Friday 3.8.2018 0km 12.59km Total:259.68km
I still feel completely mangled when I wake up and after breakfast I can feel my old pal Horton kicking my optic nerve.
I'm not tempting fate so I go back to bed in the hopes I can sleep it off and I actually get better after a couple of hours.
After lunch I head into to town to see what Chișinău has to offer.
Not much it turns out. If I am to be completely honest and perhaps slightly mean I would be tempted to say it has nothing to offer at all.
Lonely Planet lists just five sights for the whole town and out of those it was just the national museum which was closed, the triumphal arch and the cathedral that felt at all tempting.
I had pretty much gone through all the sights fifteen minutes after getting into town.
It had been a long walk so I grab a long lunch with an absolutely amazing dark beer.
It was the creation of some local microbrewery and it was so god damn dark it didn't let through even the slightest shimmer of light in direct sunlight, it was like a black hole.
The best beer I'd had on the trip excluding Guinness.
I walk through the entire city centre back and forth, about 5kms without finding anything even remotely interesting.
So considering they knew their way around beer there was only really one thing to do and that was to sit at an open air bar and get another of the black beauties.
The beer I got there was no match for the previous one but it was still very good.
They seem to know their way around brewing down here and considering the local general store had wine on tap I guess they produce a lot of wine too but the quality of that I'm definately not the right person to judge.
But all things considered I guess that's what you do here with the price being about €1.5 for a beer at a bar.
I still don't linger very long because as the bar starts to fill up the smog from the forest fire of cigarettes well up to the point it made the Chernobyl tour seem like a spa-weekend.
When a pregnant woman (which I hoped drank orange juice and not screwdrivers) has gone through at least a half a pack of cigarettes while I sat there it hard to not see Moldova as the least developed country of the trip despite all the fancy cars and brand clothing.
One thing I noticed during the day is that all radio cars and ambulances in all the countries I've been (excluding Finland) have their blue lights on all the time.
If they are on a callout they continuously blue and red just like back home.
The difference here is that they use the siren and callout signal for pure transport, I saw a patrol car riding along the main street in the city centre blasting way like a carnival on wheels just to pull up by the parliament building parking up, pulling the window down and just chilling.
If all the radio cars going back and forth while I sat at the bar where actually all on callout I wouldn't have survived this stay because then it would be a complete war zone.
Fun fact: Moldova has been indexed as the least happy country on earth, a statistic that has improved in recent years.
Saturday 4.8.2018 164km Total:3843km 3.03km Total:262.71km #7 15m Total:12h20m
I had kept it pretty open depending on what shape I was in if I was to go across to Transnistria but it an easy decision, of course I'm going.
For one I had absolute f**k all to do in Chișinău apart from drinking beer but for the most part I would never have forgiven myself if I didn't go.
Even if my bode still aches I can stop ten times along the way if I need to and still have all the time in the world to do all the things I had planned for the day.
I'm a bit nervous about the border crossing.
All crossings are arbitrary at best.
What kind of morals officials at a border that formally doesn't even exist have I don't know but I've read nightmare stories about completely made up import charges on every single item brought across the border and similar lunacy so I quite deliberately only brought the absolute bare necessities along today.
Since I'm formally isn't leaving Moldova I have the option to just go back if they try to hassle me too much.
When I get to the border (Varnita checkpoint) I get pointed to a booth for Immigration.
Every sign posted was in Russian only so I just randomly pick a window but when I get to the front of the cue and hand over my papers the idiot just says njet and returns my passport.
Well, not even on a bad day will I judge and entire country by a single clown so I pick another set of hieroglyphs and cue up.
Bingo! There Mr Tommy Jensen from Sweden is welcome (in perfectly understandable English) after being just a little bit dishonest about where I was going.
I just told him I was going to Bender fortress for a day trip as I didn't think he would be all that impressed by me wanting to go into Tiraspol just to look at Soviet regalia and Lenin statues and snapping pictures.
What he doesn't know won't hurt him.
I didn't get my passport stamped but instead got a small Migration Card very unlike the ones in Russia and Belarus.
It was kind of like a receipt with my personal info and the time and date I was to leave the country at the latest.
Since I said it was a day trip I got exactly twelve hours on the second.
The fortress was impressive but a bit dilapidated which didn't surprise me since the Soviets weren't really into preserving anything not directly related to the communist regime.
It was all the more interesting being here because of the Swedish connection and there was a part of the small museum dedicated to that as well.
It's the second time of the trip I'm following in the footsteps of Charles XII.
I met a couple of Swedes in the fortress who had travelled by bus from Kiev.
