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Old 09-08-2009, 04:03 AM   #1
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Location: Dublin
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Talking Durchfall Express, Sweden -> Chernobyl and beyond..

Having discussed what we would have liked to call the trip, we decided on "Durchfall Express", since we thought that being on the road, in many strange places, eating foreign (to our stomachs) food, we thought it inevitable that diarrhea would occur. But quite the opposite has happened.. There's a little joke that made me laugh my ass off the first time trying to labor on the trip.. "Here I sit broken hearted, tried to shit, but only farted."

If the joke seems foreign to you, durchfall means diarrhea in German, and well, when thinking about it, it sounds like you take a bucket of water - throwing it down a empty staircase. And that's more than enough of a picture in my mind to make me laugh.

Finally, two weeks into the trip - we have arrived in Bulgaria and to the motocamp in Idilevo that I had read about at ADVrider.
For the first time since we left, It feels like home, and both Chris and I got to sleep later than like 6-7 AM.
For some reason, the same moment as the sun rises we have been unable to sleep anymore. Even at hotels, up till now.
As I am typing this, we were just laughing about not coming home again, and just continuing on our trip as long the bikes holds it together..

Anyway, here it goes..

The trip began at the 24th of August, in Linköping, Sweden. The goal has been to see as much as possible as we passed through southern Sweden to:
Poland - Ukraine - Romania - Bulgaria - Greece - Italy - Austria - Switzerland - France - Spain - Portugal and back north through France, The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark over to Sweden.

As this being our first real adventure ever, we seem to have underestimated how much time it takes to cross all those countries. And being two weeks into the trip, and have only passed Sweden, Poland, Ukraine and Romania into Bulgaria.
Realizing that we had to shave of some places like Scotland and other places we would have liked to see.
Since this is our 5 week vacation, we don't want to stress things just to visit places, and don't have time to appreciate the culture, people and beautiful scenery we have seen so far.

Part 1, Sweden, Poland and Ukraine.

Leaving our home in Sweden, we had planned to leave early to skip any necessary stress to the ferry from Karlskrona to Gdansk in Poland. But, as Chris does live in Oslo, Norway - he had only gotten to Linköping the night before - and we had some errands to attend to, like getting some extra memory cards and chargers for all our camera gear for the trip.
Having done all those things, and (of course) forgetting some, the time had passed more than we liked.
Our parents, and some friends were watching us pack in a hurry to get on the road. It all felt like a tetris game with only the wrong blocks, going into a space not capable of taking all things you wanted to bring.
And as I like to go places fast, my back tire had seen better days, and I felt it better to bring a spare, making my packing uncomfortably heavy ontop of the already heavy bike.

Chris in the picture, packing in a hurry. And laying on the grass, all the stuff I wanted to bring on the bike.
Some of it had to be sacrificed.

Chris, on the other hand, had just bought his bike like an week before departure, and gotten his drivers license just two months earlier - had a top box that I was lacking. Because for some reason, I thought that my GSA looks horrible with a top box.
Oh, how I regret not buying one at the moment. I am quite amazed how quickly Chris has learned to handle his bike.
He dropped it once just outside my place the day we were leaving, doing the mistake of not looking in the side stand was correctly in place before tilting it.
"First you get your license, then you buy the bike and then you go around Europe on a 10000km bike trip."

I could write about nonsense forever, but since I know ADVriders value their time I'll begin..
As a wrote earlier, the time had passed more than we liked, maybe around 3 PM we found ourselves on the highway south for 370 km to the ferry leaving for Poland at 8 PM.
For me, not having the necessary time to learn how to operate my GPS, thought the digits up in the right corner of the display showed estimated time left to our destination. At the time it seemed reasonable, but as we were riding along it showed more time, despite the fact that we were speeding up to make it before the ferry would depart.
Having stressed for like 100km at 140-160 kph, I suddenly laughed to myself when I realized that it was the clock, and we had
plenty of time. I set the clock to update through the satellites, and everything was good. "Knowledge is power".

