October 22, 2005 GMT
Slovakia

Over the Tatra Mountains, down a winding road, and in between some bushes was the border. The two border guys seemed impressed when I replied that I was going to Asia (then said as a joke), but their confidence in that I would make it across their own country evaporated like gasoline on a hot day when the bike didn’t start after the paper inspection was done. Just a flooded carburetor, but they didn’t know, and they sat in their booth pointing and laughing while I was working on the problem. “Going to Asia with that thing? Ha-ha, good luck.”

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I do not remember, but this might be the city of Levoca

I like the bike. One cylinder, one carburetor, uncomplicated wiring system, fuel cheap, light weight, fun to drive, and fast enough. Even I can understand what is wrong and do repairs when it behaves out of the ordinary. Behaves, yes, it has a personality. It can be grumpy, a real bitch sometimes, but if I treat it in a certain way it is returning the kindness. Some people think it is silly to give the bike a name. I do not agree. Something with a name becomes a someone, and you tend to pay more attention to its wants and needs. I’ve named the bike after a heroic dog. The name is Balto (I say some more about the dog later). “Good morning Balto, how are you feeling today? Ouch, your chain is dry? No problem, we’ll fix it in a flash.”

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The Spisske Castle and the village below

Stary Smokovec is an excellent starting point for trekking the Tatra Mountains. In the center of the village is a big sign telling about the lodging options, and as I arrived another traveler was studying the many options. Eric had driven from France in a Golf, and we got some flats at Pension Vesna. My flat was very nice, the price was low, and the boarding house owner offered Balto a garage. Pension Vesna is a super place for bikers and hikers, highly recommended. The next day Eric and I went on an excursion to the eastern part of the country. Among other things we went to the Spisske, the largest castle in Slovakia. There were a lot of gypsies living in the region, looking distinctly more southern that us pale faces from the Arctic, and for the first time I got the notion of having driven quite a distance from home.

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Southern Slovakia: A decent cup of coffee is hard to come across. A jar of Nescafe is as important as spare parts for the bike

Posted by Erik Saue at October 22, 2005 03:54 PM GMT
 
 

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