9732 km - Balkanski 2013
Having bought my first bike April last year,
I finally went on my first real motorcycle trip in August.
As for the route/planning:
No plan sounded like a good plan. I wanna see some of the Balkans, that's it.
Well, ok, I ended up "planning" at least some.
As in "what-countries-to-go-to-in-which-order", not that I'd sticked to that plan :lol3
According to my first estimates,
I'd be doing ~7000 km within 3 to 5 weeks,
which already seemed a lot, considering that I had originally opted to do the same distance in 8 weeks,
mainly trying to stay away from paved roads [due to a couple reasons I had to abandon the "8 weeks"-idea, though :cry].
Obviously I ended up doing even more kilometers,
going through Czech Republic -> Slovakia -> Hungary -> Romania -> Bulgaria -> Macedonia -> Albania -> Montenegro -> Kosovo -> [Serbia, more on that matter later :augie] -> Montenegro -> Serbia -> Bosnia -> Croatia -> Bosnia -> Croatia -> Slovenia -> Italy -> Austria -> Germany
The first day was a rather short one,
I didn't start before 11:30 AM and still didn't have to hurry at all,
as I stayed with a friend in germany instead of going to Czech Republic this day,
so the ride was pretty relaxed and I took some small roads through the german countryside.
A couple impressions:
<img src="http://img4.imageshack.us/img4/2003/9m1z.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img545/170/11m6.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
<img src="http://img12.imageshack.us/img12/3503/9fy1.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
The next morning it was time to say Goodbye!, not only to my hosts,
but also to sleeping in beds, at least for a couple weeks.
I was actually going through Czech Republic in a pretty good pace,
mainly because it's really not at all far away from home and I'd rather spend more time in the countries which are further away and thereby in a way harder to reach.
The same applies for Slovakia&Hungary.
Therefor I didn't stop for pictures too often and tbh the first couple days were more or less uneventful,
so I'll just cut these short by showing you some more random pictures without any comments:
<img src="http://img543.imageshack.us/img543/5651/5btl.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
<img src="http://img844.imageshack.us/img844/9774/9smx.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img809/5274/oorh.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
At this point I may add that (afterwards) I felt like I should have taken at least a handful more pictures during those first days....too late now, though, at least I still have all the tracks (I had a GPS tracker running all the time),
just in case...
At some point in Slovakia,
I spotted 4 guys on cross and trials bikes on the side of the road,
as they looked like one of their bikes broke down I turned aorund to ask them what was wrong and whether I could possibly help them out by offering them to use my tools.
As it turned out, three of them were from Austria (Walter, Andi & Horst) and they were on their ways with their local guide (Marsi), when the engine of the Ossa 300 gave out (major mechanical breakdown), so there was no way of helping them as I didn't find a spare engine in my luggage :lol3
Just because I stopped and offered assistance they invited me for a Kofola (a local lemonade) in a nearby restaurant,
while waiting for their guide to come back with a transporter to pick up the Ossa.
By the way, the Ossa is a 2014 Prototype, one of 5 at that time, the owner obviously got some good connections to the company.
Here's a small teaser :evil (crappy cellphone picture):
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img822/7356/lj0r.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
After Marsi got back they've also invited me to stay for lunch with them (yummi, Pizza!), meanwhile they told me how this was already the second bike they broke during their trip,
the other being a 300 KTM which they'd "dropped" on some steep hill, resulting in a broken tail and bent forks.
At least they got humour :lol3
While they ran out of backup-bikes,
Andi announced that he was gonna call it a day after lunch (thanks again for paying for my meal, guys :clap),
as he was just too exhausted from the previous days.
So Marsi, Walter and Horst headed out for some more, while Andi and me took some pictures and then split ways, too.
<img src="http://img547.imageshack.us/img547/703/qqkc.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
The same day I made it to Hungary,
but I had to resort to camping in some field, as there were no camping places nearby.
Of course, when I started packing up my stuff at 5 in the morning it was foggy and everything was wet and cold,
including my tent :doh
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img703/1047/vmsx.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Next up: Romania.
After kinda rushing through Hungary on decent, paved roads,
I finally arrived in Romania.
Gotta love the public roads in rural Romania :clap
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img199/7983/ibj3.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Some kilometers later the roads bot a bit wider and generally speaking a bit better, making it safer to go near the speed limit (90kph).
