26 June 2008


Finally left Russia on June 22, crossing the little strait of water near the Kerch Peninsula in the Crimea. We had to wait a few hours at the ferry crossing, both for customs/passport control and for the ferry. Finally we got on board and headed for Ukraine:
The Ukrainian side was fairly quick, but still an hour or two; by the time we hit the road, it was probably 15:30 or so. We stuck to the small roads in the mountains along the coast as much as possible, it was any absolutely beautiful road, probably the best road of the whole trip. The problem was that we could not enjoy it, or hardly even stop, because it was pretty obvious that it would get dark before we got to Yalta, and I didn't want to ride after dark in the Ukrainian mountains. The organizers had done this trip before, so I was completely mystified why they would not choose to stay closer to the border in one of the many resort towns, so that we could have ridden the fantastic mountain road in the daylight. Here are some pix from the road:

So sure enough we pull into Yalta after dark, pretty cool city, and are in a very nice hotel overlooking the harbor. Great room, here's a picture from the balcony in the morning:
Spent a lot of time walking around on the "boardwalk", lots of people!
We stayed in Yalta for a couple of nights, and then had to leave for Odessa. I had hoped to be able ride to Sevastopol and then ferry over to Odessa, but there are no ferries! Hard to believe, but that's how it was. So we had to do the long boring ride...while the southern coast of the Crimea is mountainous and beautiful, the interior and northern parts are very flat and boring, all the way to Odessa. Anyway, so a full days ride to Odessa, and then just wondered the streets a bit, had dinner. No pictures, unfortunately. Nice city, would like to come back here with a little more time.

After Odessa, the group was going to Kiev, then to Lviv. Some of the other guys and I decided to skip Kiev and ride straight to Lviv instead (basically cut across a triangle, Kiev was due north of Odessa, and Lviv due West of Kiev, so we took the diagonal). This ride was mostly pretty crappy, with lots of traffic, but got nicer at the end of the day in Western Ukraine. At least until we got pulled over by some Ukrainian cops for pulling over a non-existent white line. Had to pay them off, but they gave me a nice Ukrainian police patch as a souvenir (later gave it to Stuart).

Anyway, Lviv is a great city, very European, very quaint, here are some shots of the city:
We arrived in Lviv a day before everyone else, had a nice time in the city. The next evening, when everyone arrived, there was an incident. I went downstairs to check my e-mail and arrived in the middle of an argument between MTB and the Leader. Apparently MTB didn't want to move out of the room he had stayed in the previous night, but someone was insisting that he move into a different room. So they started arguing, with the Leader blaming MTB for all sorts of misdeeds doing the tour. It was a bit ridiculous but got even more so when the Leader exclaimed "That's it, you're off the tour!" Yup, MTB had just been kicked off a tour he'd paid for, for no apparent reason. He had to move to a different hotel that night and stay in different hotels every night from them on. This "Lviv Incident" was a huge turn off for me, because it could easily have been handled much better.

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