First stop on the trip was to refuel somewhere near to Vetlanda in southern Sweden.

Buff, our sweet indian companion for the trip seemed pleased at the moment.

In a hurry to the ferry..

Standing in line to board..

We got the the ferry, some 10 minutes to 8 PM. PLENTY of time to spare! :P
Having stopped at McDonalds once, we were confident that evil was stiring inside of us. But no, no durchfall. Even at this stage, people were going to lengths to have a peak at our bikes, it felt like everyone was watching us.
Boarding went well, and there were some 4-5 polish crew members making sure our bikes were firmly at place with straps. Having laughed our asses off, about everything, and the excitement of being on our way - we found our cabin for the night.

Chris looks confident about the whole thing, sadly his pants had other plans, and filled the cabin with a smell out of this world. It was that strong smell of gym sock, or those old plastic covered mats you had in school gymnastics. For me, puking was never far away every time the air decided to come my way from those horrible pants.

Having settled down in our cabin, and wanting some adventure (mostly me wanting to be somewhere else than those smelly pants) we went out to look for food and beer for the evening. After getting some food in us, we went a few decks below to our cabin and on our way - found another motorcycle adventurer sitting in the hallway all alone. As we sat down and talked to him, he told us that was on his way through Poland into Ukraine,
just as us. Before boarding, Chris and I decided to get to sleep early, so we would not be tired on our first real day of riding. That plan soon went to hell when we found ourselfs in the bar drinking beer with our new friend Niklas.

He told us that he had been doing motorcycle trips for quite a while, and with a really tight budget, which impressed us much.
We had a really good time talking about our trip, and listening to his experiences with riding. Time had long ago passed midnight
before we hit the sack in our cabin. And even more time passed before we could stop laughing from all the beer and vibrations
the ferry was causing.

Chris is illustrating how beer can make you laugh for hours without a good reason.

The next day, waking up early - feeling like shit, I swore to never drink a single Red Bull again. Had the hardest time to fall asleep the night before, maybe because of the excitement, but I felt I could blame the Red Bull.

Waiting for the ferry to dock, and us to be our on our way, people were asking us were we were going, and wishing us all the best of luck. Also, talking to Niklas a last time before splitting up.
Since he was going on a solo trip, and going slowly, we went our seperate ways..

The first real day of our adventure had begun, and it felt sooo great. Perfect weather, not a cloud in the sky!
It seemed it was destined for us to do this, at that exact moment.

Having made our way out of the docks, and off the motorway, we found ourselves on beautiful polish country roads..

Polish country roads, awesome!

The right equipment makes the trip so much more fun.. Our intercom system did the trick, being able to talk and laugh
about everything while riding..

Polish roads were totally awesome, when we got off the highways. It may have taken us much longer in time, but the joy of riding was easily worth it.

Chris imitating an escaped mental patient (Nick Nolte) at some break in the Polish forest.

Ahhh, the roads...

It was getting later in the afternoon, and both of us were really tired of driving for the day..

Buff seemed pleased as always..

We decided to take some detours just to get off the damn highway with all its traffic... Gravel, what a relief!

Having ridden all day, we found a small forest track while driving and decided to camp.. Our first camp for the trip!

Chris, laying in his hammock, for the first time. And I can admit, it's the single best piece of equipment of this trip yet.

Just a picture I liked how it came out.. Captured the moment..

Second best piece of equipment, the stove. Lightweight, easy to use, easy to clean.

Inside the hammock, early the next day..

Early the next day, on the road south east again..

The newly attached ADV sticker showing..

Horse and carriage, we were going to see a lot of these... This was taken just outside a church, and some old polish lady said something (apparently) bad to us, while waving her finger with contempt or just giving us a important lesson. Wish I knew what she said..

Cannot get enough of all the wonderful roads...

Stopped for a moment to take some pictures of the roads, and a small, and very cuddly (probably very hungry as well) cat came running to us from the forest.

