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Old 08-12-2014, 12:55 PM   #61
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Day 37


Warsaw Poland - West of Rivne Ukraine


Today I was greeted by nothing but blue skies so I loaded up the mule and got the hell of dodge.


I've decided to refer to my GPS by the name of TomTom or TT for short. It makes me giggle and we do this for the shits and giggles and I have had my share of the shits so it's time for some giggles. I also have a friend back home named TT so when I refer to TT being a moron am I referring to my GPS or TT?


After being routed down a truck route by TomTom on my way to Warsaw, I picked a town in the middle of no where as my destination and was rewarded by lightly trafficked roads which got increasingly nicer the further south I got.


For the most part the Baltic states didn't seem to be all that much worse for wear for being part of the Soviet Union for the better (or worse) part of 5 decades. Parts of Tallinn definitely showed it's Soviet roots and it was even more evident in Riga but when I was passing through small towns I could hardly see effects and most seemed to have happilly embraced and integrated capitalism in such a way that they didn't seem much different than any other towns you might have seen in Finland or Scandinavia.
Northeastern Poland and Warsaw where a completely different story. There it was nothing but drab architecture and with a tacky layer of commercialism on the top of it. Mainly countless garish billboards which clashed mightily with the dull infrastructure over which it was plastered. Granted this impression might have been created by the route I took and my physical condition.


The further south I got in Poland this impression definitely started to wear off.


Crossing into Ukraine (Woot, I made it! Suck it Putin) wasn't nearly as difficult as some people had told me though I did try to cause an international incident by skipping one of the poorly labeled checkpoints where I was supposed to pick-up a mysterious piece of paper. When the Ukrainian customs guard asked me if I had ever been to Ukraine and where I planned on going (Kiev to Odessa (though I probably won't head all the way down to Odessa)) his respose was "Good Luck". Hmmmmm. Lol.


Immediately crossing into Ukraine the road was in excellent condition and there were lots of modern looking gas stations and stores lining the street. At this point an intelligent person would of stopped for a map and to get some local currency. Someone such as myself would think "I hvae a full tank of gas and a half pack of cigarettes and a moron for a navigator what can go wrong" . I asked TT for the most direct route to Kiev and was immediately on one of the most potholed roads I'd ever encountered or imagined. The country side was lovely with the rolling wheat fields lit by the sun low in the sky but road was hellishly bad and I was constantly swerving and weaving to avoid wheel bending potholes and worse.
I believe that this might have been the fastest route to Kiev in 1973 which I'm pretty sure is the last year any of these roads had been maintained.
After bobbing and weaving in the darkness for about four hours I found a gas station (which was the only source of light I had seen in hours) and looked for a map. They're all in Cyrillic. This won't do me any good I though as I purchased a map and guess what, woohoo right again. I'm not even sure what it's a map of. Some locals were attracted by the Sexy Italian in the parking lot and started yanmnerring something about "Earlandia". I showed them the back of my helmet and after a few gasps the was much shaking of hands, back slapping, and numerous offers of wodka which I declined. Unfortunately this is as far as our ability to communicate went I left the little oasis of light and made my way back into the potholed darkness for another hour and a half when I came across another brightly lit gas station. Thinks proceed much like at the last gas station but this time the hand shaking and back slapping, turned into hugs and the pressing of foreheads to my hands. Woah there, not so fast. While I'm undoubtedly a righteous dude I am not your holy man. BTW everyone who drove into this gas station at what was about 2AM was clearly ripped to the gills. Fortunately one of the younger drunks stumbled over explaining that he had spent 5 years in the UK. I told him I really wanted to find a hotel and he responded that my best chance was about 50 kilometers back the way I had come. That wasn't going to happen so suggested a town about 30 kilometers further along my route. As it turns out that town didn't have a hotel either but I did find an ATM and a drunk sleeping in the road after falling off his bicycle. I parked my motorcycle next to him with the flashers on and tried to explain to him that sleeping in the road was probably a bad idea but my "vroom-vroom, screach, squish" sounds and pantomime didn't have much of an effect and he just went back to sleep. I came across a still mobile drunk walking down the middle of the road about 100 meters later and tried to explain about the drunk bicyclist but he wasn't getting my pantomime act either and just pointed me to the center of town. The second drunk was walking in the direction of the first drunk so hopefully he managed to get him to move out of the road.


