From Rostov-On-Don to Sochi

The distance from Volgograd to Rostov-On-Don is about 550km on good roads, partly on M4 which is a well built 2 lane highway. However we decided to have a stop over in a hotel about 170 km before Rostov so we don’t have to drive so much too much that day.

Nice hotel, nice food, good rest. The next day we headed to Rostov-on-Don or Росто́в-на-Дону́ or Rostow-na-Donu. Smaller than Moscow or St.Petersburg, still 1.1 million, but cozy, relaxed right at the river Don. We had booked an Airbnb in the center of the city before we arrived there, walking distance to the Fan Fest and the Rostov arena as we were going to watch the round of last 16 Match Japan vs Belgium here.

Firstly in Rostov-On-Don we had to get rid of our extra tickets for the game, went to Decathlon with the hope of finally getting new gas for our cooking stove (still no success) and checked out the city for a bit whilst feeling to be on a cooking stove ourselves – still 38 degrees during the day…

Nothing more, dinner at night and good rest again. Walking distance in Russia means 8-12km a day. That needs good rest for sure. Sightseeing and Russia playing Spain deepened our T-shirt-tan in the burning sun and to our surprise we gonna watch Russia in the stadium in Sochi on 7th July…What a party! Happy Russians everywhere and surely we are also happy to see a match of Russia live!

Finally it was game day in the Rostov arena! Before our highlight of the day we went to the Fan Fest to watch Brazil beat Mexico. From there the shuttle bus took us conveniently direct to the brand-new stadium on closed roads and to watch what we thought will be a boring game – but yeah we were wrong! 2nd half with 5 goals and Belgium conceding the winning goal in the 95th minute… we felt sorry for the Japanese!

We had some traditional tasty Khachapuri (picture 1) and excellent Khinkali (picture 2) in a neat local restaurant after the match. The next day we planned to arrive at the Black Sea, we were very excited after so many kilometers over land.

2600km more or less on straight roads within Russia has been less attractive hence we were happy to drive through the mountains to the coast of the Black Sea. Windy roads and some stunning views were very much appreciated! And it’s nice to see some other bikers again even more as everyone is greeting while heavily waving in full stretch of the arm. We even got some fist bumps while overtaking! And in between the horns or thumbs up from passing cars. Cool stuff!

After a 2 nights stay at the coast in Lermontovo in the very nice guest house Shokolad close to the beach and a lot of tasty shashlik we drove another 5 hours on the beautiful coast line to Sochi, the host city of the 2014 Olympics and the quarter final of proud Russian’s Sbornaja. We’d love to see the next World Cup’s surprise – GO RUSSIA!

We have passed the 7000 km mark by now, check out our route to Sochi.

Russia calling – St. Petersburg

12th – 16th June

We didn’t really get to experience Finland as we had only two nights here. However we did enjoy the stay at a well located campground in Hamina at one of the several beautiful bays of the Baltic Sea, approx. 50km before the Finnish/Russian border. We were ready to finally go to Russia, get into the World Cup spirit, inhale the special atmosphere and explore this huge country. But first we had to get into the country and as we had been told before it’s not as smooth as other borders. Hence we were prepared, well we thought we were…

Firstly we were quite happy not seeing queued cars and long lines on the Finnish side, a quick stop, passport check and off we go through the green border and into Russian territory, not at the border yet:

The Russian border building showed up about 1km later. We can’t deny a certain nervousness, we really couldn’t explain. We lined up behind a few cars and then were told to drive up front and park our bikes. Is that a good sign or bad? We did and waited. The young soldier whos job it was to coordinate the arriving cars didn’t look too friendly and there wasn’t any English word coming out out his mouth on the other hand our Russian not existing. We figured out to go to the booth where we showed our visa (so called fan ID as we had tickets for the World Cup), passport and immigration. Pretty quickly done actually and we were ready to get back on the bikes. It can’t be that easy…surely not. Bikes registrations and customs are on the list…second booth!

