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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by asilindean, Feb 15, 2012.
Epic stuff !!! more , more !!!
Thanks for sharing it all
Odessa - Simferopol is 450 km of bad roads. I took us 9 hours to make it there. Of course we had planned to be there after lunch, and for that purpose and also to avoid the morning traffic in Odessa, we left the hostel at 7 in the morning. But, as they say, if you want to make god laugh, tell him your plans.
We left Odessa early and soon after exiting the city it started to rain. To be sure that we are not going anywhere as planned, 70 km outside Odessa we had our first flat tyre. Hoping for a quick fix I tried and used the in/famous tyre repair spray.
It worked.....for another 80 km, then flat again. This time I had no choice but to use the spare tube. When taking out the old tube I saw that the valve was damaged.
I replaced the damaged tube and from now on I was always worried that if anything happened I had no other spare tube. Luckily nothing did.
Some bikers on the road
It was a long day.
We arrived in Simferopol around 4 in the afternoon and after a quick search we found the hostel where we had reserved a room.
The hostel was located near the train station, and the area was very busy. The rooms of the hostel were very small and bad smelling. The private room we had reserved was not in the hostel but in one flat 15 min walk from the hostel. I went there to see the place and Oana stayed with the bike. The owner showed up almost one hour later, time by which I have developed an intense feeling of paranoia. Something inside me was screaming to get the hell out of there. There was also no secure place to put the bike. When asked the lady from the hostel if it’s ok to put the bike near the Police station and she said that it’s not safe I reached a decision. Oana was pretty tired and was not very keen to get on the bike again but we agreed to make another 50 km to Bakcisaray and search for a room there. It was a very good decision. We left the city making our way in the extremely dense traffic and arrived in Bakcisaray less than one hour later.
We stopped in front of the Khan Palace where we were meet by a local guy, Timur who speak good English, and after the initial reluctance, we accept his invitation and let him take us to a hotel. The name of the hotel is Meraba and is situated right behind the Khan Palace at a distance of 5 minute walking. The hotel was run by 2 very nice young ladies, who speak English and they give us a very good room and breakfast for the price of 300 Grv. They also have a safe place to put the bike.
The thing that Oana liked the most there was the kiosk from the hotel courtyard.
The restaurant where Timur work
Timur, the young man who we meet was of Tatar origin, born in Uzbekistan and like many other Tatars his parents were deported from Crimea in various places of the former USSR during the communist regime. Although later the Soviet regime "exonerated" them, it has denied permission for the Crimean Tatars to return to Crimea. After the disappearance of the Soviet Union they choose to come back to their ancestors land, Crimea, and start a new life.
At the present time there are around 300.000 Tatars in Crimea, representing 12% of the population of Crimea Autonomous Republic.
The principal religion of the Crimean Tatars is Islam. As Muslims, they are Sunnis of the Hanafi school. The Crimean Tatars adopted Islam during the tenth through twelfth centuries and it became the state religion under the Crimean Khanate.
The status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is regulated by the Constitution of Ukraine and Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine but is the only region which has the autonomy status. The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People or Parliament is the supreme executive body underpinned by a network of district and local “mejlises”, which are formed in every settlement where the Crimean Tatars live. The Mejilis are elected for 5 years through nationwide voting based on a mixed electoral system.
Timur invited us to the restaurant where he worked, situated across the street from the Khan Palace, and there we had an extremely tasteful local diner. No beer thou. Dinner was around 300 Grv.
On the right Timur. If at any time you meet him send our best regards and let him take care of you
We spend the rest of the evening laying in one of the kiosk from the hotel, making some notes on the events of the day and drinking a very good tea served by the owner of the hotel and made from local plants.
Worth mentioning here is the fact that from Simferopol the road condition improve greatly. No potholes, good asphalt.
Thanks for your information, you are very kind. I like your RR, the pictures are great and is good that you write about the people you met and their habits. From your pictures looks like you had good meal, I like that :).
