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Old 01-22-2013, 10:20 PM   #1
Steve G. OP
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4 weeks, 12 countries, Central Europe

It's too bad that so many great countries are clumped into just one catagory [Europe], seems unfair.

And so I'm going to be renting a bike, early Sept,, along with 3 others, and leaving from Munich, we are making our way eventually to the Black Sea via the Transfagarian Highway, and circling south and west along the Adriatic coast, before heading north to Munich again.
We'll be starting in Bad Tolls, southern Germany, an hour south of Munich, where we have had good experience renting bikes from a BMW shop there, Martin BMW. For sure Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania will be on the route. We are a bit unsure about Burgaria, and Albania,,,,and also are wondering about the stability and tensions of former Yugoslavia. My neighbour escaped northern Kosovo for Canada with his family during the war, and he goes and visits during the summer, where he says that the Serb's still lobb the odd shell into northern Kosovo territory. I've been doing some research, and discovered that some of these countries are not yet members of the EU, which could run afoul of the rental agreement/insurance of the bikes, which must not operate outside of EU territory. Anyways, from Croatia, we will head into Italy, where our moto-journalist buddy has set up VIP tours of Ducati, Moto Guzzi, Benelli, MV Agusta, and a stop by to visit Pierro Laverda and Aldo Magni. After that, it's back to Munich,,,where I've also recently realized that Oktoberfest will be well into it's second week.
I'd like to request and advice/hints on this tour. Any must sees, and safety avoidances, and any thoughts on enjoying Oktoberfest while possibly having to travel a long ways each day to enjoy the celebrations.

Cheers, Steve
Vancouver, BC
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:38 PM   #2
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Sounds a great tour and hopefully you'll be writing a ride report when finished?

A couple of hints...the Italian autoroutes won't be the same as you're used to ...they drive fast and you need to keep your wits about you...you'll find out what I mean when the odd Ferrari etc scoots by,exhausts howling.

Anyway...

I use www.viamicheln.com to give an idea as to ride times and distances. Click on Driving Directions and enter your departure and arrival destination....there'll be several options to decide (to include approx' tolls and fuel consumption)and when the map appears anything highlighted in green will be a scenic route.

If winging it I usually head to the nearest tourist office to look for a place to stay coming to the end of the day...they'll usually speak English and can 'phone ahead and book it for you. They'll be listed in your GPS if you're using one.

If you can go see the Church of Bones if that stuff interests you.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedlec_Ossuary

There are several ride reports in Advrider also where you can see some pics also.

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Old 01-23-2013, 12:00 AM   #3
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Sounds like a great trip. I was in Kosovo in 2011; nice country but do not enter it from anywhere but Serbia if you want to travel back into Serbia and try to avoid the North West of the country, around Mitrovice. The whole area is cool but be careful of insurance costs in Macedonia.
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:33 PM   #4
Steve G. OP
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Originally Posted by Wildman View Post
Sounds like a great trip. I was in Kosovo in 2011; nice country but do not enter it from anywhere but Serbia if you want to travel back into Serbia and try to avoid the North West of the country, around Mitrovice. The whole area is cool but be careful of insurance costs in Macedonia.

Yeah, my neighbour's family and old homestead is just north of Mitrovice,,,,he told me he could hear shelling from the back porch last July.
When you talk of Macedonia, and insurance costs, is this because they are not a part of the EU?
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Old 01-23-2013, 12:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WIBO View Post
Sounds a great tour and hopefully you'll be writing a ride report when finished?

A couple of hints...the Italian autoroutes won't be the same as you're used to ...they drive fast and you need to keep your wits about you...you'll find out what I mean when the odd Ferrari etc scoots by...

Anyway...

I use www.viamicheln.com to give an idea as to ride times and distances. Click on Driving Directions and enter your departure and arrival destination....there'll be several options to decide (to include approx' tolls and fuel consumption)and when the map appears anything highlighted in green will be a scenic route.

If winging it I usually head to the nearest tourist office to look for a place to stay coming to the end of the day...they'll usually speak English and can 'phone ahead and book it for you. They'll be listed in your GPS if you're suing one.

If you can go see the Church of Bones if that stuff interests you.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedlec_Ossuary

There are several ride reports in Advrider also where you can see some pics also.


