Author Archives: wolsly

The first steps to France

The 29th of August I set off from my hometown Amsterdam to Dunkerque in France. We set off at 10:00 hours:

My mom, dad and my good friend Jisse all came to see me off. Sarah followed me by car as we first had a family reunion in Dunkerque to go to.

My km-counter:

The route is not much interesting and we had people waiting so just highways for today. We regrouped at the Dutch/Belgian border for a bit to eat.

The route:

 

 

 

 

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some more prepping

I could hardly lift the bike from the jiffy so I had to make an extension for it.

 

And as I wanted to get rid off some extra weight I got rid of some hair and the shampoo:

So now me and the bike are lighter as well as the bike is easier to put up straight from the sidestand…..

 

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And I am off for real

Today is the real deal all systems are go…..

The route:

Departure from Dunkerque:

 

 

I was kind off thinking that off-roading would be something hitting me hard in the face somewhere in Poland or the Ukraine but TomTom guided me through Belgium and took me on some interesting roads, the pics do not really do it justice:

I was amazed by the bike as it got me and all my luggage through without any trouble. It made me feel good that I was able to manage the bike and that we got the “what if I can not do the off road stuff” part out off the way so early in the trip.

The camping is the same as Sarah and me stayed at in June near Stavelot as we had a mix-up then and so I could stay tonight for free.

Setting up:

 

I got myself some instant pasta and a coke and had my first campsite diner. They had the F1 race here last weekend and I think the owners are tired since the bar is closed so no beer for me but at least they have Internet so I could update my site. It is cold and dark here now so I will jump into my sleeping-bag and settle in for the night.

Tomorrow we are heading for Germany.

Until next time

 

Wolsly

 

 

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Galdenbach Germany, day 2

The night was terribly cold and I did not sleep much. So when I got up I  made some coffee but could not get the water to boil because the stove run out of petrol. So the coffee was horrible. The tent, the bike, everything was wet although it did not rain. I packed as quick as I could and set off for Germany in hope for better weather.

The miserable morning at Stavelot (black and white pic to accommodate my mood):

The sun came out and at about midday it was getting hot.

Somewhere on the road in Germany:

 

I am amazed by TomTom as it takes me through Germany with the “Avoid Highways” option selected on the most beautiful roads.

The route:

Now 19:30 hours I am sitting in my shorts, showered, fed and drinking a cold beer on a nice camping near Galdenbach. They kindly lend me there Internet access code.

I hope tonight the temperature will be a bit higher and I can sleep a bit better. But I guess since I am w

Tomorrow will be another +300 km’s through Germany to somewhere near Gera.

Cheers

Wolsly

by the way if you click on a pic you will see a bigger example.

 

 

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looooong one for ya up untill Wroclaw Poland

Germany day 2

 The night was a lot better but I might need to get me another sleeping-bag. Nonetheless I slept from 21:00 till 07:15. I refilled the stove and I had myself a nice hot coffee with a sandwich.

The sky was gray when I woke up and at about 11:00 it started raining so I had to put on my Oempa-Loempa outfit (better picture will follow).

The roads where great and the views wonderful albeit the clouds and rain.

 It rained until about 18:30. I got to a campsite at about 16:30, they kindly offered me a cup of coffee and some cake.

I had to set up the tent in the rain and I managed to keep my bed dry.

I installed a power converter in one of my panniers to charge my laptop from the bikes electrical system and it decided just not to do what it is mend for. Spot the problem.

To fix it I just need a soldering iron which I decided not to bring of course.

When it finely stopped raining I went for a walk in the woods to get the blood flowing and the mussels stretched.

The route

 At the campsite there is a restaurant so to boost my spirit a bit I treated myself on a nice steak and a beer or two.

If it rains again tomorrow I will get me a hotel-room for the night.

Cheers

Wolsly

Germany Day 3

It did not rain today but it was clouded. I slept OK but it was cold in the morning so I packed and set off once I had breakfast. Again the roads where great and twisty.

The sun came out at about 14:30 but I did get myself a hotel room for the night.

No Internet but a big ass old TV and breakfast though.

Since the laptop’s battery was dead I could not charge the GPS logger so the route pic got cut short since it’s battery run dead as well.

I did hang up the tent to dry.

Tomorrow….. Poland!!!!

I do not know if I will had for Wroclaw or had a bit further.

If I do go to there I could look for a hotel again and stay a day to visit.

First stop tomorrow is for a Internet connection so that way I could look for a hotel with a parking-spot and read my E-mail and update the website.

Now off to bed

Sleep tight my friends

Germany day 4

Well the east of Germany is quit low on available internet connections.

First I went back to Löbau witch seems a big place but no internet cafes there…

But I did fiend my friend for the day.

He owns a small shop for model airplanes, RC race cars and electronic components.

Here I am speaking ¼ dutch, ¼ English, ¼ Germany and ¼ French trying to explain to him I want something soldered up  inside the bikes pannier.