Riding along, to try to get to Ukrainian border that same evening - the sun was setting, and we really wanted to make camp before the sun didnt do any good. While searching for a good site, we ended up on some farmland, and some REALLY creepy sand that I could not handle with the amount of load in the back. The front tire did nothing - where the bike wanted to go, it went.

And so I fell for the first time. All sweaty, and stressed. Luckily, no damage since I was going so slow and the sand was so soft. Thought something had broken since the bike would not start.
But, after calming down I noticed I tried to start in first gear. ;D
Note to self, don't stress.

After some time, and at the same time when the sun had set - we found a campsite, maybe 10 minutes drive from the border east of Chelm in Poland. That night, before getting into the hammock, the greedy mosquitoes really had a feast on me.

The next day just moments before going into Ukraine, comparing my pointy-fingers, well. You see the difference, and I felt the difference. Thank you, forest.
At this point, both Chris and I were really tired and our smell would have killed lesser beings. Luckily, the people at the border didn't seem to mind us smelling like two shitbags.

Passing into Ukraine, I felt it unnecessary to provoke the personnel at the different checkpoints with a camera, so there is no pictures.
Needless to say, only one man spoke english, and the whole ordeal was somewhat retarded with several stops, for no reason.
Oh how I love bureaucracy..

Entering Ukraine was a real relief, but soon turned to amazement and giggling laughter when we realized what state the northern road to Kiev was in. Here on after we referred to Ukrainian roads by "Piece of shit road".
That goes for many vehicles also, "Piece of shit car", and so on. The mixture of these two elements made the road experience of Ukraine somewhat damaged. Riding sitting down on the bike would have caused a crash, since some holes were big enough to end the trip right there.

And the amount of "piece of shit cars" were overwhelming, with the addition of "piece of shit truck" it all went overboard. When riding on a road, worried for big pot holes, being overtaken by piece of shit cars. Driving just behind a piece of shit truck, smelling its piece of shit diesel engine without any catalytic converter, it was hell.

Stopping at the first sign of civilization, and discovering that people were using the back of this building as a lavatory.
Shit roads and shit all over. Welcome to Ukraine!

Stopping at a local gas station a bit into Ukraine was us the first real enjoyable surprise. The fuel costs around a third of the normal price in Sweden. So goes for everything else, but since no one speaks english - what you see on the shelf - you buy. You need anything else? Forget it.

At this time also, the mosquito bites of past days is really hunting me.. Meet the twins;

Still the best thing was how cheap everything was.. Got two bottles of 0,5 liter Coke, a pack of crackers and a 1,5 liter bottle of water.
Not much more than 1 euro.
What I almost have forgotten to tell at this point is that everyone, and then I mean everyone looks at us as we are from outer space.

No maps for the GPS in Ukraine, and we know nothing of the Cyrillic languages. This is a recipe for disaster.
"Driving East" I liked that anyhow..

Endless stretches of roads, going only forward. Not a single curve. Lots of pot holes, the suspension really did the trick here.
Forget any other road bikes on these roads, one would need an ass transplant after doing those 500km on a sportsbike.

Riding along in Ukraine was nice anyhow, open landscapes and animals all over the place, roaming free.
That is, when all those "piece of shit"-things were absent.

Stopping for the first time in Ukraine to eat, we managed to find a common word both we and the waiter knew - soup.
We ended up eating the Ukrainian Borsch, which was quite good - and which did not cost more than maybe 1 euro as well..
The amount of wild dogs in Ukraine amazed me, and we met a lot of cute little buggers everytime we stopped.

One dog, came out of the bushes while we ate our soup.

Riding along those Ukranian pieces of shit road. They feel like the autobahn in Germany, with its large pieces of cement tiles, but then someone decided to put asfalt over it, and never fixed it when it started to erode away.

Oh, and yes. Let's not forget the police in Ukraine. We got stopped for "speeding" outside some town in the middle of nowhere.
We don't even know the names of the places since it's hard to relate to a town called "starsymbol - tentsymbol - upsidedown U - backwards 3 - horse - B".

