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Old 08-25-2011, 03:19 AM   #151
Cornay
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Bartimus,
You are definitely the funniest Pole that I know.
Apart from Lech Walesa. Now there's a funny guy.
Your reports are a crack up...the Italian on the 1200...poor bugger.
Keep up the good work.
Stay safe.
Cornay.
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Old 08-28-2011, 12:23 AM   #152
racki OP
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I’ve made it and I owe you guys few more days of RR. I’ll do my best to finish it quick – version for Polish forum is being done right now, photos are selected and resized – I just need more time to put some words between them. Catching up with family is taking most of my time right now so I’ll do some night shifts and get it done.
Bart
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Old 08-28-2011, 11:37 PM   #153
horseman474
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Great job Bart..

Have enjoyed your report.

Like to see a post brief later on your bikes performance and travelling tips etc.

Cheers

Horseman
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Old 09-03-2011, 01:22 AM   #154
racki OP
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Day 59 – Istanbul


I gave it all, tried my best and it was almost full success. Disguised as a tourist (sandals, shorts, camera and a backpack), I started at dawn. Hagia Sophia was my first target – long queue for ticket, proper printed guide, audio guide and a lot of patience and pretended interest. Strong Turkish coffee helped a bit, but not much.



I listened to all the info, looked at everything I was told to and enjoyed it in some weird way. I liked the experiment, but not the building itself.








After second breakfast I made another attempt – this time it was Topkapi Palace. Luckily it was closed that day, so quite accidentally Archaeological Museum became a replacement target. Well – there was a reason for that – if I’m to look at some old pile of rubbish, I want it to be seriously old!
Most of things to look at were sculptures of handicapped people or people dead for quite some time.





That’s when I run out of steam and remaining enthusiasm. I couldn’t force myself to do any more proper tourism – me feet were tired, I was sweaty and exhausted. Motorcycle riding is so much easier than this! I gathered enough enthusiasm to get to Hamam – traditional Turkish bath. The same stuff that Charlie Boorman did – hairy and mostly naked Turk throws you on a marble table and that’s just the beginning. I was seriously afraid that it might be a bit too gay for me, but it wasn’t bad after all. First I washed myself in hot water, then this hairy monster performed proper massage of almost everything. After that there was another bath with abrasive cloth, one more bath and that was it. Growling Turk asking every now and then ‘Are you OK, mister?’ was a bit unsettling, but after all it was very relaxing and enjoyable experience. Leg cramps were gone and I was ready for another attack!

Main Bazaar was a place to get a fur. I didn’t want to get one of course – how would I look in this riding a bike after all, but I still wanted to get as close to the experience as possible so I got a carpet. Just a little one, small enough to roll it together with sleeping mat.








I wonder if they wear the same stuff you can see in the ad behind?




There is so many shops selling exactly the same stuff, that most of shop attendants are well-rested:




Silnence of the Goats:



After dinner I was ready for another (third) attack, but after all I gave up. It was enough for me in one day so after short walk I finished my little experiment.







Final result is that I can do this if I want to, but it’s my approach to pretty much everything in life so I’m not surprised. The truth is that tourism is a bit like sex – it can be done on your own, but it should be a team effort.
Tomorrow I’ll just go north not knowing my final destination. My brother Maciej is riding towards me and we are supposed to meet somewhere in Bulgaria.
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racki screwed with this post 09-03-2011 at 01:28 AM
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Old 09-03-2011, 09:54 AM   #155
KHVol
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Terrific adventure, Bart....respect to ya.....
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Old 09-04-2011, 12:26 AM   #156
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Day 60 – Istambul – Varna


Plan was to get to Varna or at least somewhere near. Maciej was on his way with his wife Ania and having a bit of advantage they were supposed to find nice spot, send me coordinates and wait there. It’s not like they had easy ride though – 2500 km in two days is a tough call, but riding big GS and using good roads it was manageable.
I had most of the day to do this, so it wasn’t a hard task at all – 500 km or so. Not much, but if you’re a navigational genius like me, you might end up at the south of Greece by accident. I missed motorway exit, took the wrong one but at the end made it out of town. Map is cheated again – I must have done something wrong with GPS setup because it records up to certain length of track now so I had to draw it a bit.

Typical tourist visiting Turkey must be really dumb – he needs to be advised where he is all the time, so helpful Turks put a lot of national flags. Some of them are huge.



