Why you guys avoid Russia?

Discussion in 'Europe' started by djal, Dec 29, 2017.

  1. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    I think the moral of that story is to carry a spare fuel pump if you ride a KTM.

    Edit: story at Motorcycle Adventure Dirtbike TV.
    #81
  2. Rocky Mountain Motos

    Rocky Mountain Motos On a long leash Supporter

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    I think you need to use common sense... especially in a country like Russia. If your bike breaks down and you know you're going to overstay your visa, then its time to abandon the bike and deal with the visa issue first. Doing otherwise is just dumb.
    #82
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  3. ExodusRider

    ExodusRider ExodusRider

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    TOP 10 REASONS to Ride RUSSIA!!

    I have been lurking abit on this thread just to to see what other folks are saying about traveling through Russia ( or really, any less modern / developed countries; i.e. outside of the US, Canada, or Western Europe for that matter). There's a few life lessons I've learned while riding from West of Finland crossing Russia to North Korea in about 40 days.

    I thought I might share some of them here. Not out to offend anyone or belittle their fears; on the contrary, to reassure them that like all countries, it has it's good/bad and the decision of riding through Russia is a compromise / balance between what's personally rewarding enough to overcome the perceived risks involved.

    Do whatever preparations you can to help alleviate those fears, but one ultimately needs to understand and appreciate that you're on an adventure of a lifetime, not a long ride to the next coffee shop for tea/biscuit. Although, you will be offered countless opportunities for both.

    It certainly takes a particular level of mentality or acceptance of faith that you may have to "throw caution to wind" and see where the road takes you. If this approach is something that doesn't align with your personality, then perhaps riding solo to Alaska, Argentina, across Eastern Europe, India, Asia, etc. is not for you. Which also means you'll have to accept your destination rides are localized to a safe/ cozy limited gamut of solely comfortable zones.

    If you're reading through articles and news dwelling on "not so positive" incidents and antidotes to subconsciously change your mind / curiosity about certain remote countries, then yes, that destination / adventure ride is not for you.

    If I watched the news and took to heart every crime, every racial turmoil, cop killings, mass car accidents, road rage deaths, crazy motorcycle mishaps, heartbreaking high school shootings, and/or natural disasters, et al, I would never never ever visit or ride through the United States of America! ( let alone Russia or anywhere else). Hell, I would just stop riding all together, buy a minivan and find the closest bingo joint to double down on B-69.. but I'm digressing :p.

    Folks tend to be from either of two camps: half full / half empty. You're either from the camp that has already decided deep within that you're going to ride Russia one day and are collecting information / lessons learned to navigate around huddles and manage these risks or.. the camp that really really didn't want to in the first place, just looking to finding bits of information to reaffirm your fears not to. For every horror story of some mishap, there are hundreds / thousands of stories depicting wonderful experiences and rides in all countries.

    I recently met a Canadian couple while I was soloing through Mongolia that told me personally how wonderful/friendly people were to them when they were motorbiking through IRAN. Having been invited into people's home and offered to host them a few nights. IRAN??? really ?????? Exactly!!

    Which one will you dwell on, what camp are you going to be pitching your tent? how do you want to ride?

    Naturally, one probably shouldn't be riding through a country that's undergoing wartime or extreme political / financially distress / turmoil such as Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, etc. I yearn to ride through Africa and South America soon, but I hear horror stories there as well. Unfortunately, there's clearly criminal elements (organized and random) in any / all countries, same as there are good / bad people in general. I pray during your travels that you meet only the good ones.

    Traveling solo can be scary at times and you do what you can to stay safe as possible (like staying out of sketching areas of big cities late at night, etc.). I wouldn't be caught dead riding through certain areas of LA late at night else I WOULD be caught and be dead ..

    I find it funny folks are so worried about riding in other countries when statistically, the U.S. seems to be just as dangerous of place or safe as any others. There are definitely areas in the states we all need to avoid :p.

    But behind that fear, riding pinion is also the exhilaration and excitement of the unknown, traveling through a foreign country, going back in time..... there's nothing like that feeling... butterflies in your stomach to say the least.

