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'98 Trip Around the Mediterranean Sea
Sixth Leg: Europe part 3

 

Transit through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia
Poland
Transit through Geramany to Holland

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Transit through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia

 

Sat, Aug 1, 98. TURKEY: Edirne, BULGARIA, ROMANIA (somewhere in a forest). 

 

J.: Border crossing was quick and easy. The ride through Bulgaria was OK. Crossing the Danube River on a ferry took few hours (heavy traffic). It was the second time in my life I crossed the Danube River in Vidin. In 1977 (I was 8) my parents, brother and I were vacationing in Eastern Europe for 3 weeks. I still remember the ferry ride. Night Sat/Sun 1/2 in Romania in the forest. Another free night and another day without a shower. We honestly were able to call ourselves bikers: filthy and stinking.

 

Sun, Aug 2, 98. ROMANIA, HUNGARY, SLOVAKIA, POLAND

 

G.: Ride through Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. Night Sun/Mon 2/3 in Poland, just across the border. At the hotel restaurant we met a Slovak gentleman living in Poland. He already had several beers and was very eager to talk. He was so nice that he invited us to spend a night in his house. It was great. He not only gave us food but also offered some Slovak vodka. How could we refuse? After couple of drinks we blamed it on being tired and quietly went to sleep. He did too. In the morning he offered us a breakfast. How could we refuse? No vodka, though. We greeted him and thanked for his hospitality. What a nice individual. 


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Poland

 

Mon, Aug 3, 98. POLAND: Solina

 

J.: We reached Solina around midday. We found a campsite and finally I was able to take a shower (none since Bodrum 4 days back). We met motorcyclists (Hans on 1943 Harley-Davidson and Andrzej on 1993 BMW) from Torun, my hometown (czesc, chlopaki). We celebrated this event enthusiastically. Night Mon/Tue 3/4 there.

 

Tue-Mon, Aug, 4-24, 98: 3 weeks. POLAND: Torun—home.

 

J.: Essentially that was the end of the trip. We split. I was going home to see my parents and brother. I got there that day in the evening. Next three weeks I enjoyed easy and slow family life. Greg was going to travel around Poland.

G.: I decided to enjoy my vacation and stayed the whole week in Solina. What a great place, as long as it isn’t too cold. Nice, laid-back atmosphere, lots of young, interesting and crazy people, plenty of bars, good food and music every night. I have been there many times and I will always return.

The next couple of weeks I spent on visiting more friends and family. It is always nice to see them.


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Transit through Germany to Holland

 

Mon, Aug 24, 98. POLAND. Torun to Wroclaw.  

 

 

J.: I left home early on Monday morning. After a rainy few-hours long ride, I reached Wroclaw around 10 am. The plan was to leave for the Netherlands the same day. Our flight Amsterdam-Toronto was on Thursday. The bikes had to be shipped on Wednesday from Rotterdam. Greg decided to sell his beloved bike and buy an ancient 1959 Junak. When I got there he still had his KLR.

 

Tue, Aug, 25, 98. POLAND: Wroclaw to GERMANY: near Erfurt.

 

G.: Since my KLR survived already two major expeditions (’96 & ’98) and I made on it over 52000 kms I decided it was time to say goodbye. I found an excited buyer in Krakow. On the very last day of my stay in Poland, he showed up at 1 am with his trailer. We loaded the “beast”, shook hands and that was it. In the meantime I already contemplated on buying a classic Polish motorcycle, Junak. I found one near my city and arranged to pick it up as soon as I sold mine. The guy wasn’t too happy when I told him that I would be at his place at 4 am to complete the deal, but he did not say no. So I bought an old beater, nicely restored and in riding condition. It was awesome: loud like a Harley and it looked great. 

Junak in Canada

J: We were tired but there was no time to rest. We headed to the German border around 10 am, Tuesday. Junak was doing fine.

G: On our first stop still in Poland I noticed my Junak had a major leak. The restoration was good but the seals were weak. No problem, I added some oil. Somewhere near Erfurt I noticed I had no lights. We decided to stop on the parking lot. Well, there was no choice. I had to look for the problem. I took the alternator apart but did not find any visible damage. Finally I checked all the connections and I found that unfortunately the transformer was busted. The lights were on, till the battery was full. After that they went off. 