Since he did not seem to have an extension cord I took off the pannier and emptied it on his shops floor to get excess to the converter.

Out with the TP and in with the soldering iron.

Anyhow he got it fixed and did not want anything for it in return, I did showered but maybe it was me???

Then I was off to the next big town of Gorlitz or something and again no internet.

I went into a ADAC travel agency, the woman was very helpful but not really capable.

She had internet but could not seem to find an internet connection for me………..?????

Also when I asked if she then could help book a hotel in Wroclaw she said she needed the hotels name, what hotels name I am asking you to find me one!!!!!!!

Needless to say although the kindness this led to nothing.

Off I went to Poland.

I took the highway this time I was a bit fed up with everything and needed to get to somewhere fast.

So here I am in Wroclaw in dens traffic with the bikes engine heating up. I stopped to get some money and had a look around for a Internet cafe again no luck. I fled the city center and found a McCafe with free WiFi….. I am no McDonalds fan but if the clown was there I would probably have kissed him.

Ordered me a bigmac menu and found me hotel for the coming two nights. Save parking for the bike:

And the Hotel has free Internet…tada

Because the last days have been somewhat over budget and the hotels restaurant is closed I went to a nearby supermarket and got me some supplies for tonight’s meal:

There was no more bread other then some croissants  but hé I am not here to judge….

The route:

Tomorrow is a rest day and then on Sunday I will visit Auschwitzs and look for a camping in that area. After that it is off to the Ukraine border and I will most likely be L’viv on Tuesday.

See ya

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Wroclaw, Wolsly’s first day off

Yesterday I decided that today would be a rest day well that turned out to be rest day for the bike.

Driving to the hotel I saw this sign:

It states that it is only 4 Km away. Hell not!!! At Least not the way I walked.

In general I have a good sense off direction and I can be a bit determent or even as some might say stubborn but if I want something I will get it one way or the other. So off I went to solve one problem.

It was a nice walk passing some interesting things but it took me through a field and alongside a highway to cross a river.

 

At some point I thought Poland had gotten the best of my sense of direction, if you look well you can see the “now leaving Wroclaw” sign on the left:

So I turned back but was not willing to give up I then took an other road and found this:

They did not sell sleeping-bags there so I continued.

The ministers must have had a party last night as the clock was a few hours off. It must have been about 11:00 o’ clock when I past.

I did find the Dechatlon and next to it was an Auchan;

The thing was so big it contained a Mediamarkt the size off the one in Amsterdam zuid-oost.

On my way back I discovered the secret off Poland not having a economical crisis:

Chuck approves the banks here!!!!!!

I got what I wanted and solved one problem, a new sleeping-bag:

I bought me a +15 deg sleeping-bag, now I here you thinking you have a +10 deg bag now why  would you buy one that is mend for higher temperatures. Well I bought it big enough to fit the +10 bag and compering the volume of a -5 deg bag or even a 0 deg bag I knew I could not fit one of those in my waterproof rolls. The only thing is I still needs to get rid of something I just do not know what.

And Murphy is always close by………………………. One thing solved means other things arise:

Once I treated the blisters and had my lunch, bought at Auchan, I went out to a near by park to do some reading:

But it soon started raining so I haded back to the hotel.

Tomorrow Auschwitz and camping again. I do not know when I will have Internet again maybe at some happy clowns place selling burgers.

The weather should be getting better the coming days and I am hoping for some warm days riding.

Cheers

 

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Auschwitz

I had my breakfast and set off at 08:45.

I arrived at Auschwitz at about 12:30. You can not enter the site alone but have to go with a tour guide. Luckily for me the next one started at 13:00 hours.

The death/concentration-camp is in fact build up out of 3 sites. When the main camp became to small they build another not far and much much bigger. Then there is a third near the rubber/plastic/paint factory. The tour visits the main and the bigger one. But after visiting the main camp I had my share of death and hate and would not have liked an other 1 and a ½ hour more.

Anyway normally I do not like this kind of mass tourist things. Do not get me wrong Auschwitz is not anything like an amusement park but I kind of feel weird to stand in line to see other peoples pain and despair and pay for it.

My feelings towards monuments are a bit double I mean we conserve this kind of places to remind us about what happened and of course we should, killing 1.3 million people in just this camp is not easily overlooked and forgotten but on the other hand we should not dwell in the past to much. There are still wars going on and the weapon industry is bigger then ever. So what did we learn? The one whit the biggest gun wins!?!?

Power leads to creed and corrupts and that has always been the case. People in high positions being political, commercial, religious and even in charity often have hidden agendas and do not have the best intentions for the once involved. How can this world be still be so torn apart? We had to endure two world wars and even dropped an A-boms to top things off. And still we going head to head saying my Allah/God/Shiva or what ever is bigger then yours!

Live and let live.

War is the biggest scar in human history!!!!!

