Sunday 6 July and we were off ! We had been up at Ripley in Derbyshire at the Horizons Unlimited bike meet. It was an enjoyable 3 days- talking with like minded travellers and they gave us a good send off !
The photo shows us as we are leaving !
The journey to Dover was wet,windy and full of traffic jams. We made the ferry by the skin of our teeth! First stop St Omer in France .
Monday 7 July on to Lieges, Belgium.Still very hairey weather and Colin was really tired when we finally pulled in to the Etap hotel at 6 pm.The battering from the wind was the worst. it actually made the bike move on several occasions!
Tuesday 8 July saw us into Runkel, near Limberg in Germany. Finally the weather had improved and we were basking in 20C. It was a lovely ride through areas with spectacular Schlosses (castles), pretty houses and very little traffic. We called in to the Nuremberg ring but sadly, were not able to do a lap as it was'nt open to the public till 5 pm.
Reckon it would be good fun to do a lap for 21 Euro.
wed 9 July and on to Bamberg.Another lovely drive through small villages of timbered framed houses. It's all very rural with the vines growing on the steep sides of the mountains.There appears to be no 'terracing' for the vines. i bet they are a job to pick ! Higher up, of course, you get the sweet smell of the pine trees.
Bamberg is a beautiful medievil city with buildings made from timber and then painted.
We managed to get a meal there at an irish pub !!!!!!!----- and the owner gave Colin directions of how to get out the next day--- good job he did too. It's all a one way system and quite confusing for the uninitiated!However it was quiet with traffic and that was a big bonus.
Thursday 10 July.5 days away from home and here we are in Prague .We missed the sign for the Chech Republic and the first indication we had that we were over the border were the empty border huts. Traffic built up a bit as you neared Prague but not nearly as bad as one of our towns at school chuck out time !The villages are slightly more 'run down' - not pristine like Germany and not as bad as Romania!
We asked for directions once in Prague and found the hotel by sheer fluke. Colin stopped to get his bearings, looked over his shoulder and there was the Ibis hotel------ we were on the famous Wencelas Square.
Here we are playing with the trams in Prague ---- good game, good game !
more to come -----
Ooops,sorry - forgot to put into the last blog that we had visited the home of gliding at Wasserkruppe, Germany. Colin wanted to visit it as he has done some gliding in the past. (it's his hobby - that's why i forgot! )
Friday 11 july we had a day off in Prague and did all the normal touristy 'bits'.Took a bus trip around the city and saw the cathedral,walked over the Charles bridge and saw the astronomical clock.It is a lovely city with imposing arcitechture of all periods and cobbled streets.
It was hot- 35 degrees and the streets were being disinfected by a water bowser.
It's not cheap now . A beer and iced tea was £5.56 !!! and the garage at the hotel cost 20 Euro per night !- but worth it for piece of mind.Smoking allowed in restauants and you must only cross the road at the crossing areas.
Sat 12 july and we were off to Olomouc, the third largest city in the Czech Rep.A short day of 170 miles, as we called into see the Bedlac Ossiary ( when we eventually found it ! We were on the parralel road and Colin nearly gave up-but we found it in the end !) 40,000 skeletons were piled up outside the chapel and were bleached and made into shapes, including a coat of arms and a chandelier.It sounds very morbid but was'nt eerie at all and had been tastefully done. It all dates back to the 1400's and the time of the plague.
It steadily got hotter and then the heavens opened and we were sweating in the wet gear!All the shops seem to be closed in the afternoon and the 'ladies of the night' are waiting o the roads or at garages.The roads are quiet and we passed arable crops--with the inevitable sunflowers!We were glad to see the hotel and cool off.Beer and iced tea here is much cheaper -£1.67. Very imposing buildings again, cobbled streets ---- and another astronomical clock.
Sun 13 july - mega hot again- 25 degrees when we left and up to 35 mid afternoon.We are back to the 'wet head' syndrome at every stop! Very little traffic on the roads and what there was, colin thought was sunday morning drivers! Passed in to Slovakia at 11 am.and changed money at the garage exchange area.More fertile fields and small villages with houses on the side of the road- Some are painted in bright colours.Mountains in the distance.