At this point I was pretty close to the major east-west highway leading to Kiev so I made my way there and not long after found a motel for the night.



I left Warsaw at 10AM and reached the motel a little after 2am Warsaw time (3am local) so it was a long but entertaining day.


More pics: http://www.twowheelsgood.net/europa2014/?p=1306






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Old 08-12-2014, 02:10 PM   #62
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Day 38


West of Rivne - Kiev Ukraine


After the abuse I subjected the Guzzi to the previous day I stuck to the highway the rest of the way to Kiev and arrived sometime after 4pm. This is a major 4 lane road in excellent condition and it was a beautiful day so the ride was pretty uneventful. The only thing worth mentioning is the wildly disparate speed of some of the vehicles. You'll have truck and old Ladas barely doing 60 KPH and other vehicles doing well in excess of 160 KPH so it pays to check and double check before passing the slower vehicles.


I had booked a room in advance and what a room it was. From the outside my hotel seemed pretty awful but the room was actually an apartment with tile floors, fancy furniture, kitchen, jacuzzi, and holy of holies a washing machine. The Ukraine is dirt cheap too and this Hotel apartment cost just over $30 a night.


After getting myself situated I made my down to the Maidan Square. I had watched the protests earlier this year and to say I was impressed by the bad assedness of the protestors would be an understatement. The are around the square is still closed off to traffic though most of the approaches have been cleared. The square and some of the adjoining buildings are still being occupied by protestors and the barricades are still up on one of the roads as a testament to what happened there. The streets and sidewalks all around the square still show lots of burn marks and there are shrines located in numerous locations to protestors who lost their lives there overthrowing Putin's puppet. From my counting the barricades on the one street where at least 6 levels deep. When the Ukrainian's decide to occupy a square the occupy the living shit out of it! Unfortunately everything was written in Cyrillic so all of the signs and memorials were lost on me but it was still a very impressive and moving place to be.


vini, vidi, vicErunt .

I meant to buy a souvenir while I was there but I got distracted (squirrel!) by the sounds of a trumpet playing some Miles Davis so I headed in that direction and hung out listening to a street musician before making my way back to my hotel for some food and much needed rest.


Oh and speaking of the Ukrainian ladies (where we just speaking about that or am I obsessing?). They'll make you sing and shout they said. Well in my opinion Meh. As far as I'm concerned the Scandinavian girls have em beat hands down. Not that the eastern European ladies aren't hot and they certainly dress well going clickity-ckickity in their high heels but the Scandinavian girls are much more smiley while the eastern European ladies seem to wear a perpetual scowl. I'm pretty sure if you're typical Kiev girl had to sing out "hi-hi" every time a stranger approached the counter that her head would explode. That's my opinion anyway. YMMV.


More pictures: http://www.twowheelsgood.net/europa2014/?p=1356






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Old 08-12-2014, 02:52 PM   #63
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Day 39

Kiev Ukraine - Somewhere in Romania

I had spent enough time wandering around large cities in the past week and the Maidan was the reason I went to Kiev so I headed out of town in the morning and my way towards Romania.

I asked TT for the quickest route to Cluj-Napoca Romania and started riding. The first part of the day was on the same highway I made my way to Kiev on, but early in the afternoon I got off the main road and started making my way south. I kept expecting the roads to turn into the hellish cratered moonscape I experienced two nights ago but while I did ride on some bad roads it was nothing as bad as that was. The Western Ukrainian countryside with with rolling farmland is really quite pretty. It's a shame the roads are in such poor shape. I passed a road crew filling in some of the larger potholes with gravel and gave them a thumbs up as I went past. I'm pretty sure they had no idea what that was about.

I made my way to border around 6:30 pm and it was around 8 pm by the time I got into Romania. As the sun was setting I saw I was approaching some actual hills which will make a nice change from the flat lands I've been riding since Finland. You could definitely also see a rapid change in the architecture and people as I crossed the border so I'm looking forward to see what tomorrow brings.

More pictures : http://www.twowheelsgood.net/europa2014/?p=1424




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Old 08-12-2014, 04:52 PM   #64
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Day 40


Somewhere in Romania - Somewhere in Hunary


Romania is awesome! Who knew?


Apparently somebody knew because the first three hotels I tried to check into as I rolled into the Romanian foothills were completely booked. The fourth was the charm though and after a hearty breakfast I headed out into the beautiful Carpathian Mountains.