On a lighter note I searched for a camping about 50 km away to clear my head and again TomTom took me by surprise and guided me through a beautiful mountains. And the weather was getting better and better

The campsite for the night:

And the odo-meter:

And the route:

Wolsly

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last day in Poland

Today has not been very eventful the day started nice the roads were great but the last 150 Km has been straight like a highway but then with all the inconvenience of roundabouts and traffic-lights.

 

Yesterday I paid PLN 38 for the camping and believe me they were not really Worth it as the shower was cold and the lights in toilet and shower were only partially working. So when I arrived at today’s camping to my surprise there are cabins and you pay only PLN 50 for them. (defied that by 4 for euro’s) So I got me one of those for the night and the facilities are way better.

There is even a restaurant here with a big grill so Wolsly is having him some meat tonight.

The route:

Tomorrow L’viv, Ukraine. I will stay there for 3 days, I need to get some laundry done and I have to look for a local pre-payed mobile phone and visit the city of course. Also I will try to meet up with Blackside of the ADV-forum.

It is only a short ride into L’viv but I do not know what to will happen at the border, fingers crossed.

 

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L’viv a loca

The border was not to bad:

Stop here, show passport, give bike number, get piece of paper, go on, stop, give passport and bike papers, get stamp from a guy in cabin number 1, move 3 meters and give passport and bike papers to lady in cabin number 2, window closes, wait a few minutes, get back halve of documents, ask for the rest, had to gate, give piece of paper, and I am in the Ukraine.

I was expecting armed to the teeth border guards taking my bike and bags apart looking for dutch “special” import. But all they wanted to know is what the missile-launching-control-box on my handelbars was for. Once I showed them it was only a MP3 player they laughed and send me on my way.

I stopped at a parking lot and was greeted by a Ukrainian biker with “welcome to Ukraine” he was waiting for his mate to clear customs as he bought a trans-alp in Poland. Immediately all nerves were gone and I could not stop smiling until I entered L’viv.

Why? Well because the roads changed into this:

Me and the bike got a good “shake-everything-apart” massage but we got to the hotel in one piece (OK, two pieces, me being 1 and the bike being 2)

After I checked in I contacted Mr. Blackside and we had a business lunch together in an old freemasons place right across the town-hall.

He helped me get a local phone-number and a city-map. Since he had to get back to work I went for a walk around the city and up to the high-castle to get a view of the city. Mr. Blackside said it was in the park and that it was the highest place in L’viv. We in Holland would have called it alps covered in forest. It was quit the climb to get up there but the view was indeed beautiful:

L’viv is moving. It is not like Wroclaw were I was stuck in traffic but here people are out there, smiling and it is total chaos. It is beautiful!

While writing this I am sitting at the hotels restaurant outside in nice weather and I just had me an amazing shashliek and although I miss Sarah she will be glad not to sleep next to me as the dish was covered in fresh unions.

This is a pic for my dad, as it might bring back some memories:

 It is weird to see Gaz trucks and old Lada’s driving around when there are also brand new BMW 5, 7 series and big new SUV. In Holland in the live span of an average car/motorcycle we probably never have to change the shock-absorbers but here I think those things are high up there on the recommended spare parts. Even a small Polo sounds like a 10 ton truck coming by.

So far, albeit only the first day, I like it here. People are smiling, helpful and talk-active.

The route:

I contacted Alex from the horizons-unlimited forum and it seems he has time, space and beer for me coming weekend in Vinnitsa so who am I to refuse, see you in a few days Alex.

Also a special thanks to Vlad, see you in Odessa (I took out your phone number for privacy purposes)

Goodnight my friends

Wolsly

Categories: Ukraine | 11 Comments

L’viv day 2

Just pics for today, stories will follow. Lets just say that the Horizons-unlimited contacts have gotten me in contact with others and the whole Ukrainian experience so far is amazing.

West Ukraine Motors workshop:

Cheers

 

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L’viv day 3

Stories…..

Lets start with the Hotel, for Dutch standards it is not that expensive and it has a nice garden-like outdoor restaurant, free internet and save parking for my bike. If you will ever go to L’viv make sure you check out the Leotel:

It is located 5 minutes form the main square in the city center with the town hall:

You can go up and in the tower and see the city:

I have been walking around a lot and have some more blisters but will spare you from pictures of my swollen and blistered feet.

“We do not like your car” towing service:

Vova, Mr Blackside, took me out for dinner last night and I had some local dish I forgot the name but it was very tasteful and I enjoyed it with a beer made by the restaurant itself, severed in 1 liter glasses of course. We met again today for lunch and we had local dumplings, a sort of pasta filled with either cheese, meat or potatoes.

Through the Horizons-unlimited communities I came in contact with Valerij Krishen and I gave him my local phone number and two hours after I send him the E-mail I got a call from “West Ukraine Motors” Inviting me over to there workshop.