Deciding to make own names to places was much easier.
Kiev - our destination in Ukraine, was from here now on called KNIB.
Anyhow, got stopped by two "Police officers" that of course did not speak one word of english, and they showed me a piece of crap instrument from the early days of radar equipment - and it showed exactly 90 kph.

It all felt fishy, but how do you argue with a police officer that does not understand a word you say? I ended up in the police car, with an officer pointing at some book with a lot of numbers, and telling me I have to pay an amount. At first, it was 300 grivnas, but that amount dropped when
I started to babble in english. It ended up with 200 of their funny moneys, and they left the scene before us, as they got their days pay.
We left on our way again, me somewhat pissed off of the situation and the feeling of being robbed.

Not having so much money left, since we only took out 400 grivnas each at the border from an ATM, we feared to stop at local places for food and supplies. We drove as long was we could without stopping.

Later the same day, we got stopped again and of course they found a fault with my papers.
My insurance company that had issued me a so called "green card" for my bike, had failed to type in the correct "valid from -> to date".

So my Green Card was only valid for two days in 2008. Imagine the joy the officer must have felt when he saw that type-o.
And of course, the same routine. Me in a piece of shit police car, watching a man who points at a book with numbers.
This time, it cost me 40 euros. Which pissed me off good. I tried to tell him, with all the possible signs and words that I wanted a receipt.

But, of course - never got one. I remember being so pissed for like 3-4 hours after that. Not many words were exchanged between me and Chris during that time after. I had to stop and send a text message home to get someone to get me a proper green card for easing my building rage.

Calling home was out of the question, since my operator would have charged me over 2 euros a minute for a call. Ludicrous.

Oh yeah, and suddenly the road was closed. Without warning, and without any signs of which detour was the right one.
We decided to take to the right, since it would bring us more to the south, and sooner or later we would hit another parallel road to the one we were riding to KNIB. I can however understand why the road was closed, because the shittyness of the road had really taken new proportions by this point.

Riding along the villages we soon were out of water, and stopped for a while in the middle of nowhere.
We quickly got some company from some interested locals, and who managed to bring out an english talking guy.
Spoke with them for a couple of minutes before continuing to KNIB.

Loose horses standing on the road, making long faces at us.

Realizing that we were not to reach Kiev on our first day, we found ourselves a good campsite.
Best place ever, if I ever manage to forget the symphony of mosquitoes that wanted a piece of us.
That evening, when trying to sleep, thunder and lightning was right on top of us.
I loved it, have never slept outside in a real storm like that. And the amount of lightning was endless.
Also, the heat to this point on the trip had been overwhelming for us.
So, the fresh, colder air was welcomed.

While scouting the surrounding area of the campsite, we found an really interesting tree.

Leaving the first Ukrainian campsite for KNIB, all cozy and humid.
Buff, my cardboard companion seemed less happy with being left outside in the rain. But he soon dried up, and is doing well.

Had to stop at a railway crossing, and it seemed that every single person was looking out on us standing there waiting..

Riding along surprisingly good roads the more near we got to KNIB.

Passing an abandoned building on our way, we decide to stop for a look.
It was well worth it.. We think it might have been maybe an hospital or Prison?

As you see, in Cyrillic languages they use wild cards since they have used up all their names.

Chris is riding the KTM like an chopper, our aftermarket foot pegs came out great.
Lean back, put your feet up and ride! Only backside is that if you should tip over with the bike, there's a risk for damaging other things with those metal pegs bending inwards, between the crash guards..

getting closer..

When getting close to KNIB we were getting low on fuel, and since Chris' KTM had a smaller tank and higher consumption, we had used both our two small spare gas tanks we bought by the time we got near to KNIB.
When we got into town, we a saw a familiar face - a Shell symbol at the road.

We had been avoiding ordinary russian gas stations since no one seemed to have to ability to accept credit cards, and since my money had been used up on the local police force - we had to ride on as long as we could.

At the Shell gas station they looked at my EuroShell card with amazement, but failed to make it work. But as luck has it, they were equipped with card readers for Mastercard/VISA.