Arrived in Spiss which is a stunning setting. The huge castle overlooks the village and can be seen for miles.The pension was a gem --- with a swimming pool! Really cheap at £28.57 per night, Full meal and all drinks was £10.40. Petrol is £1.28 per litre .
we found a new use for the bike ----- a washing line ! Colin reckoned it was infradig for a BMW !
Sorry these photos will have to go on next blog as i can't get it to accept them now!---- computer literate I am not !
Total mileage:1734. More to come----
Photos from last blog !
Mon 14 july saw us entering Ukraine!
The castle, first thing in the morning was shrouded in mist after a monuemental thunder storm last night with thunder and lightening directly above us !
The cover on the bike had become dislodged !
Before we left this was the temperature ---- at 9am!
We sped past an aeroplane cafe and Colin did a smart turn around for a 'look see' !What a good job he did.It was a 1950's Russian plane with the interior laid out as a restaurant---
Engines still in place!--Very novel and quite unique.
This is the picture from the bomb bay !
Again it hissed down with rain and on this slippery tarmac it leads to a slow drive!
Got to the border at 11 am and formalities were done in about an hour. One miltary guy spoke English and was helpful. We had to show the bike 'passport', let them know how long we were to be in Ukraine and see a doctor for a 'health check' ( that's a first, never had to do that before.) The doctor took one look at us and asked where we were going, said ' you are mad' and gave us the stamp we needed. There was a blood pressure monitor in the shed--- and that was about all.
A drug dog sniffed around the bike--- and we were free to go.
First sign in Russian:
The roads in town are slightly more potholed---- and all cobbled. Got to Muckachevu and booked into the 4* hotel Star at £36.80 per night ( including breakfast).photo shows the inner courtyard.
On the main roads the signs are in Cyrrilic with the 'English ' version underneath. In towns it is only the Cyrrilic --- which makes negotiating them interesting !Alot of police around and we were told by one to drive up a pedestrian pathway. The policeman at the other end was not 'an happy bunny' !We talked our way out of that one quickly!
Petrol is 73 pence per litre and beer is 62 pence for 1/2 litre.Very few want to let on that they speak English--- and most do, very well.We have resorted to the 'picture of images' book several times!
At the garages you have to pay before you are allowed to get the petrol, so you have to guess how many litres you want and convert to how much that will be in money.The first time this really caught us out but Colin managed to judge it OK-- and the tank was nearly full!
Tues 15 july and a grand total of 66 miles in 2 1/2 hours. There was another monuemntal storm last night and it continued to bucket down this morning. We waited until 10.30 am and decided to press on------- not a good idea. Through the Carthapanian mountains in deluging rain, cold at 9 degrees and Colin doing 30 mph behind lorries. At 1pm we chucked it in and headed for a roadside motel to dry out! From 40 degrees to 9---- in the space of 24hours is a shock to the system!
We have seen more accidents today than ever before - cars rolled over- and it is very sobering.
motel cost is £22.72 per night and has a cafe and bar! This place hs a security guard over night, complete with hipster gun and truncheon.Met up with a motor cycle group of 7 drivers from Hungary who were doing a large loop around in 2 weeks. They were a giggle a minute and a fair amount of vodka and beer chasers were consumed. ---- their english got better as the evening progressed!
we ate a buffet meal here--- big mistake ( but it was the only thing available and we went against all our better instints)---- I paid for it the next day !
Wed 16 and it chucked it down all day. The 'motorway' road surface is a bit bumpy and then we came off onto a 'p' road----- that was pot holed with great corrigations and Colin was weaving his way through the best path. we were going to stop at Ternopil but the hotel was SO grotty he rejected it and we went on toKamyanets- podilsky. a total of 237 miles.