The majority of the day was spent on excellent to awesome twisty mountain roads. The traffic was mostly light and what there was of it was dispatched with ruthless efficiency. I let all 59 of my mighty Italian horses out of the stables early in the day and didn't send them back until I approached the Hungarian border where the terrain again flattened out to farmland.


Since I was having so much fun strafing apexes I didn't stop to take a lot of pictures. It's been a while since I got to ride a motorcycle in its natural element. Now don't get me wrong dodging huge potholes in the middle of the night is fun in an "oh shit I'm going to crash and die in the Ukrainian hinterlands (or worse bend a wheel)" sort of way but dragging hard parts around curves is really where it's at. Wait, did I say hard parts?


I learned within the first day of riding my Guzzi that the first thing to touch down while going left in a spirited manner was the center-stand tang. Today I learned that the first thing to touch down while going right was the exhaust clamp. But the the clamp only touched down a few seconds of arc before the foot-peg. That's what I think anyway. It's hard to judge when your tire starts being leveraged off the ground and skipping sideways. I had already planned on removing the center-stand before hitting the Alps it looks like I'll be repositioning the exhaust clamp as well. The good news is that every time a hard part touches down you gain an infinitesimal amount of cornering clearance.


I swear I'm going to get rid of those chicken stripes if it's the last thing I ever..... Wait, let me rethink that for a moment.


I'll be in Brno in a few days and I expect I'll be busy enjoying the races so if you don't hear from me till I get to Munich it isn't because I've ridden off a cliff it's just that I'm having more fun then you are.


More pictues: http://www.twowheelsgood.net/europa2014/?p=1427






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Old 08-12-2014, 06:26 PM   #65
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Romanian roads are indeed great...it's too bad you weren't farther South, you could have ridden what some call the "best driving road in the world", the Transfagarasan Highway in Romania. I got to drive it in a car a few years ago...definitely lived up to the hype.
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Old 08-18-2014, 09:58 AM   #66
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Day 41


Somewhere in Hungary to Budapest Hungary


The ride to Budapest was short and pretty boring. Just flat farmland on fairly heavily trafficked roads.


In Budapest I got another hotel apartment with the coveted washing machine. Unlike the unit in Kiev though this one had no designated entrance or reception. I walked around the block half a dozen times trying to find the place before asking for assistance from a helpful bank teller who called the contact number and then someone met me on the street to let me in.


I did the usual walk about and take pictures routine and the high point was listening to a performance by a string septet at St. Michael's Church. It was a classical music greatest hits starting with Pacabel's Canon and ending not to surprisingly with a rousing rendition of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody. It was sublime.


Having got the sublime out of the way it was time to move on to the ridiculous. I'll tell you what's ridiculous. The roll up the sidewalks in Budapest at midnight. I thought this was supposed to be the party capitol of eastern Europe. Pfffft unimpressed.


More bad pictures: http://www.twowheelsgood.net/europa2014/?p=1478




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Old 08-19-2014, 03:51 AM   #67
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Day 42


Budapest Hungary


It raining and cold. Looks like I'll be staying in Budapest another day. Unfortunately I couldn't stay in my apartment so I found a hostel only a few blocks away. I was told the hostel was above a night club but since they roll up the sidewalks at midnight this shouldn't be a problem.


In order to pass the time I took a free walking tour of the city. It was rather excellent except for the fact that it was chilly and raining and I was wearing shorts and a t-shirts with no hat. I did discover that my tank bag makes for more than passable hat and the fleece bottom adheres quite nicely to my stubbly pate and kept it quite warm. It even stayed in place when I slipped on the wet slimy stone stairs coming down from one of the Buda hills. It also had the added benefit of bringing a smile to faces of all and sundry.


Some of the things I learned on the tour are: The Hungarians invented the color tv, the flat panel tv, and the telephone switchboard. The last is the reason everyone says 'Hello' when they answer the phone, it's actually Hungarian for 'Can you hear me'. The most interesting I learned is that the Replicants in the movie 'Blade Runner' all speak Hungarian to each other.


After spending all afternoon walking around in the rain I returned to my hostel for a nap and then went out for some grub and then went back to the hostel for a good nights sleep before heading to Brno in the morning.