    I crossed into Russia from Finland to St Petersburg mid August 2017 on a BMW F800GS Adventure. Passed through Moscow and many mid-size cities, and small villages along the way toward the Gorno Altai mountain ranges of central Russia, before entering western Mongolia. After exiting Mongolia on the east side, I continued through all of eastern Russia to North Korea (Khazan, Russia across the river from North Korea).

    I had planned to ride up to Magadan but missed the pre-winter weather by a few weeks, would have been difficult riding solo to Magadan in winter conditions. Bike was shipped from Vladivostok to Moscow. Once she arrived in Moscow, I picked her and headed to Georgia, back through Russia to Kazakhstan before returning to Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan. I would say 9,000 miles / 40 days worth of Russian rode / saddle time. What have I learned since then?

    I have 10 reasons why you should ride Russia and 1 reason why you shouldn't:

    10) The Cost (or lack of)
    It's cheap as hell to travel through Russia. True, my Russian visa was $300 / 3-year multi entry but one could have gone with a cheaper $150 for 30 day single entry. But considering the cost of other folks visiting the US ($150-$200 US Visa), or Americans visiting China ($90 -$150) and/or some other large countries; it's not insanely cost prohibitive. Most of us spend $300+ for a decent helmet /jacket.

    Gas was about $2-3 gal for 90 octane (compared to Norway's $8/gal or Europe's $6/gal). Nice motels were $20-$35/night, food was awesome ($5/breakfast, $7/lunch, $10/dinners. In general, motorbike supplies were also cheaper (20%).

    9) The History
    You can only imagine how old and how much history Russia has to offer. Some small towns and villages that you pass through, along with ruins and run-down cities all really give you a fascinating blast into the past. If you ever wondered what it would be like slipping through the worm-hole w/ your high tech time machine into the distance past, try riding through north and eastern Russia.. simply Incredible!!! Eerie yet comforting too.


    8) The Church and Architecture
    The architecture of these wonderful churches (and other buildings) are amazing additions to the terrain as you traverse the motherland. Surprisingly to me, many folks /family are still very devote Orthodox Christians and most people in mid /small towns are down right friendly. Big cities like Moscow and St. Peters can be somewhat short, hurried.. but what big city isnt?

    7) The Wildness and Solitude
    Come on!!! , the biggest country in the world and you don't want to ride through and see what's there??

    You're an astronaut on moon, a time traveler, Lewis and Clark on an expedition in the lost wildness of the Taiga forest, climbing Gorno Altai mountains like Smithy; you will find every single terrain in mother Russia enough to check off your buckist. I love nature and all the wild terrain. I camped in the wild multiple times in forests and mountain ranges. Was I scared ??? Hell yes I was !!! Would I do it again ? !@#$K yes I would. Wild bears, drunken Russians, hot women skinning dipping the lakes at night out in the woods.. SOLD!

    6) The Language and Neighboring Cultures / Countries
    In North America, Spanish is the king 2nd language, in Europe, it's Russian! Pick up some Russian and you can visit the multitude of smaller countries surrounding mother Russia. Ever meet a Chinese, Mongolian, Kazakhstan or any other dozen neighboring folks speaking Russian ?? It's ultra cool..

    Imagine riding the borders of Russia and meeting / learning the cultures that include one another along it's vast border. You go far enough north, hell.. you can even visit some Eskimos / Inuits.. Crossing in/out of Russia to visit Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Belarus , etc was utterly spectacular. Of course the logistics of border crossing all have challenges but in the end.. all well worth it.

    5) The Food
    I loved the Russian food. Tons of great food that varies from region to region. Will just have to read my blog to see proof of that.

    4) For the Love of Motorcycles
    Believe it or not, Russia is much more motorbike friendly that in America.. in an oddly substantial way too. You will probably get 85-90% of motorbike people waving at you and wanting to talk/visit shop if both are in proximity than in the States ( which I would put at 60-70% acknowledgement ).

    I have never seen more automobiles and semi/18-wheeler trucks moving to the side so I could pass in any other country.. no way would this happen in America or Canada. When was the last time you experienced a trucker move to the shoulder & wave you pass? when was the last time you split lanes or moved ahead in traffic jam only to get people honking and giving you the finger "for cutting in line" .. in America?.. pretty much every time you try.

