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Eastern European Road Trip

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Two weeks ago I returned back to the UK after travelling over to eastern Europe on my motorbike.  It’s something I’d wanted to do for a long time.  A very long time in fact.  I’d put it off last year, and the year before that, but this year I was determined it was going to happen.

I won’t lie.  The going was tough at times.  One day I covered just under 600 miles.  And it was one extreme or the other.  Long, never ending roads in western Europe or poor, almost impassable roads in eastern Europe.

Although Bulgaria and Romania were fantastic countries, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for me was always going to be Ukraine.  Gaining access was not so simple though.  Travelling into Ukraine from Romania was a struggle as I was selected for an ‘interview’ by border guards.  The process was very similar to what one might expect from people in authority stuck in what you could describe as ‘soviet’ ways.  I can’t say that it was totally unexpected , but just a long drawn out inconvenience.  Once everything was ‘normalna’ I was allowed to enter.  

It’s hard to describe how it felt when I had my first beer that evening in Ukraine.  Washed down with a bowl of borscht and chorniy xleb (black bread), followed by salad, meat and potatoes.  It was as near to heaven as I could get.

After spending one night in the Carpathian mountains it was then onto Kalush.  There were poor roads (as expected) but fantastic people all along the way.  Whenever I stopped for petrol people were very curious about the bike with many taking ‘selfies’, no doubt for their VK or Facebook page.

The following morning I headed out of Ukraine and into Poland making my way home.  It was a short stopover in Ukraine, but worthwhile none the less.  As I was leaving through the west of Ukraine, the large ATO billboards at the roadside were a constant reminder of the ongoing war in the east of the country.

Hopefully I’ll return next year and spend more time there.

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Written by Dean O'Brien

June 6, 2015 at 10:24 am

Posted in Ukraine Road Trip

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HUBB UK 2014 Adventure Travellers Meeting

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At the weekend I managed to get to the HUBBUK 2014 event.  For those not in the know, the aim of HUBB is to inspire, inform and connect overland adventure travellers.

HUBB laid on a first class event with a huge presentation schedule, so camping out for the weekend was a great opportunity to test any equipment recently purchased and to mingle with like minded folk.  There were many presentations taking place, but for me it had to be the one by Austin Vince that stood out amongst all others.  He’s like a cross between the manager from the Phone Shop and Mr Gilbert from The Inbetweeners.  He gives no ordinary talk.  It’s like watching proper dry stand up comedy.  Austin certainly knows how to keep an audience engaged and more importantly, transmit information in a language they understand.

Of course, my main reason for attending was to draw inspiration for my trip to Ukraine by motorcycle next year.  Many there are seasoned travellers and this was an ideal opportunity to put the feelers out.  I didn’t have to feel for long.  Whilst attending a presentation I got talking to Rod Shaw.  Rod seemed fascinated in my trip to Ukraine next year so hopefully we may be able to put some plans together between us.

So whilst basking in the sun with a beer in hand, I came across the legendary Ted Simon of Jupiter’s Travels fame.  Ted’s wife is Ukrainian (coincidentally!) and his bike is now on display at the Coventry Transport Museum.

All in all a great weekend.  Big thanks must go to all those involved and in particular Sam Manicom and co-organiser Iain Harper for helping to arrange things.

 

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Written by Dean O'Brien

June 26, 2014 at 8:33 am

Ukraine Road Trip

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Well as many of you maybe be aware I was planning on riding my motorbike to Ukraine this year.  Originally the plan was to ride there on my own but eventually decided to travel with a couple of other riders so that they too could experience this fantastic country.

Due to the crisis going on in the country I’ve decided to put this on hold till next year.  In all honesty, I still feel safe in Ukraine but I’m thinking more of those who were going to be travelling with me.

Who knows what the country will be like in 12 months time?  The situation is changing on a daily basis with many regions calling for their own independence.

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Written by Dean O'Brien

May 5, 2014 at 7:04 am

Posted in Ukraine Road Trip