Warsaw Poland – West of Rivne Ukraine
Today I was greeted by nothing but blue skies so I loaded up the mule and got the hell of dodge.
I’ve decided to refer to my GPS by the name of TomTom or TT for short. It makes me giggle and we do this for the shits and giggles and I have had my share of the shits so it’s time for some giggles. I also have a friend back home named TT so when I refer to TT being a moron am I referring to my GPS or TT?
After being routed down a truck route by TomTom on my way to Warsaw, I picked a town in the middle of no where as my destination and was rewarded by lightly trafficked roads which got increasingly nicer the further south I got.
For the most part the Baltic states didn’t seem to be all that much worse for wear for being part of the Soviet Union for the better (or worse) part of 5 decades. Parts of Tallinn definitely showed it’s Soviet roots and it was even more evident in Riga but when I was passing through small towns I could hardly see effects and most seemed to have happilly embraced and integrated capitalism in such a way that they didn’t seem much different than any other towns you might have seen in Finland or Scandinavia.
Northeastern Poland and Warsaw where a completely different story. There it was nothing but drab architecture and with a tacky layer of commercialism on the top of it. Mainly countless garish billboards which clashed mightily with the dull infrastructure over which it was plastered. Granted this impression might have been created by the route I took and my physical condition.
The further south I got in Poland this impression definitely started to wear off.
Crossing into Ukraine (Woot, I made it! Suck it Putin) wasn’t nearly as difficult as some people had told me though I did try to cause an international incident by skipping one of the poorly labeled checkpoints where I was supposed to pick-up a mysterious piece of paper. When the Ukrainian customs guard asked me if I had ever been to Ukraine and where I planned on going (Kiev to Odessa (though I probably won’t head all the way down to Odessa)) his respose was “Good Luck”. Hmmmmm. Lol.
Immediately crossing into Ukraine the road was in excellent condition and there were lots of modern looking gas stations and stores lining the street. At this point an intelligent person would of stopped for a map and to get some local currency. Someone such as myself would think “I hvae a full tank of gas and a half pack of cigarettes and a moron for a navigator what can go wrong” . I asked TT for the most direct route to Kiev and was immediately on one of the most potholed roads I’d ever encountered or imagined. The country side was lovely with the rolling wheat fields lit by the sun low in the sky but road was hellishly bad and I was constantly swerving and weaving to avoid wheel bending potholes and worse.
I believe that this might have been the fastest route to Kiev in 1973 which I’m pretty sure is the last year any of these roads had been maintained.
After bobbing and weaving in the darkness for about four hours I found a gas station (which was the only source of light I had seen in hours) and looked for a map. They’re all in Cyrillic. This won’t do me any good I though as I purchased a map and guess what, woohoo right again. I’m not even sure what it’s a map of. Some locals were attracted by the Sexy Italian in the parking lot and started yanmnerring something about “Earlandia”. I showed them the back of my helmet and after a few gasps the was much shaking of hands, back slapping, and numerous offers of wodka which I declined. Unfortunately this is as far as our ability to communicate went I left the little oasis of light and made my way back into the potholed darkness for another hour and a half when I came across another brightly lit gas station. Thinks proceed much like at the last gas station but this time the hand shaking and back slapping, turned into hugs and the pressing of foreheads to my hands. Woah there, not so fast. While I’m undoubtedly a righteous dude I am not your holy man. BTW everyone who drove into this gas station at what was about 2AM was clearly ripped to the gills. Fortunately one of the younger drunks stumbled over explaining that he had spent 5 years in the UK. I told him I really wanted to find a hotel and he responded that my best chance was about 50 kilometers back the way I had come. That wasn’t going to happen so suggested a town about 30 kilometers further along my route. As it turns out that town didn’t have a hotel either but I did find an ATM and a drunk sleeping in the road after falling off his bicycle. I parked my motorcycle next to him with the flashers on and tried to explain to him that sleeping in the road was probably a bad idea but my “vroom-vroom, screach, squish” sounds and pantomime didn’t have much of an effect and he just went back to sleep. I came across a still mobile drunk walking down the middle of the road about 100 meters later and tried to explain about the drunk bicyclist but he wasn’t getting my pantomime act either and just pointed me to the center of town. The second drunk was walking in the direction of the first drunk so hopefully he managed to get him to move out of the road.
At this point I was pretty close to the major east-west highway leading to Kiev so I made my way there and not long after found a motel for the night. I left Warsaw at 10AM and reached the motel a little after 2am Warsaw time (3am local) so it was a long but entertaining day.