Last part, before getting to our Hotel, we tried getting some food at a McDonalds in town, since we thought it obvious that a capitalist company like that would have the abililty to charge a creditcard. But, to our amazement, only cash.

At the parking lot of McDonalds, a Ukrainian man in his car complemented us with "You brave souls" when I told him that we had ridden from the northwestern part of Ukraine to KNIB. The last problem of the day - finding our Hotel, without ruining my engine in the extreme summers heat of the town.

That part was pure hell and we ended up with a taxi driver who guided our way, since we didn't have a clue where to go. My oil temperature gauge went off the scale, and the engine knocked horribly sometimes..
I don't ever want to put it through that torture again.. The KTM with its water cooling complained, but did alright.

We stopped for some moments to let my engine cool off, but it almost instantly got at above normal temperatures again.
Big cities, and 1200cc air cooled boxers? uh-oh, no go. Now I really have a good reason to avoid cities like cancer..

Passing the city center in KNIB.

Finally when totally soaking wet of sweat, and the boxer doing funny noises, we had reached our destination. Hotel Rus in KIEV!

That's all for part 1, next part will include videos and photos from the reason we came to Kiev - Chernobyl. And on to Romania from Ukraine.
I also think I had the best day of my life in Romania, with climbing mountains and stumbling over some bears on the roads..

I hope it all the text makes some sense, because I typed this non stop while waiting for the rain the quit pouring down over the balkan mountains..

Rideass screwed with this post 10-22-2009 at 08:57 AM
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Old 10-02-2009, 04:15 AM   #2
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Eek Part 2, Chernobyl

After being home for almost two weeks, it's time to continue on part 2 of the trip... So here it goes again..

At the time it was a relief to get off the bike for two days after week of just driving.
And after sleeping the bushes for a week the first shower at the hotel really made a world of difference to the overall well being.

Also, when arriving to Kiev, I got to finally meet an Ukrainian girl that I had been speaking with over the internet since a few years. And she decided to go with us on the tour to Chernobyl the next day.

29th of August - Chernobyl and Pripyat.

I'm not going to go into the accident of 1986 much, other than that I see this as one of humanities worst accidents ever. The amount of lives directly lost because of this, and all the indirect health problems for many people (not only in Ukraine) because of it.
And of course, the contaminated area itself, also called the exclusion zone.

Some might not know that the sarcofag that is covering the blown reactor 4, is slowly falling apart. Heard some different rumors that the EU has decided to pay for the new sarcofag, since its not longer just a problem for Ukraine - but for the whole of Europe.

What happens if the sarcofag falls in on itself you say?
Well, prepare for the second wave of the shitstorm.
Because it might even be more crap waiting to see the day than at the original accident day.

It is painfully obvious that Ukraine cannot afford a state financed building project of that size.

That conclusion I draw from the piece of shit roads, and as a biker on the roads there,
making sure that the police get a fair piece of your wallet while traveling through. ("#%¤&!!)

Since you are not allowed to take your own vehicle into the exclusion zone, we had to go on a tour into the area with a minibus.

Just entering the exclusion zone through a checkpoint.

A cooling tower that was never completed.

Driving past the cooling canals.. The weather was really beautiful that day.

Chernobyl in the distance.

This is what surprised me the most, the catfish living undisturbed - and growing in size and numbers. Sorry for the bad video, my camera wasn't really pro equipment.

Damn, those are big catfish!

Standing close to the reactor, with the Geiger screaming in the background.

The Geiger making some noise.

When you disregard the alphabet and try saying Pripyat, it looks like that.

Some info on Pripyat.

Entering Pripyat, you don't get the feeling of being in a town at first since
the main road is so overgrown.

Welcome to Pripyat.

Monuments and symbolism, the USSR was big on that.

That was supposed to be some sort of discotek or something at the time.

Some video from the "discotek".

Paper, crap and single shoes everywhere.

Really like the tree that has grown through the wooden floor.

Looking at some papers left behind in the school.

Some abandoned vehicles used in the aftermath of the accident.
The radiation sign is not just for show. The tracks and wheels of the vehicles are still radioactive.

