Alarm call goes off but I am awake already - no change there then !!. Breakfast was probably the best we've had, although very similar to all the others. We are now set into a routine, I get two juice ( one each) while Mark gets his breakfast and gets two tea's while I get my breakfast, two helpings this morning. Every where we go, each hotel, the bikes cause men,women and children to stop and stare. Men talk about them in groups of two/three. We leave the hotel with a map and directions off the receptionist, but we don't use them as we pick up some road signs ( there's a lack of these in most cities) and are on the road and out of the city in 30mins. We're up to speed 65/70mph - Moscow or bust. However with the police check points ever 5/10 km or uneven roads its not long before we have to slow down. Still weather gorgeous, really hot so we have to leave our jackets open!! The sun stays out till9.30pm, which is good as we don't get to Moscow till 10.00pm. We hope we've picked up an hour but no luck. We stop and I go to try and get directions for a hotel, Mark gets chatting to an Austrian guy who's been in Russia for 5 years but say's he wants to leave. As we are getting directions a Toyota land cruiser pulls up and a big rotuned guy with glasses get's out and say's "he's a biker"(Bmw Lt 1200)and a member of the outlaws motorcycle club. Andrey is his name. He rings round and gets us a hotel in the city centre for 4500 roubles for two nights( cheap in Moscow) normal price 7000 for one night. He then gestures for us to follow and before we go tells us to keep following and don't worry about the police.......(gulp what have we got our selves into again). We arrive at the hotel, from the outside a shabby, run down looking place. The inside confirmed it, but as long as its warm,dry and clean with hot water we don't care. Andrey then proceeds to give me a outlaws t-shirt, with I obviously accept (size XXL). We sort the room out with Andrey's help and he show's us were to park the bikes. Bikes parked, Andrey pays the guard and tells us not to worry( this guys great). He also leaves us some drink and asks us if we would like a girl for the night(2000 roubles all inclusive as Andrey said). We decline but offer to take Andrey for a drink tomorrow. Andrey accepts and we depart to our room. A big place, it's bigger then Oleg's place in Novosibersk. Landed on our feet again and only 500meters away from the Kremlin. How goods that, sight seeing tomorrow, YIPEEEEEEEEEEEE. Mark and Paul
After the long ride, we don't get up till 11am. We do some filming on the balcony of our hotel room. We decide to change some dollars and then go sightseeing. Red square, Kremlin, lenin's tomb and of course Mc Donalds....... really - Mc Donalds next to the Kremlin... unbelievable!!. We wanted to go and see Lenin, however he's only open from 10am till 1pm. We find this out at..... you guessed it.......2pm - typical. Still we take photo's and some film footage. Brilliant, we still can't believe we're in Moscow. Had a look at the souveniers, the usual Russian dolls , hats full of old soviet military badges, paper weights engraved with the Kremlin on and even hip flasks with emblems on. As we walked around there seems to be a lot of English speaking people here. As we over hear people talking we turn around in amazment, it's nice to hear people speak English again after only hearing and speaking Russian. With the sightseeing done we head back to the hotel as it's 6pm and we are meeting Andrey at 8pm. We stop at a roadside souvenier shop and buy presents for Pauls wife helen and our mother, small gifts but with a big thank you behind them. Once back at the hotel, we quickly shower and are outside the hotel for 8pm. Andrey arrives at 8:20pm and immediatly apologises. We're just glad he turns up. He takes us to an Irish pub - thats right - an Irish pub and we meet 2 more outlaws ( little vitalie and big vitalie ). Big vitalie was a helicopter pilot in the Russian army 10 years ago but spoke better English than Andrey. Little vitalie spoke very good English because his father worked for the U.N as a specialist on diesel engines so has travelled the world with his parents. We leave the Irish pub and go on a quick drive to another bar. On the way, Andrey is stopped by the Police for speeding. To our amazment he pulls out his wallet, shows the Police something and they wave him on??. We find out that Andrey is anti - terrorist Police, to our amazment. We end up in a bar called " Che Guevare" - a fantastic little place. Andrey orders a jug of ice, a jug of coke , a plate of limes (quatered), a plate of mint and a bottle of 7 year old rum!!, and proceeds to make a rum and coke for us all. The drink is flowing and we really are enjoying the company of our Russian friends. After a couple more bottles of rum and more ice have been ordered and consumed, big vitalie say's goodbye and wishes us well. Andrey then takes us to another club