We met some guys who went to Russia with their bikes last week or so and they gave us a form which must be filled out for the bikes for the customs beforehand. We handed this thoroughly filled out form together with all paperwork and documents over to the Russian customs lady in uniform after queuing up for 20 minutes. Light blond shoulder long hair cut straight, heavy make-up and a chewing gum, didn’t say a word just gave us exactly the same form 4 times which we had handed in before to fill it out again. She needs a copy (the word says it – make a copy!!!) and we had a spelling mistake in it, which she highlighted with a marker… puuuhh. We did it and after 30 minutes of standing in line again we were hoping that we did everything right then. We felt like in school and we weren’t nervous anymore, just annoyed. Finally we passed this test but the bikes needed to be registered… it took another 10 minutes for each bike and people behind us got a bit impatient. But finally we had to sign another pile of papers and the lady even smiled for the first time, wished good luck for the World Cup and we were ready to drive off. Another customs lady had to check our luggage and of course the paperwork again! Now we were good to go and we were even allowed to pass by all the cars 🙂 Another check point came up 2 minutes later, again paperwork and passport check. 2,5 hours at the border, about 10 stamps later we were happy in Russia. This whole procedure is annoying but in the end we felt treated kind of friendly.

First impressions of Russian traffic wasn’t as rude and chaotic as we thought it to be. A calm 4 hours drive into beautiful St. Petersburg didn’t even change our mind. Surly more cars and traffic lights but not worse than Hamburg traffic. It took us quite some time to find our hotel as it was more a student house at the Christian university – how should we know? Anyways it was very convenient – location wise. A bit tired after a long day we went out for some Russian food and a beer and had an early night.

A bit of garlic bred and meat with garlic, whole grilled garlic and garlic sauce…

The next day was just for organising stuff like SIM card, check out fan fest and get into Russia and strolling around in the city. The deep down crazy metro system and beautiful stations, huge houses and plazas, the river and big streets are impressive! Beautiful city with many cafes, bars and restaurants.

And of course the opening game of the World Cup took place! Well done Russia!

Another good night of sleep and finally it was match day for us! Before leaving to go to the beautiful St. Petersburg stadium we had to handle some ticket issues and hand overs at the ticket center were we also met up with Alex, a nice guy from Berlin now living in St. P. who took one of our left over tickets, Daniel met him on the fan fest the day before.

Awesome atmosphere everywhere. In the streets, in the train, on the way to the huge stadium the Iranians as well as the Moroccans made that day, celebrating their teams, just like a big party. Finally we felt the special World Cup mood!

The game, well it wasn’t the best but it was one of the loudest. Crazy loud. The sounds, the chants, constantly. You could barely talk to each other but on the other hand that’s what makes the mood. Passion and craziness!

So even our team wasn’t playing we were enjoying and even more when in the 95th minute the only goal has been scored. Own goal from Morocco… the Iranians went crazy, crazy happy!

After that game also Spain vs Portugal was on TV so we decided to watch this game in the city center in a bar. It was nice to enjoy these teams playing, 6 goals in total after the pretty boring game we witnessed. We had dinner together with Alex at a sushi place and just enjoyed the white and light night in the streets of St. Petersburg. Our impression of St. Petersburg and its people is very positive. We enjoyed best weather but also can imagine that this city is enjoyable in freezing winter time. We didn’t stay out for so long as we had to start to the 900 kilometers away Moscow the next day as we had to be there 3 days later…

For convenience here is a short video summary of the last 10 days:

Crossing the Baltics to Finland

6th – 11th June

After a good sleep in the tent again in Barzai we headed off for Latvia. The perfect road behind the border (nothing reminds of a border here) gave us the hope that the roads would continue like that. This hope was taken after 20 kilometers or so. The strong wind coming from the coast pushed us from side to side like ping pong balls. Luckily there weren’t as many trucks on the road as in Lithuania or Poland.

Riga was never really on our itinerary from the beginning, as we both have been visiting already. It is the only city in the Baltic area considered as metropolitan city. A coffee and a quick lunch was everything we dedicated Latvia’s capital and went off to Tuja, a very little town with a campground and a supermarket – nothing else. So far it was the most scenic and loveliest designed campground. A selfmade playground, fireplaces all over the property and direct access to the beach. We made a bonefire and for having the perfect camping feeling it even convinced us to take a short dip into the calm but freezing Baltic sea in the morning. This gave us enough freshness for the most tiring 200km through Latvia. Sorry for not spending an appropriate amount of time in your country, dear Latvians . We make that up some time in the future…

It didn’t get really dark all night long. This picture was taken after midnight:

Pärnu, the weekend exile of many Estonians lead us to a very touristy little town in Estonia.

