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a few friends and I are currently considering ideas for 2009's big rideout. one idea on the table is taking a couple of weeks off work, riding to the Ukraine and then down through romania, Bulgaria and the balkans. i've done a rough estimate of mileage on mapsource and it reckons we're looking at about 4300 miles. over two weeks with a day off here and there, that should be fine.
does anyone know of any specific problems we might have with any of the eastern European countries as far as visa's, carnets, travel or bike insurance etc?
My personal gut-feel is your mileage is probably too high. If you really want to get into some of the more interesting roads. I did similar trip but cut it at romania and it was a bit of a press. I didn't get to spend as much time in the transylvanian alps as I wanted to, and there are some fantastic roads there. And a little more freeway than I liked. But everybody has a preference in this area, if you are happy to skip countries on the freeway here and there you may be ok. The good thing is the further you ride in a day the better the tastes that night!!!!
There are a couple of other threads here re: insurance etc. If you can get coverage from home it would be big advantage as some places like serbia charge 85 euros minimum for a greencard. Visa's we were good everywhere, I think Ukraine ok as long as you are UK/EU also. I didn't get to Bulgaria. We may have just got lucky, but my friend lost his drivers licence and forgot his registration certificate and we still managed to cross every border!
If you can do the ride along the Danube in romania it's well worth it. We were going east so crossed east of belgrade and went all the way down to Turnu-Severin, although the road was being rebuilt so there were some dirt sections. By the time you get there though you should be sweet! The motoromania.com site is a great resource for roads there.
It's an awesome part of the world though, I loved every minute of it. Just don't get a puncture near belgrade, that was a royal pain in the a*s!
Just returned from that area (and others) a few hours ago. I averaged 200 miles a day, and I was riding most of the day, almost every day. I also skipped many of the standard sights. This gets tiresome unless you're quite restless. It's hard to credit if you're used to modern (i.e., Western) conveniences like bypass roads at major towns, over and underpasses, absence of horse carts on highways, well-managed construction zones, etc. Borders, of which there are quite a few, can take minutes or long hours to cross--it's easy to forget this in the age of Schengen. Speed limits are very low at times, and sometimes there are more speedtraps than actual motorists. I spent a couple of hours hanging out in the shade with the Ukrainian cops who caught me doing 70 in an unposted 50 zone before they let me off with a properly stern warning. And there's bike maintenance, which might involve a little or a lot of time, depending on everything.
Of course, I'm referring to riding mostly back roads, and I do also get minimally lost quite a bit, lacking language skills and GPS. Also, I was sustaining this pace for months at a stretch. Maybe you'll do better. For a reference point, I usually ride 500 miles a day on back roads in the states: I don't stop much, and ride until after dark a lot.
I'd also try to allow a couple of weather days here and there. Else, you might find you're forced to ride long and hard into wind, cold and rain, which takes a toll on your sanity and safety. It can be nice to take the day off, rather than feel obligated to push onwards....or so I've heard. I recently found that 150 miles on mountain roads thru high winds and torrential rains was all I could manage no matter how hard I tried (Italy). This compared to easy 400 mile days in good weather just afterwards (Austria, Germany).
For insurance, all recommendations you resolve this at home are right on target. You can always buy insurance at any border where it's really and truly required, but this takes time to figure out and accomplish. You sure won't get your 400 miles in after waiting several hours for the Bosnian insurance guy to show up and overcharge for a dubious but necessary product, as I did.
I lacked coverage for five of the seven ex-Yugoslavian republics plus Turkey, Ukraine, Albania, Morocco and Moldova. I was never asked in three Croatia entries, so never paid; made to pay at one of two Bosnian entries (35 Euros for three days); was not asked in Ukraine; negotiated down to 10 euros for a week in Moldova; paid the going rate of about 15 euros for a month in Turkey; paid something like 50 euros for a month in Macedonia; wasn't asked until exiting Kosovo, at which point the police didn't really care (no local entry officials, just UN troops); was told I really ought to buy some when I got a chance in Albania but somehow never got around to it; paid a whopping 85 euros for a month in Morocco and 70 euros for a month coverage in Serbia. My green card purchased on-line cost 20-odd euros a month, covering all the rest of Europe. It all feels pretty random, and when you add it all up there's a fair expense involved.
For the Ukraine this year i needed an International Drivers Licence, paid a bribe of 20 Euro for my Green Card stamp ( they asked for it, don't offer !!!!!!!!!!, just play stupid for a few mins ).
The roads i used were all potholed, not helped by being on a '96 Triumph Daytona 1200 !!.
Road signs were useless unless you can read cyrillic ( there are sometimes ones with the English translation ).
I had a Zumo 550 GPS which showed the major roads and helped a lot.
I found cash machines even in small villages, and the banks would only change Euros and $.