Just generally speaking, though.
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img716/5946/ri7z.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
See that stick there? That's all that you've seen coming towards the bridge,
if it weren't for that stick I'd have probably hit that with at least 50 kph as you couldn't see that the bridge had collapsed until you were maybe 15 meters away.
Talking about a friendly reminder to be even more careful on the roads in these parts :eek1
That could've ended bad :eek1
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img7/2696/1d5p.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Originally I had intended to try and go through Romania in close to one day,
after I had come to realize that this just wasn't gonna happen, considering my riding habits, and after reading "Fagaras" on a road sign, I remembered something about a sweet mountain road, called the the Transfăgărășan.
Have a guess where I went next :deal
After getting there at about 7:30 PM, I met two romanian guys on my way up,
one of them (Almos) spoke english
<img src="http://img836.imageshack.us/img836/5894/ic37.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Of course I directly asked where they were gonna set camp for tonight,
to which they replied something along the lines of "Somewhere along the road",
which was fine by me and we ended up riding the rest of the Transfăgărășan together and camping together,
including Dinner and a planned breakfast :freaky
The next morning, however, I was told that we had some visitors that night (we didn't pitch our tents and instead just slept under the stars), a Momma bear and their two cubs, who were after our breakfast, jsut leaving us some cheese :(
Now it's even known in Romania that it's hard to wake me up once I've fallen asleep,
as everyone who was camping around us woke up from the bears looking for food - everyone but me
The day before, after setting camp,
I discovered something that before this day I've ever only heard legends about.
I must have lost the Clip from my chain's clip lock somewhere in Romania.
Before anyone asks, yes the clip was mounted the correctly.
And yeah, I will still be using clip lock style chains in the future, I might carry an extra clip, though.
So a quick Ghetto-Fix was done (still holds up to this day, 8'000 km later), meanwhile the other two guys adjusted their chains' tension, using my tools
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img14/2425/a4u0.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Today's plan was that they wanted to ride the Transalpina, which I had never heard of before, and they invited me to come. Sure, why not?
And I wasn't disappointed, at all. We went up to over 2'000 m above sea level and were rewarded with a great view
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img41/245/wwyq.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Later on the same road we met a guy who reaaaaaly seemed to love my bike,
as it was time to move on we almost had to forcibly seperate them :cry
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img59/895/x3uf.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
After those 400 wonderful kilometers over the Transalpina and a couple tiny roads through mountain villages it was time to say Goodbye once more,
we quickly exchanged email addresses after dinner and went on seperate ways, I was heading south to Bulgaria, while they were heading north to get back home.
That's about it for the first couple days,
next up: More Romania and then some Bulgaria
It must've been around 19°° after we'd split up and I decided to do the Transfăgărășan again and camp in the same area we'd camped the night before.
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img580/355/b9bd.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Yep, right decision :)
Basically you got people camping all over the mountain,
on my way down I spotted a F650 GS Dakar and decided to check out if the owner spoke any english,
again I was lucky, he spoke english.
Once again, plans changed, I ended up camping together with Jakub on an altitude of 1'800 m,
drinking tea (he had a small camping stove with him) and exchanging stories and experiences.
At that time he was already on the way back home to Poland, he'd ridden down to Constanta at the Black Sea,
having about as much of a plan as I did.
He didn't even have a map to begin with, he bought the one he had with him somewhere along the road :lol3
By the way,
you got an awesome starry night sky up there,
the picture ain't the best, but it gives you an idea :deal
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img835/5475/5487.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
In the morning he'd offered me another tea, which I gladly accepted,
after all it was freezing cold even though I was wearing pretty much everything I had with me,
3 layers of clothes and it was still darn cold before the sun arose over the summit :vardy
Anyways - the view made up for it :clap
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img560/6385/ktz5.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Other than that a few horses were passing through the camp and a shepherd also came through with his sheep and dogs later.
By the way, the horses didn't really care about the people and cars etc. around them,
as seen around 8 AM, they were blocking the road and that one guy, after honking at them for a couple minutes had to get out of his Mercedes to shoo them away :rofl
Once again - time to say Goodbye!, Jakub was heading north to Poland while I was heading south to Bulgaria.
He left quite a bit earlier than me, as I was waiting for my tent to dry (it had still been wet from that one night in Hungary), but finally got to move on around 10.