At 6 pm he spotted a motel and we bowled in. They were helpful and tried hard with their limited English. A good meal was had and then off to bed. the room should have been the clue-- a double bed, 2 chairs, a poster of a half naked lady and dried flowers and net everywhere. Then the night time entertainment from the next door room started! ----- what with that and the frogs bonking and braying over night - it was all quite an education for me ! Colin reckoned that it was a place to pay for by the hour !!
thurs 17 and we sped into town and found a hotel ( which we would never have found last night in the rain) and it's newly built , nice surroundings and we are having a day off to recuperate !!!!---- hope this sun lasts, More to come---
photos from previous blog:
first the selection of bikers bikes we met at the first motel:
the infamous motel of 'oohs, aaghs, squeals, groans, creaking bed springs, snores and stilletto heels clacking out on the tiles at 6am ( ? 4 stillettos?!)
state of roads!
Going through the rural areas you are met with horse and carts, chickens and geese on the side of the road and a single cow being led off by a chain to be milked ( or walked to another pasture). One person will be ambling along the side of the road tending goats.Storks are nesting in the telegraph poles.
There are stray dogs everywhere (and in towns) and you frequently see them dead on the side of the road, having been hit by a car.People are on the side of road ( including the 'motorways' selling their wares---- apples, onions, peaches,potatoes,watermelons or rush mats, hats or brooms.
The hay is stacked in small stoops to dry and we have some with a gap in the centre to allow the goats some shade.
Side streets in the small towns are so potholed there is hardly a width's tyre space of tarmac.
In each large town , so far, we have seen alot of restoration and children will come and beg at your table ( if you are seated outside). One little lad knicked my bottle of iced tea and then hurriedly dropped it when we shouted at him. If you are in a big town the security guards will come out and chase them away and every hotel has it's own security people.
Wait for this--- a packet of 20 American cigarettes is 35 pence, full meal for 2, with drinks was £12.50 ( and that was dear, as it was in the hotel). Cost of hotel room £36 .36 (including garage and breakfast). In the motels it was 22.72 - bed only !!!!!! beer is 62 per litre and petrol is 73 per litre.
17 & 18 july were days off at Kamynates- Podilsky - very much needed. The sun coming out helped our moral alot.
Off to see the fortress which is stunning. You are allowed to clamber every where and there are signs saying 'mortal danger'.Health and safety eat you heart out !Colin also managed to get the bike washed. The tank is a commemoration to the war dead.
and the magnificent Russian Orthodox church of St Georges:
Many a conversation has been halted mid sentence by Colin as a stunning Ukrainian girl walks past-- in the shortest of shorts, the skimpiest of tops, beautifully made-up and tottering along in high heels.(how they manage to walk on the cobbles heaven alone knows !) Colin then says; "sorry, I lost my train of thought there for a minute"!
The stamps are stuck on to the cards for you and then dried with a cloth. In the
supermarket we visited you pay seperately at each counter ( ie, meat,biscuits or fruit counters).Makes for a rather long shopping trip !
Sat 19th July off to Uman and a stay at Queen Sophia's gardens and a nice quiet amble around in 30 degrees.
20th to Kherson.
The motorways seem mainly to be equivalent to our A roads -- but poorer in places. we found that the m/w from Kiev to odessa was great --- but were'nt on it long !some places have really modern facilities and then you call into a small cafe and the loo is in a brick building with , literally, a hole in the ground.Petrol ststions are frequent.
This is the 'bread bowl of Russia' with huge fields of wheat etc. It is a lush area and we saw a convoy of 15 combine harverters going down thw motorway !The road seems endless - dead straight in front of you. Some of the harvested fields are then burnt.The bike is much photographed and we are definitely a novelty !top temp was 35 degrees.
Mon 21 july and on to Sebastopol. This was a long hard drive and very hot over the plain. the road seemed to go for ever. it was 35 degrees as we were travelling and up to 40 when we stopped.We were stopped once by the traffic police and altough he was holding a speed metre- all he wanted was to look around the bike.
hazards of the motorways are bus stops, pedestrian crossings, people picnicing on the side of road, animals,and railway crossings. There are loads of flower covered crosses for drivers who have died. It is hard work for Colin and he says you cannot let your concerntration lapse for one minute.
There are cardboard cut outs of police man and car in specified danger areas.
So here we are in Sebastipol and what a stunning place.