We found a cool little spot to set up camp in a backyard in the city.

We had a stroll in Pärnu, met Cocran a Canadian guy who is driving around in Europe and also owned a F650GS. It took him around South America and further. More than 115.000km in total – this made Jendrik feel pretty confident. Some advises and little anecdotes later we were sure that you not necessarily need the best and newest equipment for such a trip. Not even your own bike. Safe travels amigo, it was a pleasure.

After these 3 nights in the tent we booked an Airbnb very close to Tallin Old town.

It was a perfect stay. Close to everything and finally a nice bed again! Thanks Nataly for helping us finding a laundry place – it was about time and surely we would have passed it…

A walk through the beautiful old town and the harbour area confirmed what we already expected. Estonia is not only geographically closer to Scandinavia, as the other Baltic countries: The language, the architecture and also the appearance of the people show many similarities to their Scandinavian neighbors. We recharged all electronic devices, proved to be good chefs – again 🙂 – and went for an early sleep to stand a quite tight schedule the next day.

Have you ever heard of ice-sailing, Konstantin Vassiljev, three times Estonian footballer of the year or a restaurant where glasses, plates and forks are just not existent? The fantastic maritime museum, the friendly match between Estonia vs Morocco in the LeCoq Arena and dinner in Ill Draakon restaurant taught us.

Especially the restaurant impressed, while the game didn’t so much, Morocco won 3:1… It just needs a huge piece of meat from the bone and big tasty beer out of a huge clay pot to be happy.

A great day found its end around 3 o’clock – measured by daylight 8 o’clock in the morning, see here:

Our plan was to take the ferry to Helsinki but only god knows why, prices had risen for about 400% this day so we booked another cheap stay in the countryside, to take the ferry the next morning. It was a beautiful stay actually, next to a lake and perfect sunshine. Great to rest and relax.

Ready for new adventures we took off to find some brekkie and cartridges for our camping stove the next morning. Very difficult as there are different standards all over Europe – mission not completed yet… We made it to the ferry terminal in Tallin just in time. Premiere on a ship with our bikes – the name says it all: M/S Finlandia.

After 2,5 hours we arrived in Helsinki/Finland, the 7th visited country during our trip! Sunshine welcomed us, lunchtime and a nice 2 hours walk around the capital, we took some pictures and drove further East to stay a night on a campground in Porvoo, actually on a hill for skiing. 28€ for a standard campground – not surprising but 5 times the price of the average fee in Poland. Frustrated we bought two beers for 10 Euros. It’s vacation 😉

Follow our route as we are getting closer to Russia, the next milestone on our trip!

Lithuania

June 1st – 5th

From Danzig we drove through the beautiful landscape of Mazury. Little valleys, lakes everywhere and the sun shining all day long. After a quick stop for another face off with the cruelty of Nazi Deutschland at the Wolfsschanze we stayed for one night at the Wydminy lake in our tent.

The day after the streets took us along the Russian border to Kaliningrad into Lithuania, the 4th country during the trip. We followed our plan to visit Trakai, a picturesque town and capital of the medieval Lithuania. The most visited Lithuanian landmark is the well preserved and impressive watercastle at the Galve lake 20km southwest of Vilnius.

Heading for Vilnius, we took the direct route via the highway, the first time on our trip we chose this fast but boring way of driving. We covered approx 350km in 5 hours. Inbetween we spontaneously detoured to Kaunas central, the 2nd biggest city in Lithuania and had lunch at the surprisingly charming riverside, close to the castle.

After drifting through the awesome bends around the lakes in Trakai for a while, we stayed at a residence. Pretty fancy for a campground. Wi-Fi covering the entire area allowed us to watch the friendly Germany vs Austria via live stream.

The German invasion of camper vans here for sure had satellite TV, but this is not the company we prefer on our tour distancing Germany a little bit more every day.

Sunday was another „holiday“! History session at Trakai castle and cuisine lesson in one of the traditional small townhouses with late breakfast. Kibanai, little baked dumplings with diverse sweet and hearty fillings really blown us away. Our belly worked on these Kibanai while we rested at the beach of one of the numerous lakes around. We met Saulius, who listened to us speaking German and initiated the conversation. He’s a former professionell basketball coach, who was happy to practice some German again! Super friendly and inspiring. It was very cool to meeting you Saulius!

