Day 2 in Ukraine. We’ve enjoyed the airconditioning a bit too much, so when we get out to pack the bikes, it feels already about 36°C. It’s not of course but it surely promises to be another hot day.
We leave Uzhgorod and head for the hills.
By now, we realize that our map is not the most reliable of sources. We assume it dates back to Stalin’s regime, or at least the tarmac on those roads does…
Our route takes us further into the Carpathian hills.
The views are stunning though.
At a crossroads, the map is not really clear, nor is the gps so we take the turn that smells least foul. When we come across a man in a horse drawn carriage, he confirms that our noses sent us in the right direction.
And surely enough, a few miles further on, we are passed by this speeding Lada. This must be the right way to Mukacheve.
Until the Lada stops at a beautifully located datsja and the road seems to end.
We continue on and the road does continue as well, it’s just less travelled.
And then it’s on to tarmac again, heading to Mukacheve for lunch.
When exiting a small town, I see a police car on the other side of the road and two policemen signaling to stop. O ow…
I stop and the policeman walking towards me suddenly realises I’m the oposite sexe. By then Jo has stopped beside me and I almost see relief on the policeman’s face. He totally ignores me and focuses his attention to Jo. They start talking and through the intercom system I can hear Jo talking in his best non-existent Russian. All of a sudden those 3 years of evening school seem very badly spent.
After Jo has taken of his helmet, he gets off the bike and then follows the policeman across the road to the car. They get in and off they go. I am left a bit bewildered…
The other policeman has found another victim so I’m left alone with the 2 bikes. And it’s still hot. So I push the bikes in the shade of a tree and make myself comfortable. After 5 minutes, the police car returns and I see some serious negotiations going on. They get out of the car and the negotiations continue. Until Jo comes over to me for money. Apparently we were speeding and Jo has been able to talk the fine down from 2000 hrivna to 200 hrivna… Happy days!
I find it still 200 too much, especially since we haven’t seen any speed limits and they did have no way to prove that we were actually speeding.
We pay the cop, or rather, he drops his pack of cigarettes and Jo picks it up and hands it over together with the money. Very kosher! Before we leave, we get the warning that their colleagues are writing out fines in the next town about 10kms further down the road. Isn’t that nice!
We take off, fairly disgusted, and decide not to find out what a second fine in one day might cost us, so we turn away from the main road and take a detour along some smaller roads. Tonight we aim for Sinevir.
A thunderstorm is chasing us and skies become darker by the minute. Lightning flashes over the mountains and since I hate riding in a thunderstorm, we hold a steady pace. We reach the National Park around 6PM. At the entrance, the guard tries to bribe us into his own lodging accommodation but we prefer a more luxurious room, especially since we plan to stay a few days. We start looking for Hotel Arnika and ride up to the lake. Turns out we actually passed it right at the entrance of the park.
We are offered the last available room by the very friendly hotel manager but he cannot assure a room yet for tomorrow. Oh well, we’ll see. We’re already glad we’re dry inside because by now, the thunderstorm has really hit in full force.