Ukraine … again – Part 3

Monday was a quiet day, just walking around really to get my bearings and relax. One thing I wanted to do was to visit the nearby (95km) city of Lviv (Pronounced L’viv in Ukrainian or L’vov in Russian) So, first off to the train station to see if trains go there.

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The answer is “No” or rather, I didn’t understand exactly, so off I headed to the bus station to see if they could help me. I did have a chuckle at the warnings on this sign in the train station. When in Mariupol my friends told me it’s a 24 hour train ride to Kiev and people steal etc. So the warning seems valid. 

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There is a nice market across the road from the train station and some newer houses. 

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I found the bus station and indeed it goes to L’viv many times during the day. It’s 95km and takes 2 hours due to both the roads and then the bit of traffic as you get into L’viv. Tickets are 35 Hrvnia (Pronounced Grivna) and with an exchange rate at an all time high of 22 = £1 it was mega cheap. My visit last year was 15 = £1. The fighting is hurting more than just people. I was told because the exchange rate is so bad, petrol has risen and of course this pushes almost all prices up. People are suffering a bit.

Petrol was about 15 hryvnia a litre, so about £0.90 I had filled up in Ukraine once across the border and since I had mega range with my tank, I wouldn’t need any more fuel in the country.

The bus station and timetable for my trip which I would go on tomorrow, Tuesday.

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A bit more walking around and getting my bearings and that was about it for the day. There is lots of construction in various states. Some old building which should be condemned and some new buildings which appeared to have been abandoned, some only the structure but some were almost complete. Apparently people running out of money as the economy suffers.

Truskavets is only a holiday or health resort town. The Russians aren’t coming here like they used to this and last year so money isn’t as good as it used to be and the whole place is suffering. It’s not a seasonal holiday spot though and sees a steady stream of people all year. Most of whom stay for a standard 20 days as this is what’s needed for the special mineral water to work its magic.

I had an anxious and worried apartment lady tell me to go down the road to the garage where my bike was. It had fallen over in the night sometime apparently. I thought something must have been lost in translation as the bike was in a garage and all locked up so unless someone had tried to steal it then it should be fine. However when I arrived I found this

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The garage floor was wafer thin and my side stand had punched a hole straight through it. The funny thing was that I couldn’t lift it up more than about 45 degrees because the side stand was stuck under the concrete. I did get a little worried when the guy picked up an axe and motioned to help, I thought he was going to murder me for breaking his floor or was going to chop my stand off. Thankfully he ended up using the butt of it to destroy more concrete so we could get the bike up. Anyhow apart from a scuffed barkbuster handguard and a few scratches on the read Hotrod x-Rack the bike was fine. A bit of wood under the sidestand and I left it. I’d next see it on Friday when I would pop over and do my pre flight checks for my trip home.

That was it for Monday. I swapped sofa beds in the apartment, the second was way more comfortable.

Ukraine … again – Part 2

I arrived in Truskavets via probably the equivalent of A and B roads. Some completely dirt roads, some gravel, and some pot holed. 

You always pass nice churches in the most run down of villages.

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2 right next to each other in this case

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All the bus stops are always nicely decorated either with paint or mosaic tiles

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So many things are painted the Ukraine flag colours, Blue top half and yellow bottom half which I believe is to signify the blue sky over fields of wheat? Bridges and allsorts. Here is a 20 second video of my riding over one of the painted bridges into a town. Apologies for the quality, I forgot my GoPro at home so was a handheld camera.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKsfJ5shEEc


Eventually I made it to the town of Truskavets.

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I found my apartment in a block of about 20 apartments and was shown a garage where I could store my bike for the next 5 days. The apartment was ok. Some odd quirks like a water tank on a dodgy balcony outside and a tap I had to manually open and close to fill or empty the tank but it was nice. Sofa beds and a kitchen with gas and electric oven. Sorry, the pics don’t make it look too good, but I can assure you it was fine.

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I got some food and some sleep ready to go exploring on the Monday morning.

Ukraine … again – Part 1

Last year I went to the far side of Ukraine, Mariupol and Donetsk, where they’re currently blowing each other up with (apparently, yeah right) no intervention from Russia. Anyhow, enough politics, for now.

I’d heard about this place called Truskavets. At the foot of the Carpathian mountains in the west of Ukraine lies this health type town made famous for its mineral water “Naftusia” It’s been famous for centuries. So I decided to pop along and see it. Thankfully it’s only about 100km from the Polish border so off I headed.

Friday afternoon I set off from home, headed to the tunnel and then onto a hotel in Venlo. Saturday morning saw me make it to the Touratech shop in Kassel, Germany to pick up some bits I had ordered. Unfortunately the bits had not all arrived so I left empty handed which was a bit of a shame as I had a small backpack on and it would have been nice to empty some of the stuff from it to the tank bag I had ordered. Nevermind. I pushed on to the 2nd hotel on the Saturday evening in Katowice, Poland. 

It’s a piece of cake getting there nowadays with all the motorways. I was in a rush so had to take them. McDonalds was my staple diet on the road as it’s convenient, I can point at the menu, and most of them have wifi 

The weather was pleasant with fog most mornings. This made riding a bit nippy as I had left my jacket liner at home but it soon burnt up and there was sunshine. The G650X isn’t fun on the motorway, I’d much rather have my old 800 back with the big screen and power. But non the less it plodded along faultlessly.

I bought the G650X earlier in the year, serviced it immediately and have done about 1000 miles on it since. It’s in very good condition having only covered about 6000 miles in total. I’d also tried a few mods to it, some didn’t work, like the big screen which just made buffeting worse, and some did work. The ones that worked were:

Barkbusters: Kept hands warmer, dryer and protected the levers when my bike was found on its side one morning.

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LED Chav lights on Barkbusters: Had 2 people on the trip comment on them and said they made me stand out more. That’s exactly what I am after, to be seen!

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Hotrod Welding external tank and pannier rack: Amazing! 300 miles to a tank (500 km) and meant I was stopping for comfort breaks more often than fuel stops. Quality kit, really pleased with it.

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Other bits and pieces were a nice 12v and USB 5v combo handlebar mounted charger, case saver sprocket cover, bash plate and fancy electronic fuse box. Directions were provided by a Zumo 660 which did the job almost perfectly.

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The Zumo gets confused at the M1/M25 junction and tries to route me via St Albans, and the same at the M25/M20 junction and routes me all over the place. So I ignore it there. Other than that it was spot on.

Sunday morning was the final dash to the border. It was easy enough and I even stopped at the same McD’s where my poor F800GS broke down last year. The motorway ends about 100km short of the border so you’re on a main A type road. Don’t speed, the Polish cops police it! 

The border this time was pleasant, quick and efficient. About 45 mins and I was through, although as always I get a bit of curiosity on my Afghanistan work visas, my passport expires Oct 2015 so I may apply for a new one just after Christmas as it gets a bit tiresome. 

A 2 hour ride to cover the final 100km and I was in Truskavets at my apartment for the next 5 days. The owner’s friend had a garage where I could store my bike, and as you can see from the photo above, the floor was wafer thin, oops.