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Old 10-04-2014, 12:11 PM   #1
Mendo OP
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Sold everything I own and gone riding through Eastern Europe

My girlfriend and I are currently riding through Eastern Europe 2-Up on a F800GS. Many of you here know FishFund and his friend Nick whom rode from South Africa to Norway on their thread "25,000 miles with Luke and Nick"
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=653492

After this trip Nick left his BMW in Romania and flew back to the US. The bike had been sitting in a barn for the past 3 years and I am now using it for this ride! I have just sold my Motorcycle Tour Business in Hawaii and everything else I own to do my next big adventure through Eastern Europe and Asia. The plan is to ride through Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Serbia and then back to Romania to drop off the bike and fly to India and SE Asia.

My girlfriend Crystal and Me.


We flew into Norway and traveled down through eastern Europe by bus and train to Romania where the bike was.

When we got off the train in Vad which is in the middle of a field we were not sure if anyone would be there to pick us up as we were one hour late and had no way of contacting Nicks grandparents. Low and behold though Nicks wife's mother and her father were there waiting for us though and they led us to their car. Nick's mother in law Lucy lives in the US and speaks perfect english, she was home visiting her parents which was very lucky for us and no one else speaks any english there. They took us into their home like we were part of the family and were just wonderful in all aspects. A fresh dinner was waiting to be served to us consisting of all home grown products from their yard.

The next morning another fresh breakfast was served and I went into the barn to check out the condition of the motorcycle. As I mentioned it had been sitting for over three years and was covered in dirt, the tires were flat and I was semi unsure if it would start as motorcycle do not like not being used for extended periods of time. I wheeled it out into the yard and gave it a good wash.

Giving the BMW its first bath in years


I filled up the tires with air and they held, installed the new battery we brought and put some new gas in the tank. Turned the key on and all lights came on, now was the moment of truth. I hit the starter and the motor turns over and over for about 10 seconds and then roars to life! I held the throttle for a bit to clear anything out and when I let off it idled perfectly. I took it out for a spin on the street to make sure everything worked and it did. Now we had to install the new tires as these ones were shot.

I will admit I really suck at changing motorcycle tires, I just don't have the patience and always end up yelling and getting mad haha. We jacked up the bike and took off the rear wheel, I deflated the tire and tried to break the bead anyway I knew how. We tried everything including using the kickstand and weight of the bike but the super wide 17-inch tire would just not break. Frustrated I decided to just wait until the next day and take it to a tire shop somewhere and save the trouble.

The next morning I rode it to a tire shop Lucy had told me about in the next town. The shop guy looked exactly like Mario from Super Mario Bros. and did not speak any english so Lucy came along and translated for me. Both tires went on without a hitch and we were ready to ride!

Reinstalling the real wheel


We said our goodbyes to the family and set off on the bike towards the famous Transfagarasan Highway.
This was named the best road in the world by Top Gear and I was very excited to see if it lived up the hype. About an hour away we found the right entrance to the road and headed into the mountains. The road twisted through the forest with long sweeping turns until we came to a vantage point overlooking a huge waterfall careening down the valley below.


It was absolutely incredible up here and the feeling of finally being on the bike after all this planning and traveling was euphoric. The next section was the famed zig zag that looked more like a race track than a road. More waterfalls would surround you from all sides while winding up the hill. It was just as good as I thought it would be!




Just as we got to the top a huge cloud came in and it started to rain. A large group of riders from the Ukraine pulled up and we got to talking about our plans for the trip and what they were doing. One of them gave me a dollar bill from Ukraine as a gift.
We continued through the dense fog and rain for a while until I came across a guest house high on the mountain, the rates were very reasonable and I was ready to be out of these wet clothes so we stayed there for the night hoping for sun the next day.
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Mendo screwed with this post 10-15-2014 at 07:40 AM
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Old 10-04-2014, 12:16 PM   #2
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The next morning the sun was shining and it was a perfect day, I went outside to get the bike and the front tire was completely flat! Oh no this is not what I want to deal with right now in the middle of nowhere so I pump it up by hand and hope it will hold until the next town. The tire held air no problem but I still stopped and checked it every 20 minutes or so. The rest of the Transfagasaran were just as good as the beginning and we rode around some pristine lakes and the beautiful Romanian country side.