There are other ways of experiencing the Transfăgărășan, by the way :evil
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img703/7791/o4xt.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
A couple meters further, however, I had to turn around as it got pretty gnarly, the boulders got bigger&bigger,
after all not a thing you'd want to ride with luggage and alone :wink:
Doug's Motocamp in Idilevo, Bulgaria.
On the way there I'd bought another 5 liters jerry can [I already had a small, 1.5 liters one with me],
just to be on the safe side, as my main tank only holds 10 liters, which isn't too much if do get into rather remote areas. FYI: I was mainly planning ahead for Albania, everywhere else it wouldn't have really been necessary with some planning.
Arriving in Idilevo around 17°°,
I was promptly greeted by Polly & Ivo as well as the other guests,
at that time a (french?!) Scot, who was waiting for the paperwork to be allowed to buy a house in Bulgaria, if I got that right, Andreas, a german who appearently is a regular guest with his XT600,
an english guy who had a house in Bulgaria,
later being joined by Tamara & Micheal, also from germany, on their HU hack.
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img713/6296/fw6k.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
I could've taken a room, but hey, I am travelling on a very low budget, camping mat and sleeping bag, it is.
The english guy [whose name I forgot :( ] said he was gonna invite us all for Dinner,
so we ended up having some great local sausage, fried eggs, cucumber salad, tomato salad and bread.
Thanks for the good meal :clap
The camp is pretty cool as well,
going from the interior ...
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img854/1756/e1iv.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
...to the "fleet"....
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img854/2690/khrd.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
...and of course, the people you meet and the stories they tell :freaky
Tamara and Micheal had already been travelling through europe for 3 months at that point,
all onboard their sweeeet KTM LC8 powered HU sidecar hack with their 2 dogs.
Naturally they had a lot of good stories to share with everyone,
in case any of you guys is interested, here's their travel blog:
They are about to start a RTW trip within the next 1 or 2 years, I was being told, by the way ;)
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img197/5451/v94q.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
After a great breakfast I did some routine maintenance work,
you know, the usual, adjust chain tension, adjust the clutch cable, blablabla
I had my own tools with me, but i still made use of their motorcycle lift, makes some things easier,
such as lubing the chain :lol3
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img812/1730/vyf4.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Meanwhile my (now clean) clothes and Camelbak had time to dry.
Not that I'd felt like leaving anyways,
it must've been close to 40°C that day :jkam
Gotta go - more to come, soon.
Keywords: Smallest mountain roads/paths, extraordinarily friendly people & Buzludzha.
Stay tuned ;)
Started to do almost the same route, counter-clockwise, a few weeks ago -but ended up a little different.
Thanks for the nice RR and beautiful pictures.
I am amazed as how light you travel.
Seeing your loaded bike, it's hard to believe you have camping gear.
Sounds good, I am going to be follwing yours, too,
after all I will definitely be going back to the Balkans :thumb
Thanks for the compliments :shog
As for travelling light:
More than just a few people I'd met on my trip commented on that, but I didn't really miss anything during those 4 weeks :dunno
Packing as light as possible was one of my main goals and I think I did pretty good,
I didn't take anything with me that I didn't use, other than my small first-aid kit, but I am not going to ditch that,
for obvious reasons.
I am here for holidays, not to work out by having to handle a bike loaded with about half a ton of luggage.
The tent I took with me is a Vaude Bivi, the sleeping bag is a High Peak Pak 600 (NOT made for cold weather, but perfectly fine for travelling in summer) and the camping mat is a Grand Canyon Cruise 3.0.
Again, the main goal was to keep it small, light&simple.
I stashed the most important tools in the engine guard and only had a handful of tools in the dry bag.
Other than that, I only had some essentials with me, a couple clothes to last for about a week (I had been to camping places at least once a week to wash clothes etc.), a first-aid kit, my HTC HD2 for navigation and my good ol' trusty Nikon.
In case anyone is interested, I must still have my packing list somewhere.
The tires I took with me were meant to go on the bike later on,
as I'd thought my current ones (an already used MT21 on the front and a new T63 on the rear) would maybe last another 5 or 6 thousand km.