Total mileage now is :2680.More to come------
21 july and it was a long , hard ride to Sevastopol - the road seemed to go on for ever and it was hot- 35 degrees ( but wait to see what tops that ! ). We passed through one town that had the hot water pipes that heat every building in the whole town. Imagine if that fails in the winter !
we were very glad to see the landscape change to some hills. we pulled up outside the most expensive hotel in town-- would you believe ' hotel sevastipol' and thought ' to hell with price'- we deserve some comfort at Ј96 pn but that did include free IT and breakfast!
it is a truely stunning city with the azure sea, magnificent buildings, Churches, statues and many bars on the wide prom.
This is how they sell beer to the odd passerby !
we went for a boat ride around the bay and saw the russian fleet.
and the many statues in commemoration of different wars
(Sorry - this is not a statue! Photo sequence was out of kilter !!!! Whose computer literate then ? --- You try cutting and pasting with Russian instructions !)
22 july and we were out to see the sights and went to the Panorama which is half painting and half diorama, depicting the siege of Sevastopol. it is magnificent and you walkaround it in a circle - it manages to transport you back to the day-- it is so lifelike. It's 115 metres long and 14 metres high!
next day saw us leaving and we called in at balaclava and saw the Valley of Death, which now is vines.
passed through the hills with some lovely views
Wed 23 july and on to Sudak, which is a typical seaside town, where we had another day off to see the fortress.Went up on the bike wearing jeans, shirt, shoes and helmet- definitely the way to travel !
This is how swords are wrought !
and today's temperature is :
The last few days we have found the heat very trying - have our internal thermostats been upset with the episode in Delhi, we wonder?
The ciccadias are chirping all the time and through the mountains you could actually hear them above the engine !
We are finding that getting food is a problem- plenty there but getting across what you want is difficult. The hotel we are in at present offered breakfast and dinner included in the price (Ј63). we ate it last night - grated cabbage, a dish of unknown substance ( ? chick pea and 6 pieces of lamb, mainly grisle) and 'pastries' filled with jam for pudding. It was disgusting -- and breakfast was no better. we have been to the shop and bought yogurt, cheese and bread and had a picnic in the room. hope to find somewhere tonight to get an omelette!
Other than that we have eaten a lot of crisps and snickers bars !-- glad i brought the multi vitamins !
From here on in we are 'winging it' as there are no hotels listed in the Lonely planets. having said that - every town seems to have had so much reconstuction that I am sure we will find a hotel- of some sort !Up to now we have found nice modern 'western style' hotels- lets hope it continues .
Now what do you carry in your hanbag, Dee? ' Why marmite, Deet and anti- itch cream, of course !'
Our russian visa starts on Sun 27 July, so tomorrow we are heading up country. Don't know when you will get the next blog. not all IT places have a USB port . What I have been doing is preparing the blog and then putting it on the net from the flash stick but if i do the blog from a cafe there will be no photos, as i can't resize them there !
wish us luck folks-- we've already had one day when all we wanted was to be at home - but after a beer or 2 ( for Colin ) and a good sleep things were better.i can't say that this is a trip for the feint hearted- especially in this heat and not understanding one word of the language or signs.The people, in the main, are as helpful as they can be----- some shrug their shoulders and walk off.
We are waiting to see how brendon and tasha get on--- they are now in Russia also and are having their own set of problems !
total miles :3070.----- more to come ( God willing !)
The last blog was from Sudak with the temperature at 50 degrees.
card board police motorbike on side of the road.
next day ( fri 25th july) we pressed on and got to the parting of the road - right to Russia and left back to mid Ukraine. colin stopped and said ' well, this is it- what are we to do - press on or go back? An executive decision was made to halt it there and go back------ the heat is unbearable. Colin , especially is feeling it and he has got to the stage of legs not wanting to work, intensely tired,weary,wobbly and every thing is an effort and totally pissed off.