Keep it coming.
Um, Looks interesting Adrian:huh. What is it?
Looking forward to more of the trip.
it was something of a lamb soup for me and a vegetable soup with macaroni for Oana. the deserts were some delicious local specialties of which I cant remember the name (local version of baklava?).
See you soon in sunny Turkey
Attention, long day coming, many pictures
The city of is Bakhchisaray located in a canyon between Simferopol and Sevastopol, and among the interesting sites to see are the Crimean Tatar Khan's palace, the cave city and the Armenian monastery that is built in a cave. This was once the capital of the Crimean Tatar Khanate.
Next morning we had a tasty breakfast at the Meraba Hotel after which we decided to see the Khan Palace. The Khan's palace was the seat of the Tatar rulers of Crimea dating back to 1443. With the Ottoman conquest of Crimea in 1475 the Khan's became a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire but the khans were left as rulers. After the Crimean War with the victory of Russia all of the Khan's were made Russian nobility but the capital of Crimea was moved to Simferopol.
It is said that when she was busy ordering the mass destruction of Bakhchysaray’s mosques in the 18th and early 19th centuries, Catherine the Great spared the Khan Palace. Her decision was reportedly based on the building being ‘romantic’. Today it remains a major landmark of Crimean culture and history. Points of interest include the inner palace, the Kahn's cemetery, the Falcon Tower, the Crimean Tatar museum and a small art gallery. The entrance fee is around 50 Grivnas / person.
After visiting the Palace we packed our bag and ride to see the Uspensky Monastery in the rock and Chufut-Kale. To get there we continued on the road from Bakhchysaray east. We arrived at a huge parking place packed with people, cars and buses.
Not being sure if we had to stop there or we can go closer by bike, we asked some of the guys standing around there, which happened to speak good English. He said the we can go closer to the monastery but there we must pay the parking or we can let the bike at a nearby restaurant where parking is free. We decided to leave the bike to the restaurant. To my surprise the guy made some gestures to a kid with a small scooter and he guide us to the inside parking of the restaurant. They were very well organized.
For the monastery one must take the small road to the left and after a few hundred meter (uphill) we arrived at the monastery.
The Uspensky Monastery in the rock is an old and beautiful Orthodox Monastery founded around the 8th century. A holy spring flows inside and the water is potable. Part of the small Uspensky Monastery is the Gold-Domed Church which has been built into the limestone rock of the surrounding hill, probably by Byzantine monks in the 8th or 9th century. Of course, the Soviets closed the place down, but it's been operating again since 1993.
Even if the joint entrance to the Uspensky Monastery and Chufut-Kale is bit touristy, the 2km walk to the cave city make it sure that it is not too crowded. We left our riding gear at the restaurant with the bike, a rider in full gear would sweat a lot all the way up.
Chufut-Kale is a cliff city last inhabited by Kararite Jews, rising 200m is a lang plateau on a hill, full with caves and structures carved in stone where people took refuge for centuries. There are 1000 year old Jewish and Muslim cemeteries in the area.
First appearing in historical records as Kyrk-Or (Forty Fortifications), the city was settled sometime between the 6th and 12th centuries by Christianized descendants of Sarmatian tribes. The last powerful ruler of the Golden Horde, Tokhtamysh, sheltered here after defeat in the 1390s, and the first Crimean Khanate was established at Chufut-Kale in the 15th century, before moving to nearby Bakhchysaray. After the Tatars left, Turkic-Jewish Karaites occupied the city until the mid-19th century, which won the mountain its current name of 'Jewish Fortress'.
Soon after the gate of the city, you enter a Swiss-cheese composition of carved-out rooms and steps. A stone path heads along the top of the plateau, past two locked kenassas (Karaite prayer houses) to the right. To the left of the first intersection stands the red-tile roofed Muslim mausoleum (1437) of Dzhanike-Khanym, daughter of Tokhtamys. We advise to go left behind the mausoleum towards the cliff edge and enjoy the view into the valley below. Mind you that there is a entrance fee at the gate (40 Grivnas/person).