I would take longer than 2 weeks, but its your hols so enjoy, and always buy the cheapest vodka its the best !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111
Hi, just to confirm what everyone else is saying i think you are being very optomistic regarding milage. Eastern European roads are usually poor although often quiet. I travelled the Dalmation coast a few years before the war (less traffic then) on a sports bike and it was very slow progress. Andy
You know we are all just being way too consistent in our responses, so I almost now think we should be encouraging to give it a go! It would sure be a feat.
I can just imagine stories coming back about ridiculously bad roads, losing half a fairing in a giant pothole and hitching a ride on a flatbed truck to cross x random country so you can travel during the dead of night.
You know one of my fondest travel memories is of a terribly long day going about 500 miles (fortunately not on a bike), dealing with the runs, to end up getting stuck in some place called Juliaca near the bolivian border (we had to stop as the bolivians were blocking the roads/borders in protest to some thing). At the time getting hassled by people etc. etc. I just thought this place was the true a*shole of the earth (no offence to any peruvians, but I was not a happy chappy), but I just can't help but laugh at it now, it's one of those things that will stick with me + mates I was with for ages and we always have a good chuckle.
So you never know, sometimes it's these situations that bring the best laughs.
Then again you might just end up with a very sore ass....
i'm quite happy to accept that "east to Ukraine, south till you hit the sea and then back along the coast to italy and up" is not doable in 2 weeks. to be honest i hadn't really factored in the condition of the roads and 4500 miles in 2 weeks being 'only' 350 a day wouldn't be a problem on good roads.
personally, if it were up to me, i'd be all for going, seeing where we get to and within reason, making it up as we go. but unfortunatly a couple of the groups members are not quite so laid back and would probably suffer some sort of anurism if we didn't have the entire route planned out, with contingencies.
Hi there. Your trip is doable but only if you dont stop to visit places on the way. It would mean riding all day and experiencing little. I've made that kind of journey myself and realised I'd be better taking the bus.
Ted Simon rightly says "The interruptions ARE the journey".
Do half of what you propose and you'll have a better time.
Have a good trip whatever you decide.........
well i'm approaching this from as much (if not slightly more) of a biking perspective, as a 'seeing the world' perspective. and at the moment i like the challenge of a really hard ride. but i'm sure when i have a little more time or just get a bit more mellow, i'll take it more easy.
we're thinking we might make for the arctic circle in norway next summer instead, or if i get my way, press on for Nordcapp.
does anyone know of any specific problems we might have with any of the eastern European countries as far as visa's, carnets, travel or bike insurance etc?
as a UK citizen you'll have absolutely no problems with visas and Carnet- you do not need 'em. Have a greencard for bike with original of bike registration card, credit card and some cash for Ukranian Romanian Bulgarian petrol stations (Cards are limited there)
It is possible to make 400 miles a day for 2 weeks, but the only memories from the trip be the road quality in visited regions.
maybe you choose to shorten the trip and pay more attention to the sightseeing?
We were in Ukraine this year with bikes. Here I wrote a bit about our plans http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...mea-ride-34586
One important thing to remember - on UKR border you will be asked to fill some kind of stupid emigration card, where you will find some questions like Name, Surname, Nationality, and so on and interesting one - "Your destination point....", and as you don't have final destination in Ukr (like city) you probably will ask soldier on border what to write in, yes? They will tell you write simple "TRANSIT" (because this is true) and later, on next line they will tell you to write border point where you are planning to leave country. After that they will put a stamp in your passport with departing point.
Now this is important. If you manage to leave country on other border point, than its in your passport and emigration card, you will be charged by penalty fee (about 100eur) for violation of emigration law and additionally they can arrest you for few hours. This shit was happened to us.
So my advice - you should leave country in exact point, which will be written by you in emigration card, or instead of writing "TRANSIT" simply write name of the city on your route and hotel in it, but don’t tell to them then, that you are "transit". Don't worry about it - nobody will check it. Not "transit" means that you are free to leave country at any border point. I don't know why, but they have a such stupid laws.
Next thing - try to fuel on only "branded" fuel stations. In Ukr many "container" type fuel stations (container means no bar, no parking, no coffee – just some sea containers with tanks inside and container with small window for operator - station office), on some of them you can pay by credit card, on some - not. Fuel quality? I don’t know, I didn’t try, but locals told us, that fuel is mixed with some shitty add-ons with lead, and if you have bike with catalyst, don’t try it. But funniest thing is if you pay by credit cart, they will ask you to tell them PIN code!!! This shit is common. So first ask if it possible to pay by card, and if yes, ask “how they will do that” and if there are no entrance to station office, ask how you will enter PIN code . But, of course, if you don’t care about you bank account, feel free and give them your PIN.
UKR cops! They are special. 5-10$ or up to 20 grivins enough almost for all violation cases. Very often they like to stop bikes just to see what it is and ask you some stupid questions like “where are you from?” and “what is consumption of fuel?” without any documents checking.
Be careful near and in bigger cities – drivers are so crazy, they drive to dangerous, without turn signs, racing all the times.
So that's it
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