5. Travel report: Sibiu (Romania) - Moldawia - Odessa (Ukraine) - Crimea

Romanias Transylvania has fascinated with it's beautiful towns, many with fortressed churches. The people are friendly and we get smiles and very often presents, like apples from a farmer, coffe, home made cakes, fresh cowwarm milk, etc. Along our route we visited spectacular sights, like the Bicaz canyon with it's breathtaking cliffs, where the romanien military trains abseiling, or like an orthodox monastery where we chat in german with one of the monks.

The bordercrossing at Leuseni into Moldavia is unbureaucratic and the customs officers are very friendly. The language stays the same (Romanian), but the houses here seem to be very uniform.

Since we have not had a shower for a long time, we hop in a small pond (together with frogs and ducks), where the very friendly youngsters of nearby town are swimming too. They are interested in our bike trip and ask many questions. At night we do develop the first diarrhoea on our trip. Cycling with fever, hot climate (temperatures up to 42 degrees Celsius) and the following night a tick contaminated area where we camped - this was one of the not so enjoyable experiences. But the golden fields of grain, the endless, blooming sunflower-fields make up for it.

At the first town in Ukraine we stay one night in a hotelroom to recover, to wash our clothes, to reload all our batteries. It does not take us long, and we arrive in interesting Odesa, the pearl of the blacksea. Here we stroll through the shady promenades, visiting the sights like famous Potemkin Steps (to be seen in the film "Battleship Potemkin", where the runaway pram bounces down the stairs) or the Opera and Ballet Theatre. Or we just enjoy drinking excellent Espressi or cold beer, while watching people passing by. Gold, highheel shoes, short minis, tight tops are obviously loved. The actually dusty, windy town is very charming and was a highlight for us.

From Odesa to Crimea - we knew it beforehand - we had to cycle on the mainroad together with heavy traffic. And very often we were threated with gusts of wind, which blew us sometimes off the road. One night there was a cycloon and next morning we found out how lucky we have been. A tree just behind us was split in half, but had somehow not yet fallen.

Finally reaching the peninsula Crimea, beeing able to get away from the heavy traffic, made us happy. But northern Crimea has a wide system of water channels, and while searching fo a place to camp, thousands of moquitoes were attacking. So we cycled on until it was nearly dark, then pitched up our tent in a rush, jumped into the tent and had our dinner - bread and cheese - inside, protected from these beasts. Nevertheless, Pius's body was dottet with over 200 bites.

Along the west coast we found magic bays, staggering cliffs and beautiful sandbeaches. Some places are secluded and romantic, while others are very lively and loud, beeing the resort for thousands of people hungry for sun and fun. The flat, dry steppe is monotonous, and the vast, sparsely populated plains remind us of Australia.

After 4700 kilometer and 37000 meters of heights, we reached the Military base of Sevastopol, which was a closed city (no tourists) until 1996. Here we stay on a campground north of town at the beach. I take for a couple of weeks russian lessons, while Pius is working out which way we will travel next and what places we will visit.

Our planned route will change, since our foreign affair departement discourages us from travelling in Georgia, supposing it's too dangerous. So we are trying to find a ferry which takes us in a couple of weeks to Istanbul.