 

J: It was well past midnight. There was little traffic on the highway. We decided to go. We arranged the following bike formation: my bike (with lights) was occupying left half of the lane, Greg’s (no lights) — right half. It wasn’t too bad, until my lights went off too! We were too tired to think about the cause (second night with no sleep) and decided to wait (sleep) until the morning (later on I’d find out that one of the fuses burned). To keep warm, I didn’t even take my helmet off. Night Tue/Wed 25/26 by the highway in a ditch 10 meters from the road.

 

Wed & Thu, Aug 26 & 27, 98. GERMANY: near Erfurt to Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

 

J.: As soon as the sun had risen, we split. Since my bike was faster (140+ km/h, Junak 100km/h) I was to get to Rotterdam first, pay for the shipment and arrange all the paper stuff. I got there around noon, completed the paper business, started putting my bike apart and waited anxiously for Greg. It was very uneasy 4 hours.

G: I the meantime I was slowly moving towards Rotterdam. Since the battery was dead it was impossible to kick-start the bike. I decided to go as far as I could to the next gas station. At the station I had to turn off the engine. I attempted to push-start it but I wasn’t successful. A Polish trucker offered his help. Now two men were pushing the bike. Luckily after 5 minutes of struggle we managed. My tank was full, the bike still worked, “Great”, I thought, I may have a chance to make it on time.

Unfortunately the clouds were setting in. That last 300 kms was the most worrisome and uncomfortable ride of my life (the vibrations on the bike were unbearable). Once in Holland it started raining heavily. Junak didn’t like rain, I knew that. I had no rain gear on, no lights, water got to the carburetor and the machine started choking. I couldn’t stop. Otherwise the motor would stop completely, and then what! I caught a truck to minimize the drag and to gain some speed and somehow I arrived safely in Rotterdam. 

The engine stopped on the first traffic lights. It was only few kms left to the warehouse. I hired numerous people to help me push-start the bike. One of them was a young fellow who was cleaning the street. He pushed me once and surprisingly got very tired. He lied on the sidewalk. In minutes, police and ambulance showed up. From where? Who called? They took the guy inside and treated him. I did not know what was wrong with him but it seemed like he was just faking it. I apologized to the police for causing any inconvenience but they said it was not my problem; it was his problem. They left and the guy went back to work. 

I cleaned the carburetor and this time I asked an elderly man for help. I was afraid he might have gotten a heart attack but there was no one else around then. He, without any problems, pushed my bike several times and…. SUCCESS! It started! I was relieved. I got to the warehouse all soaking wet from head to toe. I thought my leathers were garbage. Fortunately it wasn’t too late.

J.: I was very happy to see Greg. After his arrival (around 5 PM) it took hours to place the bikes back in the crates. We were exhausted. Done around midnight, we took a train to Amsterdam. Slept an hour in the train station where we got robbed of the camera and 3 films (some druggie probably traded it for a line or two). Then we got kicked out from the station. It closes between 2 and 3 AM. So we walked around the city. Then we took a train to the airport, boarded the plane and left Europe. Uhh!

 

Three weeks after:

 

We received our bikes. Yeah!

 

Final comments:

 

J.: That’s it… There isn’t a day that I don’t think about this trip. This is the best thing I ever did for myself. Hey, people! Get moving! Travelling is the best way of living your life! As you can see a person with no motorbiking experience and with a bit of luck can make it to very exotic and seemingly dangerous places.

G: I also have to admit it was the best trip of my life. Despite my previous experiences, this one was the most interesting and the most diverse. It took a lot of preparation and strong will to pull it together but the rewards were unmeasurable. It is just so ironic that the person whose strong determination drove us towards accomplishing this fascinating goal was unable to complete the trip with us. Lucas eventually recovered and planned to continue his trip in ’99. Good luck to Lucas!


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To see Statistics, click 98 Stats or go back to Mediterranean Trip.