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Fasten your seatbelts it's going to be a fun ride

Thursday, September 24, 2009

4 countries in one day....and dracula

4 countries in one day.
Czech Rep.

The day has arrived for us to leave Prague on the train for Poprad Slovakia. We had all day to pack but I was so beside myself with concern about forgetting something important…I almost did, my tent!
Coupled with the fact that I still had no adapter to charge my camera battery. I resolutely went to over a dozen stores and even got lost in a dreaded mall only to find after buying two different ones that neither fit. I got so frustrated with not being able to get my money back I chucked them like dice on a crap table in Vegas across the store counter.

Finally found one…then after a huge lunch (where Johan enjoyed a huge beer) and our clumsy waiter knocked my camera to the floor then gave me attitude about it, headed back to pack, some more.

Found a vital piece of equipment, thick plastic bags to keep everything dry, thanks Edith!

Johan was able to secure our respective country flags to our bikes,
Secure our luggage and get us off on in time.

We then rode to the train station to load our bikes in the pitch black

...Johan was nice enough to take care of mine and bumped his head on the ceiling too.
We got an AWESOME cabin, just 3 bunks so we don’t have to share with strangers. We even have our own sink. I decided to give them some privacy before my little magic pill kicked in and after hearing some loud thumping coming from our cabin decided to take a stroll up and down the car.

First stop, Levoca, Slovakia.

Local farmers market setting up. It was 7am and freezing!

Neat collapsing roof overgrown with vines.

Great castle in the distance.

Cemetary with massive carved tree trunks as tombstones.

Stopped for lunch at Nyiregyhaza it’s known for buildings that look like Italian wedding cakes

I ordered a veal stew with noodles and it was so good! This time I dropped my own camera.

Met another couple from Poland also doing some cross country but on one bike.

Crossed the boarder into Romania…lots of horse drawn carts here too.

Drinking with the locals. My first night in Romania, camping in the middle of nowhere and loving it.

But one of Quentin Tarantino characters was there.

We stopped shortly after the Romanian crossing in a small town and went to the only pub. The woman told us we could not pitch our tent but a friendly older man urged us to follow him on his bicycle around the bend to his property.

It was a beautiful clearing, off the road, cows, rabbits and tons of hay.

He even brought us a bath, soap and a towel. I used a pail from the well to fill it up and yes it was freezing cold but I took a bath.

We pitched the tents in the setting sun, ecstatic at our good fortune. He even gave us fresh milk from the cow!

I’ve debated most of the evening whether to share this but it is part of the trip and regardless of things turning out in the end I think it’s an important story.

We are programmed to fear things such as say motorcycles because they are dangerous. True they elevate your risk but as Edith pointed out cheerfully over dinner, a pedestrian got run over in front of her house by someone running a red light. Danger can be your next door neighbor or the small town drunk who appeared normal…

We took him to the pub for a thank you drink and all appeared fine. He acted normal and there were no warning signs as we later discussed the situation.

Until I felt something wake me. I then heard someone outside my tent trying to get in and called out to Hilary to ask if they were there.

Johan got out of his tent and walked the campsite and sure enough, there was our seemingly friendly, harmless host almost naked crouched behind my motorcycle.

He left only to come back roughly 6 times to insist that I sleep with him or we leave.

We handled it all well. We didn’t get scared (not in the paralyzed with fear sense), stayed calm and debated our options of safety which were numerous, (none of us are set up for night riding) but when he came back with an axe, it was time to go.

I’m rather proud of how well Johan handled this, only 29 and quite a man about it. He immediately took charge, made the statement we are going and started to pack up. Hilary, kept a calm head too and we eventually found a hotel

And the man who brought us there the night before and helped us check in is a former border patrol, his name is Cosmin (I’m sure I spelled it wrong) so the next morning he called a friend from the police force over to the hotel and we gave him the story.

You know thinking back, if I’d accepted the interest of a rather cute boy at the local pub I would not have had a problem with the old one. LOL

Turns out the cop knows the man and will go and warn him ‘sternly’ and write a ticket. Whatever. I guess it felt good to at least report him. The police shook only Johan’s hand and was off. Women are like chattel here.

So off we went to some roads that were white on the map. Now I could spend hours detailing the extreme fear, frustration and anxiety that these roads caused…heavy large gravel, dirt roads with huge pot holes. Paul suggested that Romania invented the pothole, or was it Bob…I just kept repeating to myself while panting from exertion and fear, keep it between the trees with the shiny side up. (Thanks Bob.)

My very own episode of lost.

We ended up doing a perfect circle through fields with sheep herders and very excited dogs, ravines, concrete bridges with nice drop offs, up steep hills then down the other side with so many trees it was hard to stay upright. I didn’t actually take one spill but tipped the bike in a deep ravine. It was completely remote and Hilary and Johan were having a blast while Nancy (reminder, this is my FIRST real off road experience) was ready to burst out in tears.

All in all it was some of the most gorgeous scenery I’m likely to ever see and here are some photos.

A very cool pully water system to fill the trough for the sheep and cattle roaming the hill side. The weight on the arm was the perfect weight to pull up a full bucket.

Cool crossroads

We stopped off for a lunch in a small town and ended up in this pastry shop

Where they have Coke Zero in GLASS bottles!

Hilary’s hand grips are giving her blisters, here is Johan being the medic too.

We finally decided to stop for the night and eventually had the whole street of people sitting outside talking to us.

Our pension, ready to go the next morning.

WARNING : the following images are very beautiful

Fun getting around a construction site.

All the men wear fedora's and blazers.

Stopped for lunch and as usual, groups of cute boys everywhere, they helped us order.


Street side vendors selling food from their gardens.

Sibiu is a fortified monastery. Just gorgeous.

And this cutie scooping my gelato

On my was to dracula’s castle, found lots of people digging up potatoes.

Heading to those mountains. Alone. Yikes!

Stopped off at this very nice pension. A bunch of bikers from Germany on an Enduro run stopped here too.

Had breakfast with this nice woman who is Romanian and speaks 5 languages!

So tomorrow I get an early start to go to one of the disputed Dracula castles. The famous one is in Brasov but this one is also supposed to contend for the title and it has a much nicer twisty road without much tourists so I’m good with that. No photos of it, because I never found the darn thing.

Tomorrow, hopefully Hilary and Johan will make it through the pass and we’ll meet up.

Tigger is starting to look less orange and more brown.

And I feel like I’ve crossed over into an A-sexual zone, I certainly don’t look like a girl anymore.

Chipped nails, dirt under most of them and that’s OK. Kinda fun to be dirty.

So in conclusion....

Let’s talk about roads.

White: this is what Hilary and Johan find the most fun. A white road on a map brings a twinkle to their eyes, similar to mine when champagne bottles open. For me, it means the death grip on the handles, some colorful profanity and lot’s of adrenalin.

Yellow roads. Still fun for Hilary and Johan and more and more for me too. These are as reliable as rolling dice. Could be paved, could be dirt, could be rocks (big ones), and most certainly riddled with potholes. Now when I say potholes, imagine that you cannot steer anywhere without hitting one (on a bike with only one line of tires) so just stand up and let your legs become shock absorbers because wherever you steer you are going to hit one and then another and then another right after that…

Orange roads. Now these are usually nice, almost never dirt and they are asphalt (so far) but there could be gravel so taking turns is still risky.

Red roads. These are freeways and by far the most DANGEROUS. People here drive with a death wish.

So believe it or not, it’s safer on the dirt and rock roads and more fun.

Oh and Leo, I’ve started stretching.

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