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Old 13 Aug 2010
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Minsk to Damascus on a.. Minsk?

I've been studying in Minsk, Belarus, for a number of months and now I'm moving on. I'd like to go to Damascus, Syria. I'm shopping around for a used bike for $100 to $300 (Possibly a Minsk, a Jawa, Planeta or Jupiter.. russian bikes are cheaper than foreign bikes. I made a seperate thread to discuss their relative merits..)

My question is, what route would you recommend? Go west around the black sea via Istanbul? This would mean taking the bike into to EU, is this going to be expensive/difficult? This route is about 4000km, according to google maps.

Or else, go east of the black sea, via southern russia / georgia? What problems can I expect when I attempt to bring a belarus registered bike into Turkey/Syria/Lebanon/Isreal etc.? I am a UK Citizen. I'm trying to keep this trip fairly cheap. My Russian is not too bad.

Anything that I definately should not miss?

Thanks for your responses.

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Old 14 Aug 2010
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No one knows what happens if I take a bike registered in Belarus into the EU? In a couple of weeks I'll be at the border with Romania, I hope I won't have problems..
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Old 14 Aug 2010
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Location: London / Kiev
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minsk to damascus via kiev

Hi Dave,
You'll have no problem with bike registration if you have original docs with you. They all like to see international vehicle registration docs but it's the original they want. As you are English they may want an international driving licence - see the AA

I just rode London, Bratislava, Lviv to Kiev, then down through Romania and Bulgarian coast roads to Istanbul, Izmir and back to Kiev.
Central and western Ukraine roads are terrible right now - lots of repairs going on and the corrupt traffic cops at every bend.
From Minsk the road from Kiev to Odessa is fine and pretty quick.
The final stretch of Ukrainian road to the border to Galati is terrible - about 10 kilometres of ripped up ashphalt.
The border crosssing at Galati is fine but a bit complicated; you have Ukraine, Moldova and Romanian borders linked up over 1 km. Before your enter the Moldovan section buy green card insurance. It only costs 25 hryvna , - they will accept euros. If you don't get it the Moldovans will send you back to buy it ... it will cost you another hour. BTW ride to the front of the queue - ignore trucks and cars. There are no bribes or dodgy payments - I can't recall if you have to pay an entry visa. You DO have to pay for one to get in to Turkey (about £30) and you have to buy green card insurance if you're insurance doesn't extend to Turkey.
BTW The bigger petrol stations will accept credit cards. OMV is good - they do food as well as petrol - and they have air at each pump too Going to somewhere like OMV saves yiou time as you get petrol food and air in one stop.
If you time it properly you can leave Romania and clear Bulgaria in a day.
The coast roads through Romania and Bulgaria are mainly ok - I went Constanta, Varna, Burgas, Kirklarelli. (On my return from Izmir I went north through Bucharest - bad decision. All the interior roads in Bulgaria and Romania are in bad condition)
Bulgarian mountains are amazing but there is only one petrol station between the last town and Turkish border - about 100 miles - so make sure you keep your tank full.
Accomodation in border towns is expensive, there is some camping on the coast.
Turkish roads are made in heaven but Istanbul is terrifying - stay well clear of buses.
Going through Russia into Georgia is not on - see other posts about the border on HU - and the ferry route to Istanbul is haphazard - according to friends in Istanbul it operates when it feels like it. Also, you'll need a visa to get into Russial for a Brit in Belarus that will be a tad complicated and expensive.
I'll be in Kiev in Mid september preparing to return to UK via Italy. Call me if you are around.
Enjoy your journey

Derek aka Jake.

Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out alive

Last edited by Just Jake; 14 Aug 2010 at 20:35.
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Old 14 Aug 2010
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Awesome. Thanks for the info. I think I've settled on going west around the black sea, as I don't have a lot of time left to get a Russian visa. I can always take a look a Georgia coming from the south.

Probably I'll be on a Izh Jupiter (2 stroke 350cc twin.) I'm going to see it tomorrow, the price is $300. I've heard parts are available in Turkey as they were produced under licence for a long time.

Fuel here is $1/litre. I guess prices are similar in Ukraine/Romania/Turkey?
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Old 14 Aug 2010
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Location: London / Kiev
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Yep, fuel costs are similar on the whole route.

One thing David, on a small bike with Belarus plates the dirivers will think you are a local.

So keep on the right of the slow lane all the time - expect every cage driver to completely ignore your presence and just let them pass; they really do not have any understanding of motorcycles or the difficulties you are having.

I was riding a big (1500 cc) Victory Vegas with Brit plates and they tailgated within a few metres even at 90 mph. And not many roads will allow safe riding at that speed.

Out of their cages they are all really friendly people - but on the road and driving? Like they're from a different planet.



Derek aka Jake.

Don't take life too seriously, you'll never get out alive
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Old 5 Sep 2010
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Location: Romania
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Any news?

How is your trip coming along?

I'm very interested in hearing about how it goes. I'm Canadian but I spend a lot of time in Romania. I'm also thinking of riding down to Syria one summer on a cheap east European bike. The two big concerns that I had were:
1) Could I get parts once I got beyond Bulgaria? Bulgarian friends have told me that there are plenty of old Soviet bikes still on the road there, so I wasn't too concerned about Bulgaria, but beyond... So, I'm glad to hear that you can get parts for a Jawa in Turkey. I'd be interested in hearing about the situation in Syria.
2) Would there be any problems at border crossings since I'm Canadian but the bike is registered in Romania? I've driven a Romanian car (an old Dacia) across the border into Hungary before. The border control guys looked at me kind of odd like I was crazy to be driving the car that far, but never objected. But I only ever crossed in and out of Romania. I never went beyond Hungary, and I have no idea what the border guards would have said if I'd driven further, for example to Austria. So, I'm curious if there are ever problems at a border because the bike was bought and registered in a country other than where the owner is from - especially with a relatively low quality bike.

So, I'm very interested in how your trip goes.

I'm also interested in how you find the Minsk travels long distances. I was thinking that if I do the trip with a soviet bike, I'd use a Jawa or maybe an MZ-250. They have a better reputation (at least in Romania they do) and I figured that the larger engine would make it easier to travel a larger distance without putting too much stress on the engine or making too many frequent rest stops. Is the Minsk 2007 that you got also a 125cc or is it larger?
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