We came to a huge dam and I could see a trail that led to the bottom of it I really wanted to check out. I found a dirt road that led into the river below and we got our first taste of off-road. We crossed the river about 10 times as it wound through the valley.


I came to a very green and wet section and could see a large mud pit ahead buried under grass just waiting to swallow up this heavy bike. Crystal got off and tested how deep it was, I think we can make it so backed up and got al ot of momentum and throttled through sliding around.


The trail ended and turned to river rock giving us a spectacular view looking up at the dam, it really made you feel small.
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Old 10-04-2014, 12:40 PM   #3
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Transfagarasan to TransAlpina Romania

Today the plan was the ride the Transalpina which paralleled the Transfagasaran and was supposed to be just as impressive. In my research I read a funny comment on a youtube video of someone riding the Transfagasaran that really stuck with me. “If you do not ride the Transfagasaran AND the Transalpina you have wasted your life” The Transalpina was not on the way we were going but I figured I had to do it.

The road condition itself was actually better than the Transfagasaran, I had a blast ripping up the roads until a extremely heavy fog came in giving almost zero visibility.


The fog eventually cleared giving way to huge vistas over the mystical landscape.





I thought I smelled marijuana in the air and figured it was someone in a car ahead of me but the smell kept persisting and got stronger. There must be some growing around here, then I saw it. Huge endless fields of weed as far as the eye could see. The rest of the day was a bit hazy I don't really remember what happened. ;)
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Old 10-09-2014, 01:26 AM   #4
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Romaniacs!

The left fork seal on the bike was leaking very badly, so much so that a puddle would form every time I parked it. I got in contact with a BMW car dealership in Sibiu and they recommended me to a guy who owned the same bike and had a repair shop. I called him and we setup a time to meet in Sibiu at his ship Moto Exteme http://www.mottoextreme.ro/
We dropped off the bike with him and decided to get a full service done on the bike so it was good to go for the long journey ahead. This included new fork seals, new oil, new oil filter, new air filter, new brakes front and rear and repacking the bearings in the steering stem.

Sibui is where the Red Bull Romaniacs Extreme Enduro Race is held which is the hardest dirt bike race in the world, it absolutely insane some of the stuff these guys ride on. It has always been a dream of mine to ride part of the Romaniacs so I tracked down a company http://enduroguidedtours.com who does dirt bike tours here and signed up for a private tour the next day.

I met at the owners home where he had a garage full of KTM’s and Husabergs. I am a KTM rider but really wanted to try out a Husaberg so I picked the FE450. We got geared up and my guide a local Romanian and I took off towards the mountains.

The terrain was perfect! Tight single track trails through the dense forests with huge hill climbs and a tacky but sometimes muddy base. The guide was a very good rider and this was his backyard so I was always pushing myself to keep up. Some of the trails got very tight and the radiator fan was not working so the bike was overheating for most of the ride but I just kept it moving trying not to use the clutch to much and keep some airflow going.




The terrain got harder and harder until we were going down near vertical hills. Both brakes were locked up and I was all the way over the back fender trying not to flip over forwards. What is crazy is that this is the hill they go UP in the Romaniacs. The pictures do it no justice at all



The woods section then opened up into vast open fields and we were now riding through someones farm dodging cows and sheep dogs, the views were really something else. Then it hit me, I’m riding parts of the Romaniacs in Romania!!!! A dream come true.




We went back into the woods and the riding just got harder and harder, I was exhausted but having way to much fun to slow down. I did not get many pictures on this ride as almost the whole time it was just balls to the wall and try to stay alive mode. I have no doubt in saying it was one of the best rides in my life.
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Old 10-09-2014, 01:43 AM   #5
MeinMotorrad
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In.

Do you have the gps coordinates for that grass
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Old 10-09-2014, 03:11 AM   #6
duibhceK
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Looking forward to reading the rest of this report!
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Old 10-09-2014, 10:31 AM   #7
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Nice pics/report....
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Old 10-09-2014, 01:36 PM   #8
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Awesome! I love these Romanian Ride Reports!