If you are in ‘L’viv and need some help with your bike give them a call:

0038-0961017950

http://wumotors.com/

wumotors@gmail.com

Ramon took me for a walk though an outdoor museum with old traditional Ukraine buildings:

Old wooden Church

After that we had a drink on the roof of a building:

We had an alcohol free beer made from bread, again I forgot the name but it is sweet and very good against the thirst.

At this bar from the roof you can throw a coin into a bin, at least try, and make a wish. but a lot of people mis the bin so where we were sitting they had put up large parasols to protect us. There was even a small boy crawling around searching for coins. Him mother was somewhat ashamed.  I do not know why or what the car was doing up there and forget about how it got there.

Valerij Krishen is a Ukrainian guy that went round the world on his bike, but it is hard to find any further information about you my friend?!?!

I hopefully will meet up with him later.

I managed to combine the GPS tracks into one file and it turns out like this:

Tomorrow I am off to Vinnytsia to meet Alex and there should be some sort of bikers event at Zhitomir so maybe we could go and visit that this weekend?

L’viv has been great and I would encourage everybody to come and visit this beautiful city.

A special thanks goes out to Vova, from ADV-rider and the Brothers from West Ukraine Motors.

More to come soon

Cheers

Categories: Ukraine | 1 Comment

Vinnytsia

I left early form L’viv to skip the traffic and haded for Vinnytsia where I would meet up with Alex.

The route:

The roads are somewhat interesting here and would not have been to comfortable on my previous owned bikes but once I got used to the I was cruising at 80 Km/h.

I got a bit tired and surged for a spot to lay down and rest a bit so I turned of the main road

but the road got the best of me and I think the bike was tired too. So when I tried to turn around I dropped the bike. I forgot to take pictures of the bike having a sleep. All I could think of was how will I put it back up straight. There was no damage other then the left pannier being dent. I had to undo all the bags in order to lift it up. So no rest for me….

Nothing got broken and best of all I did not get hurt. I met up with Alex at the city entrance. That evening we went to the city’s fountain. It has a spectacular light show:

The next day we went to his hometown Koziatyn on the way we stopped at a WW2 museum and visited the remains of a big bunker.

Other means of transport:

 Alex:

Big gun:

The Bunker was build by the Germans in 1941 and was blown up by them as well while they were defeated. All that is left are big concrete blocks lying around and the swimming pool. It said that the complex also had a casino.

The pool:

The route to Alex’s hometown:

When we got there and greeted his parents and brother. We went to a friend to get my pannier fixed:

Later we met up with some other bikers from Ukraine and Poland:

Once we had the bikes stored we got ourselves some beer, caviar and vodka.

We had a lovely diner with alex’s parents that evening and later went out for some more vodka……

Needless to say I slept very good.

This afternoon I will start to move south towards Odessa.

Greetings

By the way it is Alex’s birthday today, so congratulations to you my friend.

 

 

 

Categories: Ukraine | 6 Comments

Day of firsts and Odessa

firsts:

Wild camping

Feeling homesick

Getting stuck in the mud

Visiting a missile launching plant

U-turn on the highway

 

Yesterday I was told about a missile launching plant that is now a museum and you are able to visit.
It is near the city of Pervomaisk but I could not find at first so I searched for a place to put my tent.
I found a spot in a dried out riverbed covered by some trees.


It turned out not to be so romantic as it sounds. I felt weird being there and I wondered if I had hid the bike well enough, etc, etc. I slept OK and there was a beautiful sun-rice but I was cold and I felt miserable. The tent was wet again and so was the bike. I did not feel like packing but the ground was to wet to sit on and I also did not feel like making coffee. It was the first time I felt homesick and missed Sarah,my house, my family, the cat and a hot shower. Once I got everything packed and on to the bike my mind got set on something else. The ground was wet and slippery but the first 200 meters out of the woods went fine but then there was a big pothole filled with water and I tried to avoid driving in it but the real wheel slipped straight in and I got stuck. Lucky enough I did not drop the bike this time. The rear wheel kept spinning and not getting any grip the hole rear of the bike got covered in mud. There was nothing else to do but take of the bags and try again. That was not enough so I took of the panniers, with the adrenaline flowing and sweat running down my head and back I hauled and got the bike loose. I felt a lot better by then and I was laughing at myself and my stupidities.

Not only the bike looked like this so did I. I think it was some sort of punishment since until now I did not really adventured it out, if you know what I mean….hahaha

After that I put all the stuff back on the bike and went in search for the museum. When I finely found it, thank you again Alex!, I was received with some curiosity and could park the bike inside the museums gates. I got a tour around the plant and visited the most of it but did not understand much about what the guide was saying. Never the less the things laying and standing there were speaking for them self’s.

This missile is about 3 meters in diameter and about 30 meters long:

They had to use this sort of trucks to move the missile’s, not showing but a extra truck was used to push if needed, the tires alone are about my height:


There are two silo’s, one for the missile and one with the control station.
Both are about 30 meters deep and 3 meters in diameter.

