From Russia with Love

Still trying to catch up on keeping the blog updated as the days seem to be flying by.

An old sidecar rig (complete with leather helmet (left mirror)) on the Ukraine side of the Russian Border.

We entered and left Russia as planned and had a better experience than the last time. Our route was slightly different and noticed many similarities and differences from the last visit.

The Russian border complex in the background after leaving Ukraine.

While some of the major roads Many parts of the major road in the West to Kazakhstan were still in poor repair. The larger cities have their good areas but many of the surrounding towns and villages are still connected with poor roads. It’s almost like it could be Ireland in the early 1900s. for example, many of the roads off the main Highway and into the towns are either dirt or poorly maintained.

A typical part of the “main road” from Russia to Kazakhstan.

A typical part of the “main road” from Russia to Kazakhstan.

One difference from last time, people seem to be a little friendlier and outgoing.

One of the many weddings we seemed to find on the roadside.Another difference, we didn’t get stopped by a dirty cop. looking for a bribe.

On our last day, we were pulled over by police (for no apparent reason) while riding out of Saratov but they just checked the documents for one of our fellow riders then waved us on.

This time I picked up a little something in Russia. Not sure what it was but it might have been a spider bite as shown by the numerous bites on the back of my leg.

Whatever it was, it seemed to have a feast on my leg!

Yesterday we travel from Saratov to exit Russia and crossed into Kazakhstan and we’re currently in Uralsk (Oral). The road on the Russian side was fairly bad for about a hundred fifty miles before the Border. The attitude and behavior of Russian border guards at the same location as we exited through in 2014 was totally opposite. They were civil and respectful as opposed to our prior experience.
However, exiting the border was not without a snag.  We got to the border and were missing an exit stamp on our registration papers and had to go back about 6 miles (bad road again) to get the required stamps.

Ger waiting for the border guard to ask about the process for entering. As in 2014, the Kazakhstan officials were friendly, helpful and welcoming.

Caroline and Peter waiting to enter Kazakhstan.

Waiting for Kazakhstan customs to give us the final “all clear”!

Upon entering Kazakhstan we purchase the motorcycle insurance ($13 for 15 days) for the duration of our trip and completed the last 80 miles or so to Uralsk. A new road is currently being built so we had to travel about 40 miles on the gravel side road including some sandy parts. We got stuck in one part but we’re able to keep the bike up.

The dust from other vehicles was blinding and it was hard to determine the quality of the road.

One of our fellow riders ran into a sandy bit and actually had a slight fall just as an oncoming juggernaut was approaching but all is okay.

Some parts were sandy and hard to navigate. Here’s where the rider fell and we would have been next!!!!

Temperatures were in the 90’s and it took us 12 hours to do 250 Mi including the border crossing.

A little tired, hot, sweaty and dusty but safe and sound in the hotel parking lot in Uralsk. The gentleman in bare feet in the background is a Russian living in Canada and hitchhiking around the world in his bare feet!

Today were resting up and tomorrow we head 270 miles east to Aktobe. Supposedly the road is a lot better than 2014 so looking forward to an easier day tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

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Poland and Ukraine

We left Slovakia and meander through some back roads and towns into Poland where we overnighted just west of the Ukraine border.

The

A small rod side cafe with great smells of woodburning cooked chicken.

A Grotto at the roadside cafe where there was a constant stream of travelers stopping by filling up jugs of water.

An old church off the main road.

Typical street scenes in Rivne. She may have been waiting for a bus.

Street market in Rivne.

Many art works such as this in Rivne park.

Kiev Monuments

Kiev Monuments

Ger slumming it at dinner at a street cafe with Petr (a fellow rider from the UK) in Kiev.

We’re currently in Sumy which is about 50 miles from the Russian border and we’ll be crossing into Russia today.  Then, three nights i Russia before entering Kazakhstan.

Onward East through Slovakia

First, a quick update on our map links as we had a problem with the previous ones.

https://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id=1a18e5b60b8101ca76

https://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id=1a18e5b60b8101ca76&hoursPast=0&showAll=yes

The second link shows the whole trip and the password is the same as the previous links.

The last two days have been relatively short ones with the only about 300 miles total covered. We crossed in Slovakia and stayed in Trenton at a B & B owned by a motorcyclist, Mario, so our bike had a companion for the night.