Taking motorway out of big town is the quickest way to leave, but it gets boring straight away. For how long can you sit on 120 km/h on a single cylinder after all? My plan was to take the motorway all the way to Bulgarian border, but I run out of patience sooner than that and turned East towards some small crossing.
I had to fight a bit with motorway toll booth first. To pay for this you need to have special card, which can be bought at every toll gate. Minimum amount you can recharge it with is 50 Liras, which is plenty for a motorbike. Basically I used paid roads quite often here and I used only about 20 Liras.
To pay it needs to be inserted into some kind of proximity sensor, light changes into green and you’re free to go. In theory that is... In reality you stop there, pull out your card and induction loop doesn’t trigger anything - you have red light most of the time. I did all I could to pay so I feel free to go. They can chase me if they want to – I’m happy to pay, but if system is faulty it’s their problem not mine. On the last toll gate there was some super scary alarm, but I made sure that my super scary pipe was louder than that. It worked – I couldn’t hear the bloody alarm!
My alternative route was much better than motorway – narrow asphalt roads, gravel, even a bit of twin-track.















Border crossing was so small, that traffic in both directions shared the same narrow gate. I had to buy motorbike insurance for Europe. Since there was just one broker I had no other choice than to pay 75$ for one month. I’m sure it can be bought for fraction of this price, but I would have to go to the next city and spend half a day looking for alternatives so I bent over and took it.

It’s not a problem to get water here – fresh water fountain can be found every ten kilometres. This one even had a cup!


Road to the border fixed my need for adventure for this day, but road into Bulgaria wasn’t boring either – narrow, mountain road overgrown with thick bushes.


Road took me to the Black Sea coast. Some travel guides call this part of the world ‘Bulgarian Riviera’ and let me tell you – there is a reason why real Riviera is in France. This one is slightly crap. Sea shore South of Burgas is swampy – is looks and smells wrong. There are small cities every here and there, but none of them would be attractive enough to make me want to go there again. New multi-star hotels are already there but that doesn’t help much in my books.
After passing Burgas I decided to go away from sea shore – route was the same length, but went through some mountains again. It wasn’t a good idea as road condition made for unpleasant ride – lots of sharp-edged potholes. After reaching Varna Iit was enough to ride for another 20 or 30 km and greet my family. It was a nice end to short ride – lots of talk, few beers and a bit of swimming in the Black Sea.


Stats:



Map - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/371269
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Old 09-04-2011, 12:31 AM   #157
racki OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cornay View Post
Bartimus,
You are definitely the funniest Pole that I know.
Apart from Lech Walesa. Now there's a funny guy.
Your reports are a crack up...the Italian on the 1200...poor bugger.
Keep up the good work.
Stay safe.
Cornay.
Cornay, you are the real master of compliments! I'm not sure if being more fun than Wałęsa is a good thing or not, but I'll take it!
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Old 09-04-2011, 12:37 AM   #158
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Terrific adventure, Bart....respect to ya.....
Thanks!
It's always a good feeling when someone likes it. I'm not sure if I deserve the respect, but I take it as well!
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Old 09-04-2011, 06:10 AM   #159
gs2008
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great RR. Looking forward to the next post. Ride safe.
cheers
gs
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Old 09-06-2011, 03:09 PM   #160
nikolay_bg
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Hey Racki, are you still in Bulgaria? After all you are the reason for our successful Black sea trip with the information for Vladikavkaz border in HUBB, so I want to buy you a beer (or few beers)? ...
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Old 09-06-2011, 11:05 PM   #161
racki OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nikolay_bg View Post
Hey Racki, are you still in Bulgaria? After all you are the reason for our successful Black sea trip with the information for Vladikavkaz border in HUBB, so I want to buy you a beer (or few beers)? ...

Hmmm... Beer.. That would be nice, but I'm in Sydney already. I'm slow on updates recently - massive jet lag puts me down everyday at 5 pm.
It's good to hear that my info was usefull for once!