The lid on the missile’s silo opens in about 3 or 4 seconds and is made of massif steel.

 

The control stations is self supporting. It has its own generators for electricity, temperature, humidity and oxygen control.

To get there we passed through a tunnel:

On top of the control station:

Looking down:

Mock-up of one of the control panels inside:

The wals of the silo’s are 6 meters thick concrete reinforced with a metal outer and inner shell about 6 centimeters each. Then the missile and the control station is suspended to protect it from impacts from outside.

After the visit I set out to meet Vlad and his wife Luda in Odessa. I arrived there at around four o ‘clock . We said to meet up at the big concrete sign of Odessa (these sign’s are everywhere) but the spotted me before. We stopped briefly and were of to there house. In order to do so we had to make an U-turn on the road we were on.!!! That was weird. But all was fine.

We had some dinner, a beer and I got a well needed shower.

More for you soon.

Cheers

Categories: Ukraine | 4 Comments

Odessa

Vlad and Luda live in a village just outside Odessa with 6 dogs and 4 cats.
And they have welcomed me into there home. This morning I took the minibus into the city with Luda, she went on to work and set me loose in Odessa. I took a picture of the place were I would have to take the bus back to there home.

The old city center is build in squire blocks so it is pretty easy to navigate none the less I bought a map and quickly found my way to the coast.

Wolsly has made it to the black sea.

There are some really beautiful buildings, parks and monuments here.

Old city wall I guess:

It even had a sign post telling me I was in fact not that far from Volgograd, Tbilisi and Yerevan. But it will still be a while before I see those city’s.

Tomorrow I will clean the bike, boots and my leather trousers a bit and make it an easy day. The fact I had to drag the +250 Kg bike out of the mud did not help my back much, nothing serious just some sore mussels. So the rest will be good.
Then Thursday I will continue my trip and move slowly towards the Russian border.

I will try to meet up with Vallerij this weekend.

Cheers

P.S.  Picture of the route will follow

Categories: Ukraine | 1 Comment

From Odessa up to Kharkiv

Missing pictures of the route up to Odessa.

The route from Koziatyn to Pervomaisk, the missile museum:

The route from Pervomaisk to Odessa:

The rest day in Odessa felt good, I did some laundry, cleaned up my boots, riding trousers and me and Vlad talked a lot. About bikes, bikeclubs, politics, religion and the differences between Holland and the Ukraine. Vlad is a chef-cook and he and his wife prepare and sell lunches. Vlad spends most of his time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning while Luda helps with peeling and chopping of the vegies. She then goes to Odessa where she sells all the prepped salads and hot meals. They work very very hard and long hours. They live with 4 cats, 6 dogs and a bunch of chickens.

Vlad:

I set of the next day to Kirovograd where I looked for a hotel and had a walk around.

The route:

Coming into every city you can see these sort of concrete signs this one says Kirovograd they are very handy when it comes about meeting peope. They say just wait at the city sign and we will come and get you:

My first Lenin statue:

Cityhall:

In Odessa I contacted Valerij. It turns out he is in Kiev getting ready for a big change in his life, the birth of his child. If I had known before I would have changed my route a little and would have gone to Kiev before going to Odessa. But it is yet another good reason to come back to the Ukraine since we did not get the change to meet in person this time. He did encourage me to go to his hometown of Svitlogirs’ke as some friends and his family would be waiting for me. So off I went….

The route:

He told me to contact him about 60 km before Svitlogirs’ke. So I did and he told me to take a little detour as the road would be better and it would be easier to find his hometown. But the TomTom seemed to know where it was pointing me and well I can be a bit stubborn so I followed the GPS and ended up lost on a large factory for gravel. Going into some road that was only mend for those 20 ton trucks are allowed in. So I was followed by a truck with security guards who told me to follow them.

Me trying to follow the TomTom GPS:

They showed me the way out and as there was only one road it did not matter much that the GPS was going crazy.

Svitlogirs’ke:

Valerij’s father came to pic me up and brought me to this house where we had some dinner with some Vodka to celebrate the birth of Valerij’s daughter. He did not speak much english and I speak only about 6 words of russian we did manage to have some understanding about Valerij’s trip, my trip and I got the massage to go and have some rest as some friends would be coming later.

When I woke up Valerij’s sister, lyuba and a friend, Vova had arrived and we had some dinner and some more vodka. After that we went to a bar for some more beer and vodka. That evening there was a thunderstorm and a lot of rain. Lightning must have struck not far as all electricity went out and we continued drinking with the help of some candles.

It was a very cool and interesting evening as there was only one guy speaking english but he was pretty drunk and a lot got lost in translation.

Ukrainians are prepped for everything since there was still no electricity the next morning and the watersuplly was cut we had to shower in the garden:

It has a large container on top filled with water. As my head was hurting a bit the cold water helped.

