Nothing much to tell about the sea passage from Batumi to Odessa, lots of time on my hand and not much to do except eating, sleeping and to catch up on diary writing. Time aboard was two and a half days, but the passage itself took only one and a half, the rest of the time consisted of waiting; for 20 hours the ferry lay off the port because the landing was occupied and 5 hours for customs. The entire process was a bureaucratic nightmare, first I had to get six sets of customs documents and copies of my passport and motorcycle registration. With those, one had to go back and forth between 3 buildings (on 3 opposite ends of the port area of course), to get rid of one set of documents and copies and collect a red stamp on the last exemplar which certified that I passed the different stages of entering Ukraine (vehicle check, identity check, environmental check … ). After all these checks they checked, that I passed all the previous check successfully and approved of all the previous stamps by stamping the stamped document for a last and final time (they sure love their stamps). With this blue masterstamp on my last document I was then able to exit the port and enter Ukraine. Sadly, at the last checkpoint, they took away my cherished document with the masterstamp that had accompanied me through all the ukrainian customs offices and the jungle of bureaucracy.
After all that ordeal to enter Ukraine I was on the way out again on the next day. Leaving for Romania with the Danube Delta as destination. According to the maps, there was a road connection from the town of Tulcea to Sulina at the Black Sea coast. And I wanted to get there on that road to take a swimm off the shores of the Delta. In the beginning, reality conformed nicely with the maps and I followed the dirt road happily, despite the grey skies and light rain. After a good third of the distance reality started to become non-compliant though, the road became more and more overgrown and even the tire tracks started to disappear in the shrubs. To avoid any trouble I decided to turn around (the decision didn’t come lightly, I still regret not going for a swim there), but at that point I already went to deep into the Delta to get off lightly. The continuous rain in the last few hours had saturated the soil and turned surface of the dirt road into some kind of especially slippery clay from hell. The following 5 km were pure physical and mental struggle, it took me two hours to reach a point where the road provided traction again. I walked the entire distance, using my feet as outriggers to prevent the bike from sliding away under me. The surface provided no traction whatsoever neither to the tires nor my feet and I had to pick up the Tenere countless times (honestly, keeping count was too much effort). In addition the road was on top of a levee and inclined to the left, only the grass at the edge prevented the bike from sliding down.
Completely exhausted I reached Tulcea again, found accomodation (owned by an extremely nice grandpa who allowed me to park the muddy bike in his dining room) and dropped dead. The weather in the next morning was warm and sunny, perfectly fine for a visit of the Danube Delta, feigning no responsibility for yesterdays events. I resisted and assessed the damage instead – a bent rear-brake lever which I repaired with the help of a local garage and a broken right hand guard due to a faulty design of the mounting point – and cleaned the bike. From now on, I experienced the occasional problem while switching gears, but the actual damage of this excursion revealed itself one year later, long after I returned from this voyage. One or several drops on the gear lever had sent an impact in the transmission thereby damaging a gear wheel which disintegrated after a few thousand kilometers and wreaked havoc in the transmission. Luckily, it held together for now and I could enjoy the following leg through the Carpathian Mountains. While they are worthy of an entire trip, you’ll have to contend with the following impressions.