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Old 07-13-2014, 03:11 PM   #316
RobZorba
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Mike. Here is a bit of an "aide memoire" for you. It's been my pleasure to say "Pershandetiya" (hello) to you and ride with you for these few days. I wish you "Kalo Taxidi" (safe tavels) as you set off for Macedonia and continue your journey through the Balkans and then back across Europe again. Great to meet Leanne in Skype calls, and shame about the "wide angle lens" ... lack thereof :-)

"Faleminderit" (thank you),
Rob
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Old 07-14-2014, 06:44 AM   #317
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Originally Posted by RobZorba View Post
Mike. Here is a bit of an "aide memoire" for you. It's been my pleasure to say "Pershandetiya" (hello) to you and ride with you for these few days. I wish you "Kalo Taxidi" (safe tavels) as you set off for Macedonia and continue your journey through the Balkans and then back across Europe again. Great to meet Leanne in Skype calls, and shame about the "wide angle lens" ... lack thereof :-)

"Faleminderit" (thank you),
Rob
It was a delight meeting you and riding with you Rob, I especially appreciated your knowledge of the history of the areas we visited as I gained so much more from knowing that.

Hope to see you in NZ one day.



(By the way remember that my ride today was meant to be less than two hours? Well 5 1/2 hours later I am nearly there.... Will update that part later).

Kind regards

Kiwi Mike

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Old 07-14-2014, 10:52 AM   #318
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It has been a long day on the bike. Google maps estimated the ride time to be 2 hours 50, zuMO suggested a different route that was shorter so I followed that.

Rob and I rode together for approx 30 minutes, we explored a side road that by the sign post led to a castle. It was a strange road, very wide, tar sealed but no one appeared to live on it?



It was in need of some maintenance, this is a sealed dual carriageway that is half covered by debris



Where the seal ended we continued and had the excitement (it was still exciting then!) to ride on a some Albanian gravel



There was this cool, soviet era(?) monument in a paddock though



My route took me into the mountains, following a river. The road surface in places was shocking, very, very rough tar seal (how I would have loved that later!). The surface of the bridge was so rough you had to ride from one side to the other to find a smooth route.





There is a lot of manual labour in the fields, groups of people tending the crops by hand. I found this sight that appeared to be from another age.



My route soon turned to gravel, awesome I thought, only another hour and I will be in Berat (yeah right)



The road then started to climb and the surface got far worse. I thought I was okay as this road was SH74!



Then the rocks / gravel finished and the dirt / ruts started!



Bike and rider cooling off at the top (of the first climb)



Nice lake



The route became like a enduro loop. Most of the way to keep control I had to stand, some of the hills really had to be attacked to get up the rock outcrops. Unfortunately I was not on a light enduro bike but a fully loaded 990! For 20 kilometres I only once hit third gear, the rest was spent in first and second. I stopped three times to let the bike cool down (had to move quickly at one stop when a dog appeared and took a dislike to us!). If it had rained I would have been in the crap.

I finally chanced upon a guy walking and through hand jesters he indicated that I should take the next turn left and that that road there would be smoother.

It was so good to see the seal that I kissed it!



I rode down the hill and was lost. I could not take the chance of being led back to that rough route by the MO so instead I decided to follow the direction of the flow of the river. All the time peoples warnings about bandits in Albania etc went through my mind.

I came to some sort of hall and stopped to ask a group of men (drinking Raki I think) the way to Berat, they indicated a way to go. Just as I was leaving one of them came out, to cut the story short Brazil was mentioned (World Cup) and then in his accent he started saying "Germany Germany". Now said slowly in an accent for a second or two it sounded like "Your Money, Your Money"

I rode the way they suggested but noticed that I was going up river! Luckily a car came along and through the drivers limited English it was agreed that I would follow them to the main road. Where I came out on the main road, after 4 hours riding, was only (by Google maps) 37 minutes ride from where I had started in the morning!

The Albanians are happy to give directions. Due to this new road my map and MO was confused and I ended up in a little village. One guy in a van stopped to help me and another guy came out of his house to help. Nice!