In Svitlogirs’ke even the cats like motorcycles:

We had a walk around and went down to the river bank.

During the storm the sound system got broken in the bar (the bar is owned by Valerij’s parents) So I was asked to have a look but unfortunately unable to fix it:

They had a spare hifi all in one tower so that night they did have music again. I did adjust the projector settings so that the image was a bit better.

That night we had shashliek.

We went to the bar again after dinner and later even visited the local dico:

As far as I understood Svitlogirs’ke is a little unique as it is not that big and far from any city it has its own disco and a very active nightlife.

I did not drink much as I would be leaving the next day. Vova and Lyuba also where hading back to there homes so we decided to leave together.

Vova owns a Honda AfricaTwin and it was fun to ride together for a while. Valerij asked me if it would be OK if I would be interviewed by a local newspaper and of course I had no problem with that. So we went to Kobeliaky for the interview at 13:00 o’clock. Luckily though there was somebody to translate:

Valerij! do not forget to sent me a copy please!!!!

There was another Vova in Svitlogirs’ke who has a friend Igor in Kharkiv were I was going to and had booked a hotel. Igor then had some friends in Poltava which is on the way to Kharkiv. In Poltava there is a aviation museum so Igor proposed that I would had to Poltava wait at the Macdonalds and his friends would pick me up and go with me to this museum.

We then went to one of there houses and had a coffee before I set off to Kharkiv the family again were very nice and I had cookies, fresh apple juice and coffee. His mother wanted to sit on my bike and we made some pictures and I gave them some of my stickers. One of them immediately got a spot on the rear window of his car.

I then set off to Kharkiv and found the hotel and contacted Igor. We had a walk around and a beer. As he had to work the next day we kept it short and I hope to meet him again today.

The route to Kharkiv:

Will be here till Wednesday morning and had for Russia.

Valerij, my friend, congratulations with your daughter. I hope we once get to meet. Here in Ukraine, in Holland or somewhere on the road.

Vlad and Luda, thank you for letting me stay in your wonderful house filled with lovely animals.

Thanks to everybody in Svitlogirs’ke, you guy’s have been great fun.

Again guy’s if you ever have the opportunity to come to Amsterdam write me a E-mail or give me a call.

Cheers

 

Categories: Ukraine | 2 Comments

Kharkiv

Today I had a walk around in the city.

It is quit modern and has beautiful buildings and parks.

The Lenin statue at the freedom square, the second biggest square in the world or maybe just Europe…..

Anyway it is enormous.

There is a big park that has been renovated this is what it looked like before:

and now:

Tomorrow Russia!!!!!

Yesterday I planned my route through Russia in more detail. Vitaly, again a Horizons Unlimited contact, invited me in Volgograd and suggested to travel from Kharkiv to Belgorod, Podgorenskiy, Milkhaylovka and then Volgograd.

From there on I will be traveling something like this:

So from Volgograd to Astrakhan, Elista, Stravropol, Kislovodsk and then Vladikavkaz. But we will have to see how that goes.

I combined all the GPS files again into one pic:

Cheers

 

 

Categories: Ukraine | 7 Comments

Wolsly in Russia

All is fine I made it to Russia and I am now in Mikhalovka.

Will post pictures soon, not much time now.

Cheers

Categories: Russia | 10 Comments

Russian Rollercoaster

Russia Day 1

I woke up early and packed. At the hotel they were so kind to give me my breakfast in a small box to take with me. On the road to the border there where a lot of Russian car insurance offices but I figured it would be better to get it in Russia. Also Fuel is cheaper so again I figured I will get some in Russia. I got cleared out of Ukraine rather quick and was sent of to the Russians….. I had to fill in two identical little paper documents with my name pasport number, visa number, date of entering, date of leaving, etc, etc… Once stamped there is one for me and one for them. If I loose this paper I will get into a lot of trouble leaving Russia. Next up was the temporary import documents for the bike. This is a tricky one and I had to do it 3 times before the border guards liked it. They did help me and were very friendly. They again were more interested by my missile-launching-control-box. After all the paper work was done one of the guards wanted to know what was inside my panniers. So I started to untie my bags since I can not open the panniers with them on the bike. This seemed to take two long, some other guards started to mingle and I got the question:  Any dutch “special” tobacco with you? I laughed and said of course not.  I could the tie the bag back on and was sent off. The weird thing was I had no bike insurance as my greencard is not valid in Russia. They asked for it but I guess they did not look very well. After leaving the border-compound there was nothing!!! No banks, no insurance offices, no shops just the road to Belgorod. I stopped at a gas station and asked if I could pay with my credit card but the woman at the counter started to rattle in Russian and once I explained I did not understand a word she just said she just continued talking louder and louder and faster and faster. So I left and send a quick SMS to Sarah that I was now in Russia and all was OK. Off I went to Belgorod with crossed fingers that I would make it with the gas I had left.