It turned out that I didn't need those at all :doh
On the bright side, I do now know that they'll last for up to 10'000km and I already/still have a set for my next trip :lol3
It was about 2 PM and I had still been in the Motocamp...meanwhile Andreas told me that my next destination,
the "Spaceship" aka Buzludzha has just been cracked open.
FYI, the Buzludzha has been built and used for political party events by the former Jugoslavian Social Party
and had been vandalized by angry citizens after Jugoslavia broke apart and has since been permanently closed to public,
however, sometimes it's cracked open by urban exlporers,
much to the joy of people who want to take a closer look, such as me :evil
Around 3 PM I finally decided to leave and head towards the Spaceship this day,
my GPS wanted to lead me over what looked like a freeway, but I wanted to check if there was a way
that yielded a bit more fun, so I headed for the mountains to check it out.
My GPS didn't show any of the paths which I was riding on, so I just kinda had to guess which way was gonna lead further.
The first one turned into some really narrow single track after a while,
let me tell you, it wasn't too much fun after I realized I should better turn around.
Bad news is that it was either downhill to the left or uphill to the right, but after some "lift the rear to turn" action I finally managed to get it turned around.
Supid Idea to begin with, following some single track in the middle of nowhere in Bulgaria witho no one around and no idea where it could lead.
Lesson learned, after I gave the bike some time to cool (the engine got very hot during my "turn around" maneuver)
I rode back to the last fork in the path and followed the other one.
A couple minutes later this one split up again, in a small village and I figured I'd be better off asking for directions,
so I pulled in what looked like a restaurant,
turned out the be a hotel, but again I was lucky, both of the guys I found on the back porch spoke english :clap
Beforehand: I only wanted to ask for directions.
And stupid me left the camera on the bike, so no pictures for a while.
First of all the owner of the hotel asked me whether I wanted some homemade tea,
before I could even ask my question.
No way I could've said "No, thanks", even if I wanted,
on a side note he also offered me some homemade mushroom soup, which I had to reject,
as I had just had lunch right before I left.
After they gave me a chance to ask for directions, he directly led me to a big wall-map of Bulgaria and showed me some good routes to Kazanlak (which is close to the Buzludzha) and from there to Macedonia, where I'd be heading next.
He even offered to give me a map of Bulgaria, another gift had to politely decline, as all of those routes showed up on my GPS.
Once again, he asked me to sit down and wait for him to return.
Of course he returned with a soup plate :fpalm
Don't get me wrong, the soup was the best mushroom soup I ever had,
I had simply been overwhelmed by fow friendly he was, even though he was not exactly in a good situation.
One of the first things I noticed about the hotel is that there were no guests.
While he was gone and warmed the soup up, I had a little chat about this with his friend,
it turned out that the hoteal had just been built a couple years ago, but due to the current economic climate,
he simply didn't have any guests.
Not now, not during the main season. Not a single guest in a whole year :eek1
After having the pleasure to meet those great guys, who turned my "5 minutes to ask for directions"-stop into a one hour break, I headed back to the previously described "Freeway",
as there was no better way through the mountains, the path I had followed ended a couple hundred meters later.
One a side note, I experienced such astonishing hospitality several times, alone on this trip,
one of the main reasons why I love eastern europe that much.
Back to the main topic - the Spaceship.
I finally arrived on site around 8, with the bonus of being the only one up there at that time.
The walkway seemed a lot shorter and more fun, so I took this one instead of the normal way up to the actualy building.
Obvious why it's been nicknamed Spaceship, huh?
Time to get the flashlight out and explore :D
It really is a very impressive place, not at last because of the acoustics,
if you stand in the middle of the assembly hall, everything you say is projected back to you, just a lot louder.
Bad news is that the light in there was pretty scarce, so the pictures I took to try and assemble a panorama didn't turn out all that good.
Because of this, here's a video (not mine) that captures it quite well:
<object height="315" width="420">
<embed src="//www.youtube.com/v/dcnrLPNFJUs?hl=de_DE&version=3" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" height="315" width="420"></object>
The video was shot around the same time I'd been there, the starting point of the video is right where the current (or maybe former, by now?) entrance is located.
And a couple of my pictures to go along with it:
Both is visible, remains of the destruction and remains of the construction.
By the way, if you are in there during nightfall, it can get quite eerie, especially in the basement :uhoh :yikes
After getting out of there, I pitched my tent nearby,
for the next day I planned to meet up with a couple friends from germany who had their bikes shipped to Greece and were riding back to germany from there.