Later that day we literally flew the remaining kilometers to Vilnius where we stayed in a nice apartment. We went for a stroll downtown and straight into a typical Lithuania restaurant serving traditional food – again 😉

Typical beer plate!

What a feast it was!

After two mains each and a few more beers we walked back to our apartment and had a fantastic sleep – not very surprising, huh?!

The haircut, scheduled for a long time was finally accomplished and let us look a little less like travellers before meeting up with Povilas, who Jendrik knows for a long time, in Vilnius‘ old town. We had dinner and a very nice evening with many laughs! He was so kind to receive some mail for us from Hamburg, amongst were all our tickets for the World Cup in Russia as the FIFA wasn’t able to send these out in time… thanks again Povilas!

The next day we took off heading East, after getting done some work on the motorbike (with some parts also received with the mail) and set up our excellent MSR tent in no time in Northern Lithuania, even though we faced heavy wind. Our routines seem to be almost perfect by now.

Barzai is supposed to be our last stop in Lithuania as we’re heading to Latvia tomorrow. That day was the first time we actually had some rain while driving…

Holidays

28. May – 1st June

After we arrived at Campground Rafa 52 in Osrodek we set up our tent and used the new bought camping stow for the first time. We had some Polish Borsz instant noodles. Poland seems to be a instant soup and biscuit nation – the supermarkets are full of all kinds of flavors. Looking for standard Tempo tissues on the other hand- hopeless.

We called it an early night and got up the next day woken up by the sun – that would have never happened at home 😉 We managed to get a surprisingly delicious coffee in the Taverna and relaxed at the lake, went for a swim and just chilled out. Not having a daily routine on the trip, doesn’t mean every day it’s like holiday. This day was, for sure.

By the way: how lucky we are! We haven’t seen a single raindrop since we started two weeks ago. We definitely expect it to be continued like that the next 24 weeks 😉

The next morning we went for another 200km ride to Bydgoszcz where we headed to a hidden camp at a river Brda deep in the forest. Very natural location, almost nobody there. Our camp-set-up-routine is quite good already, so we did and had again another pasta. Salt should be on our shopping list…

Daniel went to get some beer while in the meantime Willi from Bavaria arrived who is riding a bicycle from Berlin to Vilnius. We had a beer all together. He really appreciated the drink and the company. Being on the road alone for almost 10 days he seems to be happy for the chat. So were we. Have a safe ride Willi!

We booked an apartment in Gdańsk (Danzig) where we stayed for two nights. Very adventurous driving through woods and fields, on cobblestones and sand roads. I don’t have to mention that we prefer empty and more remote routes to enjoy riding on our way to our destinations. That worked out very well that day until we reached the city. Stop and Go everywhere and the heat on the bike without the chilly breeze is hard to stand and made us sweat immediately. The happier we were once we arrived.

We recharged all electronic devices, recharged our bodies, recharged our nutrients with some good food again after all these pastas. An early run to the beautiful beach of the Baltic Sea also quietened our conscience and sightseeing in the old town put some more miles to our account. Gdańsk is beautiful and worth a weekend trip from Hamburg.

Check out our route, we are constantly updating.

Dresden to Špindlerův Mlýn

May 22nd – 24th

We had a fun filled 3 days stay in Dresden – thanks again to Intigam – and left in the early morning to go to Špindlerův Mlýn in Czech Republic.

However as the Teneré respective Daniel wasn’t 100% satisfied with the set-up of the air box and the current air filters he decided to pass by a dealership for motorbike parts in Dresden first. Unfortunately the needed filter wasn’t on stock. About 10 calls later we learnt that all over Sachsen there is no filter available.

We parked our bikes next to the car workshop Autoservice Petters in Dresden when the owner passed by to have a chat…

He offered, knowing about the issue of the missing air filters that we can use his workshop. Another two hours later Daniel made customised lids for the two existing filters made from metal from a BMW M3 – yeah!

Another hour later these were fitted in the Teneré, tested and approved. The bike is running smooth again and we finally left Dresden at around 2 in the afternoon.