    In Russia, I can easily say about 85%+ time, they moved over, and 90+ time, people expected or moved over for bikes to get in front of a construction / traffic jam. Hell, people in cars were telling me to go to the front went I was in the back.. don't have to tell me twice..

    It's not a fluke, it was a consistent theme of giving the right away to motorbikes while traversing Russia. It was soooooo surprising and delightful for me to see that. Now is there road rage there ? Sure there is, it's everywhere but I dare say.. no where near what we see in the States.

    Did I meet some rude Russians? Of course, but they were far and between compared to the lovely people. Even most of the policemen I met were intrigued / friendly. Yes, I'm aware of all the crazy Russian videos of car crashes, etc. on YouTube.. but that's mainly because most folks will have cams on their cars to reduce folks from fleeing after a car accident (insurance requirements are not stringently enforced here).

    3) The Beautiful Women
    One phrase.. O M G !!
    And when they find out that you're a foreigner riding through their country... talk about an easy ice breaker! Speaking of which.. there were so much more female motorbike riders there in Mother Russia than here. I have no explanation for that one.. but right on!! I think I met my future wife there in Vladivostok !

    2) Unbelievably Kind People
    Let me describe just a few instances of why the Russian people are amazingly kind.

    a) A fellow Russian rider I never met picked me up from airport, let me stay at his home for two nights, fed me dinner w/ his family, took me to the train station to pick up my motorbike and serviced in preparation the 2nd leg of my trip. Spasibo Azamat my buddy!!

    b) Another Russian guy I met in Vietnam few years back invited me to stay a week in the Gorno Altai mountain ranges and was my guide tour through some of the best adv motorbike roads ever. Thank you too Nicholi for your and your family's wonderful hospitality.

    c) Once I rode late through the night and pulled into a small town w/ freezing weather. With no free motels in town (only 2 that were fully booked), some random guy I met in a convenience store offered his shop w/ fireplace and spare bed for me to sleep. Didn't ask for a dime, brought me breakfast / tea in the morning. He knew the night temp was going to drop to 0 degree and didn't want to see a fellow man freeze to death while camping out.. An unbelievable Russian?.. more importantly... an incredible human being.

    d). When my rear wheel bearings went out, a shop owner along the road took 2 hours to fix it for me and didn't want to get paid for the work. Telling me "we fellow bikers have to stick together". I had to force money on him. Really, who does that ??

    e) I must have met 6 perfect strangers that not only gave me directions, but bought me dinner or lunch because they wanted to hear my story and show me how much they were grateful and impressed that I was visiting their motherland.

    f) I was lost trying to find a route that both my GPSes couldn't find, a gentleman (in mini-van w/ wife and two daughters) led me 20 minutes through constructions / traffic across town to the other side and placed me on the right path again. Would we do that here in America ?? hmmm... I can't say..

    g) Another freezing night, I rode til 3:00 am after face planting in a mud puddle, because I couldn't find a motel nearby, a gas attendant let me sleep in a Muslim prayer room w/ wash tub and warm furnace. Brought me tea in the morning and let me shower/ clean up to continue on my trip..

    Countless free meals, room, board and amazing hospitality throughout the trip I can't count. From acquaintances and perfect strangers, I can't recall ever having met more generous and kind people (other than in Azerbejan and Mongolia perhaps). I have a new level of respect and love for the people of Russia that I never would have, if I hadn't traveled through Russia myself and witnessed it. Don't believe what you see on the news or the general stereotypes...


    1) The Vastness and Scenery
    As I said before, mother Russia is sooooo vast, for us Americans, it might as well be the wild wild west ( or east ) ...it's the last frontier. Whatever articles, pictures, and videos you see will never do it justice. You just have to ride there and experience the country, the people, the life, the culture, the wildness for yourself.