Thanks for the heads up on Italian motorways. I got a taste of them in 2009 when we were heading south towards Bolognia, and the bikes [1200GS] was totally pinned in top gear, and we were in the slow lane. Wow!
We will be winging it once we leave Munich. I'm assuming there are tourists offices in all of the former communist countries.
Thanks for the Michelin site, that's real handy for lots of things.
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Old 01-23-2013, 01:39 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Steve G. View Post
Yeah, my neighbour's family and old homestead is just north of Mitrovice,,,,he told me he could hear shelling from the back porch last July.
When you talk of Macedonia, and insurance costs, is this because they are not a part of the EU?
I paid €10-€15 for most non-EU countries (Kosovo, Croatia etc. and nothing at all for Albania) but Macedonia cost me €60 I think and even that after a little haggling. Can't tell you how great southern Kosovo was.
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Old 01-23-2013, 02:19 PM   #7
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I paid €10-€15 for most non-EU countries (Kosovo, Croatia etc. and nothing at all for Albania) but Macedonia cost me €60 I think and even that after a little haggling. Can't tell you how great southern Kosovo was.

Is that some kind of up front payment at the entry point into each country? Or is this an insurance rider on your own bike insurance?
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Old 01-25-2013, 01:01 AM   #8
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Sounds like a great trip.

For lodging ideas, you might check out http://www.tourenfahrer-hotels.de/. The website has many motorcycle friendly guest houses/hotels, many of which have covered parking. Sept should be a great time to do the trip, after the European holiday season, as you know.

If you are not staying in Munich during Oktoberfest, you might consider using the train to get there and back. Just make sure you all don't fall asleep or pass out on the way back . A friend of mine did the train to Oktoberfest some years ago and fell asleep on the way back. Good thing his wife was awake, no telling where he would have ended up...
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Old 01-25-2013, 01:34 AM   #9
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Don't miss out Bulgaria! It's part of EU just as Romania. It won't be a problem to find bikers to show you around.
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Old 01-25-2013, 03:08 AM   #10
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Normal insurance covers most EU countries except some like Albania, Kosovo, ..
At the border you can buy insurance for that country for a month.
Double check with your rental company if you are allowed to take their bikes into those countries when you do get an extra insurance for it.
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Old 01-28-2013, 12:57 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Steve G. View Post
Is that some kind of up front payment at the entry point into each country? Or is this an insurance rider on your own bike insurance?
Border.
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:44 PM   #12
Steve G. OP
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Border.

K, I get it.

The bike rental places I've chatted to have full comp insurance within the EU. However,,,,,in the Eastern European countries of Poland, Czech Replublic, Slovak Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, all the Baltic states, and all of former Yugoslavia [Bosnia/Herzagovina, Kosovo, Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, there is no insurance available at source to cover loss and/or theft. If there is intention to ride into these countries, we must put a bond on all of the machines to cover 100% of value.
So, I'm going to assume that this insurance, purchasable at each of these countries' borders, is for loss or theft, or as we call it here, fire & theft. I guess we may be looking at up to 10 countries where special vehicle insurance is needed,,,this could add up!!!

Interestingly, there is no mention of exclusion of coverage within Slovinia, or Croatia. This will have to be confirmed by us when we pick the bikes up. But it's not as easy as I would have thought, as I assumed all EU states were under the same mandate, and sort of included the "Schengen Area". I was wrong.
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Old 01-29-2013, 02:36 PM   #13
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K, I get it.


So, I'm going to assume that this insurance, purchasable at each of these countries' borders, is for loss or theft, or as we call it here, fire & theft. I guess we may be looking at up to 10 countries where special vehicle insurance is needed,,,this could add up!!!

Interestingly, there is no mention of exclusion of coverage within Slovinia, or Croatia. This will have to be confirmed by us when we pick the bikes up. But it's not as easy as I would have thought, as I assumed all EU states were under the same mandate, and sort of included the "Schengen Area". I was wrong.
Hello Steve!

My guess (!) is that those insurances available at the borders will ONLY cover third party damage, so the bare minium, because that is what is required in most coutries by law.They will not cover theft, fire or any oaccident damage to your bike. You will yourself find a way to cover loss of your rental bike and this could become extremely expensive, if you find an insurance company at all. Also be aware that traffic habits in countries like the balkans (e g Albania) absolutely can't be compared to those we are used to in Germany, Scandinavia, the US or most other countries. Tragically a member of my own motorcycle club was killed in a road accident last year in Montenegro, after having survived Albania on his motorcycle.