where he tells us that many western Europeans tend to meet. He also tells us that you can have any women in there,and of course - they're all inclusive as well. We decline again and Andrey takes us back to our hotel. We can't thank the big man enough and are sorry to see him go. RUSSIA - The people are fantastic and so friendly. We leave the next morning with heavy hearts. Russia has been a fantastic experience, the people , the culture , the hospitality, has been mind-blowing. We will both miss these most generous and friendly people. Andrey had shown us on our map the road we need, and we suprise ourselves at how easy we manage to get on the right road for Belarus and its capitol - Minsk. Andrey had also said the road was good.... and it was. The weather was overcast and quite chilly. The rain doesn't last long but threatens all day. At the border and it looks like we could be there for hours!!. The line of trucks waiting to cross seems to go on forever. We showed our passports to the guard and he talked to us about our trip ( in broken English of course ). He pointed to where we needed to go with our passports and told us to park the bikes out of the way. The queue of waiting lorry drivers look fed up, especially as the guard took us to the front of the queue. Paper work done and we are on our way in only 1 hour ( quick for a border ). Minsk wasn't that far from the border and we were hopeing for an early night. We ask directions for hotel Minsk ( there's always a hotel with the name of the town ). We find the hotel quite quickly only to be told... no reservation - no room. Here we go again!!. We make a reservation for the following night and ask the hotels guest relations officer to help us find a room. Shock, horror - none going, all are full because of a convention going on in the town ( f**k). He manages to find us a flat for rent outside Minsk for $200. Its expensive but we are desperate. The flat itself was good - sauna, plunge pool, pool table, 3 bedrooms, secure parking and meals included - we'll take it !!. After a strange breakfast of sausage wrapped in pancakes, the young woman who prepared the food asked if she could have a ride on the back of one of the bikes. We agree and take the camping gear off my bike and Paul takes her for a spin while I finish getting our stuff together. Once back, her boyfriend or brother ( we're not sure which) gestured for us to follow him to Minsk which we accepted. Back in Minsk outside the hotel, we waved goodbye to our escourt and check in. Booked in, we quickly shower and take a walk down Minsks main street talking photo's and film footage. We stop and have something to eat. Where you may ask?? - Mc Donalds again. You can tell we are getting to more westernized cities, Minsk is clean and well presented with no graffiti or litter to be seen. With the filming done, we head back to the hotel and see an oriental restaurant and decide to eat there later. The restaurant is very nice but there's a problem - no cutlery only chopsticks - and we ordered rice dishes !!. It will take us weeks to eat. We manage to eat ok but seems there's a lot of pushing rice around aswell ( there's no fun to be had pushing rice round dishes ). Meal eaten we remark on the table next to us eating sushi, which we both say we wouldn't eat ( reminds us of the salmon in Ishim) and go back to the hotel for a few beers, only for some strange old bloke to come over and stat chatting ( he makes paul feel uneasy ). We make our apologies and retire to our room. Hotel Minsk was a 4* hotel and we enjoyed the night there. We pack the bikes and check the oil. Both bikes have used oil on the trip, so we top them up. We remember seeing a sign for Brest and take the road out of the city. As usual - there's no more signs for Brest and have to rely on my gps. We are heading in the right direction but are unsure, we stop when we see a Policeman and ask for directions. He assures us we are going the right way and 5km down the road we spot our first sign since leaving Minsk. We are quickly up to speed and it doesn't take long to reach the border were things start to go pear shaped. We are ushered to the front of the queue and get involved with all the beaurocracy. A guard ( who spoke little English )tells us to take our passports to one place and then another. No one seems to want to help and we stand around looking like fish out of water. 2 hours later and all the faffing is over and we tentatively drive on and into Poland. We spot 2 Policemen at the side of the road who gesture for us to rev the bikes and speed across the border........fantastic. We head for Warsaw and are 12 miles from the city when Paul spots a sign for a hotel, situated behind a petrol station and - you guessed it again - Mc Donalds ( Ronald's got a lot to answer for ) and decide to stay there. The hotel is comfortable and clean and costs us £50 for 2 nights with secure parking - happy days. Tomorrow sightseeing in Warsaw.
