Day 2: We finally made it to the Chech Republic. A bit of drizzel and some drops, but beautiful riding none the less. Forests and rivers and lakes in the highlands along the Polish border.
Day 4 had more rain in store for us. Actually a deluge. But as luck would have it, we got to a shelter just in time!!!
Day 5 begins with a loop of the Tatra mountains, then on top the famous city of KOSIČE which will be our last stop before entering UKRANIA. Here a glance at our happy bikes which were allowed to spend the night on the porch.
Being the smallest high alpine region of Europe was not an overstatement. Hardly were we in, we were out again, and further on our way to KOŠICE.
From the road we spotted another interesting looking little settlement and went to have a look. From a distance it could have been the Tuscany... a cluster of red tiled roofs with church spires and towers from the city hall rising above the skyline. It turned out LEVOĆA is one of the many starting points of the vast European network of pilgramage trails leading to Santiago de Compostello. Accordingly there is a very significant Cathedral here containing the world's largest all wood carved barock alter. Very impressive!
Spending a relaxing hour in the cool shade of a little waterside shack, gazing upon the ruins of this impressive fortress, will definitely remain as one of our most pleasurable moments of the trip...
To cap the night a wonderfull dinner of goulash, crèpes, roasted duck with red cabbage and salad. Tomorrow should be the day we reach the UKRAINE. The first time I will have set foot or bike into a (former) soviet country. We don't know what to expect.
The Ukraine was a challenge to our bodies and minds. We met wonderfully friendly people, many however living in conditions that seemed hundreds of years behind the times, juxtaposed to building projects that were hedging on a prosperous future which seemed iconoclastic to the surroundings. One explanation is also a sad reminder of the ignominious nature of man to be a moraless opportunist; just minutes before the border we were boonwaggled twice by police on bogus driving violations (which we settled in cash of course) to the tune of €220! More than double of what we spent on food and lodging and gas for the two days. We would have gladly donated that to a laudable cause that would boost the infrastructure here, but unfortunately it only went into the pockets of corrupt officials. Unfortunately a scenario you see being played out everywhere there is such pitious poverty.
Day 9 will take us from BORSA to PEATRA NEAMT (also known as Kreuzburg an der Bistriz). The following day we will continue through a famous gorge to another of the German named Romanian cities -SCHÄSSBURG - which is actually Sighisoara to the locals.
Day 10 from PIATRA NEAMT to SIGHISOARA will take us through the famous Bicaz Gorge (a chance to be "inside the mountain" as opposed to driving around and past it) then on to the region TRANSYLVANIA - literally "beyond the forest". Known in German speaking regions as SIEBENBÜRGEN, this remote region became internationally renouned as the fictional home of Count Dracula and the land of the vampires. It's remoteness, being snuggled in among the Carpathian mountains makes it a handy target for myths and legends, just as another region of Romania further south, WALACHEI, is synonimous in German with "the end of the world".
Day 11 will take us through BRASOV - one of Romania's biggest cities with a beautiful old center - then on to the infamous castle in Bran which is purported to have been the model for Bram Stokers monumental tale of dracula We will sleep at the foot of the legendary mountain road TRANSFAGARASAN.
An eventful day that ended peacefully at the foot of the TRANSFAGARASA which we will conqure tomorrow.
There are names of places in the world of motorcycling that conjure up wild emotions. These places are legendary. They are must dos in one's life and a reason in and of itself to drive carefully enough to live to do the next one. And since we started planning this trip, everyone we mentioned Romania to uttered immediately this magical word: the TRANSFAGARASAN. Well today's the day we do it...