My favorite part of the tour, the swimming pool.

More pictures of the swimming pool.

Whats left of the amusement park that was never used.

We had so much fun walking around, our guide, Yuri was a blast.
When we got our lunch afterwards, we sat and laughed our asses off. Yuri had his jokes and oneliners.
Even the ladies making the food asked if there was something wrong with us.
I would like to return some day, with more time to walk around.

Next post, driving south from Kiev and into Romania.
It will be up soon!

Edit: Fixed the videos.

Rideass screwed with this post 10-22-2009 at 08:51 AM
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Old 10-02-2009, 04:27 AM   #3
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You are crazy

Keep going!
Croatia - A small country for a great vacation!
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Old 10-02-2009, 04:56 AM   #4
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Old 10-02-2009, 05:07 AM   #5
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Awesome ride, report and pics!! Keep it comin' and thanks for taking us along

ADV decals, patches & flag? Here
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Old 10-02-2009, 08:44 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Street Illegal

You are crazy

Keep going!
We got that reaction a lot from ppl whom we told we were going there, but in reality you are exposed to more radiation when you for example fly a commercial airliner at high altitudes.

Basically, as long as you stay on the tarmac you`ll be perfectly alright, since the thing you want to avoid is the contaminated dust on loose earth. Our guide, Yuri, had been working as a guide going in and out of the zone for the last 11 years, and doing regular health checkups.
He was not showing any signs of harm ( except for a black sense of humor :) ).
In most parts, the levels of radiation were on level with Kiev or any other place on earth. But there are of course places you should avoid, the levels of radiation are really random;

That is how my first accident happened. I was driving a pickup. 16 years old. I was cruising the strip in Reno and was staring at this absolute hottie. I tapped the car in front of me, at about 5 mph. The guy got out and was about to kick my ass. When he saw the woman I was staring at, he gave me high five, said everything was cool and drove off."

Current garage:
`08 Ktm 990 adventure
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Old 10-02-2009, 08:55 AM   #7
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Part 3, southern Ukraine.

The day after the Chernobyl tour, it was time for us to continue on our way.
We had a great time in Kiev, with its beautiful women, their stray dogs and whatnot.
I also had the opportunity to meet the girl who came along on the chernobyl tour - Irina.
Been talking to her over the net for several years. We had a great time!
It hurt badly inside to leave her in Kiev.
But as luck has it, we are now a couple. So, that pain was temporary. ;D

Me and Irina, looking kinda sad both of us.

Leaving the hotel in Kiev, for new adventures!

Anyway, leaving the hotel. We decided to give the GPS a try again.
Instant failure. We ended up driving for an hour in the wrong direction.
Noticed a really neat feature here.
If you only have mayor roads in your GPS maps, and the GPS has the default setting of "avoid U-turns" - the shit will hit the fan.
Due to this the GPS wanted us to ride north to the
border (500km+), turn around in Belarus and THEN go back south. The logic.
After that the GPS earned its place for being the most expensive piece of shit on this trip.
Retardedly slow menus, occasional lockups among other things..

Knowing that we had wasted 1-2 hours of driving that day, and because of that,
we decided to take a break at a McDonalds in Kiev.
Luckily, even though their staff didn't speak english - We were able to order a feast!
At that place we met two other Ukrainian bikers who spoke english, and who were willing to help us out of town.

Driving through Kiev, with help from the locals..

Unknown heroes of Kiev and me, just after they showed us the way out of town.

Riding along for the day, dodging the piece of shit cars coming out of every hole.
And trying not to stay behind one of those piece of shit trucks too long.
The smell those old trucks makes is incredible.

The names, oooh, the names.. Oh well, luckily XMEN was easy to remember.

Second camp in Ukraine, we found this place in the middle of nowhere.
Perfect, but it got really cold that night.
Both of us woke up several times, just to put on some more clothes.

Day after, riding again. Both were up early since both of us were freezing our asses.

Hello, road chickens!

Buff seemed pleased as usual.

Lada (piece of shit car) with a pig payload.