The night club below my hostel was a dance club and the main dance floor was in the courtyard. I really couldn't tell much of a difference in the sound levels on the dance floor or in my room. Did I say they rolled up the sidewalks at midnight? This club was open till 5AM. OMG Boom--Boom-Boom. Even my ear plugs didn't do much to deafen the noise. So much for getting a good nights sleep.

More Pictues: http://www.twowheelsgood.net/europa2014/?p=1497





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Old 08-19-2014, 04:36 AM   #68
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Day 43


Budapest Hungary - Brno Czech Republic


I took a bit of roundabout route to get to Brno in order to avoid the more heavily trafficked roads and to see more of the countryside. Some of the Hungarian and Slovakian countryside was really beautiful with tiny twisty roads. I really wanted to take a picture for you but when I pulled out my camera it was dead. I guess the walk about in Budapest the previous day was more than it could take. Technically the camera still works. You can hit the button and take a picture but the display is dead so you really don't know what you're taking a picture of. At this point it's just a fancy and rather expensive doorstop.


While still in Hungary and riding up to Brno I spotted a bike in front of me and at first I thought it was a POS Harley but as I got closer I realized it was a POS Guzzi. Since we were both going the same way we rode together for a few hours. I really find it useful to have a local rider lead the way since I never know exactly what the rules are in a given country. We stopped and chatted about the joys of Guzzi ownership. He's owned his Guzzi for 14 years. I figured he must have really loved it but he said it was just that he had gotten to used to it's eccentricities to get rid of it.


Later in the day I started following a rider on a new Honda CB1000. We stopped at a gas station together but he couldn't speak any English so he ended up calling one of his friends on his cell phone who spoke English to act as a translator. Totally unnecessary since we managed to communicate the essentials without a translator but pretty nice.


When I reached Brno I wasn't sure I was in the right town as I didn't see any advertisements or many bikes on the street but when I reached my hostel the parking lot was lined with bikes so it looks like I'm in the right town after all.


I futzed with my camera for a bit and then took a ride into town to pick up another camera (cry, there goes all my hookers and blow money). I'll find out tomorrow when I head to the track if it was money well spent.


More helmet cam pics: http://www.twowheelsgood.net/europa2014/?p=1532






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Old 08-19-2014, 06:50 AM   #69
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Very interesting update. Looking forward to the next installment!
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Old 08-19-2014, 05:32 PM   #70
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Did you go into the Cathedral in Cobh?

Interesting history to it.


I guess this was their version of KFC


Nice report. I wish Id rented a bike instead of car when I was over there.
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Old 08-20-2014, 01:43 AM   #71
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I did make it inside the Cathedral in Cobh. Wow, that seems like a lifetime ago.
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Old 08-20-2014, 01:46 AM   #72
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Days 44-45


Brno Czech Republic


I spent Saturday at the at the race track watching practice and qualifying with a few hundred thousand members of my tribe. Brno is a beautiful circuit but damn is it hilly which makes getting around the track quite a bit of a pain. Saturday was mostly uneventful until Rossi crashed and injured his hand.


I tried to arrive at the track early on Sunday but even getting there at 9am was too late to get a seat in the best viewing areas. I tried to my make my way to different locations on Sunday so that all the pictures wouldn't look the same but with the hills and 200k+ fans in attendance it wasn't easy. The only other MotoGP race I've attended was at Indy and while getting around at Indy is much easier the atmosphere at Brno was fantastic.


The Moto3 race was awesome as usual with over a dozen bikes fighting for the lead on every lap. Moto2 hasn't been nearly as good this year as in past years and this race wasn't much different.


The MotoGP race had lots of early drama and the high point of the race was definitely seeing Rossi pass and then gap Marquez for the final podium position. It looked like Lorenzo was closing on Pedrossa but it was too little too late.


Getting out of Brno was surprising easy and I made to with 300 kilometers of Munich before stopping through the night. Again I managed to take numerous secondary roads and the riding in the south of the Czech republic is quite excellent.


More Picturs: http://www.twowheelsgood.net/europa2014/?p=1562






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Old 08-20-2014, 02:10 AM   #73
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Day 46


Prachatice Czech Republic- Munich Germany


Today I made it the rest of the way to Munich to visit my brother and his family where I'll be staying for the next 3 or 4 days.


Again the roads and countryside in southern Czech and Germany are excellent. The only problem in riding in Europe in general is that there is a hamlet / village every 3 Kilometers so you don't get to keep up a good pace for any length of time. Maybe if you knew the area better it would be possible to avoid slowing down so often but nonetheless the riding is excellent.