My inlaws live in Oradea, Romania. Someday I will have a bike over there to explore with!
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Old 10-10-2014, 06:07 AM   #9
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Roads? Where we are going we don’t need roads. Sibiu, Romania

When we left Sibiu on the BMW taking a mountain road I had found on google maps heading south I had no idea what kind of adventure would lie ahead. What I thought would be a paved road turned into a rocky rutted out trail leading into makeshift Gypsy camps. Riding a 500 lb motorcycle 2up on this terrain was very difficult but this turned out to be the easy part.


About 50 miles in, what I feared may occur did. The only road out of the woods had been completely washed out! A group at ATV riders whom were out on a 5 day adventures and were heading our same direction was at the washout as well surveying the scene.


They sent one ATV across the washout to see if it was worth trying to get all the ATVs and my bike through the rocks but about 1km later there was another impassible washout from the recent storm.


Another ATV went out to try to find some locals to ask if there was a way around. The word was there was a off-road jeep trail back up the road that would lead us where we needed to go but they warned of the unknown road condition. To save weight Crystal jumped on the back of one of the ATVs and I rode with the group to find the trail. After much debate on if we had found the right trail we headed into it.



It instantly turned into a muddy mess of a trail winding to the top of the mountain and zig zagging back down. I struggled to keep the bike upright the entire time through the ice like mud whilst avoiding sliding off the trail. At each break the rest of the group would give cheers of encouragement to me for surviving the past section.




After riding some the hardest trails I had ever done on dirt bikes the day before I was already extremely sore and my muscles were at about half strength. I now was riding some of the hardest trails I had ever done on a big adventure bike like this which only added to the fatigue. We managed to make it all the way through, the trail did in fact intersect down river to where we needed to go! We gave a farewell to our new friends and continue to ride south towards Bulgaria.
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Old 10-12-2014, 08:54 AM   #10
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Wow...bravo! Hope the other legs of the trip are a bit kinder
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Old 10-12-2014, 01:58 PM   #11
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Fantastic! Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Looks like Fish's old bikes are just destine to be world travelers with or without him.
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Old 10-14-2014, 01:08 PM   #12
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Crossing into Bulgaria with no insurance and a bike title not in my name.

To travel in Europe on a US plated motorcycle you need what is called a “green card” insurance which is liability insurance that covers all of the EU countries. Any insurance you had in the states is invalid here. However you are supposed to get this insurance while you are in the US and have it when your bike arrives in Europe. I did not have this and tried very hard to find where I could get it but it was impossible. Because of this I was always a bit nervous about getting pulled over by the police especially since I was constantly driving over the speed limit and semi erratically. This is how you must drive to survive here though. Buses and trucks will come right into your lane you must swerve around, every corner they may be a horse pulling a trailer taking up your whole lane or any number of animal related obstacles.

As we rode towards the border of Bulgaria I was curious on how it would go with customs taking the bike through without insurance and the bike was registered to Nick and not myself. We got to the border and the customs officer looked at the registration and then my passport and then the bike and with a confused look on his face said “you rode that motorcycle all the way here from the USA?” I explained the whole story and he just shrugged and said wow that is crazy good luck!


I asked where we could get the green card insurance on the Bulgaria side and the guy just pointed ahead with no explanation. This led us to aimlessly ride around until we found a shack that looked like it may sell insurance. After about 30 minutes talking with the woman who was there through google translate she told us she cannot get it for us and gave us an address of another insurance company in another town. So we rode there and got the same answer, great. Our destination was now the Capitol of Bulgaria called Sofia. A nice 2 hour ride through the mountains landed us in this huge city where I was determined to find this insurance before I got arrested.

I was able to find the main insurance office in the capital and finally got it taken care of! It was $150 for 2 months covering all EU countries but not Turkey, Albania, Montenegro or Serbia which we planned to go through. If you are ever planning to do a similar trip to this I would recommend you save yourself the hassle I went through and just get it through http://greencard.mototouring.com/greenCard.php before you arrive in Europe. It is more expensive but saves you a lot of time.