Stay tuned :evil
Hi TobyG, Great Adventure!
Can you share some info: what was paved/dirt road ratio during your trip and how you planed your route to stay on second mostly?
The spaceship is amazing! Thank you for the video and images. Safe travels!:freaky
initally I planned on doing 60 to 70% on dirt roads/offroad and only 30 to 40 % on paved roads,
but due to having less time than I originally figured I'd have,
It was more like 30% dirt roads/offroad and about 70 % paved roads :(:
I always "planned" my route the evening before.
For actual Navigation I used my Android phone and a traditional map as an emergency backup.
On my phone, I used two apps which both work offline,
the first one, called Navigator, is the one I used for navigating paved roads, it's a free App, using free maps (I used the Openstreet Maps).
The downside? It turned out to be pretty useless in Albania. All other countries I've been to it worked fine, but it had barely any roads mapped for Albania.
The second one, which I used for navigating dirt roads/offroad, is called "Soviet Military Maps", this App uses, as suggested by it's name, old soviet military maps, which even today are pretty accurate.
The downsides are: You have to pay for it in order to use it offline [it's just ~ 10 €, though],
no turn-by-turn navigation [you can set waypoints, then you'll be shown the aerial distance and direction to the waypoint)
and the files are HUGE, if you want the maps to be really detailed.
Hope that helps :thumb
Once again, ain't my video ;)
Always helpful, thanks, you too (Hey, I know you wanna see the spaceship yourself :evil).
Even though this trip took place in August,
a new (longer) already entered the planning stage, (hopefully) starting next February :deal
Time for an update.
After waking up early I headed out towards Macedonia,
after a couple text with Volker, one of the germans I wanted to meet up with for a couple days,
my goal for today was getting to Lake Ohrid on the Macedonia/Albania border, because that's where they figured they'd be heading.
FYI: There wont' be pictures for some time, once again.
Thing is, at first I managed to really cover some distance,
I suddenly encountered flooded roads in Skopje, which confused me, to say the least.
After all it didn't look like it rained, as the street was partially completely dry?!
On my ride through the city I encountered more stuff that got me worried, though.
Partially flooded roads with over 2 feet of water in the deep spots, uprooted trees......
Bad News: A huge thunderstorm was ravaging basically thorugh all of Macedonia.
Around 8 PM it got pitch-black and started raining.
I pulled into a gas station and tried calling Volker. Tried.
So, not being able to reach him and being "only" about 120 km away from Ohrid,
I decided to go on. Of course, no more than 30 minutes later it started to absolutely bucket down.
Time to pull into the next available gas station, order some coffee and try calling the others again.
No luck, though, couldn't get a hold of them, again.
It wasn't all bad luck, though, first of all the gas station attendant was a really nice guy and spoke some english (thanks for the free candy bar and the cheerful talk :thumb).
While trying to figure out what I was gonna do ( camping was an option, but considering the current weather and how ridiculous dark it was, not really a good one, but I was in the middle of nowhere, so not too many hotels around, either) a car with german license plates pulled in, one of them born in Albania, they'd recommended me to actually go the remaining way to Ohrid and check in one of the many cheap hotels there.
There we go, fill the tank up and head out to Ohrid.
I must've arrived there around 10 PM, after a short ride through the city (where I met the guy from recommended me to go to Ohrid again ),
I wanted to ride a bit further out of the city and find me a cheap motel.
As soon as I turned around it started pouring again, surprise, surprise.
After another 30 to 40 minutes waiting out the worst at a gas station and some croissants and more coffee.
Must have been around 11:30 when I arrived a good motel, I was one of the few guests, they had a wedding in their hall this evening, but I didn't care.
A warm, dry bed, a TV and a warm shower and all that for 18 €. I was a happy man, after this long day :lol3
The next morning I had also finally managed to get a hold of Volker,
who told that they'd pretty much left out Macedonia and went into Albania further south instead.
We came to the conclusion that we'd best meet a bit north of their position towards the end of the day.
You know what that meant?
Lazy day for me. I didn't get out of bed before 11 AM, because I only had to go around 150 km that day,
to get to our meeting point (which was changed a couple times, as their plans changed; I had no fixed plans after all, so I didn't really mind).