He cannot let up with the concerntration on the roads for one minute - the surfaces are so bad -- and we cannot see any change in russia. we also know that in russsia we will have to cover vast distances in between towns to get to a hotel and Colin is'nt prepared to do that.
we have found this a strange country in many ways--- some things ultra modern with good western hotels and service and petrol stations the same. we have met some kind people who really try to help----- and on the other side of the coin, we have been refused breakfast in'russian' hotels.-only to see the locals being served 5 minutes later.
Also have been refused nourishment in motels and cafes-- at one place the police were there and tried to get us served and she nearly threw them out as well.All the time the locals are being served.
In small garages i am always sent to the loo ' around the back'-- which is a hole in the ground and once that was even too much for me to use.Roughing it I don't mind but when a perfectly good western toilet is available inside and I am told that i cannot use it, I begrudge lowering my standards!The outside ones stink to high heaven and are indiscribably filthy --- and contain aload of visible shit-literally!
we feel that alot of the time we are classed as the second class citizen. Alot have no manners at all , whilst others are nice. such a contrast ---but I fear that our abiding memory will ere on the black side .This is a place that you really do need an interpreter or speak a smattering of the lingo otherwise you are totally ignored.
Sorry but we have both 'had it' with ukraine and our thoughts were that Russia would be no better ---- may be wrong and we will find out how Brendon and Tasha get on.---- i hope better than us - at least Tasha can speak the language.
We are very sorry to let Brendon and Tasha down - but at the end of the day- health and enjoyment of the trip come first---- and we were not enjoying it--- let alone the money side of things. i don't begrudge spending hard earned cash when you are having fun- but this is'nt.We have Brendon's russian phone number but have tried several times to ring them to no avail.
So -- to continue, we decided to go back to Kherson - 7 1/2 hours to do 270 miles and man was it hot. We have been dousing our head with water at each stop but today was the day that i really felt the heat. Had got to the stage of lifting up my helmet to let the air in. I actually got off the bike and forgot to unplug the intercom lead - I was that desperate to get the helmet off! that was when i stood under the sprinkler at a garage !
Sat 26 july and on to Uman.- 265 miles.A much better temperature today but one exit too early off the motorway had us bombing off into the bondue with small villages and none listed on colin's map. we had no idea where we were and no one to ask for miles. in the end we turned around and back tracked ---- ,losing the maps which flew out of the plastic tank bag insert!So back we went to find them on the side of the road ! 63 miles later we were back to where we went wrong--- and started again!
Impounded bikes at the crimea border
passing Mig fighter !
this is not the hotel - but a block of flats!
got to the hotel to be told that the 2 restauants in town were closed as it was a saturday and ' russians don't eat out''.we can give you a simple supper of omelette----- and an omelette it was, no bread or salad and 2 forks ! Then we bought a packet of crisps each and dunked them in the marmite and i had a snickers bar.----(the other half for breakfast the next day !)------ if I don't see another snickers bar for ages - it'll still be too soon !
wheat fields being burnt off.
There was a monumental storm during the evening and over night and that has cooled every where down a bit.
Sun 27 july and back to K.P.Today we were stopped by the police. going up a hill, solid white line, no traffic in sight coming down and colin overtook a lorry. police at the top of the hill waved his baton and we were pulled over. 'docuements ---- passports,IDP and bike registration'.
he looked all through them and handed back the passports and took the IDP back to the car, on the other side of the road and then called Colin to come over. i went as well and he proceeded to go through the IDP with a fine tooth comb and started filling out a ticket very carefully and very slowly ( with halting english ) He then said 'passport' again and i trogged off to get them ( got me out of the way nicely). then he said to Colin 100 Euro, Colin said 'no' and then in perfect english he said ' 300 Grivners( £34) and you may go' colin agreed and he shook hands and tore the ticket up!----- straight into their back pocket?--- 5 minutes later they got back into the car and were gone. i said that they had gone for a vodka ( or 2 ) on us !
So we are staying here for 2 days to recoup and try to contact Brendon somehow. the mobile phone will not work here and i know that the international ban has been lifted.At least here we hve IT facilities and that is a God send.This is a large place with all facilities and the people are helpful - it helps to put a better light on things!
cardboard police car
selling wares on side of road
trolley bus in town
Total miles : 3881---- more to come
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