Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Want My Two Dollars


August 18, 2009 Evening

It's the strangest thing about Europe. Everytime you get to a new country you don't go through one border crossing, you go through two. They always make you leave the country you're in first and then enter the country you're going to second. I'm going to say this one time so that there is no confusion.

“European bureaucrats are stupid.”

I mean, let's face it. Who cares if you leave the country? Good riddance I say. What is the purpose of checking out? It's not a hotel. I didn't drink the mini bar clean and I'm trying to get away without paying. Like “fuck-off” you uniformed bureaucrat with a meaningless job. Go do something useful like filling the potholes with your useless corpse. Sorry. I shouldn't talk this way but it's just so damn wasteful. You're paying these useless pricks anyways make them do something useful. At least make them sweat.

So I breeze through the Romanian exit border and I arrive at the Moldovan entry border. It's a very serious border indeed. The first checkpoint was being guarded by a girl in a mini skirt and high heels with a machine gun. I wish I could show you because reality is stranger than fiction. I got a picture of her on the down low but I couldn't get one of her with her machine gun and I wasn't about to try to hard.

Talk about James Bond! It was funny until she kept us there for over an hour. I was so unbelievably thirsty and I found myself drinking from this rotted tap at the side of the road. I knew my stomach would pay for it later but I had no choice.

[insert tap picture]

There was no end in sight for this checkpoint so I bit the bullet and drank from the dirty tap. I found out later the delay was because they were doing a shift change. So remember, never cross the Moldovan border at eight in the evening. Not that it mattered for me in the end.

After I got past the first checkpoint it was all over for me.


I handed over my passport.

“Moto (blah blah blah) ?”, he asked.

“Huh?”, I replied.

“Diplomat?”, he responded.

I blushed. “No, no, no. I'm not diplomat.”, I figured he assumed the way my bike was representing Canada he thought I was a diplomat. What he was asking for was the registration for my bike, or as they say “Diploma”.

I figured it out and handed over my registration. Unfortunately , this wasn't good enough for them. North American documentation doesn't have the proper flavor that these backwards hicks need. If the document doesn't have eight pages with official stamps on each one and a watermark or two they don't recognize it. In the future I'm going to be like Jim Rockford from the Rockford files and make fake documentation as I go. Of course the reality was these corrupt pricks just wanted a bribe. An Italian girl helped translate for awhile but when they finally received the 'Green Light' to leave they were gone quicker than the road runner. She tried her best but I saw the look in her eyes and they were filled with sympathy. She knew I was in for hard times.

I had two choices at this point. The easy way, which would have been to give them twenty Euro and drive away. Or the hard way, which was to try and not give them any money and try to appeal to their sense of righteousness.

I chose the hard way. And any bikers that follow in my trail can thank me now for not giving in to these bastards.

It was getting late. Maybe midnight or so. I had been there for about four hours when the senior officer said I could go. I was so happy. I walked over to my bike relieved. He walked a little quicker than me and took the keys from the ignition.

“You”, and he pointed at me, “can go.”

“Moto”, and he pointed at my motorcycle, “no go”

“No no no no....nyet nyet nyet”, I responded and sat down. I was there for another hour when a guy with a machine gun escorted me to a hotel just outside the border crossing. For 5 Euro I checked into my room and came downstairs and had an ice cream and a beer. (terrible combo but the ice cream reminded me of my wife and I needed the comfort of a good memory). I sat on the front steps of this border hotel and I drank beers with the hoods that ran this corner of the world. The funny thing is is that people would walk up to the hotel and shake my hand thinking I was a new member of this gang. Everytime someone did the other members of my gang would laugh.

The Eurotrash music finally got to me so I went to bed. I put my sleeping bag on the bed they provided me. I think I would have preferred the woods to this room but at least there was a bathroom down the hall so the people who came to murder me in my sleep could at least wash up after. I had troubles sleeping thinking that my trip was ending here in this godforsaken place with these godforsaken people.

I'm scared.

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This is Rosco P. Coltrane and I'm in Hot Pursuit


After my Evil Kneival stunt I cruised into Galati. The last town before he Moldovan border. I was lost immediately. I didn't want to screw around so I stopped for gas and asked for directions. The two young men decided to draw me a map. I seemed to get it until a young woman walked up and asked if I speak English to which I joyfully replied, “Yes!”.

She explained the route different. As a matter of fact the route the guys drew made sense to me. Her map was confusing. Plus, the first right the guys drew she made a left. Very different maps indeed. I will need to make a decision.

I'm going with the guys.

As I leave I see the girl in front of me roll her window down and motion me to it.

“It's better you follow me!” (insert Romanian accent)

“OK!”, this is good news indeed. We get out into traffic and make our way slowly down the main thoroughfare. The we take that first left.


She's off like a bandit. Follow me? She said follow me? She meant chase me. No... she meant, “Catch me if you can”. This girl made Jason Statham from the Transporter (Parts one through three) look like a Sunday driver. She had me going down train tracks with the train, sidewalks, over slippery cobble stone, down dirt roads, around barriers, you get the picture. If I knew the way it would have taken me half an hour to get there. It took ten.

When she stopped at the border I thanked her and commented on her driving.