The first good thing on the road, shortly after entering Albania:
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img22/8003/h21x.jpg" width="1024" height="682"> :lol3
We ended up agreeing on the city of Berat as a meeting point
and I went through Elbasan and explored the city a bit further before heading south to Berat.
I took a pretty small route alongside a river down to Berat, which turned out interesting.
In between clay-like mud for about 3 kilometers which kept me busy, partially it was being prepared for asphalt, by using those annyoing fist sized pebbles as a bedding :puke1
However, I enjoyed the ride, but after a while I came to a fork in the road,
one way seemed to lead me over the river, the other seemed to go away from the river.
So I tried crossing it, even though I saw no bridge,
after riding almost 120 m into the riverbed (It must carry a LOT of water during the snow melt) I discovered that there was no way for me to get through that river, too deep, too fast and the embankment on the other side didn't look good either.
Time to try the other way (looking at my maps would be too easy, wouldn't it??),
this is where I met that guy right here:
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img33/8162/bkd8.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
He pointed me the direction of a bridge across to river, which would also directly lead me to Berat,
perfect, many thanks :clap
Once I arrived there I tried contacting Volker, but again, no luck.
No worries, they are probably still out riding,
time to go explore the city.
Did I mention that they got a pretty sweet old castle in Berat?
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img12/6880/n33t.jpg" width="1024" height="113">
(click for greater resolution)
After riding a bit further, my phone suddenly rang.
It was Volker, telling me that I just rode right past them in front of their hotel :shog
I turned around and -yep - there was someone waving :D
After moving into our rooms, everyone took a quick shower and we ordered some pizza,
we were the only guests in the hotel and had the balcony for ourselves, where we ate dinner and had some beers while watching the streets below.
There were quite some things to see,
from not-so-cheap cars driving down the road over and over again,
Mercedes, Hummer, BMW, you name it
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img707/9076/ic56.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
to kids throwing old tires on the street :eek1 and what-not-else.
More to come, soon :thumb
For today it was planned to do mostly paved roads as Tom, Joe and Volker had already spent a lot of time on dirt roads and only had about 2 weeks of time to get back to germany.
So we headed out towards Tirana around 10 AM, after having a great breakfast (that local cheese :tb ).
After about 30 minutes Joe pulled up next to me and asked whether I was aware that I had a flat tire.
No, I wasn't until then. Great, the one with the undisputably best knowledge of changing tires had a flat.
But, hey, I had already changed 2 sets of tires by myself and I had 3 "voluntary helpers" :D with me.
With instructions and help from the others we got the tube out after a couple minutes and I took the wheel to the car washing place across the street to get all the dirt washed of (didn't want to get that in the tire).
The guy from the car wash did good work and even had something to protect the bearings,
but as I wanted to pay him, he did not accept anything, no matter how hard I tried, once again, many thanks, stranger :clap
After patching the tube weh got the wheel back on the bike and the whole thing was done after ~ 45 minutes.
Would've taken me a lot longer all by myself.
A couple miles later I stretched the patience of the others once more, as I almost lost my spare tires twice (my fault, I didn't really tie them down too well and it was a bumpy track we took).
After all that trouble (that's not yet the end of it :puke1) we had some great views, though:
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img837/2882/jiew.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Of course, it would've been too easy if everything went on without any further issues...
next thing that happened, once again to me, I lowsided in a roundabout shortly before reaching Tirana.
There were two different surfaces in that roundabout, on the outside it was normal tarmac, on the inside it was some very slick conrete, though.
I didn't really come to realize this and BAM...the bike slid away underneath me as I accelerated out of the roundabout.
Lesson learned: Do NOT assume that conrete offers a good grip.
I could go on about blaming the road surface, but after all I could've (should've ?) known, probably my fault, then.
Luckily I didn't get hurt and the bike also only suffered minor damage, such as loosing my right hand mirror,
tweaking my forks (loosen triple clamps, straighten the fork, tighten them again - no big deal) and slightly damaging my clutch armature (only to be discovered the next morning - I could've fixed it, but Volker had a spare with him :clap, so no need to waste time fixing it on the road).
From there on we took the highway to Tirana, which ended in a rather amusing way.
Basically they just stopped building it any further in the middle of Tirana.
No warning signs, no nothing, if you'd drive on there by night, you'd might end up in the bushes ahead, while going 65 miles an hour.
