Around the ‘bloc’ in 50 days | SierraSun.com

Around the ‘bloc’ in 50 days

Christine Stanley
Sierra Sun

Courtesy image

Touring Europe in the summertime with your better half is one thing, but traveling 2,500 miles through post-Soviet nations on the seat of a bicycle is quite another.

Truckee residents David Kahn and his wife, Barbara Kramen-Kahn, returned this month after a 50-day bicycle trek through 10 eastern European nations. The journey, they said, was both enlightening and unforgettable.

“You never knew what was around the next corner, so everyday was a new adventure,” Kahn said.

The trip, which began in St. Petersburg, Russia, and ended in Istanbul, Turkey, took the Kahns and 15 other pleasure-riders through cities exhausted by communism, charming Baltic towns, hand-tended farmland and medieval remains.

“(In Russia) the people virtually do not smile, wave, or even look left or right. It’s as if being invisible is a cultural trait, a survival mechanism,” wrote Kahn in a letter to friends. “(Then) we crossed into Estonia and the funk immediately lifted. The Baltic countries, new members of the European Union, have thrived.”

Traveling an average of 70 miles each day, the group spent more than six weeks to complete the route, finding time to dine, explore and meet new faces.

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“It’s a challenge to keep fresh perspective on what we see daily,” wrote Kahn in his letter. “The storks are a good example. For the first sighting, it’s ‘Look, a STORK!.’ A week later, it’s ‘another 25 storks today.’ On the third week, it’s ‘why don’t they shoot the damn birds. They’re as prolific as rats.'”

But as tedious as some days were, others were filled with fresh sights and new awareness, said the Kahns.

“The highs were the people that were on the trip and the people that we met along the journey,” Kramen-Kahn said.

The couple, both avid cyclists, had taken long rides before ” they rode across the United States together in 2003 ” making preparations and their recent much more comfortable, Kahn said. Taking on another big adventure in the future is looking like a good possibility.

“It’s as exciting as travel gets,” Kahn said. “It was every bit as exciting as I’d hoped it would be, and none of my fears were founded.”

Truckee residents David Kahn and Barbara Kramen-Kahn recently returned from a 50-day 2,500-mile bike ride through Eastern Europe with ExpeditionPlus! bicycle tours. To learn more about their journey and other international expeditions, check out http://www.expeditionsplus.com.