Moto Adventures

Friday, August 24, 2012

Poland, Solvakia and down to the Ukraine for borshch

Small townsites with homes amidst bountiful gardens line the side of the small country roads we are choosing to ride.

The slavic countries are living 40 or 50 years behind us in some things, like hurding their cows down the main street(sound familiar anyone?)but in other ways their life is largely the same as these young girls with the cows were probably talking on their cell phones as they walked!

One last day in Krakow, a visit to Wafel Hill and Castle and a good Polish lunch.

Ken misses the off road riding at home! We stopped along a creek at the side the road to cool off in the 30+ degree temperatures. We soaked our feet and before we left our shirts, that kept us cool for a while.

Along the road in Ukraine you can find water taps with fresh drinking water, this one was made up to look like a tea pot and cup.

Along side the road in the mountains leaving Poland many vendors were selling wild mushrooms, sheep cheese, honey, huckleberries and assorted jars of pickled wild mushrooms.

The four days in Krakow, we spent waiting of the bike tires, was spent just kicking back at the campsite. We only went into the city one afternoon to visit Wafel Castle which we missed the first time around. This being our longest stop in one place(where we were not specifically visiting someone)was very relaxing. We had a chance to meet a couple from France, another from Germany(originally from Holland) and a family from Sweden...Huskvarna to be exact...I think we drove right by their house on our way out of town! Outrageous, we enjoyed the visit and especially the Swedish apple pie and whipped cream! The Michelin Anakee tires arrived and we had them mounted and balanced (something Ken usually does himself so he was a little put out)and we where on our way with the sun in our back and the wind in our face for just under $400.

The temperatures are starting to climb so we headed for Slovakia and maybe a few hills. We spent one night camping along a reservoir where we met a mother and daughter out for a evening beer together. We found the Slovakians a little reserved but these two where very friendly, and we were very happy to find someone who spoke English. We had a great evening questioning each other on our different ways of life past(under Soviet rule) and present(the daughter now works for the Slovak E.U. government in Brussels). They invited us to their cottage...the blue lagoon...for a night cap and then gave us ride back to our camp at close to midnight!

We are found it easier in Poland and Slovakia to find a place to eat a hot afternoon meal and then just something small at night. $3-$4can buy you a great lunch with soup, a main, and a drink(sometimes even dessert). I'ld like to say that an afternoon stop pleasantly broke up the day, which I guess it really did, but we have only been doing around 200-300km per we haven't had hard days to begin with. We are travelling the small roads enjoying the villages, it is havest time here and the people are bringing all the vegies from their gardens, from potatoes to squash, tomatoes and cucumbers. Everyone in the family or should I say the village is out to help. Several times we have tripped across a very touristy area by mistake, with activities like rafting, spas, and hiking going on to name a few.

Going into the Ukaraine was the the only border we have crossed which is not in the E.U. I took a picture of Ken at the border crossing which a couple of the guards promptly made me erase from my camera?!?! The Africa Twin is registered to Heinz and it has a German plate but Heinz had letter notarized for us to say that we allowed to have the bike, everything sounds good. The officers at the border looked at the letter from Heinz(front and back...with nothing writen on the back) then called another guard over to read it(front and back...were we missing something?), who in turn passed it on to one more guard who entered our home information in a computor, smiled and said good-bye? We were in! but they didn't have us fill out an imigration form, hopefully this will not be a problem on the way out. The Ukraine seems to be the poorest of the countries we have visited so far but the people are very friendly. There is definately a huge separation between the poor and the rich-the rich, who are driving their expensive sport utilities(like mad men), and the poor who are riding horse and wagons on very unimproved roads. It's easy to see wo has benifited the most from the new free market system. Beer is definately the drink of choice, coolers full of many types of beer line the walls of every little corner store and there are more cafes and bars than you can shake a stick at. Beer is cheaper than water and they start drinking it early in the day, it appears to us that there may be a bit of a drinking problem. I don't drink beer but Ken is enjoying a few.

Yes, life is good here in the Ukraine! Yesterday we got a cute little hotel for less than $20 a night, then went out for borshch and varenyky(perogies) for $7 for us both...I am happy! However unfortuanally, when the bill came we didn't even have the $7 in our pockets to pay(we were .50 short) and Ken had to run to the Bankomat for more money...try to explain that to the waitress using hand/sign language. Here, in the Ukraine, no one speaks English. Russian-yes. German-maybe but English-not a chance. Who would have thought that we would be using German as our second language when we were trying to negotiate the price of our room yesterday, not me.

All in all, we love it here. For breakfast today we went to the bakery next door and got a fresh loaf of bread, white and soft just like mom used to make then we went for a 6 km long walk up a road near our hotel. On the way back down we stopped in at a little bar/store where Ken had a beer and we talked to an old couple drinking schnapps and 4-6 young guys working on their 2nd, 3rd or 4th beer. We spoke English to them, they spoke Ukrainian to us and we all laughed! Sitting in our room we can hear the horse and wagons clipity-cloping down the back alley, looking our our window we can see hillsides covered in fields dotted with piles of hay, raked by hand and trying to comunicate with the people...well that is really good for a laugh.


At 10:45 AM, Blogger Rose said...

Wow, that's interesting that you still see so many horse drawn wagons on the roads. I saw them in East Germany back in the late 70s but I didn't think they'd still be around so much now, in Europe anyway.

So Heather, I bet you're thinking you should have taken German lessons before you left, eh? lol Can't you use Google translate on your iPad to help out?

I've noticed many times when I've been travelling that German comes in handy, like the last time I was in Mexico!

Anyway, the countryside looks lovely, so peaceful and far from the touristy areas that abound elsewhere in Europe. Nice that you can take it easy as you travel the back roads. Life is good, n'est ce pas?

Continued safe travels, you guys!

At 3:29 AM, Blogger Jo said...

Hi Heather and Ken,
We met during dinner in the Mazury lakes region in Poland, I'm the Australian girl who was with my German boyfriend and his parents... Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I checked out your blog and am very impressed by your story, what a great approach to life :) All the best for the rest of your adventures!


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