The place is very beautiful and the view is great but no real efforts to restore the place have been made.
Going downhill we stopped and eaten at the restaurant where the bike was. Good food and excellent coffee.
We exited Bakhchisaray and took the main road to Sevastopol. Along the way we made a short stop at Inkerman another cave monastery.
The Inkerman Monastery of St. Clement is a cave monastery in a cliff near the city of Inkerman. It was founded in 1850 on the site of a medieval Byzantine monastery where the relics of St. Clement were supposedly kept before their removal to San Clemente by Saints Cyril and Methodius. The early Christians are supposed to have kept the relics in a grotto which could be visited only on the anniversary of his death. The monastery was damaged by the Crimean Earthquake of 1927 and was closed between 1931 and 1991. During World War II the caves housed the officers of a Soviet army defending Sevastopol. Several of the churches build in time were taken down by the Soviets.
We enter the mighty port of Sevastopol taking the ring for as long as we could, then enter the city as close as possible to the center. The traffic in and around Sevastopol is quite ok, the main city itself being on a peninsula with many one way streets. Of course that I managed to get on the street were we should find our hostel, one corner after the number I was looking for, so I got the chance to make another round.
The hostel is TIU Bolshaya Hostel, situated in the center of the city. The owner/manager is Adam an Australian guy, who together with his polish girlfriend Sylvia had open for the summer a hostel in Odessa and one in Sevastopol. In both hostels the conditions were great and both the hosts were very helpful. Of course English was not a problem. Adam is full of stories regarding his travel to Russia and Ukraine on his monster 4x4, and how he was detained over 50 hours on the Ukrainian/Russian border in Kerch/Kavckaz.
His blog: http://adamcontra.wordpress.com/
The border story: http://adamcontra.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/53-hours-doesnt-sound-like-a-long-time/
Sevastopol is a Hero City of the Soviet Union. This is a Soviet honorary title awarded for outstanding heroism during the German-Soviet War (World War II) of 1941 to 1945. It was awarded to only twelve cities of the Soviet Union. The combined German/Romania assault of the city lasted from October 1941 until June 1942. During the siege and heavy bombardment, they used the gigantic Schwerer Gustav railroad cannon.
During the Soviet times, Sevastopol was a “closed city”. Today Sevastopol has a population of aprox 340,000, being the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa. The Russians are the majority of the population account for 70%, with Ukrainians being the second group with 22%.
The city was the home of the Russian then Soviet Black Sea Fleet. According to the 1997 treaty, a Russian naval base would continue to be located in Sevastopol and the adjoining region on the terms of a 20-year renewable lease, following a long diplomatic and political dispute between Russia and the newly independent Ukraine.
In 2010, Russia and Ukraine ratified the Russian Ukrainian Naval Base for Gas treaty, extending the Russian Navy's lease of the Sevastopol base for 25 years after 2017 (through 2042) with an option to prolong the lease for another 5 years (through 2047). The ratification process in the Ukrainian parliament encountered stiff opposition but it was eventually ratified by a 52% majority vote.
After putting the bike in the courtyard, we took a long walk around the peninsula to visit the city.
The history of the city is connected with the military history of the region and with the fate of the Black Sea Fleet. The city has endless monuments dedicated to the sailor defending the city (apparently more than 1,400) from the Crimean War to the Great Patriotic War.
The Obelisk in honor of the Hero-City of Sevastopol on Cape Khrustalny
Eagle Column - The Eagle Column commemorates Russian ships deliberately scuppered at the mouth of the harbor in 1854 to make it impossible for enemy ships to pass.
The Monument to the Scuttled Ships
The Monument to Admiral P. S. Nakhimov
Painted Panorama - The most famous Sevastopol wartime memorial is the painted panorama, on a hill near the centre of town. A painting around the inner wall of a circular building is designed to bring the 349-day siege of Sevastopol to life. Unfortuynatly it closes at 6 PM, so we were not able to see it.