At the end there was no fany off-ramp, but just a small, rough, improvised off ramp.
Maybe 3 meters long (while dropping 1 meter) and with a very tight 180° turn to the right :lol3
From Tirana we went straight to Montenegro, being winked through the pedestrain line by the border control,
they didn't even check our passports.
We figured it wasn't a big deal, as it was only the exit station for Albania, but as we later found out Albania and Montenegro got a joined border, well, who cares?
After a day full of problems and delays (full with problems and delays caused by me :deal),
we looked for a camping place and found us a great restaurant close to the sea and called it a day.
I was more than surprised that I woke up the next morning and their bikes were still there,
I wouldn't have been too surprised if they would've left without me after that hell of a day :rofl
Tom and Joe took a swim in the sea while I fixed up my bike and did some routine maintenance (changed my clutch cable and lubricated the chain).
This the day we all continued to be amazed by how beautiful Montenegro is,
considering that barely ever hear about that country at all.
Montenegro pretty much got a bit of everything, mountains, deep canyons, untouched nature, you name it.
Just a couple impressions:
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img42/4580/5xpk.jpg" width="1024" height="326">
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img69/9996/qmpo.jpg" width="1024" height="287">
Believe me, in reality the scenery is even more stunning than it looks on those pictures!
Riding on some tiny, beautiful roads through the mountains we reached Kotor after a while,
Kotor lies in a bay close to the croatian border, often visited by big cruise ships which dock there.
You see that small hill to the left of the bay?
We spotted a nice track going up there from our current position and figured we'd have a great view from there,
so we wanted to see if we can figure out where the track starts.
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img198/3049/6h0a.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Tom rather wanted to go down to the harbour and check if he can find a post office,
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img4/4301/2qx3.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
so it was only Joe, Volker and me who rode up there.
The track got rather rocky, narrow and steep towards the end, but the view was more than worth it :thumb
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img41/4941/8zxq.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
On our quest to find a camping place nearby, we followed the road along the bay,
maybe going a couple miles over the speed limit :rolleyes
Suddenly a guy on a scooter appeared next to me, he gave me a thumbs up and then passed me, going toward Volker, who was one or two cars ahead of me...wait....does his shirt say "Policija"...yep, sure does...
Looks like Volker is gonna get pulled over. Or not?
They started talking, while riding and the cop signaled us to follow him,
he ended up leading us to his house, inviting us to have a beer with him
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img832/7501/kpxm.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
He just finished his shift for today, he's a motocop, normally riding a 1200 cc Beemer,
other than that he got a small holiday rental in his house and a small carprenty in his shed,
as otherwise he'd struggle financially.
He was really nice and helpful, shwoing us some good roads nearby and recommending us a great, small camping place right by the sea :freaky
After we left we headed right to the recommended camping place, got something to eat and once again called it a day.
That's it for today :wink:
Nobody checked my passport at the Albanian border either :lol3 It's for sure hard to read their roads when they change so much random... Small delay is nothing really :1drink
I've been stopped in Czech Republic (not sure if I mentioned this?), but they only checked my papers,
asked where I was going and wished me well and then I had an encounter with another cop in Montenegro (more on that later).
Time to continue the RR:
From sea level we quickly rode to the skiing areas in northern Montenegro,
let me tell you it's cold up there http://www.f650.de/forum/wcf/images/smilies/cold_1.gif
All in all Montenegro is just a huge up and down, in a positive sense, mountains, sea, more mountains, more sea :clap
After a spectacular view over the river Tara and the Canyon it flows through,
close to Žabljak (no worries, pics will follow :evil ) the guys I was riding with decided to cross the border into Bosnia
that day instead of waiting another day.
I then followed them to the border and went back to the Durmitor National Park, taking another route.
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img824/1003/7ljg.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
From the bridge over the Tara river I spotted a small camping place right down by the river
and found the path going down there a couple minutes later.
Before I could make my way down there, though,
a group of italian riders approached me, asking about my tiny blinkers (road legal, though :evil),
so I had to prove to them that they are actually visible :lol3
Once I arrived on the camping place I'd spotted 2 other bikes there,
one from Italy, one from Greece.
The greek couple (Maria and Konstantinos) welcomed me right away,
so I pitched my tent next to theirs.