Taking a break watching some ducks, and watching one local wash the horse.

At some break, during the day.

Wonderful day for riding.

Seeing this sign at a local restaurant on the road south. Made us laugh.
Good meal, but afterwards I know why the two clerks behind the counter
argued for like a minute after us ordering some food.
We got two pieces of chicken. Nothing else. Yummi.
Foodfailure #1.

Out on gravel, looking for a site for the night.

Second camp of Ukraine, maybe the best camp on the trip.
No mosquitoes, away from the road. And music being played really loud from some nearby house. Russian versions of western music, from 10-15 years ago.

Cooking some breakfast for once!

The morning after some great sleep, just about to leave.
A guy just passed our camp just moments earlier, with a cow.
He looked amused when we showed him with gestures that we had slept there during the night.

Getting out to the bigger roads again, in the background you can see our home for the past night.

One perfect day for riding after another... ;D

One mighty interested cow. Didn't let me out of sight.

The frustrations of passing through big cities had gotten to at least me.
We always got lost when just trying to pass right through them.
Later we decided to stop before every big city, and have one beer.
Problem solved. No stress, just laughter and silliness!

It was now getting really close to the Ukrainian/Romanian border.
Next post will contain Romania and its beautiful scenery..

Rideass screwed with this post 10-02-2009 at 10:05 AM
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Old 10-02-2009, 09:27 AM   #8
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I'm really enjoying this report...keep it coming
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Old 10-02-2009, 10:04 AM   #9
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Great report!

Keep the story and photos coming. Nice video too!
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Old 10-02-2009, 10:53 AM   #10
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Haha, oh, and another thing. While driving south though Ukraine. We saw a police officer standing by the road hitching a ride.

Oh, if we only had not the amount of stuff on the bikes.
That would have made for some awesome pictures

If not for the wonderful safety first thinking we saw from Ukrainian road workers.
Your first warning that someone is working on the road in front of you, is when you almost hit the first dirty tiny cone at highway speeds. And next second you find yourself in a world of shit*.

*shit: Gigantic holes in the road

Rideass screwed with this post 10-02-2009 at 11:15 AM
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Old 10-02-2009, 11:05 AM   #11
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You went into Ukraine on bmw bikes with only 200 gryvnias?

That's $25 USD

The cops over there get rich by taking bribes. It's just a normal part of Ukrainian culture by now. They probably saw the familiar bmw badges and saw their opportunity.
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Old 10-02-2009, 11:16 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by njd
You went into Ukraine on bmw bikes with only 200 gryvnias?

That's $25 USD

The cops over there get rich by taking bribes. It's just a normal part of Ukrainian culture by now. They probably saw the familiar bmw badges and saw their opportunity.
Oh no dear sir, we had 400! :)
We were kinda expecting the bribery, what we didnt expect were the total and absolute lack of banks or atms in the whole western part of ukraine.
Turned out fine tho, no worries :)
That is how my first accident happened. I was driving a pickup. 16 years old. I was cruising the strip in Reno and was staring at this absolute hottie. I tapped the car in front of me, at about 5 mph. The guy got out and was about to kick my ass. When he saw the woman I was staring at, he gave me high five, said everything was cool and drove off."

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Old 10-02-2009, 11:27 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by njd
You went into Ukraine on bmw bikes with only 200 gryvnias?

That's $25 USD

The cops over there get rich by taking bribes. It's just a normal part of Ukrainian culture by now. They probably saw the familiar bmw badges and saw their opportunity.
Edit: oh, yeah. 400 grivnas. Seems that I have done a ohoh in the report above, correcting!

We took out 400 grivnas each, and thought that should be enough for a while.
But how stupid of us. We soon realized that no places what so ever accepted credit cards. And forget about ATMs.

It was kinda funny being stopped by police, looking back on it.
Because they did it with a smile. Even though you sat there, knowingly being robbed and couldn't do anything about it.
It's hard to get political on someone when they barely understand Yes/No

The second time I had to buy my freedom, I had to use my euros. Since their colleagues a few hours back took all my grivnas, or "funnymoneys".