The building of the "Defense of Sevastopol" Panorama
After the long day we bought some beers and swap stories with Adam at the hostel. The price of a private room for the 2 of us at the hostel was 375 Grivnas.
Oau, the places and pictures are getting better and better. Nice trip you had, I like it. I wait for more
Your trip sounds great! I spent some time in Ukraine several years ago and hope to go back again soon. Your pictures brought back incredible memories. I wish I could have done it on a bike, but maybe next time. Thank you for sharing!
This is great.
And.........................................then what happened?
Would love to see how your trip continued. And of course eagerly awaiting the revelation, where the teaser pic with the gravel road along the coast was shot at.
thanks for the nice replies. there were some busy days at the office and with the preparation for this year trip I have very little time left on my hands.
Promise I will finish the report before I leave. Thanks for patience.
Dicky: see you son :)
AlpineGuerrilla: you had also a great trip . The answer to your question is in day 6 :)
I'll be leaving Vienna May 25th to Dougs Moto Camp and was wondering how much time I should allow to get there ?
Cheers , Dan
That depends on which route you take :) , but I would say that you need 2 days to get there.
Vienna - Budapest - Timisoara - 500 km - 6 hours (take the border crossing from Mako - Cenad its shorter)
Timisoara - Bucharest - 550 km - 8-9 hours
Bucharest - Ildievo - 230 km - 3 hours
Do not know the exact distances or riding conditions if you choose the Serbian route.
Best and safe rides,
Thanks Adrian !!
I appreciate the feedback !!!
Cheers , Dan
Getting out of Sevastopol in the morning was an easy job and in no time we were on the road to Balaklava. There was the one piece of recent history which I wanted to see: the former soviet base for atomic submarines and Naval Museum from Blalaklava.
Once you get there you enter the huge nuclear-blast-proof doors and walk some part of the 600m long repair docks, rooms, depots and the now empty arsenal. The submarine base is located inside the rock on the western shore of the bay and has access from the sea on both sides. The base has been designed to resist a direct hit of an atomic bomb up to 100 Kt, and it in case of war it could accommodate up to three thousand people. The base was built also to accommodate 8 small class atomic subs or 6 medium class. The place was abandoned in 1994 when last soviet submarine left the base. A few years ago it was bring back to life and transformed in a museum.
On the other side of the bay, opposite to the submarine base there is the Genoese Fortress of Cembalo. The settlement is about 2500 years old and is even mentioned in Homer's Odyssey as a pirate's bay. It looked good from the distance, but we decide not to climb up there in full riding gear, even if the view could be promising.
Back on the bike we went to discover the wonders of Crimea. The road surprisingly good and was almost deserted in this area, since we have not entered yet the tourism busy places near Yalta.
First stop was on Cape Sarych which is a wild beach (less sand and more rocks) on the sea side. Very nice place if you want camp. One of the boys charging some fee for entrance (we did not paid since we were not staying) told us that one of the houses we could see in the back, the one with red roof, belongs or belonged to Gorbachiov.
The next place on the road which we wanted to see was Vorontsov Palace. It is a hard place to get since the tourism resort where it is has many busy, narrow one way streets. We did not see it. We made a stop a few km further down the road in a parking place to take a look at the Swallows' Nest a symbol of Southern Crimea found on every postcard. The palace was built in 1912 for a oil magnate. In present days I understood that Swallow's Nest is a restaurant. Made some pics from distance and off we go.
Next we turned left and ride up a narrow road to Mountain Ai Petri. It's a 23 km up twisty narrow most excellent road and another 23 km down Very cool road! Of course for those who dont like to drive in such wonderful conditions they can climb out of Yalta on the funicular railway, but it's no fun.
Up the mountain you will find the usual touristic kitsch, plus restaurants, and a bit overcrowded but views are absolutely magnificent.