I quickly found a Bankomat and a Benzokalonka, got my first Roubles and first Russian petrol. The thing is that in Ukraine and apparently also in Russia you first have to pay before you get the petrol. So I always have to guess how many litters I need. If I try to explain that I want it filled up they often give me a strange look.

I went to Pavlovsk where I could meet up with Aleksey, a friend of Vitaly (my HU contact in Volgograd) I found a gostinitsa got a room for the night, storage for the bike and had some dinner in the Kafe. I called Aleksey. He picked me up from the hotel and helped me get a local sim-card. We then picked up another friend and went for some shashliek and beer. As I intended to leave the next morning and it had been a long day I wanted to go to bed early. They only would bring me back to the hotel if I would stay another day. I told them that the hotel was pretty expensive. That seemed not to be a problem, you stay with us!! So the next day would be a day for excursions.

The route:

 

Russia day 2,

At around ten I got a call from Vladimir, Aleksey’s friend. He picked me up from the hotel and we went to his mother for some breakfast. In Ukraine and Russia this means eating the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner. So after some soup, kotlets, potatoes and coffee we went for a boot ride on the Don river.

We stopped somewhere and went continued by foot up a hill and through some forest and he showed me this abandoned church. It has some engravings form Italian soldiers back from WW2 and there are still some wall paintings who are mostly intact.

On the way back we had some fresh sunflower-seeds:

We set off again to meet up with Aleksey again and I got to drive:

Russian beach:

We picked up Aleksey and his brother and set off in the other direction:

We went to this place, a church inside the mountain on the riverbank:

We went up there and got a tour through the caves and the church I was not allowed to take pictures. The Tour guide spoke very good english and told about the history and the making of this 5 levels of dug out caves. History says the church was founded by very sinful cosack widow how had to build this church in order to pay for here sins. She got help from the local Tsjaar and others out of the area. By the time she died there was only about 120 meters of tunnel but now there is a lot more.

Me, Aleksey, Vladimir and Aleksey’s brother at the church entrance:

Local fresh water source:

After that we picked up another friend, Andrey who turned out to speak dutch which was a pleasant surprise. We went to a small island and had a BBQ with beer and berenburg…

My dad would be proud as I went twice to church that day!!!!

Russia Day 3,

Since my bike insurance was not valid Aleksy helped me to get some local insurance. After about 1.5 hours of a lot of BLA BLA I got my two months of insurance for about € 35,-

Aleksey, Thank you for all your help my friend!!

I set off at around 11:00 and went to Mikhaylovka where I would meet up with Denis.

Some where on the road I stopped for a toilet brake and this truck driver stops and asks me if I need any help, food or even a place to stay and sleep:

Thanks for stopping and the chat, Andrey!

Once I got to Mikhaylovka I met up with Denis and his girlfriend at the city entrance. The bike got stored at his parents.

After a shower, some food and a nap we went to a swimming-pool, billiard, sauna club thing. Luckily there was one friend of Denis that could help with translation as of so far our conversations had been very limited, I apologise for my lack of Russian, Denis! None the less we had a great evening:

The route:

Russia Day 4,

Well what to say…….

I am sitting here in a really small village at this abandoned shop in the middle of nowhere called Khmelevskoy. TomTom has no clue about where I am and only shows my current location: N49°11’46.8” E43°42’55.9”

This town is not shown on my paper map. I am waiting for Vitaly who is doing a mountain-bike trip with some friends. We met up earlier. But I am getting ahead of myself…….

This morning we picked up the bike and I needed some fuel but they did not let me pay for it. I was invited to join Vitaly and his friends for a night out somewhere in the wild along the Don river. So we set of for Log where I would try to meet up with them. Denis followed me in his car and his friend on a Honda VFR800Vtec.

We got to a ferry crossing and waited there for Vitaly.

Thank you Denis and all your friends for a pleasant stay in Mikhaylovka!!

We crossed the river once they got there and I was given the name of this little village, some coordinates and a general direction as they would be riding slower and taking some zigzaggy road up there. At first the road was good but the last 8 km have been sandy dirt roads. I asked some people for directions and they brought me to some dirt-road-crossing and said it would be streight on all the way up to Khmelevskoy. As I had only one day of off-road training on a little 250cc cross-bike and here I am with this 300 kg 1150cc big monster. I would never have taken this roads if I did not know it would lead to anything. I am impressed with myself as I did not drop the bike and I am impressed with the bike because it is not showing any sign of “I am not mend for this” and kept on rumbling like any other day.

They should be here soon…..

Categories: Russia | 3 Comments

Russia extreme

They showed up and we set off for about another 7 km to the campsite.

They said it would be better to stay together and since I was not going up and out off first gear anyway I would not be that much slower…….so we thought:

The road was very bad and it slowed them down, you can see them in the back. But then this rolled in:

And the weather turned from bad to worse and so did the road as it started raining.