With all the excitement of getting our trip going we forgot that we had another passenger with us, Easy Rider. This little fella is a cousin to the biker that accompanied us on our first trip to China. The original Easy Rider is still exploring the mountains of Iceland and will likely never return to the real world. He has lost the handlebars to the motorcycle but he still able to navigate.

During our stop in trencin I was able to sample the local beer which appears to be 12% alcohol. After a hot day of riding one was enough.

We’re now in Western Slovakia with a two-night stopover to Rendezvous with Steve (Motoxplorers) and some of our other travel companions, Caroline and Peter

Cesky Krumlov

Today was one of our longer travel days but it went pretty quickly. It was fairly uneventful up to the point where the GPS started to route us a different way then I had been before. Since we had made good time, I didn’t mind going a different route, so I just followed along.

Little did we know it was routing us through Austria and across a lake on a ferry. It turned out to be a nice treat! We got to meet a nice couple, Tom and Hannah, from Prague who were out on a day trip on their KTM.

We arrived at Hostel Krumlov House around 3 pm in time to do some laundry, grab an early dinner and take a stroll around Cesky Krumlov.
cesky_Krumlov_ger
Tomorrow will be a leisurely day around town and then on to Slovakia.

On to Plieningen!

Friday started our first day of the trip on the bike and it was another hot one. We traveled the back roads since we didn’t have far to go and weren’t pressed for time.

Our first minor hiccup happened about halfway to Plieningen (where we used to live) when my front tire pressure monitor showed no pressure reading. We pulled over at the next gas station to manually check the tyre pressures and all checked out good. While the pressure monitor isn’t a necessity, I still like to have it because it gave us an early warning on our last trip through China when we got a puncture in the back tyre.

The pressure monitors are battery powered to send a signal to the computer and they usually fail after a certain number of years. Since the bike is 8 years old, we decided to swing by the Stuttgart BMW dealership to see if they had replacements. Luckily they did and they were able to fit us into their schedule. So, we decided to have both front and rear pressure monitors replaced.

We grabbed the bus and train to our hotel in Plieningen and picked up the bike the next morning. The staff at BMW Stuttgart were as helpful as always. Michelle was especially helpful by keeping our gear and keeping us advised of the repair status.

Friday night we had dinner with our old neighbors (Tina, Roman and their children Nils and Jule) on Maurenstrasse. It was just as if we had never left. We then strolled up to the fields by the airport to watch the Blood Moon.

Saturday we traveled to Stuttgart so Ger could wander around her old flea market stomping ground.

I provided as much support as I could by waiting patiently on the sidelines.

We also got to meet an old friend Geanina who we knew from our favorite restaurant, Guiseppe’s.

Speaking of Guiseppe’s, we ended our visit to Plieningen with dinner at Giuseppe’s (now Lartista Pizza).

Nico, Ger and Guiseppe at Lartista Pizza, Plieningen

Thanks Giuseppe and Nico for the warm welcome and excellent meal!

Tomorrow, we’ll depart for a longish day (approx 300 miles) to Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic for two nights.

It’s frickin hot (for Germany).

Arrived safely in Frankfurt and we’re now in Heidelberg where our bike was shipped. Germany is still having a heatwave and we’re in an upstairs room with a small window and no air conditioning. On the brightside, we have a fan!

Couldn’t really sleep in the heat so stayed up and installed a new battery in the bike, reinstall the windscreen and mirrors.

Once it cooled down a bit, we were ready for some pizza in the garden.

We’re not the only travelers passing through. There’s motorcycles stored from all over the world here including Canada, Korea, Kuwait and USA.

We’ll spend one more day organising our gear, synching our biological clocks and packing the bike for the journey ahead.

We’re on our way!

We’re departing hot and humid Florida today and heading for hot Germany on a direct flight from Orlando to Frankfurt.

We had to be a little creative planning how to get our helmets and the rest of our gear from Florida to Germany on the flight.

Since we can’t take normal luggage on the bike after we arrive in Germany, we had originally planned on using cardboard boxes as checked luggage.

The more we thought about it, we decided normal luggage might be a better solution.

So, we used an old roller board that is approaching the end of its useful life and purchased a second one from Goodwill for five bucks. Those two cases contain everything we need for the trip – one has are helmets and the other has her clothes for the whole trip. We’ll just abandon the cases at Knopf Tours in Heidelberg after we arrive.

The small bag is our tank bag and will continue with us!

Perhaps another motorcyclist traveling from Germany will be able to use those bags traveling from Germany!