Destination of the day was Sudak. I order to get there one must pass Yalta which is probably the most famous and expensive city of the southern Crimea, famous people like to have a rest there. The roads around Yalta are very, very crowded. On the other hand once you got past the crossroad with the highway from Simferopol, the road quiets down, the traffic is more relaxed and you can again enjoy their view of the sea on the right and the mountains and hills on the left. So, the last 80 km to Sudak were an excellent ride!
In Sudak we found manage to find accommodation in the end at Sudak Youth hostel, since our initial hostel (Moving Bubble Hostel) was closed down and they did not bother to announce us (even if we had reservations). So after a few calls we manage to get to the next one.
The price was 400 Grv a night and a courtyard where we can safely park the bikes.
After dinner we took a walk on the beach and manage to find Sudak Biker Pub which is an excellent place (with an English speaking waitress). We did not try it, but according to other reports you can spend the night there on the benches. There was live music with a cover band and on the screen one can see Easy Rider. All this assorted with beer and a little vodka (which will come with a price, but that's for later on). Around midnight we took a cab and went to sleep (we were too lazy to walk to the hostel).
The Biker Pub is around here 44.841306, 34.964753.
Looks like an amazing trip with some great photos. That submarine base looks sureal, like something out of a Bond film.
Keep it coming.
We woke up around 9, had breakfast and get ready for a new day on the road.
I Sudak is located the Genoese Fortress. Because it is very well preserved, Sudak fortress apparently is often used as a background in historical, adventure and fantasy films. Also a 7 km from Sudak there is the famous beach at Novy Svit Beach. Did not managed to see it.
Indeed the Sudak fortress looks very impressive, and after breakfast we took the bike there and made an impromptu photo shooting of the bike with the fort as background but did not went up. On our way there we passed a police check point (it is going to be relevant).
After taking pictures at Sudak fortress we were returning when one of the policemen at the check point made us a sign to stop. I did. Previous to the trip I received some advice as how to manage such encounters. So, I get of the bike, take my helmet off and with a big smile went to the officer extended my hand and greeted him while stating my name. He was surprised, but recovered fast and asked for documents. No problem officer. He looks at them and then asked me in bad English: Adrian, did you drink? Who, me? Can't you see I'm riding? I answered. Yes, yes, did you drink last night? Yes, a couple of beers. He then took me to the car, where his colleague was waiting. Same questions again. Same answers. He the proceeds to open an anti alcohol test kit. He asks if I'm ok with that, and blissful me says yes. It was the same kit they use to have in Romania many years ago, basically you had to bow in a vial until a plastic bag attached to it was full.I blow. The vial turns a little green. Not good. Adrian, big problem says the second officer. Then start rambling in Russian and English about how he must fill a report, take the bike, put me behind bars and so on. Ok, this is not good. One thing I know is that if you have the slightest chance of being in trouble: do not let them write anything on the record. In my poor Russian and gesturing large I explain that there is no need for a report and that we are actually friends. Maybe there is a way to settle things here and now. An emergency fee.
Digression: last night I had 2 or 3 beers and 2 glasses of vodka. We went to bed around midnight. After I slept for 8 hours and had a good breakfast. But during the night I did not drink any water since I did not like the taste of the one from the tap, and forgot to buy bottled. Even if it was almost 11.30 by now in my mind I thought that maybe, only maybe there was still a chance that some rest of alcohol might be still in my blood. At home, I would have made a huge scandal and demanded analysis of the blood sample at hospital. Here I did not know the language, did not have the time, and maybe I was in default. And in this case if I start arguing with them, and do all the above, and with a chance that analysis of the blood sample at hospital can show residues of alcohol, I did not take my chance.