Rideass screwed with this post 10-02-2009 at 11:44 AM
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Old 10-02-2009, 01:36 PM   #14
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Passing over to Romania was a real welcome, into the EU again.
Road signs suddenly made sense!

After getting the Ukrainian paper exercise done and going past,
they mostly waved us through on the Romanian side of the border.

Gave the GPS another go, since I had maps loaded for Romania.
Fail. And off it stayed.

First picture in Romania, just off the main road.

Riding in Romania felt the same like in Ukraine, but the roads are better and
most their fleet of vehicles are decades newer than Ukraine.

When we stopped for food the first time we were delighted to have the option of actually understanding the menu and being able to talk to the waiter. ;D

Complementary cute dinner dog, as usual.

Endless amount of small villages, with one large and high speed road going meters from peoples' houses. Animals, people, cars, trucks and bikes. Everything is moving. Can't see this ever going wrong.

More and more beautiful...

Somewhere here, it got late. We checked into a roadside hotel. Quite great place. Remember having Foodfailure #2 that evening. Both Chris and I sat in the restaurant and both of us managed to order a meat dinner with only meat. Nothing else. Well, okey. Beer and meat.
Remember laughing my ass off that night.

Next day, after riding for a couple of hours, Chris noticed a gravel road going upward the mountain.
We decided, after some scouting that it looked doable.

And up we went!

Afternoon offroad adventure!

After an hour or two of playing around on that mountain, we made haste..

Getting out first really good view of the trip.

Getting close to Miercurea Ciuc.

Staying at a Hotel in town, it seemed that we were the only guests.
Fell asleep early, as usual with some help from beer.
Sleep early, get up early! And off we went at 8 AM or something again..

Riding off in the morning, we set out in a good mood.
Of course, the moment I decided to overtake a car, and laughing over the intercom to Chris while doing it,
I get waved down by the police that was standing right there.
This time, they only wanted to see the papers. I was expecting a fine.

Awesome roads..

Good place for a break.

We drove until the afternoon and found ourselves in Transfagaras pass.

(You might want to lower your volume)
You're only going to hear engine sound, distortions and me laughing at the end of it, anyway.

More from Romania and Transfagaras pass in my next post.

Rideass screwed with this post 10-06-2009 at 08:48 AM
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Old 10-02-2009, 04:58 PM   #15
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Part 5, Transfagaras pass

Getting from the lowlands, climbing up to about 2000 meters with our bikes.
The drive was awesome. I am not exaggerating when saying it might been the best day ever.

Mountains in the distance..

Stopped for some photo-ops.

At the top of the pass, just before the tunnel to the other side of the mountain.

Well over on the other side, we stopped to see a trail going upwards to the top of one peak.

There is the trail going from the right to the top left, we figured it would take about 30 minutes to climb. Had to think about it, since the sun was setting and we wanted off the mountains before dark.

We parked our bikes, changed shoes and went.

Upwards gentlemen.

Win! And it only took about 40 minutes to climb!

Going down since the sun was setting.

The view was stunning..



Driving down the pass, trying to find a campsite.

...Coming out of a corner.... and, two bears stood on the road?! ;D
First thought was to turn around. But then the urge got to taking pictures.
But when we stood still and started moving around the bears started walking towards us slowly.
So we went for it, high beams, second gear, high rpm and roar past the bears on the road.

After the bears, camping felt kind of, well, not worth it at that time.
The road never seemed to end, and when there were tunnels, nothing was ever lighted.



Night driving in the Romanian mountains.

Sheep on the road, at night, that is good.

While driving for a good hour or so before finding a hotel for the night, we passed some James Bondish-style evil villan lairs in the mountains.
I tried to stop at a bridge with a large glas elevator shaft/stairs going up the mountain side. And instantly some big henchman comes out and tells us leave. They looked really awesome by night, in the clear moon sky. The buildings, of course.

More in my next post, southern Romania.

Rideass screwed with this post 10-24-2009 at 05:43 AM
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