“I really like to drive!”, she said with a mad twinkle in her eye.

I offered her some Romanian money which she wouldn't take. I insisted but she just got in her car and rolled down her window.

“I'm a lawyer I don't need your money!”

Perhaps she doesn't. But I know she only became a lawyer so she could fight all the tickets she must get. It was just economical. Seven years of university must be cheaper.

The good thing is I never would have found this place. Actually that's not true ,I would have.

It would have taken me two hours. I remember Albania.

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Jumping The Shark


Elvis Cafe Racer on Ferry Over Danube River in RomaniaThe day started out, let me rephrase that, the day didn't start. I got on my bike, put it in neutral, pushed the start button, and... nothing. Shit! I would say 'shoot' but this is the Internet. I need to get a reaction and express myself accurately. OK. Flick the key back and forth and toggle the stop-run-stop switch.

Try again...

“wrrrr....wrrrr...wrrrr...wrrrr....wrrrr”, no chitti chitti bang bang.


(Editors Note: Trust me on the fact that Elvis didn't say 'Frick')

It wouldn't be such a big deal but my bike always draws a crowd, which seems to be dissipating now. Time to push start. I've done this before and I have to say it never took me as long to get my motorcycle to start as it did today. Probably the new exhaust. Speaking of which I'm exhausted. It took my over half and hour of pushing to get it going. I was starting to worry, but when do I stop worrying?

I bid farewell to the Romanian town of Constanta and I got on my way. The route was easy I had two choices and I knew which one to choose. Plus I cheated with a little Google map action in the hotel earlier. Needless to say I head out in the right direction feeling good about the day. The wind cooled me off quickly and I wasn't sweating anymore. As I was turning onto my main route a couple of Greeks on BMW G series bikes zipped by. I decided to catch up with them... yeah right. I pushed my bike to the limit and they just kept getting further and further ahead. It was only traffic that allowed me to catch up one time and then they were gone again. I hit 165km/h on a road I should be doing ninety so I gave up. It was a valiant effort but the machinery was just unequal. I'll catch them when their fuel injectors clog up or their electronics go haywire.

The game of chase did get me motivated to move though. I really opened up today. I was far more aggressive than normal and I blasted the tunes and watched kilometers roll on my odometer. It was an absolute blast. As I reached the northern Romanian border the villages I went through were amazing. Like something out of the 40's or 50's. Horse drawn wagons were the main form of transportation, the roofs were thatch and the young boys ran out to the street when they heard the song of my engine. They would twist their little hands hoping I would give them a couple of high pitched revs of the engine and I did oblige every one of them. What a treat it was for me and them! I even passed a village where the Gypsies were living in Yurts. It's truly a testament to how much ability we have lost due to what we call progress. The average Westerner would have a terrible time trying to cope like these people. It actually gives me a sense of hope knowing that there are people like this to carry on after we have destroyed ourselves.

I made great time. I should be at the Moldovan border in no time. What's that ahead of me? A river? Where's the road? I must have taken a wrong turn. I better stop and have a beer. I mean I should turn around and find my way. Nah... let's get that beer. Maybe ask someone how to get on the right track?

As I pull up to the little cantina ( I call it that because I'm so reminded of the rural areas of Brazil, in the north near the Amazon rain forest) and I'm greeted with a “Heyyyy.... Mad Max”, and some laughter. The one fellow also pointed out that my license plate was hanging by one bolt. I sat down and took off my gear. Half way through my beer I got out the tools and fastened my plate. I also took the time to secure my new exhaust. It had shifted a little over the day. I didn't have to ask anyone directions as the ferries running back and forth were pretty self explanatory. Thanks Google maps, you missed on that one. Not like it was a big river or anything. I mean... It's only the Danube!

The guys at the bar were the ferry traffic controllers though they seemed an awful lot like gangsters. Fortunately, these gangsters liked me and the helped me figure out the ferry lines. I took the truck ferry across and I have to say, I've never been on a vessel like this one. To load they get one truck to move back and forth across the deck to make the boat list to and fro. As the boat teeter-totters back and forth you have to gun it to get across while your ramp is higher than the boat deck. The unloading is identical.

Unfortunately I was a little over enthusiastic and timed my departure poorly. As the boat listed upwards I gunned it and launched myself four to six feet in the air and maybe seven to eight feet forward and landed on a surface so bumpy and worn you couldn't call it a road. I was dead. I mean dead dead dead dead. There was no way in this world that this was going to end well. Yet, to everyone's shock I landed perfectly and when I reached the top of the hill I hammered the back brakes and skidded myself sideways. Much like my muffler back in Turkey I decided I would leave well enough alone and leave my soiled underwear back on the ramp. I was so frightened I could barely dismount, but people came over to hug me and I wanna say 'high five' but it was more like groping. Which is kinda creepy because everyone was in their Speedos. Needless to say I don't think any of these people ever saw Fonzie jump the shark and I gave them the best show ever. As a matter of fact I was impressed with myself. I looked like something off a “Saturday, Saturday, Saturday!!” motocross commercial. How I survived I don't know but I've always held one thing about myself to be truer than anything else.

It's way better to be lucky than skillful!

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