A Travellerspoint blog

Day 49

Odessa [Одеса]

overcast 5 °C

We were up and ready to go by 10.30 as we had umpteem miles to cover and a couple of borders (it turned out to be 3 in the end, twice through Moldova!)

Our hosts at the apartment in Galati were so kind and as well as the fantastic apartment they provided, they also led us to the Romanian/Moldovan border which saved us time. The border took us some time and we had to leave one motorbike at the customs check in as insurance and then ride half a km to a little hut to buy a green card to drive through the country. They're certainly doing their best to boost their economy!

We then embarked on the journey through Moldova. The road at first relatively good, the odd pot hole here and there, then it then got quite a bit worse and the middle of the road was broken up tarmac and the sides were compacted gravel. We found we had to chop and change between the two depending on which was smoother! Most of the other cars on the road were old school Ladas, with suspension perfect for the job. Industrial!

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We reached the Ukraine border after around 40miles and were greeted by a Customs guard on the Moldovian exit with a slight smirk on his face! Not sure whether he was amused about what we were doing or what was maybe in store for us!

Up the road we hit the Ukraine Customs. Not too difficult in the end and we passed through without handing over a penny! By this stage it was 2pm and although we'd done two borders, we'd only done the 40miles through Moldova! We asked a friendly Moldovan heading back into Moldova how far it was to Odessa. He advised around 180miles, yikes!

We set off with the idea of stopping quite soon for food. This idea basically went on all the way to Odessa, as we found nowhere to stop for either a cash or food!

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We arrived in Odessa famished. We had a hotel booked, but unfortunately did not understand any of the road signs to get us to the centre of the city. In the end we had to ask a cab driver to guide us to the right street.

After unloading the essentials from our bikes we wandered out and stopped in the first restaurant we came to and basically ate lunch and dinner in one!

225 hard miles covered today.

Posted by EdAndJames 13:05 Archived in Ukraine Comments (1)

Day 48

Galati

overcast 10 °C

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Today we got up and after breakfast round the corner met our fantastically helpful and accommodating host Razvan to hand the key back. As well as providing us a place to stay whilst in Constanta and escorting us into town he was willing to get something delivered for me (I now have heated hand-grips again!), helped us carry our stuff downstairs, guided us out of town on the right road and even arranged tonight's accommodation in Galati, near the Moldovan border! Fantastic.

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One or two potholes initially, but shortly outside Constanta the road opened up beautifully, one lane each way through the flatlands and the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. There were lots of partially submerged trees along one river which looked great.

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After lunch we took a ferry across a short stretch of the Danube and were joined by 10 or so other motorbikers out for a ride. After that we were guided to tonight's apartment in Galati, initially following the wrong car, but soon arriving okay at another ideal apartment!

Tomorrow we have to cross into Moldova for a short stretch before entering Ukraine.

Posted by EdAndJames 14:10 Archived in Romania Comments (5)

Day 47

Constanta

sunny 7 °C

We had a good breakfast brought to our room today and enjoyed the morning sunshine on the balcony before saying goodbye to our great hosts and heading out on the new road North.

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At one point the road was still being made and we were using our off-road skills again. One of the workers approached us and used the world's international language: not English but English Premiership Football. His conversation was typical of one's we've had everywhere we've been so far where there is a language problem:

Guy : Hello! Where are you from?
Ed : England. London?
Guy : Ah, Chelsea!
Etc

A little knowledge of premiership clubs, recent results and who from the local country plays there makes you friends wherever you go.

Had lunch in Varna before crossing the border into Romania (much easier crossing than of late). We noticed a change straight away - dogs everywhere! From there it was 70 km or so to Constanta where we met our host Ražvan who took us through town to our nice pre-booked apartment (on the 4th floor up the stairs!).

The toothbrush-holder was pleased to see us:

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Lovely dinner in a restaurant round the corner where Ed asked for some olives as a starter and the waiter said:
Waiter - How many grams?
Ed [looking perplexed] - Errr . . .
Waiter - 50g? 100g?
Ed - Give us 100!

It was a good amount and now we just have to decide how ambitious to be with tommorow's itinerary . . .

Another 210 miles further round.

Posted by EdAndJames 14:45 Archived in Romania Comments (1)

Day 46

Sozopol

all seasons in one day 5 °C

We had breakfast in hotel Laleli Gonnen at around 09.30, there was lots to offer including soup, olives, salad and then the usual breakfast type things!

After this Roger's tappets needed checking, which were done where we were parked up for the night and there was even a very friendly young Turkish guy on hand to help with putting nuts and bolts back in place!

The weather outside was absolutely rotten, not only raining hard, but also very cold. Maybe only around 4 degrees. This seemed to inadvertanly delay us somewhat and we spent a while browsing the free Internet on the two laptops the Hotel had in the reception.

After packing up the bikes and drinking a cup of tea with the guy running the car park we set off towards the east of Istanbul so that we could cross over the water dividing Europe and Asia. Istanbul is vast and so this took us rather longer than we had hoped also! By this stage there was also sleet in the air and along with Turkish driving, which is rather reminisant of the Albanian, this made the driving conditions a little tricky to say the least!

By the time we headed out of the city it was about 14:30 and we still had a border and 250 miles to cover!

We stopped for lunch soon after getting clear of Istanbul in a place called Silivri, it was then a long stint west along the motorway west towards Edirne. We turned north before we got there and then only had around 40 miles to cover before reaching the Bulgarian border.

The border was quite high and there were bits of snow around so we tip-toed into the Turkish and Bulgarian border checks and got a few odd looks!

After this the road dropped back down and we made our way towards the coast to a place called Sozopol where we had booked a room for the night. The room was only 23 Euros so we weren't too bothered that we only arrived at 12am! A fantastic guy welcomed us in, showed us around and even gave us some food as everywhere was closed for the night!

250miles covered today.

Posted by EdAndJames 14:45 Archived in Bulgaria Comments (0)

Day 45

Istanbul

rain 5 °C

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We had a nice breakfast (and a great cup of tea) in Alexandroupoli and then drove to the border along the small Coastal roads passing lots of birds of prey and a military aerodrome with hundreds of soldiers out to attention armed with bazookas!

The Turkish border took 3 hours, £10 and €5 each to get through (including half an hour for lunch which was another €5 each come to think of it!)

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We rode towards Istanbul with flashes of Albania at times as the road broke up and then stopped on the outskirts to find our bearings. Some very friendly guys at a carwash cleaning a motorbike gave some pointers, a cup of tea and then guided us to the centre - fantastic.

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We found our hotel as it was beginning to rain and the porter carried all our bags upstairs for us!

Went out for an expensive night on the town and tomorrow we head North to Bulgaria.

208m today

Posted by EdAndJames 02:05 Archived in Turkey Comments (1)

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