From there I stayed very much to the highway (although last 20km to Berat was road works, very rough and dusty)

I was very glad to get here.

By the way it was good to see that this globe in the city of Fier included New Zealand.



Tomorrow I head to Macedonia making sure I keep a better eye on the map this time!
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Europe trip 2014 http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=971014

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Old 07-14-2014, 11:24 AM   #319
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It was a delight meeting you and riding with you Rob, I esoecially appreciated your knowledge of the history of the areas we visited as I gained so much more from knowing that.

Hope to see you in NZ one day.

(By the way remember that my ride today was meant to be less than two hours? Well 5 1/2 hours later I am nearly there.... Will update that part later).

Kind regards
Kiwi Mike
Sorry to hear the rest of your journey today took so long. You were saying earlier how much you enjoy dirt tracks ... so the Albanian gods must have heard you . I couldn't find the "alternative" route back to Serande we talked to Veta about. 50 km after Girocaster I reached a different border crossing between Albania and Greece, then realized I was not where I should be either!

Eventually, I returned to Serande the same way we travelled together, past the Hydro power plant and the canal with the massive 18 inch high speed hump that tested your ABS. I hit it a bit fast this time and took off momentarily. At Serande there was only space for two vehicles on the 4pm ferry so I was lucky to get K9 on board. Anyway, back home in Corfu now!

I'd like to take you up on the offer to visit NZ in the future, and would like to keep in touch! I look forward to follow the rest of your journey.
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Old 07-14-2014, 01:53 PM   #320
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Berat

One thing, to share, that I saw while having dinner tonight. Where I sat overlooked the river and this sheep herder came down to the river, he waded across and all of his sheep followed. How cool is that?




Yeah I know why post with; no cars, bikes, gorgeous girls etc?

And there will be no sheep jokes either!

Kiwi Mike
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Europe trip 2014 http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=971014
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Old 07-15-2014, 12:38 AM   #321
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Those roads looked great
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Old 07-15-2014, 04:56 AM   #322
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Great report...more places added to my 'would like to travel around' list
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Old 07-15-2014, 04:59 AM   #323
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Tomorrow I head to Macedonia making sure I keep a better eye on the map this time!
Mike,
I have a track log on Mapsource for a nice track that I found in Macedonia near Debar and runs down through some woods to Zdunje. I think it's the old road before they built an easier tarmac one, the E-65.
I rode it alone on my Tiger800XC and it's a nice route, not difficult. If you PM me your email I'll send it through.
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Old 07-15-2014, 09:41 AM   #324
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.......

I'd like to take you up on the offer to visit NZ in the future, and would like to keep in touch! I look forward to follow the rest of your journey.
It would be great to see you in NZ Rob, we will keep in touch.


Quote:
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Those roads looked great
That rough road would be a lot of fun on an enduro bike. But on a heavy loaded up bike where if I had dropped it I would probably still be waiting for help, it was more of a challenge :-)


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Great report...more places added to my 'would like to travel around' list
If you are like Leanne and I, that list gets longer with the more places we go and the more people we talk to.


Quote:
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Mike,
I have a track log on Mapsource for a nice track that I found in Macedonia near Debar and runs down through some woods to Zdunje. I think it's the old road before they built an easier tarmac one, the E-65.
I rode it alone on my Tiger800XC and it's a nice route, not difficult. If you PM me your email I'll send it through.
I have just walked back from town to the hotel and for part of the way chatted to a Macedonian tour guide. She has suggested a different route to the main road to Skopje for tomorrow. To be honest I am a little "gun shy" to go to remote when I am by myself and don't have detailed maps or much mechanical ability. Thank you though for the offer :-)

Kiwi Mike
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Old 07-15-2014, 10:39 AM   #325
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Tuesday? It must be Macedonia

It was a strange start to the day, I really felt like I was a long way from anywhere and was worried about ending up on rough tracks lost.