We woke quite late and had Mc Donalds for breakfast (I'm sick of the stuff )and head off to change some money in a supermarket. The hotel phone for a taxi to take us to Warsaw. When it arrives it looks like an American cab - weird. The taxi takes us to the perfect place - the old town. We bought a mini guide and took the rest of the day sightseeing ( lots of photo's and film). The taxi picked us back up where he dropped us off and we go to the petrol station for some nibbles and beer and settled down in our room to catch up on the world cup. We went to the restaurant at 8pm for tea and then back to the room for the next match at 9pm (cet). The beer was flowing nicely. After speaking to the hotel receptionist ( a large man with a beard and miss Marple glasses ) he advised us not to go to Berlin but to go to Krakow and Oswiecim. We weren't sure what was so special about Oswiecim until someone else said we would know it better as Aushwitz the german death camp.That was an oppertunity we could not pass up as we were so close (200km away). Directions sorted and off we went. The sun was shinning and apart from one little mix-up with the road signs again, no real problems and we arrived at Krakow at 3pm. We found a hotel and booked in, not a bad hotel but we'd been in better and cheaper. After a quick shower we walked into town, a very nice, clean little town. The streets were narrow and the buildings high and we find a kebab shop and have something to eat ( makes a change from bloody Mc Donalds ). We meander back to the hotel and watch football. 6am and the phone rings - we'd booked an alarm call ( That time already ). We got up early as we planned to visit Aushwitz and hopefully Kutna Hora ( a weird church in the Czech Republic made out of human bones). We had breakfast and set off at 8am and quickly found ourselves out of the city and on our way to Katowice. Paul said he was quite apprehensive about Aushwitz. I mentioned to Paul that alot of the buildings were still there, so Aushwitz here we come !!. At Aushwitz we got talking to 3 lancashire lads who had "popped" across for the weekend on their bikes. Once insite the camp, we were both shocked and stunned at the horrors which took place in that god forsaken place. There's buildings full of item's from when it was in use - human hair for making cloth out of, shoe's , tins, glasses - all manner of things. You wouldn't believe it, unless you saw it, nothing was wasted at all. NOTHING. A very sombre place where the birds do not sing, just a deathly silence. We left Aushwitz feeling quite sad and deep in thought, neither of us talking on the intercom's for at least an hour. We headed west for Prague, the time 1pm (lunchtime), Germany maybe too far. The border poses no problem and I see a sign for Kutna Hora and we decide not to travel as far as Prague and to find a hotel/motel on the roadside. The first one we find is apparently full ( bugger ) so on we go only to find Police diverting traffic so we don't find another hotel till 7pm. From the outside it looks impressive - a 2 storey building, pink in colour with a long driveway. Inside its basic but clean and tidy and costs 30 euro's (£20 ). We have dinner, beer, then more beer and watch the football.
We got up at about 7am and packed the bikes. We weren't sure if breakfast was in with the price but I said I wanted a cup of tea - the usual cup of black tea with one sugar - something me and Paul have come to, like as its very refreshing. The man on reception proceeded to bring us bread rolls, ham and cheese so I guess it was included. We set off with some directions I got off another guest to find the elusive Kutna Hora, and by luck, chance or because we've got good at it, we got to the Chuch of Bones at 9:30am. You have to pay to get in and also pay to take photo's and video which we didn't mind. The Church is a strange place, Human bones everywhere, hanging from the ceiling, stacked up and made into what looks like Christmas decorations and even writing made out of them. We did the filming and photo's and went outside to take a photo of the virgin Mary which stands on the roof between the two towers. We rode on to Prague and have difficulty finding the road to Dresden and waste an hour fannying around - but thats life. We head to Dresden and get caught up in queues ( lorries are a pain in the but ). Border control no problem and of we go, following this black ribbon of tarmac to Dresden and then on to Berlin. Once on the motorway, we're off at a good pace (80/90mph), tyres are going good though a little noisy at speed ( well they are nobblies ). 40 miles from Berlin and we're down to one bar on the fuel gauges so we pull over and have a stress relief argument ( not the first ), luckily Paul remembers that his camping cooker takes unleaded fuel and shares it between the bikes. We set off around a sweeping right hand bend only to find at the other side a sign for petrol 5 km away ( Bugger, we would have made it on what fuel we had ), so we'd had an argument for f..k all really. We filled up raced to Berlin where we leave the motorway to find a hotel/motel. The first one we found was full, but the second - no problem. 