Mega Balkan trip 2021, episode 3

Last week i ended on the Transfagarasan and it’s time to leave that wet mountain.
I always try to ad a video with the blog and i do some voice over when recording audio on the road fails, most of it will be told here also but not everybody likes reading.
However, the blog tells way more so when you read it you still can enjoy the view and place the story at the places you see in the video.
The first 2 got a bit longer than i wanted but this week it’s a short one.

Getting down from the Transfagarasan it got dry and this is bear country so i really hoped to see one in the wild and i was not being disappointed. Before i left the Transfagarasan road there was one sitting in a corner, just relaxing.

Also have it on video but still not the best footage. I made some quick pictures and turned the camera on but didn’t want to waste my real life experience to get it all in high quality looking at it through a screen like most people live their life’s these days.
I do want to share it with you but not sacrifice my goals for you, I’ll try to give you something and it’s up to you to imagine how great it will be to be there. It might pushes you to go and experience it for yourself.

Next goal is the Bicaz Gorge but i discovered when i was putting the route together that i was passing not far from Bran so i made a little change to pass Bran Castle a.k.a. Dracula’s castle.
After a bit of nice weather Transylvania did what it does best, changing into rain and i had to be double careful as there where also cow’s on the road.

After those nice mountain roads i got to Bran and i’m not a touristy guy but wanted to check out the castle. It ended up to be at least an hour waiting in line to get in and as it was not a goal i turned around for a picture and continue my ride for that day.

In fact this is not the real castle of Dracula but this is the one he fled to, the real castle is a ruin somewhere on the Transfagarasan which i missed due to the weather.
But this is the one that is restored and used in the original book about Vlad III better known as Vlad the Impaler or Vlad Dracula.
Next was to find a place to stay for the night but that was after some more riding with more changing between dry and rain.
This was another time i just stopped somewhere and asked if they have a room.

The next day was a short one through the Bicaz Gorge to Lasi, close to the Moldovan border.
Romania is a country with a great variety of mountain types. The Transalipina was rocky with a yellow brownish longer grass and moss, the Transfagarasan had green short grass and moss, then towards Bran it was a forest but on mountains and Bicaz is just big bare rock sticking out of a forest.

After Bicaz it was an easy ride, nice but not spectacular but in Lasi i had some trouble finding a cheap accommodation. I thought i found a nice place outside Lasi and getting there was quite a challenge as i had to get through a residential area but all the roads where unpaved.
Not challenging but when i got out it went downhill with deep ruts and that was on this heavy bike. It ended up being useless too as it was not even a B&B so back to Lasi where i eventually found a place on the side i entered Lasi.
Luckily it also had a restaurant so food and beer was also covered…

Time to enter the next country, Moldova.
I didn’t get any local money as i just was passing through. I was expecting some bad roads but it was a bit rough but overall not bad at all making me think if i missed out not taking back roads. I didn’t think much about it as there where not many and after that place just outside Lasi i doubted those roads where paved with possibly a huge difference to the main road.

Then i came across some checkpoints wondering if i need to stop but they waved me to keep going… strange, what is the purpose of it as the Ukraine border is still over 100km away.
Yet i run into a border?
There are 2 very nice looking ladies, one in some sort of police uniform and the other in camo, they spoke reasonable English but when i asked what country i was about to enter they said Република Молдовеняскэ Нистрянэ.
I thought i just didn’t hear it well because of my earplugs but after 3 times i gave up.
I had to buy a vignette and i could pay in Moldovan Lei, Dollars or Euro. I didn’t change any to Moldovan Lei as i explained before but i had a €20 note but that was a problem even though it was a currency they said was accepted???
It seemed to be just too large but it was all i had. Creditcard was not possible and he kept looking at his phone and was sighing but stayed friendly just like myself, it’s the best way to get things solved.
Then a local walked in and seemingly he crosses that border often, they spoke a bit and made his papers ready and then he made a gesture to come with him. He opened a glove compartment in his car and took out a big stack of 50 Moldovan Lei bills and he changed my €20 bill for 400 Lei.
Now i could pay and it was now clear that it was not his intention to let me have him the €20 because he didn’t want the change from the local currency, or it was not good enough not being €16.

When i could continue and passed the gates a shield said PMR, when i got to my apartment in Ukraine and established wifi i looked it up. it stands for Pridnestrovian Moldovian Republic or Transnistria for short.
It is a independent dwarf state not recognized by most country’s other than a few other country’s in a similar situation. I count it as a halve because i still had to do the whole border handling.
When i was editing the video i was not sure if my insurance was valid just as i was thinking when i arrived there but when i Googled the name (i keep forgetting what the “P” stands for) i also noticed that because it is not recognized it is just part of Moldova.

The roads here where a bit worse than in Moldova but still quite descent.
At one point a truck-driver signalled me from behind riding on the wrong side of the road making me doubting about the side of the road where i have to ride but oncoming traffic took that away. I did stop to check if i might lost something or had a broken light or so.
Nothing wrong and on to Ukraine.

At the border a friendly soldier with a big machine gun told me to pass the line and walk to the window making the crossing take about 15 to 20 minutes instead of a couple of hours.
Next challenge was to find an exchange office to get rid of the Moldovan Lei as the Moldovans and Ukrainians are not friends so accepting each others money is out of the question and in Romania where i get back to after Odessa they also have a Lei but a different one and also not keen on the Moldovans if i remember correctly.
English was a problem here and it took a few attempts to get the proper information about the whereabouts of the exchange office but i got there.
It turned out to be not at the border but the first intersection.

Because of the money issue at the border i was not convinced that plastic will be accepted at gas stations but in theory i had enough to get to Odessa and in practice it was too.
But it will be helpful if there was petrol at the gas station and there was not, only diesel and it was already getting critical but still no reason for panic having the 2 litre extra.
The next did and after that it was time to find my place to stay for the next two nights.
Reason to stay a day over is a motorcycle store who had the camelback i want on their website so in the next day i can check if they have it in stock and do a bit sightseeing at the same time and look for extra memory for the camera’s.
And here i also ticked another destination… the Black Sea.

Yes i am happy, very happy even but just not a selfie type. Welcome to the Black Sea…

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