A few more pictures: http://www.twowheelsgood.net/europa2014/?p=1620






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Old 08-20-2014, 04:07 AM   #74
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Day 47


Munich Germany


Today my brother asked me if I would like to go on a bicycle tour of a few of the sites in Munich. Like any rational motorcyclist when offered the chance to ride a bicycle I asked if I could be stabbed in the face with an icepick instead. Unfortunately my brother has a lot of bicycles but no icepicks so of on the torture cycles we went.


We first made our way through the English Garden which is a huge park that runs through the center of Munich to the BMW museum.


The BMW museum is very impressive and both for it's collections and the buildings that house them. One of the interesting thing about the museum is that there is a mysterious long escalator leading way up into the museum with a spiral walk way running down along the length of it. You can't see anything along the walk ways to indicate what it is that's displayed up there. It turns out the escalator leads to a Rolls-Royce museum which is now owned by BMW (Bentley is owned by VW, and Jaguar is owned by TaTa (the sun has set on that empire)).


I was so impressed by the BMW museum that I had almost overcome my distaste at everything related to Bavarian Manure Wagons (sorry Bruce & Wendy) when I swung my leg over a F800GS and jammed my knew into a very large very inappropriately placed bolt. What sadistic engineer places a bolt directly in the way of a kneecap? A BMW engineer that's who! Guzzi's FTMFW !!!


After that pleasant experience we made our way to the Olympic Park and took a ride up the TV tower for scenic view of the entire city.


Then we got back on the torture cycles and pedaled over to the Nymphenburg Castle which was the summer residence of the ruling family of Bavaria. It also includes a French Garden lined with statues of the Greek gods. The difference between a French Garden and an English Garden is an English Garden is much more wild and thus requires less maintenance. You can see why the latter would be preferred by the industrious Germans (they use sheep to mow the grass in the English Garden. Slackers!).


Lots more pictures: http://www.twowheelsgood.net/europa2014/?p=1642






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Old 08-25-2014, 02:38 AM   #75
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I didn't post days 48 and 49 to any motorcycle forums since I spent those days with my brothers family in Munich. If you want to see pictures of Munich from those days they're here: http://www.twowheelsgood.net/europa2014/?p=1754



Day 50


Munich Germany - Spittal An Der Drau Austria


After 7 of the last 9 days in cities or at the MotoGP I was eager to get riding again. As I left Munich it promised to be a beautiful day as I made my way southeast towards the Austrian alps. As the mountains came into view I was really looking forward to riding mountain roads again and as made my way into the mountains I wasn't disappointed. The roads were great and the views were awesome. The only downer was that the roads tend to have a lot of traffic on them. The upside is that all the cars
expect to be passed when they see a motorcycle behind them and most will even give you as much room as possible to pass them.


I made my way to the Grossglockner High Alpine Road which is a Austrian National Park which promised some amazaing roads and views. As I started making my way through the park I wasn't disappointed by
either. As I got higher into the mountains I made my way into the clouds which really cut down on the views. This is when I noticed the clumps of snow lining the road and then the rain started. At this point my riding gear acts more like a sponge then a rain-suit. I had looked for rain gear in Brno and thought of going by a motorcycle shop while I was in Munich but didn't get around to it. Now I do believe that it's the thought that counts but it doesn't count for much when there's snow on the side of the road and it's raining. I rode about 90% of the 48 kilometers of the Grossglockner in the rain and fog which meant nearly zero chance for sight seeing or enjoying what in better weather would have been some amazing riding.


A little bit after exiting the park the roads dried out and I got to have some fun but a few hours later the rains came back with a vengeance. I managed to get the last room at a very nice and friendly family run hotel. When I entered the hotel I asked about the price (35 Euros) and they offered to let me go check out the room. Since I was standing in an every increasing pool of water from my gear, I said I liked it already and did they have a dryer for my gear. The girl at the reception (who was the only one who spoke English) said "My mother will dry it for you and it will be ready in the morning." Excellent!


While having dinner at the hotel restaurant the waitress asked me where I was from and when I said the United States her response was "Coool". I guess they don't get many American tourists in Spittal An Der Drau.


More pictures: http://www.twowheelsgood.net/europa2014/?p=1871






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