    Read and see what I mean.
    Russian Leg Part 1: Russia to Mongolia
    http://advrider.com/index.php?threa...pean-marathon-2017-run-begins.1235673/page-11

    Russian Leg Part 2: Russia to North Korea
    http://advrider.com/index.php?threa...pean-marathon-2017-run-begins.1235673/page-17

    Russia Leg Part 3: Russia to Kazakhstan / Iran
    http://advrider.com/index.php?threa...pean-marathon-2017-run-begins.1235673/page-22

    The only reason I can think of not to ride Russia?
    If you're in the military and are a double agent / American spy.. then.. maybe.. maybe.. you should stay home...

    P.S.
    Special Credit to Kristof-Granit for keeping the "Red Torch" burning for Mother Russia,.. Spasibo Comrade!!


    #83
  4. neppi

    neppi Been here awhile

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    You only got one thing wrong here, bro! In the first chapter you say "west" from Finland. There's nothing there, except bad ice-hockey players and a bit further some oil.

    So guys, if you want to go to Russia through Finland, aim EAST!

    The rest of this story is so true!

    I so envy you guys doing this kinda stuff. I mean, yeah, I've been there many times with all the imaginable vehiculos, but NOT a bike! And now I live in a place, where no matter which direction I go, I end up in to the water. And there's a lot of it...

    Cheers!
    #84
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  5. Gedrog

    Gedrog 1000 mile stare a 1000 stories to tell

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    hear hear
    #85
  6. alicethomas

    alicethomas Been here awhile

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    I'm not worried about the simple people. But because of the officials.
    If the government does not have a touristy tradition and tends to treat foreigners as hostile (until proof of the contrary), I prefer to look for countries where I can better assess the culture of the office bearers.
    I had never problems in France or Netherlands etc., although our grand parents were forced to fight against each other. Only friendly contacts with locals and/or the police, no matter if we can understand each other 100%.
    Russia (or USA!) I prefer to avoid. Hostility already starts with the visa!
    #86
  7. Kristof Granit

    Kristof Granit Long timer

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    May I suggest you read the Wikipedia pages about "Visa for Russia" and "tourism in Russia":
    In 2013, Russia was visited by 33 million tourists, making it the ninth-most visited country in the world and the seventh-most visited in Europe
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Russia
    -------------------------------------
    The message from the "officials" has always been very clear:
    "instead of listening or reading about Russia, come and visit the country you will make your own opinion"
    ----------------------------------------
    Meeting of the working group on monitoring the implementation of the decisions of the State Council and its Presidium on fulfilling the Presidential instructions on developing tourism in Russia
    During the meeting the participants reviewed progress made on introducing amendments to the law that would develop domestic and inbound tourism as well as river and sea cruises, improve the quality of hotel services, promote Russian tourist products and create comfortable conditions for tourists.

    http://en.kremlin.ru/catalog/keywords/122/events/53331

    In addition, instructions to the Government concern expanding the list of seaports that provide foreign tourists with access to the Russian Federation; introducing a single federal registry of travel agents; creating procedures for foreign citizens to enter and exit the Russian Federation for major international sports, cultural, scientific and business events; simplifying the visa regime for foreign tourists and examining the possibility of visa-free entry for foreign tourists from BRICS nations, as well as other countries on a list approved by the Government of the Russian Federation.
    http://en.kremlin.ru/catalog/keywords/122/events/50341
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    You can also check the "long history" of negotiation with the EU for a visa-free regime, the EU is blocking the discussion not Russia:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_history_of_Russia
    In 2008, Silvio Berlusconi, the former Prime Minister of Italy, and, later, Alexander Stubb, the Foreign Minister of Finland, started public discussions on the future possibility of visa-free travel between EU countries and Russia.[78][79] On 4 May 2010, the EU and the Russian Federation raised the prospect of beginning negotiations on a visa-free regime between their territories.[80]
    However it was announced by the Council of Ministers of the EU that the EU is not completely ready to open its borders,

