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Eastern europe 2017

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stormbringer
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Eastern europe 2017

Post by stormbringer on Thu 20 Jul 2017, 11:22 am

I'll be going to see parts of eastern europe the following two weeks. This thread will be where I pop in - hopefully on a regular basis - and write what happens and what I've learnt and seen. With a little luck, accompanying photos should help maintain the readers' interest.
Going on my stock 2001 Y-reg CB that has done nearly 88.000 km today. Panniers and a soft tankbag for luggage, airbnb for accomodation. I'm simply too old for the camping-hassle and with prices in the area of 20£ for overnight sleep in proper houses with parking space and wifi, I'll go with that solution. This, experience has taught me, is not only reasonably comfortable, it's also a great way to get to talk to the host and perhaps his family. You know; meet the natives in their courtyard, rather than being a sheep in a hotel.
Prior to departure, the bike has had new tires, oil+filter and a new set of shocks. I've also refit the OE can in an attempt to make the bike less interesting to certain people. I've even oiled the chain, which by now has done 50.000+ km, yet seems healthy enough.

So; lock and load.

First leg; Aarhus, Denmark -> Vienna. 1300 km. The following day it'll be Vienna -> Brasov, Romania. 1000 km. And then the fun starts. Top of my todo-list looks similar to this:



As said, I'll be checking in on (irregular?) intervals...
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Jameshambleton
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by Jameshambleton on Thu 20 Jul 2017, 12:32 pm

I hope you're taking the train to Vienna, I'd just about had it after 700km's riding in a single day never mind 1300km . Glad to hear you're going rich mans touring (not camping) saves a lot of weight and tyre life but at that price I wouldn't be camping either. 

If I hadn't got left by my so called "friends" I was going to also ride the Transfăgărășan pass too but I don't think that they did in the end!
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stormbringer
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by stormbringer on Thu 20 Jul 2017, 1:31 pm

@Jameshambleton wrote:I hope you're taking the train to Vienna...

at that price I wouldn't be camping either.
Train: Nope.

Price: This was why I asked you how you were doing for accomodation on your trip. I've done airbnb last year and was happy with it. So; repeat.

sullivj
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by sullivj on Thu 20 Jul 2017, 4:48 pm

Have a safe trip SB. Looking forward to seeing the pics, and reading about your adventures.
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eternally_troubled
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by eternally_troubled on Sat 22 Jul 2017, 8:43 pm

Best of luck for the trip - sounds like fun, will be interesting to see your pictures and reports.
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ZekeVal
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by ZekeVal on Sat 22 Jul 2017, 9:07 pm

Looks like a proper adventure! Have fun and ride safe Wink

Is this romanian road the one that has been featured in an (old) TopGear episode? Looks familiar.

On my side, I'll be setting off next week for a more modest trip in the south of France (might be pushing to Spain, those pyreneans roads are too tempting!).
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stormbringer
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by stormbringer on Sat 22 Jul 2017, 10:06 pm

Right. So, here's how my day went:
Get up. Stick the panniers & top box on bike. Gear up. Leave home.
Refuel
Munch
Refuel
Munch
Refuel+eat sandwich & drink orange juice
Munch
Refuel
Munch
Refuel
Munch
Arrive at my destination.

Notable events:

No vignet needed at the czech border. I'd got that wrong, but opted to stay in the shed where they were selling them to those unfortunate enough to be driving a car. You see, it was raining cats and dogs then. I'd simply put on my trusty - and cheap - PU-rain set. This kit will take any abuse, apart from speeds above 70 mph.

With the route stored in the satnav in advance, I simply executed. That turned out to be a bad idea. Thing is, I wanted to go via Berlin, so I'd added a waypoint there and let the device do its best figuring out the fine details. It did; I got to see Berlin downtown. I'd also somehow got it convinced to take a direct route, which in itself is a good thing. Just not what you want after a thousand kilometers - to be taken through a myriad of little villages and a splash of mountainous terrain for good measure. Oh well, I nearly got to scrape my pegs and was almost having fun.

And here's some info for you, James. Next time you go, would this be a possible alternative to a tent at a campsite?
25£ brings you a two-bed room, a livingroom, a bath & toilet, a complete kitchen AND an empty double-garage with a motorised port/gate/door-thingy. And there's free wifi too...

