From Poland, my original idea was to cycle through Ukraine to Romania, but the border police wanted it differently. From Biała Podlaska, where I’d rested for three nights with friends of my mother, it took me three days of cycling to the small border southeast of Belzec. From the evening of the first day and onward, a persistent rainfall from a dense, grey sky. I camp a couple of miles before the border, but the next morning is a no-no. The Ukrainian border police tells me that only cars, trucks and buses may pass – the border is too small for bicycles. I try with some cash – an extra page in my passport – but nothing helps. Their facial expressions are as helplessly grey as the sky above.
Instead of – as the border police suggests – enter through a somewhat larger border a day’s cycling south, I quickly decide to instead travel through Slovakia and Hungary to Romania. It’s a journey that will practically follow the new frontiers of the European Union until Turkey. A question kept occurring in my mind those days: when in history did we as humans do wrong in order to end up with borders that accept machines but not ourselves?
The rain continues until Hungary: A dry night at a cheap hostel I Przemyśl; a great camping night next to the house of a family in Poland’s southeastern corner – shower, dinner, breakfast and a jar of their home-made honey for the road; a beautiful, winding road along the Laborec River after passing the Slovak border; three nights indoors – two in Slovakia and one in Hungary – with people along the road that kindly invited me.
After a served breakfast of six fried eggs, ham, bacon, bread and vegetables, I continue the last kilometers from my host in Hungary to the Romanian border. I soon meet Parisian Jean-Luc, and we make company during three mountainous days across the Transylvania region. I’m now resting at the house of Razvan in Suceava – a friendly architect student whom I got in touch with through the usual Hospitalityclub.
Come next week, I will continue south along the Siret River. It was flooded to catastrophe only a few days ago – the region having received even more of the rain than I had – leaving at least four people dead in the country’s northeastern region, Moldavia. I shouldn’t have much more than twenty days to go until Istanbul. I hope that the Turkish people appreciate bicycles more than the Ukrainians!