The gravel road changed into a dirt road and soon enough me and the bike fell and I had to unload the bike to get it upright and had to bend the pannier mounting frame back so that I could remount the pannier and get the bags back on. Some of the guys helped me to get the bike down a hill as it would not be possible to drive down. In total me and the bike fell 3 times. The sun had set and it was dark we had to push the bike for about 2 or 3 km before the roads where good enough to drive again. Me and Vitaly felt missarable and I was wandering why the hell I decided to go with them. Also I figured that since we are now really in the middle of nowhere, how I would be able to get the bike out of here if the rain continued. We did not make any pictures of this part. When the road was good enough to drive again we made it quickly to the campsite. It had stopped raining and since I was riding again our moods changed and we put up the tents and got a fire going and I was invited to join them for dinner since my instant noodles made them feel sad for me. We talked a lot and finnely went to bed around 1 o’clock.

During the night it started to rain again and I had a hard time to sleep again. One of the guys did not bring a tent as it was not suposed to rain. So the next morning I found a guest in my fronttent. I felt glad to at least pay something back for all the help I received yesterday.

Morning tea:

My bike:

Morning impression of the area:

Groupphoto:

The rain from last night did not seem to have done much damage to the roads. nonetheless Vitaly and his wife decided to go with me in case I needed help puching or lifting the bike again.

There was a lot of fog and we all had a hard time smiling but at least I was riding.

But up some hills they had to push

But bit by bit the road got better and so did the weather

TomTom still having no clue what so ever

And then the sun came out

We made it to the ferry where I would be picked up by Dimitri and some of his friends coming from some bikeparty and Vitaly and his wife would wait for there group.

Since we had some time to spare we waited for them on a small beach near the ferry and had some lunch with tea and coffee.

When Dimitri was near we left the beach and had out to meet up with him.

I then followed Dimitri, his wife and two other bikers back to there home in Volgograd. We had dinner and some beer and went to bed.

The route from Mikhaylovka to Volgograd:

And a more detailed map of my Russia-extreme-off-road-training:

I am now at Vitaly’s home and all is fine. The bike has a few scars, as do the panniers, I got a sunburn from the beach and a sore left arm but it has been a unforgettable experience. I would not have done anything like this if it was not for Vitaly and his friend and I could not have done it without them.

Thanks to all you guys….

 

 

 

 

Categories: Russia | 12 Comments

Volgograd to Astakhan

I spend the next day with Vitaly and his wife. He works at his home and he was able to show me some interesting places in Volgograd.

The building behind me is the last building to stand after the big WW2 battle that took place here. Now it is part of a museum that was unfortunately closed that day.

Everywhere in Russia and Ukraine you find reminders of WW2 just standing somewhere. Like a tank or airplane. Here also:

The famouse MIG-21

And a train:

After that we went to the most impressive monument I have ever seen:

It is f#%king gigantic, not only the hight of the statue in the back but the whole complex.

She rises about 78 meters but it is hard to show that in a picture

That night we had a party at Vitaly’s home. Dimitri and his wife where there and another friend.

The next day the bike got a well deserved wash:

And after that it was time to move on:

I went to Akhtubinsk were I would meet up with Aleksey, a friend of Dimitri and Vitaly. He would then show me some interesting places around his hometown.

Aleksey is part of a motorcycle club, we had some dinner in there clubhouse. We then went for some beer and with the help of some alcohol and google-translate we had a great evening at his house.

The next day we went for our bikes and since there would be some off-road riding involved I took off the panniers. We first did a ride through some fields near a river. It was great fun and I had some good practice.

We then went back to the clubhouse for some food.

 

We waited for some other clubmembers to show up and then we went to a cave near the Kazagstan border.

There was a lot of mud so when after about 30 to 45 minutes we came back out we all looked like pigs.

It was great fun we had to slide off some rocks and climb back up them and sometimes needed to help each other in order to get across some obstacle.

My stickers are going fast so I ordered some new ones for Sarah to bring.

At the club house we cleaned up as best we could and had some chicken.

The guy in the back is also called Aleksey and he build this chopper:

I think it is beautiful and the sound the exhaust made was great.

The next morning Aleksey had to go to work and his wife had to bring there son to daycare so at around 11 the other Aleksey came to pick me up and I could move on to Astrakhan. The road was boring as there is only steppe out there.

The route:

Last evening I met up with some friends of Aleksey here in Astrakhan and today one of them will show me the city as it has a beautiful Kremlin and other interesting things to see and visit.

Saturday I will move on to Elista. The guys here in Astrakhan have some friends there so they will be waiting for me. The motorcycle community here in Russia is enormous and if you have just one friend here you seem to have a million you did not know about. So far Russia has been one hell of a ride with so much kindness and great experiences. Keep them coming my yet unknown friends!!!!!

Cheers

 

Categories: Russia | 7 Comments