My good friend Omar whom I lived with during college in Santa Barbara now lives in Istanbul, Turkey and I really wanted to see him so we set our sights towards Turkey! I took the mountain route through Bulgaria and while it was beautiful and great roads we were constantly outrunning the rain and got caught in a couple downpours. Bulgaria feels much different from Romania, a little more cold hearted, its hard to explain but it did not share the warmth of the Romanian people but was still an interesting place for sure.


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Old 10-23-2014, 10:50 AM   #13
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Bulgaria to Istanbul Through A Massive Storm

We had been just slightly outrunning a large storm all the way through Bulgaria but right as we crossed the border into Turkey it caught up to us big time. Pellet sized rain down poured over the country from dark black clouds for as far as you could see riding through the desert. Lightning flashed from all sides with rolling thunder at our backs as the road began to flood. I had to slow to a crawl just to be able to see through my fogged helmet visor while searching for some shelter but there was none for miles.

We eventually found cover and waited out the worst of the rain for 2 hours. Once it had slowed to a drizzle we were back on the road only to be rained on again for another 100 miles on the way to Istanbul soaked to the bone with shoes full of water. The weather cleared as we entered the biggest city I have ever seen in my life. The vast city of Istanbul appeared sprawling 100 miles across, the home of over 16 million which divides the continents of Europe and Asia.

Traffic 8 lanes wide slowed to a halt as massive buses and suicidal cab drivers and mopeds zig zagged through lanes and merged right into me trying to find the best position to gain one car length on the traffic. By almost nightfall my GPS lead me near where we were staying which was in the absolute ghetto on streets so steep they gave San Francisco a run for its money. This area reminded me of many other 3rd world cities I have been in with trash everywhere and people sleeping on the ground of their concrete floored slums. We had truly entered a new world from Eastern Europe.

We still did not know where our hotel was so I got off the bike and walked around as the hills were to steep to be trying to ride around aimlessly. I located it upon one of the near 45 degree roads, there was no place to park the bike and there is no way I am leaving it on the streets where it would surely get stolen or vandalized warned the hotel staff. The normal guarded parking was closed so I wandered around with a very helpful Iranian hotel manager trying to find somewhere to put the bike. I am physically and mentally exhausted at this point from the 250 miles of doom ride today.

We find a car wash down a alley way a few blocks away and they say they have a place I can keep the bike. He wants way to much money and the Iranian and this local guy are arguing loudly in Turkish about the price as the local keeps pointing to the bike saying how expensive it is so I must have the money to pay whatever he likes is what I gather from his body language. As tempers flare between the two they agree on a price I find semi reasonable and I ride it into a shed and lock it up.

Welcome to Turkey!
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Old 10-26-2014, 09:50 AM   #14
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Enjoying your ride report. I used to travel to Romania for business, and always wanted to do a ride through the country, but never had the opportunity. The Transfagarasan highway is on the bucket list.
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Old 10-30-2014, 11:54 AM   #15
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Istanbul To Greece

After a few great days visiting with Omar and his family in Istanbul we now headed towards Greece to get some sun. Upon entering Greece we were greeted by the aqua blue waters and sheer limestone cliffs. The difference between Greece and Turkey was vast the moment we passed through customs. It is always fascinating to me how a imaginary border line can instantly change the feeling of where you are. Having not seen the ocean in quite some time I took a dirt road along the coast that took us through some beautiful olive farms and ancient ruins.






With no GPS maps for this area each turn was a guess on where it would lead and we encountered some challenging obstacles.


Our destination was Mount Olympus in Central Greece. This is the famed mountain from ancient Greek mythology where the prominent gods came from. An extremely curvy road wound up the imposing mountain giving breath taking views into the valley.


About half way up the mountain we hiked into the gorge where the terrain changed from rocky shrubs to a dense and wet rainforest. Crystal clear and marine blue water flowed through the rivers down waterfalls into great swimming holes.



After the hike we explored some dirt backroads leading further into the forest before returning to the bottom to call it a night, if you are ever in Greece I highly recommend checking out this area!
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