We rode into a town that evening looking for a place to stay. The place we had looked at on booking.com was full. There wasn’t much more in the area, so we decided to head to the mountains. The skies were darkening as we left town and on the edge of town it started to rain, hard. We turned around and headed back to town, but still could not find a place to stay. We decided to head out of town again, in the rain. A couple miles out of town we found a small hostel. The price was right, the owner was nice and it had a kitchen and free Wi-Fi.
Wood carving in a park.
The next day we set off for the Bicaz Gorge. The road follows the river, twisting and turning on its path. As you ride, walls of rock start to soar above on either side you revealing incredible gorge.
Stopping briefly at the bottom of the gorge to get some photos, we met several motorcyclists from Hungary. We talked for a bit about each other’s trips, took some photos and then took off.
We were looking for a hotel and decided to stop and check our GPS. A friend of ours would be stopping at a hotel near us, so we set out for the hotel. The mileage to the hotel wasn’t bad, but the roads were in terrible condition, or just dirt. Our friend. Doug Wothke, was towards the end of an incredible ride. He and four other friends had shipped their World War II vintage Harley Davidsons across to the UK. From there they invaded Omaha Beach for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in France. The ride was across the top of France, Belgium, Germany and ended several weeks later at MotoCamp Bulgaria.
Doug pulling to the hotel with one other guy still in tow. We had a fun night eating and drinking (I was drinking) and telling tales of the road before parting ways the next morning.
Special dinner for us.
The next morning we headed out toward Hungary. Finding a small road that bordered the Ukraine, we followed it. The road ended up being a small, one lane pass road with perfect tarmac and wind is way through the forests to some in incredible views.
A couple days later we crossed from Hungary into Slovakia and rode toward the northern ski area at Strbske Pleso. The Carpanthian mountains rise dramatically here. We pulled in and looked for a place to park. As always, we looked where other motorcycles were parked. Finding several on a grassy area, we parked beside them and went to find something to eat. A couple minutes later the local Barney, (Police), pulled up to tell us we had to leave, it was not a parking space. OK, no problem. They checked my passport only, no one else. We rode down the road and found another spot of the resort area where bikes had been parked when we came to town. We pulled in. Within two minutes the cops were back. They told us all to leave, seven bikes plus us, and hassled me, the biker from America. They kept yelling at me in a language I didn’t understand, and rubbing their fingers together. Understanding the sign language of corrupt police officers, I asked them if they wanted a bribe. They then took out a book and indicated they needed €20 for the “ticket”, and handed me two pre-printed stamps, that were meaningless. Everyone else rode off while I was being hassled. We left right after for Poland. Corrupt officials somewhere, everywhere.
The next few days we rode toward Tallin, Estonia. This is where we would catch the ferry to Helsinki.
We stopped in Lublin, Poland to walk the old town and see the castle. We had found a place to stay on AirBnB which turned out to be very special. This was a 2-story apartment that was called the “Music Room”. Downstairs was an office, a well appointed kitchen and a nice bathroom. The whole upstairs was the bedroom. The space was decorated with musical instruments and vinyl records, 33 1/3 and 45’s. They also had a wonderful set-up, including the turntable. Needless to say, we played old American music from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.
The rate also included a breakfast. Our host would arrive in the morning and ring a little hand bell, indicating he had arrived with our wonderful breakfast. We told him we were taking the bus to old town and he even went out and bought us bus tickets.
Wonderful breakfast in kitchen area
Lublin was formed around the 13th century. It was a Nazi camp for Jews that were segregated into an area called the Lublin Ghetto. In one month in 1942, 26,000 Jews were sent to extermination camps. The city suffered significant damage during WW2, but has since been restored. The castle steep is original and had been used in the past to house political prisoners.
Finding the correct bus to get back served to be another issue, complicated. Solved after a beer.
First, a beer
Crossing the border to Lithuania we stopped at Grūto Parkas.
Grūto Park (unofficially known as Stalin’s World) is a sculpture garden of Dinner-era statues and an exposition of other Soviet ideological relics from the times of the Lithuanian SSR. It was founded in 2001 by mushroom magnate Viliumas Malinauskas. It is quite controversial, so we didn’t pay the entry fee to go in.
Our next stop was to see the Trakai Island Castle on Lake Galve. The castle is the only island castle in Eastern Europe, constructed in the 14th century.
Before crossing into Latvia we visited the Hill of Crosses, near our hotel. This was started after the unsuccessful 1831 Uprising against the Russian authorities. It was destroyed several times by the Russians, but always rebuilt. It is estimated over 100,000 crosses are now there.
We spent a couple nights along the coast in Latvia, on the Baltic Sea.
Ferry crossing to a dirt track. I think we’re lost.
It was a beautiful campground on a bluff overlooking the sea. They let us stay for free. Camped near us was an older rider on an older African Twin. He was from Austria. He came over to chat as we were setting up camp. He invited us over to his camp later that evening for a fire, and took off on his bike. Later that evening we discovered that he had gone to the store to get snacks, beer, ciders and wine for the evening fire. What a fun night we had. A reminder, too much beer means too many times up to pee at night.
A couple days later we
crossed by ferry into Scandinavia.