm from London. You gotta get those perks while you can


  15. #63
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    Osijek to Uzghorod

    If we were going to sample the brief delights of the Ukraine, we'd better shake a legski. But, as has been consistent throughout this trip, one wasn't going to 'knock one's pipe out' with all of that preparation stuff.

    The drive North out of Osijek is straight forward, and half an hour in we're into Hungary with no fuss. We've resigned ourselves to the fact we're going to need to cover some miles today, so Motorway will be a fair amount. Over the border we stop at a truckstop for a Vignette. It's a piece of till-roll, but it is personally tailored to your registration. I have some Fiorint and it just covers the two vignettes and a cheese roll. We decide to change our international currency description from 'groat' to 'klopek'.

    I've been criticised for looking miserable in picture of my on board footage on Facebook and here (Micky) so ner, and this is for you



    Hitting the M6 towards Budapest and the going is very, very quiet. The Hungarian road is excellently organised and the surfaces first class. We must have seen just a few other cars and rattle along nicely at 130kmh, stopping short of Budapest at a 'Mol' Petrol station. A very good place to stop- free internet and folks who are pleased to see us. We run into a Slovakian lad and his mate on a Suzuki Burgmann who are on the way back to Bratislava and chat for a while.

    It's toasty hot- still 35 degrees indicated and my eyes are drying out very quickly in the heat. Quite wearing.

    The Motorway takes you in to Budapest with little choice for a ring road style detour, so we get to see Budapest and have a ride along the river. We don't find much traffic and pop out the otherside on to the M3. There are stops for water on the Motorways- very wise in the heat. We stop. A biking pal once gave me a good tip- if you wet your neck scarf then it is cooling when you ride. I've extended this in the heat on this trip to my gloves, the inside of my lid, a sweat band, and finally now to tipping the water all over myself. It does really work though.

    We stop at another petrol station. I've been carrying Dave's jacket, and my own, and plus other things hitched to the load. As we're heading off we're distracted by some total dick who decides to park right against me, in the middle of the petrol station blocking the exit to the pump. It flusters me for a moment. I inform the inhabitants of the car that the driver is 'a fucking idiot' who stare blankly back. I head out. Little did I know I forgot to tie back the straps in and as I pull on to the Motorway I lose Ortlieb bag and my camelbak thingy to the Tarmac. I don't know it- back up to 80mph and look in the mirror, Dave is not there. I sort of get something is wrong and turn around, and there is a blank pannier with fortunately with my inner jacket still loose on having not blown away. I stop on the hard shoulder and curse a lot Who's the idiot now then
    Dave rolls up about 5 mins later, cleverly balancing my bag stuff on his lap, motorcycling equivalent of seal with a beach ball. That's a real result.
    We noticed that at a water stop earlier, these folks don't seem engaged in organised parking.

    Our own personal motorway again. Scrabble in Hungarian must be a riot.



    What self respecting 1200 owner hasn't been on a trip to Tescos then?



    We cross into Slovakia. It's an open border. Garmin is again on some sort of crazy one. Despite looking for the fastest route out to Uzghorod, it takes us on bendy roads, through gypsy villages (very odd) off down single lane tracks, goodness knows what. It's quite entertaining but not I fear the fastest route.

    We reach the Ukraine border at around 7.30 and there's a huge queue. We're a bit miffed and conversation is prickly. Natural I suppose. I have a wander up to the front and find a second queue. Not to be put off, we just fire on up. That's better, we must have knocked an hour off in that single jump. Getting out of Slovakia is just as painful as getting in to Ukraine. A nice lady from customs comes and goes over the bike, wanting to know how much Petrol we have in the tank, mileage of the bike. I have, of course, no idea what the hell she wants re: the Petrol, so she brings over another guard who politely puts me right.
    After about 20 minutes there we get to Passport Control on the Slovakian side. A very sweet border guard apologises- 'you should have come yesterday' she said 'we're just very busy tonight'.

    We get through now to the Ukraine side. A military checkpoint and a guy gives us a sort of raffle ticket with the registration number of the bike on it. We move forward to customs, and there's a tall stick like fellow, looking like fido dido from the old 7-up adverts waving a paddle.
    He moves us about a bit. We wait. And wait some more. He then comes to look at the bike and wants to see in the top box. He finds my medical kit. He looks carefully at what is within and looks at me suspiciously. I don't understand what he wants. I say 'Paracetomol'. He keeps looking at the packaging and pointing and I don't have the language, granted, but Jesus, this bloke is totally bloody gormless.
    Eventually he summons his boss. Olegski saunters over, takes a look and says 'It's Paracetomol'. Fido replaces everything and throws it in the top box. He looks some more, using the words 'lekky lekky lekky', I have no idea what he wants. I am trying desperately not to laugh. Dave catches my eye and it gets worse. I can only imagine I am wearing some sort of painful contorted face, a bit like the stroke advert.

    Finally after Passport control, where next Olegski is a whole lot more jolly, and says 'Biker club?', we get sent to a final military checkpoint where the guy gestures for us to go in to the distance and pull a wheelie. Ah, the friendlier side of Ukraine

    So we're here, behind the corrugated curtain.



    Uzghorod is right on the border, so we've no trouble getting in to town, apart from Garmin's continued acid trip. I decide to navigate manually and the hotel is easily found. Secure parking, a reasonably nice room aside from zany carpet, but the mandatory shower where the housing is broken (I think the last five hotels have all had the same thing).

    With the border taking an hour plus, and the faffing, plus losing an hour it is now 10.30pm.

    Not to be deterred we set off in the murk of the town for beer and hopefully food. We find a pizza place that still serves and we get food and beers. Our waitress is getting a hard time from another waitress; she's working her cods off and is trying so hard poor thing. We give her the US 20 dollar bill we'd been reserving for the bribing of Mr Plod, should it have been required.
    Weird. Every bloke in the place is totally pissed. The girls all look bored, no wonder.

    Not wanting to give up now we ask the manager of the place for somewhere else to drink that is open. She gets us a taxi and instructs the driver. We're taken across the dim pot holed streets in a dingy Hyundai with no clutch. That was luxury. We have beers. The return journey is in a Lada Estate car to which the term 'totally knackered' is understatement of the century. The driver smiles though.

    I also post the Ukraine pic of the bike by the sign on my Facebook status. Among the responses to my epic global travels is this little gem. Stuff my old boots



    My left eye is now getting super painful.

    The Ukraine is getting two very pissed thumbs up

  16. #64
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    Quote ... "I've been criticised for looking miserable in picture of my on board footage on Facebook and here (Micky) so ner, and this is for you"

    So I wasn't on my own then Rob

    Keep it coming

    Adventure.GS
    Tours, training or custom made earplugs ... it's all here.

    "If you want the rainbow then you have to put up with a little rain" Dolly Parton

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