I made me feel a bit better as I was walking around sweating like a pig in my bike gear because no matter how bad the asphalt was it sure beats riding on a bus.
Riding into Tiraspol I thought I would find a lot of Soviet remnants here and I wasn't wrong as the Welcome to Tiraspol sign is littered with the hammer and sickle I notice on the GPS that the very first street after the sign is Strada Stalin.
I mean Lenin is for som reason still held in some regard but not even the Russians consider Stalin to be kosher any more.
On the way to town i rode past a couple of manned but completely disinterested military checkpoint whose purpose I didn't really understand.
Along the Strada 25th October the parliament building which directly translated is The Supreme Soviet of the Moldovan republic of Transnistria is hard to miss because the Lenin statue directly in front of it is so ridiculously large it's almost comical.
On the other side of the road is the town square, Suvorov Square with St. Georges chapel and the Memorial of glory for Transnistrian war heroes with en emphasis on WWII which they like the Belarusians refer to as the patriotic war.
I guess it's Soviet terminology as it is the common denominator.
In the forefront is the eternal flame to commemorate the soldiers who died when the city fell in 1941 and was taken back in 1944.
Some time in the history of Tiraspol a group of men (I'm not being misogynist, I can guarantee that they were all men) sat down and pondered that the square needed a centrepiece, like other squares, something that people can gather round.
They have then come to the conclusion that best and finest thing they could come up with was a f***ing armoured tank to commemorate the Soviet victory in WWII.
Underneath the tank there is an urn buried containing soil from Leningrad.
I ride around the city centre without finding anything else of any particular interest apart from the frequent uses of Soviet symbolism.
Tiraspol is pretty much exactly what I thought Minsk would be but wasn't.
I head back to the border and again I'm a bit nervous as I've read about bikers that have been subjected to blackmail just to get the bike back across the border.
The whole spectacle at the crossing is that I ride up to the window, hand over my passport, get it back and was free to leave.
The whole border crossing both in and out totalled about fifteen minutes max and I wasn't hassled at all.
Until now I haven't seen a lot of speed limit signs at all, it's mostly been base speed limits in and out of populated areas.
Not here, not like that here at all.
On a stretch of road less than a kilometer long the the speed limit changed four times.
Every time without seemingly for any obvious reason.
There can be no doubt that someone high up in the Moldovan administration has been plagiarising the ideas of the dunces in the Swedish Transport Administration.
Moldova had customs officials posted but when I asked if the needed to see my passport it was obvious from their expression that they were wondering why they would want to do that so I could have just ridden straight through.
The only thing they wanted to know was if I was going back into Moldova or if I'd crossed over from Ukraine into Transnistria.
Had that been the case I believe the crossing would have been a lot less smooth.
Sunday 5.8.2018 426km Total:4269km #8 20m Total:12h40m
Time to start head back home. Or at least in that general direction.
It's hard getting into a flow of riding as the average speed is low.
The border crossing into Romania is unusually quick, just twenty minutes and I'm through.
The kilometres pass incredibly slow as the villages in Romania comes one directly after the other.
It was more common to see a sign for a new village than seeing the end of village sign and even when that happened you hardly even get to 90km/h before you're in the next village.
The reason was easy enough to see as all the houser are in just one endless row along the road, behind that row is just empty land in what after all isn't a densely populated country at all.
I get that this happens in a country struggling with the economy and the roads where in an impressively good state but the slow moving got very depressing after a while.
Late in the afternoon I felt I was still riding through the same village I entered this morning.
Entering Transylvania the road gets a lot more interesting and the temperature drops considerably.
I somewhat regret planning this as a pure tourist trip since I know there's an abundance of great roads in this region and the number of bikes I'm meeting tells the story as the quantity has skyrocketed compared to further east.
Riding through Ukraine and Moldova they where practically non existent.
Amazingly enough it even starts to rain when I'm about 60kms from the hotel and I can guarantee it's the first time in history I actually thought it was nice to get some rain while riding a bike.
It goes away as quick as it came in so after a downpour of about 20 minutes it clears up and turns into blue sky and sunshine again so I've pretty much dried up by the time I get to the hotel.
It was a bit childish staying at a novelty Dracula castle which has absolutely nothing to do with the legend and it turned out to be just the kind of tourist trap you would expect.
There was just one way through the labyrinth of stairs to the room and had to haul the gear so far I felt like I should leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find my way back.
But it wasn't all bad, since it is a castle I and a group of Italian bikers (which always seem to travel in huge numbers) could park the bikes in the courtyard for the night.
And the restaurant was great too, bacon-wrapped turkey breast with grated fried potatoes was one of the best meals of the trip.