If you really want to do a trip in Europe with a rental bike I think it is better to stay within the countries of the EU, where you comperatively easily can get insurance coverage! There is so much to disocver in those countries anyway, that four MONTHS would be more appropriate than four weeks!

Also full coverage of a motorcycle in countries like Germany is so extremely expensive that hardly anybody signs for those! A full coverage for a motorcycle like the BMW R1200GS here in Sweden is around 5000SEK = 500 Euros for one year, if you are above 40 and live in a big city. In Germany you will need to multipy that rate with two, three or even more. And I doubt that they are easily available for foreigners covering several countries!


PS, five minute later...

I have done some research on insurance fees for the 1200GS in Germany. Full coverage is something between 400 and 1000Euros per year. There are many variable determining the actual rate, like your age, city of residence, how long you have had your license, how many km you drive a year, how many years since your last claim, if you want to use the bike year round or accept a shutdown over winter, etc. So imagine an unknown foreigner who wants coverage, not even a German resident, no information about his driving experience or training, going to countries which are known to have the worst traffic safety statistics of all of Europe. The insurance would charge the maximum amount for all of those factors and you would end up with several thousand Euros per year! Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt your driving abilities, but the insurances will!
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Old 01-29-2013, 05:57 PM   #14
Steve G. OP
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Hello Steve!

My guess (!) is that those insurances available at the borders will ONLY cover third party damage, so the bare minium, because that is what is required in most coutries by law.They will not cover theft, fire or any oaccident damage to your bike. You will yourself find a way to cover loss of your rental bike and this could become extremely expensive, if you find an insurance company at all. Also be aware that traffic habits in countries like the balkans (e g Albania) absolutely can't be compared to those we are used to in Germany, Scandinavia, the US or most other countries. Tragically a member of my own motorcycle club was killed in a road accident last year in Montenegro, after having survived Albania on his motorcycle.

If you really want to do a trip in Europe with a rental bike I think it is better to stay within the countries of the EU, where you comperatively easily can get insurance coverage! There is so much to disocver in those countries anyway, that four MONTHS would be more appropriate than four weeks!

Also full coverage of a motorcycle in countries like Germany is so extremely expensive that hardly anybody signs for those! A full coverage for a motorcycle like the BMW R1200GS here in Sweden is around 5000SEK = 500 Euros for one year, if you are above 40 and live in a big city. In Germany you will need to multipy that rate with two, three or even more. And I doubt that they are easily available for foreigners covering several countries!


PS, five minute later...

I have done some research on insurance fees for the 1200GS in Germany. Full coverage is something between 400 and 1000Euros per year. There are many variable determining the actual rate, like your age, city of residence, how long you have had your license, how many km you drive a year, how many years since your last claim, if you want to use the bike year round or accept a shutdown over winter, etc. So imagine an unknown foreigner who wants coverage, not even a German resident, no information about his driving experience or training, going to countries which are known to have the worst traffic safety statistics of all of Europe. The insurance would charge the maximum amount for all of those factors and you would end up with several thousand Euros per year! Don't get me wrong, I don't doubt your driving abilities, but the insurances will!

Yes, it appears that, as yet, no full comp insurance is available for any of the former Soviet Bloc countries. The rental companies want full coverage on credit cards to cover loss/theft there.

BTW, the insurance quotes you mention for Germany, and Sweden, seem like pretty good deals compared to insurance in Canada, which can easily reach $3000cdn/us per year. Yup, we pay big time!!!And that's for a guy in his mid 50's, with 30 yrs safe driving record and no speeding tickets.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:50 PM   #15
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Made a similar trip last summer.

If you're going to Romania for the Transfargarisan, you owe it to yourself to make a loop and do the Trans Alpina at the same time. The Trans Alpina is stunning and by far a better ride than the Transfargarisan.

Not sure on your route through Austria, but the old highway from Innsbruck to Bolzano is an absolutelly stunning ride. By far a highlight from my trip.

Stelvio is a must if you haven't done it before, and if your close to Bolzano, you're close to the Stelvio.

Enjoy the trip.
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