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Motorcycling in Ukraine

11.00 Wednesday, 23rd June.
“Forty five pounds. !  How much !”
Here was the first benefit of my meticulous planning for a 3,600 mile motorcycle journey to Kiev and back.  But let me introduce myself first, I am Derek Mansfield - President of Bold Endeavours Group, internet-marketing and web development agency with offices in London, Kiev, New York :)

The previous day, when I was still dithering on which day to leave, the price was just a tenner.
And if I delayed my start until the next day, several good things would happen.  I could go to my wife’s Mayoral presentation for 25 years meritorious service as a Head Teacher; I could organise salaries and other payments and I could buy said ferry trip for £10 instead of £45

Click
The ticket was purchased. For £45. The relaxed leisurely pace I had set myself was out of the window. I had 98 miles and 2 hours to get to Dover – including check in.
The die was cast, the journey begun, the wife forgiving, the guilt carried forward.
Hmmm. Computer shut down, ticket receipt not printed for check-in.
Fast forward 2 hours, Dover ferry port – “What do you mean you can’t find me on the passenger list ?”
“Computer not updated Sir.”
“Do you know my company develops booking systems, how can you not find me. An outrageous £45 and you can’t find me.”
“Yes Sir, you are correct. I did not know your company developed booking systems. What is your name?”

17.00 Ferry off ramp Calais, France.
GPS voice over (hereinafter known as woman-in-the-ear WITE)
“Route recalshuation (sic) Prepare to reverse direction and go back”

21.00 Wednesday, Aachen Germany.

“But you are a hotel aren’t you?
“Nicht Hotel. Hostel. Wohnheim für geistig Behinderte” (hostel for mentally handicapped)
“And why can’t I come in?”

23.00 Wednesday, Aachen Germany. Ibis Hotel
Endless noise in street as Germany celebrates football win.

05.30. Thursday, Aachen Germany. Ibis Hotel

“What do you mean breakfast was not included and doesn’t start until 06.30?”

06.00 Thursday, leaving Aachen Germany.

WITE “You are over the speed limit. Take immediate left followed by immediate left followed by immediate right. GP esh signal lost. Route recalshuation GP esh signal lost”
La Boheme overrides WITE and as Che Gelina Manina soars I follow signs to the autobahn.

14.00 Thursday, Linz, Austria.
WITE is programmed to go to Ukraine via Hungary. My detailed forward planning even had me changing to Pounds to Forints – well, detailed planning taking place on ferry crossing anyway.
I looked at the printed map I had the foresight to bring with me. Crikey – I had some friends living in Slovakia – it’s only just down the road.
“Hi, I’m passing by, shall I pop in for teaω Yes? Good, can you text me the address?”
Added text to system, WITE says drive for 100 miles.
WITE did not say I had chosen a route which added 400 miles to the journey, most of it through and over mountain passes.

21.00, Thursday, Mway somewhere in Slovakia. Rain, spray.
Printed map slides out over map holder, flies away at 73 mph.
WITE “You are over the speed limit. Take immediate left followed by immediate left followed by immediate right. GP esh signal lost. Route recalshuation. GP esh signal lost. Prepare to turn round and go back”

23.30, Thursday, Mway service station, somewhere else in Slovakia. Heavy Rain.
“Sorry about not getting there yet. I may arrive about 02.00. But if I can find a hotel I’ll stay there and ride over in the morning.

00.45. Friday 24 hour service hotel, somewhere else in Slovakia.
Really heavy rain.
No answer.
WITE “You are over the speed limit. Take immediate left followed by immediate left followed by immediate right. GP esh signal lost. Route recalshuation. GPesh signal lost. Prepare to turn round and go back”

01.15. Friday. Under hedge near petrol station, somewhere near Trencin, Slovakia. Rain easing

03.30 Friday. Dawn. Do I really want to leave this hedge? It’s very comfortable.

03.37. Friday. Leaving hedge near Trencin, Slovakia
WITE “Drive for 56 miles”

03.39 Friday near Trencin, Slovakia

WOW.
Mountains.
Wow, twisty roads.
And I was going to do this in the rain the dark?


Next 5 hours, amazing roads, vistas, mountains, villages. Stunning.
More Puccini, some Queen, 60’s Blues.

10.30 Friday arrive Stará Ľubovňa, Slovakia

Sleep.  Wake up. Impromptu party with excellent accordion music and full bodied singing. Thank you Ivana, Marian and Mother !

09.00 Sunday, leaving Stará Ľubovňa, Slovakia

12.30 Arrive Uzhgorod, Zakarpats'ka, Ukraine Border control.
6 German bikers in front of me – they are clearing as I arrive.

Customs guy says “Do you have guns or drugsω Nice bike. Who will win football? “
We agreed, regretfully, Germany would probably win.

13.00 leaving Uzhgorod, Zakarpats'ka, Ukraine Border control
WITE “Drive straight on for 100 miles”
Erm, there is a road sign. Lviv to the left, Kiev straight on. I am going to Lviv. Turn left.
WITE “You are over the speed limit. Take immediate left followed by immediate left followed by immediate right. GP esh signal lost. Route recalshuation. GPesh signal lost. Prepare to turn round and go back”
Road turns to track.
Agree with WITE.
Turn left into a village and back track.
German Bikers all enjoying lunch in a restaurant. I smile, wave and nod as I pass them, desperately trying to look as if I know what I’m doing and where I’m going.

15.00 Road to Kiev/Lviv – wide sweeping bends coming down from mountains.
Delibes at high volume, WITE has shut up, no traffic anywhere, true Biker Zen.
Blue and red flashing lights, siren.
“Documents pazhalsta”
We establish I’m English. And that the speed limit is 110 kmh. Not 110 mph. I am truly grateful for this advice, and give the man a tip of $20 for his service.  

17.30 Arrive Lviv, Ukraine (Opera House)

Omigod these cobbles. Beautiful city. Omigod these cobbles

Opera house lviv motorrcycle journey eastern europe ukraine

10.00 Next day, Leaving Lviv.
Omigod these cobbles
WITE “Take immediate left followed by immediate left followed by immediate right. GP esh signal lost. Route recalshuation. GPesh signal lost. Prepare to turn round and go back”
Omigod these cobbles

12.00 E.40 Lviv to Kiev. Road works. Speed 30kmh.
Overtake truck after 1 hours slow riding
Blue and red flashing lights, siren.
“Documents pazhalsta”
We establish I’m English. Would I like to see the video of me overtaking truck ? Ahhh, we may not overtake anything no matter what the speed, road conditions or the fact there was no oncoming traffic visible for at least two miles. And everyone else is overtaking. I am very grateful for this sensible advice and I give the man a $20 tip for his trouble.


15.00 E.40. Lviv to Kiev. Road works. Speed 30kmh.

Flagged to stop by traffic policeman.
“Documents pazhalsta”
“Why?”
“Documents pazhalsta”
“I have no idea of why you stopped me. I have had all the paid for advice I require thank you. In 45 years of driving all over the world I have never, ever been stopped for a traffic violation until I came to this country. So tell me why you want to see my documents”
“Nice bike. Go”

Welcome to Kiev.
1,800 mile. On bike riding time approx 43 hours
Meet Gerald Bowers, CEO British Business Club.
maid. kiev, motorcycle journey, eastern europe

I’ll update you on the return journey late September.



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