    ...
    Sporting events
    Prior to the adoption of a special law, participants and members of delegations arriving for sporting events, couldn't count on visa-free entry or visa facilitation unless determined by law for each event. On 13 May 2013, a presidential decree on the abolition of visas for athletes, coaches, team leaders, members of foreign official delegations, and judges of international sports competitions came into effect. The law allowed entry on the basis of passport and accreditation certificate.[32] An order of the President of Russia is sufficient for abolishing or simplifying visa requirements.
    Visas were abolished for participants of the 2013 Summer Universiade,[33] the 2014 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships in Moscow, the 2014 World Judo Championships in Chelyabinsk, and the 16th FINA World Championships in Kazan.[34] Participants of the XVI World Aquatics Championships in the Masters category were exempted from visa fees.[35]
    The right to enter Russia without a visa was also given to visitors during the 2014 Winter Olympics and 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi, if they were in a possession of tickets for the event.[36]
    Teams participating in the 2016 IIHF World Championship were able to obtain visas on arrival. For the fans there was a simplified procedure for being issued visas.[37]
    Similarly eased restrictions are planned for visitors to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.[38][39] From 4 June to 25 July 2018, visas won't be required for those attending matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup championship, who will be able to enter Russia with an ID and passport. Foreigners participating in events and FIFA athletes, will have to obtain visas, but with a simplified procedure. In particular, such visas will be issued within 3 working days from the date of filing and without payment of consular fees. This procedure will last until 31 December 2018.

    ------------------------------------------
    #87
  8. BGil

    BGil Been here awhile

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    I'm sure you can find some room between a visa-free regime and the soviet-style procedure that Russia is currently enforcing.
    They can start by dropping the need for a Letter of Invitation, then the mandatory registration after X days in the country.

    It's understandable that some people will perceive that as a "Don't come, we don't want you here" message.
    And before meeting the locals and changing your mind, you have to go through that wall.
    I know a few people who wanted to visit Russia but were scared by the paperwork required.

    It's especially true for the younger generations of Europeans who don't really remember the times before the Schengen agreement and are used to move from a country to another without even bothering with a passport.
    (where I live, I will routinely ride through 3 or even 4 countries just for some grocery shopping)
    #88
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  9. alicethomas

    alicethomas Been here awhile

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    Of course you may suggest.
    But if I need a visa at all (Russia) or reveal intimate details and passwords of the company laptop (USA), I'm not interested anymore.
    I'm used to leave/enter the EU to/from Switzerland (almost always) without showing my passport. Same applied to India (by plane) etc. Sometimes a "Grüezi" and a few general questions (something to declare?), showing the passport for a quick check would be ok too (happened only once while returning to Germany [we have dark brown skin], no problems), but no hidden accusation because of everything.
    I do not have to spend my money in hostile countries. The world is big enough for many lifetimes.
    #89
  10. ExodusRider

    ExodusRider ExodusRider

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    Like I said, two camps:

    Either "You don't know what you're missing" or.. "you won't miss what you don't know". Ignorance can be harmful or it can be bliss.

    I kinda like the idea that people won't /don't want to ride Russia. The world is constantly changing, some places slower than others. The day will come when Russia, Mongolia, et al will be so modern that traveling through them will be like crossing any EU countries, no fuss no pain. There will be paved roads everywhere, along with Starbucks per 10 miles. Everyone and their grand-mama will flock there. When that day comes, who wants to go to a place that's like any other, that everyone goes to?

    It sure was a mixed bittersweet moment when I found a long stretch of pavement through Mongolia and realized one day soon, there will be an entirely paved road clear across the country.

    Part of the allure of riding through a country like Russia is exactly for this. They are relics, their system/processes and way of life have not quite caught up to the rest of the world. But there's charm and character in that as well, you just have to look for it. It's a hella big country with old school traditions and mindset, things move slow to change.

    So it takes a little grunt work, a little elbow grease, a little pain to understand their laws and process? Will make it just that much more sweet when you're finally traveling through her and proclaim to yourself "OH MY GOD, I'm riding through Mother Russia right now.. at this very precise moment, this incredible time /junction in my life. Holy Hell, UNBELIEVABLE!!

    For all the folks who DON'T want to ride Russia because of whatever hiccups you have against her, I say thank you. Thank you for keeping her on a pedestal, saving her for blokes like me; uncluttered, undiscovered, uncharted, unridden.. for keeping her a mystery OR a taboo. I for one hope she keeps her archaic ways and wildness just a tad longer so I may visit a few more times before everyone there starts to speak English and drink Bud-light !

