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Ride Report: Moldova

Wine

One of the highlights on the trip was to ride in the wine cellars of Milestii Mici. We had booked a guided tour at 11 am. I wasn’t sure how this would flesh out being on motorcycles – would the guide ride pillion?

On the way to the wine cellar, we got pulled over by the police. We hadn’t done anything. They accused us for being influenced by beer we had drank the night before. Obviously that was just a scam to intimidate us to pay. Once they noticed I had my GoPro running, they pulled Vova away from me as they didn’t want the conversation to get recorded.

We got pulled over by police who tried to intimidate us to pay.

They ended up leaving without us paying anything. There are different opinions in the motorcycle communities as whether to pay or not. While some say it is part of travelling and a little bribe money should be part of the budget, others are not willing to support corruption. I tend to lean towards the latter. Particularly when I know I haven’t done anything wrong.

As we had to spend time with the dirty cops, we missed the 11 am tour. Luckily we could get on the one at 12 pm. It turned out that a young American teacher and her mother was doing the same tour, but in a car. The guide was sitting in that, so he didn’t have to ride pillion. I was kind of relieved.

It was a fun ride, in the dark tunnels. There is a total of about 200 km tunnel system, of which about 50 is used for storing wine. The ride in the tunnels is probably 2 km.

The surface was slippery. There was this one corner were all of us had a fast front tire slip, but none of us went down. But it was one of those “whoops” situations.

Riding in the wine cellar of Milestii Mici

It was great fun riding in he wine cellar. Our guide was quite cool telling a lot of interesting stuff about Moldova and the wine production. When Moldova was part of the Soviet Union, it had a huge production of wine that was primarily for the Soviet marked. Today, it is exporting to all over the world, though it is not as known as French and Italian wine.

In the close vicinity to Chisinau, there’s a couple of large wineries, Milestii Mici being one of them. Milestii Mici is the only one that allow you to take your motorcycle in to it.

If you are a wine enthusiast, they are worth a visit, motorcycle or not.

At a gas station before the border with Romania to spend the last Moldovan Lei.

After the tour, we decided to head to Romania, and find a place in the mountains for the night. We kind of wanted to get going and cross the border before it got too late in the afternoon.

The border crossing would be a lot more busy, as this was entering the EU. When we got there there was only a few cars before us, so it didn’t take more than 45 minutes before we rode in Romania, inside the EU.

Romania

Maybe it is purely in my mind, but often when I cross a border, even the weather seem to have changed. I know when borders are along mountain ranges, that weather actually often change once yo are on the other side, but the border between Moldova and Romania runs along Prut River. And it is flat. But I felt the weather changed. Even though I have crossed a lot of borders over the years, I still feel a little anxious as I am getting putting myself in a situation where others – officials who does not share my interest of crossing the border – can give me trouble. I’m not smuggling, I have all the papers I need, and I doing everything by the book. Maybe that is why the weather appears better on the other side: as I am relaxing, once on the other side. I felt this even more when entering and exiting Russia, although except from the Finish officials who threatened us with jail, was relatively uneventful. That is for another ride report.

As we rode inwards in to Romania, the landscape changed from flat farmlands to more rolling hills and soft curves.

We found a B&B just outside the town of Iasi. It was a very nice place, spacious rooms, cold beer, private parking, bike wash facilities and working wifi, and a really hospitable host. Now that we were inside EU, there were no roaming fee, so we could activate data on the cell phones again.

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