1 room, 2 beds for 2 nights - its expensive - but we thought we might have a problem getting a room in Berlin full stop, because of the World cup. We had an alarm call at 7am, showered and went to reception to get some idea of how to get into Berlin ( not by taxi - too expensive ). The young woman showed us where to get the metro ( fantastic !! - another adventure in this big adventure ). We walked past a supermarket ( called Kaisers, would you believe ) and turned down a side street where we stopped a passer by to ask where the metro station was. She looked over her shoulder and pointed. Their it was, 50metres away and we felt so stupid. Tickets in our grubby little mitts and we're on the S47 train and know we have to change after 7 stops onto the U6 and then get off at Freidlesburg. Seems easy I though with a bit of irony, but we had no problem ( as you would expect after riding the worlds largest continent ). Once in Berlin, WOW what a sight, people from all over the world in their team colours, flags, scarfs and all sorts of bizare clothing on. Paul wanted to see the Brandeburg gate, Reichstag and checkpoint charlie, so with map in hand we set off at a quick pace stopping only to check we were going in the right direction. Reichstag done, we were off, Brandenburg gate done and off again to checkpoint charlie. All done so we can relax, and we decided to head back to the Brandenburg gate to watch a match on the massive plasma screen that had been erected there and called the fan fest area. Beers bought and we sat on a bench, soaking up the electrfying atmosphere. After the match we head back to the hotel on the metro again (return tickets), looking forward to the evening match and the chance to wear our new tops bought earlier ( The World Cup Germany - 2006 ). When I planned the trip, it never entered my head that we would be in Germany while the World Cup was on - What a bonus. Got some video of the crazy buses we've seen just for my boss David Shipp - hope you like it.
We awoke a little late after last nights frivoloty, but not to worry - Holland and Arnhem was not far away. We left at 10am and got onto the Berlin ring road and found the motorway to Amsterdam. We blasted all the way at 80/90mph and was in Arnhem and looking for a hotel by 3pm. We exchanged some dollars in a bank and got some directions to a hotel, a best western about 300metres down the road, ( how lucky are we - the Dolby curse must be going !! ). At the hotel we asked about secure parking, and the receptionist gave us directions to get around to the back of the hotel to the parking. " By the way " she said as we walked off, " They are one way streets so if the Police stop you - tell them you're tourists and you didn't know". We looked at each other and burst out laughing, " And I never told you that" she added. The receptionist met us at the rear of the hotel, " Follow me" she said and directed us inside the hotel were the kitchen storeroom and potwash area was. " Put one there, and one there" she said and pointing with her finger. We both looked at each other, suprised and shocked but did as we were told. Bikes parked up and us showered and changed, we asked at the receptionist about " The Bridge Too Far ". As it happens, It turns out to be 10mins walk from the hotel. We got a small map and saw advertised on it - an Irish bar. Sightseeing and photos done and off we toddle to this Irish bar. Much of a muchness really but nice al the same. With the ferry port 90miles away - no need to wake early - we had a leisurely breakfast and walked to the Bridge too far. The receptionist was spot on, 10mins from the hotel. Photos and filming done, we walked back to the hotel. Once back at the hotel the receptionist mentiones to us about Osterbeek - the famous hotel where the Parachute regiment had there H.Q during the war and as featured in the film - A Bridge Too Far. We couldn't miss that and it would tie in nicely with Red Square and Aushwitz, so we get booted and spurred ( motorcycle gear on ) and set off to find Osterbeek. Its well signposted and took us only 30mins to get there. From the outside the hotel ( which is a museum now ) is immaculate. There's an American tank and artillery gun outside the entrance. Once inside , and the building is full of photos , medals, uniforms and memorabilia from people who actually fought the battle. The place is really interesting and worth seeing if you ever get the chance. We spent nearly 2 hours in the museum, but we would because of our military backgrounds. Tomorrow its on the ferry and home, and the end of a trip which has been amazing. I will update the page for the last time when we are home, with MY thoughts on the trip. Paul will do his no doubt, some time soon. Thanks for reading these and we hope you found them interesting. Mark Dolby - The Real Way Round.
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