Cheers,
Bart
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Old 09-07-2011, 05:16 AM   #162
racki OP
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Day 61 – Varna (almost) – somewhere near Capusu Mare (Romania)

Maciej told me to ride like I was on my own. It’s not possible of course – riding with two bikes is a team effort and it takes a bit of time to align fuel, piss and food stops. Only food stops were a problem – I just don’t stop for food until late afternoon, easting Snicker bars while riding. For Maciej it was the toughest problem to deal with – he eats plenty. John left me my other Scala so we could talk all the time. I don’t know why, but we had zero problems with radio talk – previously it was hard to connect most of the time. I guess using it according to manual helps. As a result I nearly lost my voice by the end of the day – just like with walking in Vardzia, talking so much when not used to abused my throat.

It’s hard to hide differences in travel philosophy – while I do my best to have as little as possible while still having too much, Maciej tries to have as much as possible while thinking he misses something.


Full Gypsy bonanza – I still carry old front tyre (don’t know what for...) and there is also John’s mattress. I was carrying it for him and while parting ways I was told to throw it away, but I don’t like to throw stuff away so it’s mine now. It’s light anyway so I was using it for quick camping in the field.

Since I was ordered to ride like I was alone, my plan was simple – motorway run towards Romanian border, then passing Bucharest using country roads and reach Pitesi. That’s where Transafagarasan starts. Guys from Top Gear said once that it’s the best road in Europe, I saw a lot of RR here and it seemed like a good plan. Stop for this night was planned just after the pass.
I had no idea how tough partners I have in Maciej and Ania. It was obvious that I have no chance on motorway – while 120 km/h is my top comfort speed, for them it’s 160 so they have to ride with closed throttle most of the time. I just couldn’t understand why they wanted to ride like crazy that far just to ride back just as fast, but with some idiot telling them where to go.

We reached Danube River (second longest, after Volga for those interested).




This was the easiest border crossing so far – they just checked if it’s me on the photo and that was it. I wish previous ones were the same...
I don’t have a lot of knowledge about Romania. Nicolae Causescu and Dacia are exhausting my knowledge of the subject. While the first one is long dead, the other one is in abundance. It was a bit like visiting some open air museum until I realised, that Dacia is making modern models as well.


There was a lot of traditional farming solutions:

I’ve got few rules on my trip. One of them is to hang around people on crap bikes. Maciej lost his clutch cable just to fit within my strict rules. Since we are related, he’s a good bush mechanic as well – it took us about 10 minutes to get back on the road with our temporary solution:

After further 30 km there was some car mechanic, who had proper part to fix the cable.


Finally I could see proper Gypsies with thair campervan – sleeping compartment on top level, fuel for the horse on the bottom.


Transfagarasan, when approached form the South, seems not that special – it’s just another road through villages, fairly straight and boring. It got twisty after some time, but surface was in vary bad shape. Bad road took us to the water dam. We wanted to park there, take a walk, shoot some photos but in the end parking lot was bit too far for our liking.



After passing reservouir (using Eastern road), road surface got much better and we got to the pass:



Well, there is no pass to be honest – highest point of this road is the tunell, but it’s still spectacular. My lens is not wide enough to take proper photo:


Our plan for the day was pretty much done already, but there was some daylight left so we continued. I was surprised they wanted more – we covered some kilometres today, some of the roads were demanding and they still wanted more. I was used to different sort of companion on this trip...


When mountains were over, we had a chance to see some ‘real’ Romania. I was impressed – it wasn’t rich by any means, but there was some sort of community couldn’t see in previous countries. Houses were in good shape, with manicured lawn at the front and people sitting on benches and talking with their neighbours.



Hard seat on big GS was bit too hard for Maciej after some time, so we switched bikes. It was new experience for me – to ride something twice the size, twice the weight and with a passenger. There is a rule while carrying pillion – she needs to trust the rider. To assure Ania that I’m in total control, I dropped the bike straight away. She landed in the ditch like a pro! There was nice surprise – I could lift the bike, with all this crap on it, without any problem! Bike was resting on the pannier, so it just pivoted on it nicely, making it much easier to lift. I feel I should apologise all the GS riders I was having a laugh at so far, but on the other hand I lost all the remaining respect – if they can’t lift this, it means they must be seriously weak.

We rode some motorway towards the end of the day:

After turnoff into some minor road, we found some steppish hills, set up camp and were happy about everything. Few beers, bought earlier, helped us for sure. I could barely speak after all day of radio-talk with Maciej. I guess I just wasn’t used to talk for that long, lack of training made my throat slightly useless. Today I had someone to talk to and a lot of stuff to talk about, which amounted to a lot of work out for my thorat.