    One final thought: I used think the world was an incredibly big place; but after making it to North Korea and Iran, I've realized it's not at all...just a few gas tanks away. The more you ride the world, the smaller it becomes. Ride on my adventure comrades, ride on!







    #90
  11. Kristof Granit

    Kristof Granit Long timer

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    Thanks your comment reminded me Laurent Cochet:

    "Lolo Cochet" a French journalist, (some of his video)
    Moscow/Vladivostok with a Ducati 1200 Multistrada, Video with English Subtitles:
    Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5

    From the Part5:
    "When I was in Moscow I even wondered if I was not making a mistake... But I have no regrets
    I'm not a travel agency, I am not selling anything to you.
    But I take Russia as it comes, and don't leave anything on the side holes, bumps, worn out roads, the trans-Siberian highway, straight lines, trucks and road-rage.
    The people, extremely nice, huge landscapes, the feeling of vastness.
    Russia is all of those things for me.
    You may not like it... it's this whole thing to me

    Even if I know a lot of things have improved, I 'm really glad I did it now, because I know Russia will change a lot, things will improve.
    ...
    And that I've experienced a lot of sensations and emotions."
    ---------------------------
    #91
  12. DavidM1

    DavidM1 Unicorn hunting

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    Shouldn't the title of this thread be "Please come to Russia"?

    Basically, Russia is not really on my to-do list. Except maybe a ride around Krasnodar to see the dolmens there. And what's Dagestan like? Any prehistory there? I would like to see some ancient kurgans.

    P.S. Night Wolves' devochkas in Moscow are probably not a good selling point for Russian motorcycle tourism as far as I'm concerned.
    #92
  13. Kristof Granit

    Kristof Granit Long timer

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    With another inmate we "suggested" a dedicated sub-forum for Russia, to post some information and a link to all the related reports, but it was "refused"...

    Funny that you spoke about the dolmens, as a native from Brittany I was feeling like at home when I went to see them for the first time :lol3
    They are located in the Krai of Krasnodar, not far from the city of Gelendzhik, some of my pictures:
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Dagestan, on my way to Makhachkala, no kurgans but the Canyon Sulak, it is one of the deepest canyons in the world:
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    [​IMG][​IMG]

    The Bike Center in Moscow is visited by many Riders and others, from "anonyms" to "celebs" (Billy Idol, Danny Trejo,...) for the riders it's a place where you can let your bike, in safety inside the territory, have some fun and sleep at the hotel :-)
    [​IMG][​IMG]
    #93
  14. norseXL

    norseXL Northman

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    Nothing!? The Fjords man...
    ...and for the ice golf, most Norwegians have IQ over the recuirements for that.
    How's Finland doing in the olympics btw.
    #94
  15. tkach

    tkach Long timer

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    that was unexpected...
    #95
  16. Gedrog

    Gedrog 1000 mile stare a 1000 stories to tell

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    Russia is on my list any useful info instead of the slagging match is always welcomed :photog
    #96
  17. tkach

    tkach Long timer

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    Like @Kristof Granit said we asked for a sub-thread, but no dice yet.
    As for the 'night wolves' not everyone connected with the motorcycle world here like them either, they're too political.
    #97
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  18. tkach

    tkach Long timer

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    well when you decide to go come you let me know, will be glad to have pint :D
    #98
  19. Gedrog

    Gedrog 1000 mile stare a 1000 stories to tell

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    Planning a trip to the Balkans this year need to spend a week in Bulgaria for Business but will be travelling and enjoying the area
    Next year I plan a trip to South Africa, Angola has just opened its borders and South Africans no longer need a Visa can visit Angola for 90 days. I will Fly to SA on my UK passport, and travel up to Angola with my SA passport. Travel through Namibia to Angola, coming back via Botswana visiting some places of my misspent youth.

    Year following definitely Russia in my sights like South Africa once you look past the stereo typing, people in general are a friendly bunch, just avoid politics and religion :photog
    #99
  20. tkach

    tkach Long timer

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    ffs, a 3 year plan... :fpalm