A snapshot made by Oana, I'm inside the police car
Ok, name your price. He writes down on a notebook: 500 USD. I started laughing, namely for two reasons: one he has a price and this means that from now on we are negotiating, and two the price was so ridiculously high from my point of view that he clearly expects to bargain. Having my lesson learned, I do not have my money in my wallet and I show him something around 100 grivnas. Not good enough. In the end, after explaining to him that these are not my money, but my girlfriend's emergency money, we settle for 50 USD. From my point of view, it was a fair price if I was in default. I would have paid the same amount home in a similar situation. Of course is possible that it was a set up and it was my turn to fall for the trap. But maybe there was a possibility that there was still some alcohol in my blood. One thing bothers me still: after giving him the money (the show was over), he looks at me very serious, shows me his wristwatch and explains me that now I must go to the hotel and sleep for another 4 hours before I drive on. I asked him if he is aware of any other police check point on the road and he says no. Off we go. I took the chance and did not go to sleep but carry on riding, but only after stopping to get cola and a lot of water.
Anybody similar experiences?
Right after Sudak one can found Cape Meganom (44.793357, 35.080161). It is said to have great views. We were not in the mood for it, plus we must leave something to see for next time.
One thing about Crimea: this was on a rush, since we were on a schedule. I would like to go back there and stay for a week or more in order to see all the sites left unseen and to ride all the back roads around left un ridden. It is a beautiful place.
On the road from Sudak to Kerch is Koktebel, a small village known for its factory of vintage cognacs. Probably you have seen already pictures like this:
From the same spot
The next small town is Feodosia. The city was founded by Greek colonists from the VI century BC. Oance, it was the largest trading port on the Black Sea. Now Feodosiia is a resort town with a small port and with ruins of Genuezsk fortress Kafa. We stopped only to find an ATM to get some money. Also I found my stickers with UA, so from now on the side cases will look better.
From there on the road to Kerch is pa lain flat road. But we had a tip. So, somewhere after Fonta we took left on M17/E97 towards Zalotoe. As someone said it in an earlier RR here, Between Zolotoe (45.424655, 36.079786) and Kurortnoe (45.473503, 36.337917 ) is one of the most beautiful, serene place in the Crimean Peninsula. The detour Zalotoe Kurotov is a nice light off road ride on the shore of Azov Sea with splendid empty beaches. At one point the road goes down on the beach and we decided to make a stop to take a swim and eat something.
We ride along the shore until Kurortnoe where we made one last stop for water before Kerch. A few km after Kurortnoe the asphalt begins.
We booked a room at Hotel Meridian located right in the center. We got a very nice room for 400 Grivnas, and you can put the bikes behind the hotel in a guarded parking.
As I went to look for a gas station Oana took a shower. After leaving the gas station I notice that my speedo is not working anymore. After as check at the hotel it aprears that the cable in broken. Few minutes later in the room, a call from reception lets me know that gas is pouring from my bike. A fuel pipe is broken. For this I had a spare and 15 minutes later it was done with many apologies to the parking manager (guard) for the stains and smells left there. Not a good day for science today isnt it.
On the other hand Kerch was a pleasant surprise for us. It looks a lot better than we had expected. After a shower we took a walk in the Pl. Lenina where of course a Lenin statue was present. In the square lays the Church of St John the Baptist which dates back to 717. This Byzantine building is Ukraines oldest surviving church. We decide that it was time for some exercise and we climbed to the soviet war monument and the ruins of the ancient city of Panticapaeum. We were supposed to be gratified with some nice views.
There are 432 stairs up the central Mithridates Hill. The view from the summit was as good as we hoped for and we admired the ruins of Panticapaeum.
We missed the Turkish Fort of Eni-Kale with its four pointed capsule-like turrets and Tsarske Kurgan an empty 4th-century BC burial ground, thought to be the grave of a Bosporan king. More for next time.
Coming down we found a nice restaurant (Fishka) where we enjoyed a good dinner and some beers. Sorry, one beer.
After some shopping in a local supermarket we went to sleep sin tomorrow we would wake up at 5 for the ferry to Russia.
Adrian, like your reports and the exact coordinates