Nice roads in the Elbsandsteingebirge, from Bad Schandau to the Czech border and in the Riesengebirge we arrived in Špindlerův Mlýn around 8 at night. No campground, no hotel, no hostel where open anymore but luckily we met Mathy who offered us his room while he moved to a friends place. Lucky us.

The next day we planned to go to the river head of the Elbe river. The weather forecast wasn’t the best – and it was true. Thunder and rain showed up, right when we arrived the base of the mountain Medvedin to hike to the Pramen Labe, the spring of the Elbe.

Stubborn, as we wanted to see the river head we bought a lift card to go further up and to hike the last 6,5km… but the rain got stronger and should stay until 1pm. After having a short stop on top of the mountain we decided to hike anyways. After around 1,5hrs we arrived almost without any rain at the spring! Lucky again.

Nice to see the first milestone of our trip, we had a small lunch and were back on the motorbikes another 3 hours later. Tired but happy we booked another night over here in a small hotel and will start a 336km journey tomorrow to Katowice/Poland where we will stay for a few days!

Check out our route, we are constantly updating.

Rambazamba – Danke!

Vielen Dank an Euch alle die ihr trotz kurzfristiger Verlegung zu einem super Chill/Grill/Drink Rambazamba im Unnapark bei herrlichem Sonnenschein und einer lauen Frühlingsnacht beigetragen habt!

Alle die, die dieses Mal nicht dabei sein konnten…. nächsten Sommer gibts eine Wiederholung.

Ohne Grund, einfach weil es Laune gemacht hat!

Tuning

Our bikes are good to go. Sure.

But wouldn’t it be nice to have some comfort during the trip? And add some safety features? And last but not least to have some knowledge about your bike?

The Tenerè is a well equipped bike already however additional light, heated grips, a USB hub for mobile and the new navigation have been mounted four weeks ago. A new chain, some minor fixings and the TÜV certification have also been made in a garage, due to time issues. Some additional storage options will finalise the works on the Tenere and make it ready for the road.

The parts for the BMW have already arrived and mounted right away. Higher windshield, hand guards, crash bars, navigation and additional light make the BMW complete.

The World Cup in Russia

We hold tickets for 7 games for the World Cup 2018 in Russia so we were super excited for the draw. Hoping to see the teams like Brazil, Spain, Argentina, England or Germany of course…

As we had to apply for the tickets according to our route through Russia we were not really flexible, neither can you manipulate the draw – well some people might be able – however we weren’t… so for now we will attend the following matches:

Match 4: Morocco Vs Iran Saint in St. Petersburg

Match 15: Poland vs Senegal in Moscow

Match 19: Portugal vs Marocco in Moscow

Match 29: Belgium vs Tunisia in Moscow

Match 47: Japan vs Poland in Volgograd

Match 54: last 16 in Rostov on Don

Match 59: last 8 in Sotchi

We are super excited to be part of one of the biggest sport events worlwide. Be part of the special mood as people from all over the world come together and have a part from sportive competetion a big party as well!

For the moment we are still not having any information when we will receive our tickets. Having two more weeks here in Hamburg we doubt tickets will arrive in time before heading East…

Things will work out anyways. At least we received our Fan-ID which is needet to get access to the venues but also to enter Russia on a visitor visa.

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Ready to go!

 

Documents

Never knew how many documents are needed for a journey with your own motorbike if you want to go far.

It’s not just a valid passport and all the visa required to enter certain countries. We even got a 2nd passport to be able to apply for certain visas during the trip and still hold a valid passport with ourselves.

It is also a so called „Carnet de Passage“ which you apply for at your local Automobil Club while you put down a deposit at the organisation. Actually quite a big amount of €€€. Being a requirement to enter Iran and India with the bikes, this document shall prove that after exporting your bike you’ll bring it back to your country of origin. Hence you need to get a stamp at the borders requiring the CdP for entering in order to get your money back from the organisation once your motorbike is back in your country, in our case Germany. There are very specific rules on how to get stamped in/stamped out in the Carnet de Passage and how to get it filled out during the trip.

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Further the international drivers license, international documents for the vehicle, health insurance, Fan-ID for Russia, etc are needed.

For China we are not sure yet what is needed however it seems you have to organize a guide which will accompany us on our way to Nepal and also organizes needed licenses for this part of the trip.

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Actually it’s not only the documents, but also vaccinations, private health insurance and technical docuements for the bikes.