Our last day in Slovakia and we decide to take it slow this morning. Sleeping in (until at least 7AM), breakfast with coffee and just enjoying the peace and quiet on the campsite.
The most incredible boiler system!
Another interesting construction. The water was still cold though, although not as cold as the previous campsite with proper showers.
By 10.15AM we’re finally packed and ready to hit the road again. From here it’s straight to the Ukrainian border.
No pictures of the border crossing. We arrived around 11.30 and the line at the Slovakian side was not too bad. I almost crossed the border ilegally when we get our passports back and are told to ride on. They mean to the next stop sign 5 metres further on. I was already halfway across no man’s land…
So we learn that a border crossing outside of Europe consists of several steps and passports are checked at least 3 times. They also need to know how much fuel we carry and how many miles are on the bike. Fair enough.
After a thorough check at the Slovakian side we are cleared and allowed to cross over to the Ukrainian side. There the same circus is repeated. But this time they also want to see our medikit. After the first check we are told to go inside the building where every detail of our passports and bike registration is digitalised, or they try to… Our latin writings on the passports and bike registration are clearly not easy. The lady in charge of this really dates back from communist times and she definitely takes her time, meanwhile sighing profusely. When we ask about insurance, she ensures us that this is not necessary. We guess she just gives the most convenient answer to get rid of us as soon as possible. So I go and look for one of the border control officers who showed quite some interest in our bikes earlier and ask him about this. He tells me that we can get insurance in the first shop just a few 100 metres further on.
When we’re cleared to enter the country, we set out to look for this shop. Turns out there are several so after asking again, we are directed to a small shop operated by a young lady. She can indeed help us and starts filling out papers. But then we realise she is filling them out for a Slovakian insurance, thinking we are heading that way. Since she has no clue about insurance for Ukraine, she calls her helpline and after waiting for about half an hour, an elderly lady shows up. 15 minutes later we are out on the streets again. With insurance!
By then it’s past 2PM. We fuel up and have a quick lunch at the gas station. Our cokes are quite flattering:
It’s hot in Ukraine… We hit the road again around 2.30PM, or better: the road hits us. All the warnings and stereotypes we’ve heard before embarking on this trip proved to be true. The road surfaces are the worst we’ve ever seen! Even the worst gravel roads in the Balkans are better than the ‘main’ roads here in Ukraine. Top that with quite strange speed limits due to the fact that motorcycles are in the same catagory as trucks, which means that you can ride 60km/h in town but only 80km/h outside of town. In town, the roads are so bad that 60 seems awfully ambitious and outside of town 80 is incredibly slow compared to the cars that fly by.
But that does not change the fact that the views are stunning. And at 80, you have all the time in the world to enjoy them.
Since it’s so hot and we have lost quite some time figuring out the insurance at the border, we decide to stick to the main road and we aim for Uzhgorod tonight.
We reach the city around 5.30PM and aim for the city center in search of a hotel. The first one we come across seems a bit out of budget. Glass and marble all over, posh cars outside… But it’s hot, so we decide to go and have a look. This type of hotel would easily cost about 200 EUR a night where we come from. A decent hotel in our home town is about 120 EUR, so we decide on a maximum budget of 80 EUR. If it’s more expensive than that, we’ll look further. Jo goes in and after about 5 minutes returns with the message that this will cost us 29 EUR, including breakfast, wifi, airconditioning and secure parking. Seriously?!?
Our hotel in Uzhgorod
We park the bikes and I cannot get fast enough upstairs into the airconditioned room. This is what heaven must feel like!
Shower, laundry and then we spend some time on the couch sorting out images and uploading them to the cloud.
Around 7 PM we head into town. It’s beautiful Friday evening and the town seems very vibrant with lots of people walking along the river and enjoying the start of the weekend.
We start looking for a nice place to eat and we find the restaurant that was recommended by the hotel receptionist.
But apparently the restaurant is closed. And so is the next place. And actually, all restaurants we find. So by 8PM we start to get a bit desperate and very hungry.
Finally, we find a place that’s open. Turns out it’s an Italian place and they serve Stella Artois! Not what we were hoping for but by now we’re so hungry, we’ll settle for anything.
After dinner, we enjoy the band playing across the river and we slowly stroll back to our hotel, enjoying the warm summer evening.