This summer we have travelled to Russia, to the eastern point of Europe. This trip is part of a project to visit the 4 extreme points of Europe: we were in Nordkapp in Autum 2009 and in Cap da Roca in April 2012.
First of all, I want to apologize for my English. I hope you can understand everything.
We were 4 people on 2 Honda Varadero. We had August for the entire trip, so we did not have too much time to visit all the places we wanted, so we chose Varsovia, Saint Petrsburg and Moscu, then we rode to the east to Yekaterimburg and then we´d started the return trip, heading to Romania and the Croatian coast, visiting what we could depending on the time left.
The firt stage was easy, a small leg to Narbonne, to take the train to Hamburg. The train arrived at 14h, so we had time to go to Berlin. A fast visit to Brandenburg Gate and go to sleep.
Next stage took us to Warsaw. The surprise was found that the whole way is a highway…so this day was easier then we had imagined. We stayed 1 day visiting the city.
Next day was going to be hard; we wanted to get to Riga, and from Warsaw, we knew there is no more highways. Roads in Poland are good, but there were many trucks, and you have to get used to locals overtaking even if a car is coming in the oposite way. In Lithuania and Latvia there were less traffic. We arrived in Riga under a storm and completely soaked.
The stage to Tallin was nice, following the coast and with good views to the Baltic; we got to Tallin at noon, so we had time to visit the historic city.
When we had coverred 80km to Saint Petersburg, the rear bearings of Miguel´s Vara said “ that´s all”. After discussing all the posibilities, we decided they returned to Tallin with the tow truck to repair the bike, and we continue to S. Petersburg. We lasted 2 hours in the border, and then, in the road to this big city, we found the worst road I have ever riden; lots of potholes would mean the end of the trip. Apart from the road, locals drive extremely fast in this conditions and overtake leaving only centimetres between the car and your bike…
We arrived safe to S. Petersburg and enjoyed 2 days for visiting the city and waiting for Miguel and Laura. They arrived one day later.
With renewed energy, we faced the hardest day: 700km to Moscow. We lasted 13 hours in road full of trucks, repairings, traffic lights and zebra crosses. We had our hotel in the city center, and from the outskirts we lasted more than 2 hours to get there…Moscow is huge!!
After Moscow (we lasted 2 hours for 60km), stages are easy to summarize: motorbike. We visited Vladimir, in the Golden Ring and finished that day in Niznhy Novgorod. Next day we got to Kazan; this 2 days we coverred around 400km each, but we lasted the whole day due to the heavy traffic and roads conditions. I can not understand how this main road , that links very important cities, is in so bad conditions.
In our way to Perm, things started to get better: road improves and there are less traffic. Landscapes are beautiful here, and the road, at last, has curves!! Some places look like the Alps.
Next day after Perm is the D day, is the day to get to our objetive: Pervouralsk. Before, we visited the Frozen Cave in Kungur; I would not call it frozen, because only the first 2 room have ice and rest of it it is a common cave…
There are 2 monuments that indicates the limit between Europe and Asia; one is in the highway to enter in Yekaterimburg, and it is like a leaning Eiffel Tower; the other, much bigger and beatiful, the old one, is in the old road between Pervouralsk and Yekaterimburg.
After the compulsory photos, we continue to Cheliabinsk; this road was the second worst road in the trip; it is a like highway, but full of pothholes, so yo have to ride at 70-80km/h. Bear in mind that we were 2 on each bike and our baggage, so the passenger suffer more than the pilot.
We crossed again the Urals; this time appear real mountains, because in the north they are only small hills. Now , the landscape stands to the sky and we can enjoy the forest, lakes,…
We went past Ufa and get to Samara, where I can help taking a bath in the Volga river. We continue following this legendary river to Saratov. This days, from Ufa, there are less traffic on the road and this one is in better conditions , so we can start to enjoy riding.
From Voronezh to the Ukraine border there is a real highway, like in Europe…unbelievable!!!.
We slept in Poltava. We crossed Ukraine to the Moldavan border; this day we ride throught a very beatiful lanscape: a vast undulating plain, some parts cultivated, some wild, with rivers or small lakes appearing from time to time. But you have to pay attention to fuel, because there is no gas stations in more than 100km.
When we are in the border, we realized that we are not entering in Moldova, but in Dniester Modovan Republic. Still surprised (I thought it was more a “theorical” country than “practical”), we coverred 20km to other border…this time, after a bribe (2$), we enter in Moldova and head to Chisinau.
Riding for a beautiful landscape, we crossed to Romania and go to Bran, to visit Dracul´s castle. From here, due to work commitments, Miguel would head to Hungary and then Spain, and we would ride to the Croatian coast.
As we were near the Transfagaran road, we decided we had to do it. It is a incredible road, specially the summit part, with beautiful views and a perfect tarmac. But it is a shame that romanian people still do not have environmental awareness.
Next days we crossed Serbia and enter in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Here, we visited Visegrad and its famous bridge, and from here to Foca we crossed the best scenerys of the trip; the road follows the Drina river in a very beautiful valley. Then we went to Sarajevo, riding in a narrow canyon.
After a nice evening in Sarajevo, we headed to Mostar. We wanted to visit the city, but it was so hot, that we decided to go to Kravice falls to take a bath. Later, we headed to Dubrovnik, where we arrive just for dinner.
Our ferry departs next day at 22h, so we have the entire day to visit the city.
Next morning we were in Italy, in the last leg of the trip. We went to Sorrento, via Amalfi coast. It was late august, so the road was full of cars and scotters riding as only italians can ride. It is fun wathc them, altough it is also a bit dangerous…but we come from Russia and this is nothing compare with russian style…jejejee
We stay 2 days in sorrento, and, of course we visit Capri (it was a special desire of my girlfriend…and I could not say” no” after she came to this trip!!). In Capri, we decided to copy the Italian style, rent a scooter and visit the island in sandals and a jet helmet.
And the ride to Civitavechia is the end of this unbelievable trip. Next day we would be in Spain and in our home. This trip, that started as a dream almost one year before.
Now, I would suggest to who is thinking about going to Russia, that avoid the big cities, like S. Petersburgo and specially Moscu, because it take to much time to go there; it is better to fly there and take a train. Then, you only have to keep calm and enjoy in spite of locals driving style. Moldova and Bosnia-Herzegovina are 2 places I want to come.
If you want to see more pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/ramoncheri/Rusia