At the border (again)

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The night passes quietly, without alarm, and so we can enjoy our breakfast (which, strangely enough, we had already chosen the night before from a selection of 6 different breakfast configurations) in peace.
Today the Moskva River in the Black Sea was attacked. I learn this while browsing through the current news. An activity that has become a habit in Ukraine in the meantime, to keep up with the latest news.
This brings back my goose bumps after yesterday’s wonderful evening and shows how unpredictable life in Ukraine has become.  The day before yesterday, we were chatting about the new stamp that shows the stinky finger of the snake island “defenders” to the Moskva.  I wanted to have one of those, but had no idea where to get one along the way.

Olpo wants to go to the Ushgorod car border crossing, as we are now driving virtually empty, but a long queue in front of the border shows us that the truck crossing is perhaps the better choice.
There are also a lot of trucks there, but we drive up to the first scale empty and therefore really cheeky.
I explain the situation to the first Ukrainian border official and after a few communication difficulties he takes us personally to the customs building.
We already know the customs building, but this time we are on the export side.
I enter the building and look for familiar faces, and really!
I greet the highest-ranking official from last time, who also happens to be on duty today (again in import), and that makes everything easier (not necessarily faster).
He explains the facts to his export colleague and in the end our case is again handled by 4 officials at the same time. Since all customs documents are of course only in Ukrainian, this is a great relief! 🙂

When all the data has been recorded, printed on paper and stamped several times, we are allowed to drive on. We are so happy that we drive right past the final passport control in Ukraine.
We only notice this, however, when Olpo gives the Ukrainian soldier at the last barrier the passport slip.
Thank goodness we don’t have to go back, because to our left is the no-man’s land between the borders and behind it is the Ukrainian entry control, where passports are also checked and the passport slips stamped. This brings us quickly back to the barrier and on – there is also a female soldier at the Ukrainian counter.

This happened relatively quickly compared to last time. However, we have not yet reached the halfway point of our stay at the border, but how could we know that now?
The same game begins on the Slovakian side. Here, too, we pass through several stations, and even the examination and search of the vehicle is fairly harmless (for a Schengen border). What is annoying are the waiting times, where nothing happens. I admire and pity the truck drivers for whom this gruelling waiting is part of their daily business.
On the other hand, we get to talk to them. We are obviously the colourful birds at this border (with the yellow transporter and the two motorbikes in our luggage), and so we learn a little about where they come from and where they go to.
In between, I use the regained EU mobile phone network (strangely, the time does not automatically move forward by an hour again, apparently it really needs GPS for that) for a restaurant review of yesterday’s Klepatch. I am known and feared for my harsh reviews gn..gn..gn , but yesterday was just great.

Finally, we crossed the border after a total of 4 hours (this time in the sun, so pleasantly warm). I used the time to look for a suitable place to park the van and hopefully found it. There is a truck car park about 200m before the border on the access road. We therefore drive past all the refugee reception tents and to this parking place. When we report to the counter, we are directed to a car park on the way back, directly in Vysne Nemecke.
So we turned around again and went back to the border, past all the tents of the refugee organisations to the car park.
Obviously, the lady there had already been briefed by the truck park manager. She doesn’t even ask any questions, but assigns us a space, then records the relevant data and lets us unload the motorbikes in peace.

While Olpo dismantles the number plates, I try to mount the side panniers on the Versys, but find that the left pannier just won’t snap open. Somehow the support frame is bent, it doesn’t work. We try various tricks to align the frame, but to no avail. Finally, we simply fasten the case to the motorbike with a tension belt. That will hold it safely until we get home. We leave some money hidden in the car, as the clock is ticking, and the parking is charged.
Alena will fetch the car, but when is still unclear.
Then Olpo says goodbye to his van with a wistful look, and we set off west.

It is now 2 pm (Slovakian local time) and we still have a long way to go (about 620 km and according to Google 8 hours driving time). First we drive south around Kosice, then into the lower Carpathians, and then south to Nitra.
In between we refuel once. And just before Nitra we fill up again.

From Nitra we part ways. I speed on the Versys on the motorway past Bratislava into Austria and home. I reach my district at sunset, perfect timing.
Olpo takes it a little easier, but he is also home about 1 hour after me.

At home, of course, I read the latest news.
The Moskva has sunk in the meantime. Annoying, I should have got the stamp on the spot, it’s probably worth a fortune now… It seems that I have also adopted Ukrainian humour, which can help to lighten the horror behind it.
And the Ukrainian memes are already on the way…

It is foreseeable that Russia will launch retaliatory measures.
The bad feeling is back…



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