Airbnb is my thing for sure. All it takes is to plan one day in advance.
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Jameshambleton
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by Jameshambleton on Sat 22 Jul 2017, 10:44 pm

Glad to hear that it's going well and that you've almost had the pegs down, strange feeling and sound at first but you'll get used to it Wink 

As for airbnb it's something I would definitely consider after a very long days riding or to recharge devices and to edit photos as my laptop isn't exactly the most power efficient, or if I was wanting to stay in an area for a few days such as Wien / Vienna.
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stormbringer
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by stormbringer on Mon 24 Jul 2017, 9:09 am

Landed in Brasov after a grueling ride. 1000km in one go. Scorching heat at noon, showers when getting near mountains.
The romanians have a strange road network. Some of it is brand new and speeds are high, but most of it is horrible - yet speeds remain high. Some romanian drivers exhibit a death-wish... I've also developed a healthy respect for potholes and railroad crossings by now Smile
Add to this that mway petrol stations have to be experienced to be believed.

But the land is beautiful.

No wifi in apartment. Pictures will follow later.

Vacation - traditional style - starts right now. Going shopping and to the market and restaurants and stuff. Best of all; I'm going with a friend I haven't seen in a long time.
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stormbringer
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by stormbringer on Tue 25 Jul 2017, 7:27 pm

Forget the potholes and the maniac drivers. This land will grow on you in a second!

My friend sure did come through with this. I've had stuff thrown at me for two days solid and there's more to come! A bear reservation, camp fire in the mountains in the dead of the night - including a guitarist and kids singing - castles and downtown and food and language and whathavewe. And there's a list of things planned a mile long. Transfagarasan and a thermal and more like that tomorrow.

Romanian hospitality is second to none! And the land is beautiful.

The bike? Didn't move one inch. We've gone by 4X4 on unpaved road and steep inclines.

sullivj
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by sullivj on Tue 25 Jul 2017, 8:20 pm

Glad you're having a good time SB. 1000km in one go is impressive, but not for me. 

Looking forward to seeing the photos.
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liverpool_f_
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by liverpool_f_ on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 5:11 pm

I was just about to type "Make sure you see the bears!" until I saw you last post. Bears and the Trans what-ya-ma-callit mountain road are the 2 reasons I want to go to Romania.
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stormbringer
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by stormbringer on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 9:13 pm

Bugger! Today I managed to get a diarrhea, and there's not much fun in riding in that situation. Day cancelled.
New plan: Tomorrow mountains, cable cars, hike and loads of scenery. Unless, of course, my stomach keeps acting up.

The bears in this reservation have all been rescued from circuses, amusement parks and private people not capable of giving them good lives. But there are bears in the wild too. A lot. Enough to warrant basic 'if you meet a bear'-safety-education.

Transfagarasan postponed till friday - weather forecast indicates this would be a better choice.
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stormbringer
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by stormbringer on Fri 28 Jul 2017, 9:15 pm

Transfagarasan in one sentence:

Go there!

I've by now scraped my pegs - on both sides - so many times that I've lost count. Entering the route from the north, you see a rocky ascent riddled with relatively wide hairpins, making cornering (and overtaking) manageable. At the top there's a lake, which I didn't get to see as it was all shrouded in thick fog/cloud. A bit disappointed, I started the descent going south. Into a tunnel, and once out on the other side there's a surprise waiting. Way less traffic, and wider arced hairpins - perhaps more serpentines - for something like 40 km in a row. I basically revved the nuts off the poor bike going down, grinding the pegs into the blacktop on a lot of the more overseeable corners. And the serpentines just keep on coming... I worked up a healthy sweat there!
Trouble is, you're torn between gunning the bike into the next corner or stopping to gawk at the view. I opted for the former.
Arrived at Curtea de Arges, there's a nice monastiry to look at, a cold drink to enjoy and then it's back to Brasov via Campulung and Bran. And if you think that's just miles to munch and nothing to see - you'd be wrong. Rural Romania, cows and dogs in the road, horsecarts - and more serpentines going up and down to the point where you start thinking "no more, please". Oh, and the worst, potholed, cracked, uneven, jumpy, insane road I've ever ridden. Suspension took a regular battering, as I was going at considerable speed. Airtime, bottom-out, the works!

The romanian way of driving is in fact quite amusing. Everyone drives like they stole their vehicle - except for the lorries that are basically just in the way. Overtaking happens everywhere - literally! Oncoming traffic knows this and if someone miscalculates, then there's usually room for three. Voila.
Complete mayhem, yet I didn't see any accidents. Go figure.