They also had a small cuisine on the camping place,
so we sat down there to have some dinner after I'd pitched my tent.
As it turned out, it was Maria's birthday the next day,
so we ended up ordering the obligatory bottle of wine http://www.f650.de/forum/wcf/images/...appybday_1.gif
The "not-at-all-false" smile picture :rofl
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img541/5402/2wfr.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
A couple more pictures of that sort were taken later that evening,
the italian couple later joined us for some more pictures :lol3
All in all it was quite an hilarious, great evening which also got me some tips for the next day.
By the way, Maria and Konstantinos originally planned on going to Croatia but have also been overwhelmed by
the beauty of Montenegro, so they spontaneously decided on just spending their whole vaction in Montenegro :1drink
Also Maria ended up paying for the whole meal, arguing it was her birthday,
well....shouldn't she have her meal paid for then :hmmmmm
No chance to change her mind, though,
so I gotta say it once again:
Thanks a lot :beer
Sadly they wanted to continue the opposite direction of where I wanted to go,
so it was time to part ways in the morning...oh well.
We exchanged emails, though :thumb
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img203/1772/kmyr.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
I continued through the fog shrouded Tara Valley:
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img10/20/upa2.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img109/3861/k6i2.jpg" width="1024" height="302">
A very cool scenery, even though it was cold and wet :clap
Shortly after taking the panorama shot, it started to drizzle :(
No worries, just zip those pant legs closed and continue.
Not even a minute later it really started raining,
luckily there was a hotel a couple hundred yards further down the road (Hotel Ravnjak),
I didn't have any breakfast, yet, anyways.
Time to sit down, order some food,
drink a tea and wait the rain out.
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img69/8269/93w2.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Nothing left to wish for, a great view, a small cascade right behind the bungalow I sat in ,
the food was damn good, big portions and the small price made it awesome (2,50 € for a big smoked ham homemade bread sandwich and potatoes, peas and carrots on the side) :knary :dg
A small history lesson aka talk with the owner was included,
appearently the guest house had originally been a hunting lodge built for a politician,
before it had been converted to a hotel and bought by the current owner a couple years ago.
The current owner immigrated form the Netherlands by the way, great guy, if you ever come through there,
make sure to stop by there, well worth it :D
The cascade (is it cascade or cascades??):
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img22/9569/a6if.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
The rain almost stopped after an hour, time to continue.
Another photo of this incredible area:
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img849/9455/um7l.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
From Mojkovac I'd been heading towards Kolasin, stopping by the Biogradska Gora National Park,
which had been recommended to me the day before :freaky
The Nat'l Park is a big lake, surrounded by virgin forest with only a few paths passing through.
I ended up walking all the way around the lake through the forest.
I am not gonna comment this any further, here are some pics:
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img809/2249/9p7t.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img607/1369/za1y.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img560/3389/lsup.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img19/5707/d8fo.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Through Kolasin I made my way back to the coast, riding through a small canyon
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img839/788/ge09.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
On the coast I went to a camping place,
promptly spotting three Italians which also just arrived there,
perfect, time for some bike talk :lol3
On this camping place they also had a small cuisine, eight down by the sea,
when big waves came in you felt it, it was THAT close to the sea :evil
As no one could decide upon what to order we simply ordered a big mixed meat&vegetables plate
They'd just arrived in Montenegro, coming from Albania and making their way back to Italy
(they wanted to arrive back home the next day)
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img838/5624/yaib.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
Aaaand another time my meal was paid for.
In exchange for it they simply wanted all the coins I had on me.
No problem :huh
Reason is they always had a ton of (somewhat worthless) coins left after leaving a country and gave all of them to one of them. Basically they just wanted to see how many coins his wallet could hold.
So I gave them all the coins I had on me, not worth much and a couple different currencies.
Other than that: Many thanks for dinner and the beers :super
After they packed early in the morning and left
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img600/8933/rrks.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
I went down to the beach and went for a swim, being almost the only one down by the beach.
<img src="http://imageshack.us/a/img20/1063/zxz1.jpg" width="1024" height="682">
I didn't really do much more that day, other than riding a bit further up the coast,
all the way around the bay by Kotor, booking into another camping place close to the croation border
and just enjoying the sun, lazy day :clap
Stay tuned for more beautiful Montenegro :wink:
It is good to see my neighborhood through your eyes :clap :freaky
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