It sounds weird but leaving Istanbul feels like we’re nearly home. Heading back to the surface. Back to reality. I’m lucky to avoid it for such long periods. I have a really good life and wife waiting for me at home though. I’m a very lucky bloke indeed. Jesus if there is any justice I’ll come back in the next life as a piece of toilet paper.
We’re running fast for home now but we just want to take a small diversion on the way north. Early start out of Istanbul to get out of turkey and into Bulgaria and Euroland.
God only knows how many borders my old Ktm and I have been through together now. She’s certainly earned her Adventure badge anyway. I wonder how many trips are left in her sometimes. She’ll have over 70k on when we get back . She really rattles her old bones when she starts up but soon settles down to a deep purr. I do love that bike.
Add one more official signature to my helmet and we’re back in and ready to go.
We stop for lunch in a random square in a random town trapped in a time warp. It feels a bit like Russia with decoration running approximately 50 years in the past. Still, it has food and pretty girls. After the stupid cheapness of Turkey the price of life back in the EU comes as a real shock though.
Tonight’s destination is just a small provincial town. I should do more of this. Visiting the places your finger just flies over on the map without stopping when you’re planing a route. Somewhere that is usually just there to provide a fuel station on route to somewhere bigger and better. Its a really nice little town built on the usual old Soviet model of a huge fuck off square in the middle, brutal blocks of concrete, monuments and girls in pretty green dresses.
We’re heading for Moldova. A consolation prize for not getting into Azerbaijan. Another chance to put a face to a random country on a map, and to keep the riding mojo going as long as possible before life’s reality bat hits us all in the face.
We’re riding up into Romania to be close to the border so we can enter tomorrow. It’s bloody hot and getting hotter as we go north. Another function of the upside down climate we’re living in. It’s definitely not helping my sweats.. perhaps I’m going through the manopause..
Another border, another language, and another name for my lifeblood milk.
I don’t know what to expect from Moldova. I rather suspect the place hasn’t got two turds to rub together and will be on its arse. At the border we’re greeted by two lovely ladies with big smiles who are even willing to sign my helmet if I push it gently into their small opening ..
For a while it’s just as I expected. Either vicious road acne or roads made of sand pits. If it’s like this all the way it’s going to be a long day. Small villages. Subsistence living. Living with their legs astride the poverty line.
We shouldn’t be on this route anyway as it runs close to the southern Ukraine border, which I find out for myself as I make a wrong turn and arrive at a border post .. ummmmm… I do these things so you don’t have to .. and because I’m a knob.
We stop in a small town for a drink and to find some cash, my first priority when entering any new country. We’re so used to form over function nowadays. Buildings that look like cheese graters or giant glass jenga towers or cruise ships flying high in the sky. Architects determined to use every function on their new CAD system to produce ever more ridiculous trendy buildings that are out of fashion by the time they are completed. Out here its strictly function over form. Basic and brutal.
Every country has all its unique nuances that identifies itself and Moldova is no different. The thing that strikes me here most is the dress. In a small town like this in Russia you would see women wearing clothes you’d only see on a TV in black and white at home but here the girls are all wearing nice bright colourful summer dresses and looking really good. Really feminine. I could not give a flying fuck if that makes me old fashioned or chauvinistic or it doesn’t fit in with whatever the bed wetters are tweeting, I think women in dresses looks nice. So sue me.
Oh, and the bus stops too. Another personal stamp for a country. Christ only knows what the archway is for though.
Get to Chișinău and its quite a big city. It doesn’t look at all bad to me. There is a lovely lady on reception that speaks perfect English and we have a long chat. She’s trying to buy a flat and she says she much prefers the older Soviet style ones to the more modern ones. She reckons the build quality of the new places is far inferior to the traditional older places. I wasn’t expecting that. The new ones must be spectacularly shit if thats the case.
I go and exchange some more funny money for milk by yet another name and take a quick wander.
And see what I mean about the dresses… though it does help if you have the figure of an olympic gymnast
We ask the receptionist what we should see while we’re here and she directs us to the Cosmos Hotel in the centre of town. A good example of brutalist architecture when the architects only had a few simple tools they bought cheap at a car boot sale, and even then they don’t seem to have used all of them.
TBH I quite like it. I’m tired of characterless shiny glass boxed same old same old Grand Designs clones everywhere. It’s good to give my eyes a change sometimes, and it just reinforces that feeling of being somewhere different.
Then you’re quickly reminded that some of the human race loves to crawl and climb over the others and to wave it in peoples faces
When I eventually get back to the hotel with sore and aching feet I’m met by Brian and his dead phone. The other morning I heard his old Samsung telling him that it had decided to identify as an IPhone from now on and wanted to be addressed as Siri. So Brian has taken it at its word and shoved something in an inappropriate hole and now its buggered. Despite it being at least 3 centuries since he was born, Brian breathes WhatsApp and is already having withdrawal symptoms. It’s a serious situation and demands immediate attention and we go to the google assistant on reception for advice. She reckons there are some phone trading shops not far away. Perfect.
Brian and I find a shop and in true British style get completely ripped off for £30 for a phone that was probably born before I was. Still, Brian’s happy and thats all that counts.