Sometimes camel toe is just not big enough and that;s when bone comes into action. I carry this with me since Mongolia – it’s a real multi-tool! A hammer, side stand support, beer opener...


Stats:


Map – painted again - http://ridewithgps.com/routes/670117
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Old 09-11-2011, 06:24 AM   #163
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Day 62 – Somewhere near Capusu Mare (Romania) –Rudnik (Poland)


Our plan was simple to begin with, but then I decided to complicate things a little. Instead of going straight home, I wanted to visit small city near Bialystok. It meant going straight North, along Ukrainian border.
The end of adventure happened some time ago, but it’s enough to set gps to ‘as straight line as possible’ to spice things a bit.

After two hours or so we got to Hungarian border. It took about three minutes to cross it – I like these European borders a lot. It makes no difference what country you’re in – I use card to pay for everything anyway, so there is no feel of crossing border you get when exchanging money. More and more people speak good English too.
I liked Hungary a bit – it feels like Austro-Hungarian Empire foundation is still there. Villages are designed to be in order. Houses are aligned, lawns manicured, animals fenced off. No more free range herding. What I liked the most was the smell of acacia trees – they were everywhere, forming a wall along the road most of the time. Smell is one of the best side of motorcycling for me – gives another dimension to landscape, makes things easier to remember.

Ask average Pole what’s the national bird of Poland and most will say it’s stork. Migrating bird, during winter it lives somewhere in Africa, quite distinct. I was excited to see one outside of Poland, but since there are no borders now... I have to admit I had seen one in Turley too but it was some outlaw traitor dodgy stork I reckon.

No idea what’s the price of petrol in Hungary, country is so small you don’t have to refuel. Just for the record I made a photo for those interested.


While leaving Hungary don’t wink – you might miss the border. I sure miss stamps in passport, but if other choice is to enter next country at full speed, it’s like having no choice really.



Slovakia is definitely less in order than Hungary. To be honest it looked like better parts of Romania. Dacias were gone to create space for other icon of cold war car industry – Skoda rules here! Of course you can buy Skoda everywhere in the world now (I guess), but these models can be found only here:


After lunch break in Humenne I got dressed a bit too early so I took off, coasting just to stay cool. After some 20 minutes Maciej still didn’t catch up so I stopped and waited in some shade. It took me further 10 minutes I noticed text message - I was told to meet them at some border crossing. Well, I could do that if I had proper paper map. I’m too lazy to look for city names on small gps screen , so decision was made to go into Poland and meet somewhere there. This was one of those times when stupid decision works out well – road towards the (nonexistent) border was quite adventurous. First I got to some reservoir – guard at boom gate told me to go away, giving me hint that it can be bypassed using some forest roads. Narrow asphalt turned into gravel, then into loose stones and in the end into overgrown two-track. It would be bit too hard for big GS on road tyres, so I was happy to be on my own.




I realised I’m in Poland only after seeing road signs with some text on them. Last look at Slovakia:


Polish roads are traditionally known to be crap so it was a great surprise for me to see them in good nick. I met with Maciej almost straight away – at the entry to narrow gauge railway, where I could pose as a giant:




I expected to have some sort of patriotic fever when entering Poland, but it was just another country on my route. Roads were good, villages were nice, and everything was green and smelled nice. I liked it a lot – it was totally new to me as I had never been to this part of the country.
Polish people are a massive Catholics, they use Jesus as last resort if armco barrier fails:


In previous countries I was joking about people working in the field with hand tools only, but it was the same here. I guess sometimes it’s just easier to use horse instead of a tractor.

Polish forest are the best so far – on par with Siberian, although less wild. Tall, dense and vivid green.


Finally it got dark, we made about two hours more and stopped for a night in some road side motel. I was surprised to notice that it’s cheaper to get room here than in Tajikistan! Food wasn’t expensive either.

Stats:



Map:
– first part is drawn as I lost track again - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/373104
- second part is a proper track - http://ridewithgps.com/trips/371033
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Old 09-11-2011, 02:37 PM   #164
salvador81
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welcome in Poland :)
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Old 09-11-2011, 10:56 PM   #165
racki OP
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welcome in Poland :)
My speed of updating is so lame, that in reality I'm back in Australia already. There is just one more day missing, one more push and I'll be through!
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