Highly recommended. More fun than you can wave a stick at. And I never knew the CB was capable of doing this in such style. I tip my hat to the Honda people.
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stormbringer
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by stormbringer on Sun 30 Jul 2017, 9:59 pm

On my way out of Romania, I had the chance to nip up the 7C Transfagarasan once more to see Balea lake near the summit. So now I opted for a more photoshoot-like approach. It's a mad place - you can't go more than a few hundred meters, then you'll have to stop for just one more picture. Making the ride a lengthy affair.
Balea lake is a peaceful place and riding a motorbike gets you the best parking space, three feet from the water's edge. More pictures...

Returning the same way I got up, I discovered that it's possible to scrape some more pegs, only this time fully loaded with panniers and all my luggage.

Next was a visit to Turda saltmine, which is a man-made underground excavation now open to the public. big enough to house a ferris-wheel and a lake with row-boats. Done using horse- and manpower.

On to Cluj-Napoca for a quick look-see and something to eat on town square before arriving at B&Nothing.
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stormbringer
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by stormbringer on Sat 05 Aug 2017, 7:42 pm

Home again.

I've spent a few days travelling north through Germany, sightseeing as I went along. Obersalzberg (I have a thing for WW2-stuff, and there's some of that on a mountaintop near Berchtesgaden), Nürnberg, Wolfsburg, Harz and Hamburg.

I've seen lots of impressive stuff.

Obersalzberg: Now, there's a place to get yourself a cottage Smile

Nürnberg sports "The Nazi party Rally Grounds" - an area intended for mass rallies for up to one million people. It's so big you will wonder how the world - Chamberlain in particular - missed noticing what was underway. This place was built to show off sheer power.
Wolfsburg is the home of VAG, and they have Autostadt for you to see. A large complex housing exhibitions of today's german engineering marvels. Audi, VW, Skoda, Porsche, Bugatti... This place is - again - designed to impress, and unless you don't care for technology, it will knock your socks off! Cool, calm and collected; alles unter kontrolle!

Harz features a former KZ-camp where V2-rockets were made inside a mountain. Unfortunately I got there early and didn't want to wait for the tour. Moved on to Hamburg.

Hamburg has lots of stuff to see - not just Reeperbahn which is largely overrated. I went to see a museum that had lots of prototype cars on display. As with Autostadt, this was a demonstration of might and power. So cool, calm and collected that even the toilets were 'whoa'. And moving on to Miniature Wunderland, a model-train exhibition you will have to see(!!), the theme repeated itself. Wunderland spans three floors of a factory building and has so much to see that I'd advise you to spend two half-days. Your head won't cope taking it all in in one day... Within the frame of 'model-trains', this is simply ridiculous; e.g. the control center is manned by 8 people and there's enough monitors to resemble a nuclear power plant. The expanse of the exhibition will boggle your mind. Not so much the trains, but the settings in which they operate. Different parts of the world like America, Scandinavia, Switzerland (a two-storey mountain setting), a complete (and true-to-life) replica of Hamburg Lufthafen (all the way down to 1/2 x 1" advertisement signs made with tiny LCD-screens showing live ads), a rock festival with 20.000 very tiny spectators, ferris wheels, Las Vegas, St Peter's church, dinosaurs, Santa waiting for a snowman to finish taking a dump at a loo, aliens - there's even a couple shagging in a car. All of this in scale H0. Did I mention some of the trains have onboard videocams, letting you view out the driver's window?
It's simply insane.
I brought my trusty DSLR and spent a few hundred photos, quite a lot of which were taken on Macro because of the small scale of things. I'll select and upload a few photos later...
I'll simply have to revisit Hamburg. So much I didn't see.

Anyways - moving on to home. And here I am now, writing this post.

Bike? Didn't give me one single problem. The poor thing has endured everything; sustained high speeds, 130 km of Transfagarasan - twice! (and +30 hero blob scrapes), a silly low-speed off that cost me a footpeg and a sore bum, airtime, bottom-outs, scorching heat, pouring rain, heavy loading, everything I've been able to throw at it.
Didn't miss a beat.

Now, think about how it's like to scrape pegs with a CB500 in this setup - including full panniers and tankbag:


Picture taken in Nürnberg - on the 'Great Street' where Hitler's boys used to show off their hardware.

sullivj
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by sullivj on Sat 05 Aug 2017, 8:17 pm

Sounds like an amazing adventure SB. Be good to see some of your photos at some point.
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wornsprokets
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Re: Eastern europe 2017

Post by wornsprokets on Sat 05 Aug 2017, 9:48 pm

Sounds like a great trip sb....looking forward to ur pics

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