I followed a couple on a GS out of Berat which was nice but I turned East and they unfortunately continued North.

I mentioned the state of the roads leading into Berat yesterday, here is what they are like for about 16 kms. Half of the road is dug up and there is very bumpy gravel to ride on. Of course anything bigger than a motorbike has right of way... so you are continually watching the road surface and also the oncoming traffic to see what direction to take.



And here is an example of a very pot holed bridge. Of course with the sides so close there is not much option on where to ride.



Two other observations this morning; first a woman herding turkeys across the road



Secondly igloos (what!). There are meant to be thousands of these dotted through Albania. They are bunkers and were built throughout the country, from 1950 to 1985, to help repel an invasion. They are made of concrete and steel and can withstand an attack by a tank.



After yesterday's navigation nightmare I was more aware of where I was going today. Unfortunately most of the place names on the signs weren't on my map (maybe Albanian signage verses English spelling on my map?)



Of course it didn't help when I got to Macedonia as I couldn't read theirs at all!



There was a nice pass to cross just before the border, you can see the top in the distance



Looking back into Albania from the top



That is where I am going, looking across Lake Ohrid to Ohrid



A couple more things, driving out of Albania I saw lots of signs saying "Lavahz" which had me beat. Then I sussed it, all along the side of the road, in petrol stations, at restaurants, or just on the road verge, like this one, are car washes. You can see they advertise with the water spaying into the air. Bizarre



I had a late lunch or early dinner when I arrived (it is easy to miss meals when it is hard work reading the menu and then ordering), as this report hasn't had enough food pictures I thought you might all enjoy the look of my banana split :-) My glasses are there to give a size comparison, yes I ate it all!



And finally wall decoration in the restaurant to help remind you to pay the bill.

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Europe trip 2014 http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=971014

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Old 07-15-2014, 11:49 AM   #326
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That Parkway biker bar in Bari has to have about the most elegant entrance I've ever seen for such a place!

Enjoying the heck out of your continued journey! Thanks again for sharing. I second your thoughts about the inadvisability of getting lost in inhospitable, rarely-traveled terrain whilst solo. Bad place to drop or get hurt.

How cool was it that an archeological discovery was made precisely while you were present!
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Old 07-15-2014, 12:43 PM   #327
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How cool was it that an archeological discovery was made precisely while you were present!
Yes it was cool. What they found was a piece of bronze (from what I saw, as they looked at it, it was heart shaped) from a statue or monument.
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Old 07-15-2014, 04:42 PM   #328
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Good stuff mate, enjoying the updates! Good too see some proper adventures being had

Did ask the shepherd what his secret was? Here in NZ we always have to chase the sheep to move them...

Cheers
Clint
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Old 07-16-2014, 04:05 AM   #329
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Of course it didn't help when I got to Macedonia as I couldn't read theirs at all!


You've probably worked it out by now but you get the Cyrilic spelling first, before the "dash", then the one we can read after.

Ohrid...........do take the walk up to King Samual's fortress. Good views across the town and lake.
Food...............try the B.A.D. restaurant. Best meal I'd had for weeks.


If I remember right...........probably not as it's three years ago...............it's just behind the green shades in this photo...
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Old 07-16-2014, 10:32 AM   #330
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Ohrid to Skopje

You would think that in a city with a large lake on one side and a castle on a hill on the other side that it would be hard to get lost when walking? Wrong! I lost track of the lake last night and embarrassingly had to ask a taxi driver which direction it was in!

Once I found where I was I walked part way back to my hotel talking to a tour guide from Macedonia who suggested a good route to take today. The route I followed was via Struga, Debar, Mavrovo National Park and Gostivar. A nice scenic ride with maybe 30kms at the end on a toll road into Skopje (tolls were slow as at two of three booths they wanted to know where I was from and when I told them was asked " what do you think of our country" quite cool)

For about 30kms I followed some hydro lakes, it was nice as the road was very quiet.



The second dam I came too, this was quite high



The national park



The Kiwi number plate attracts a lot of attention.



More cool memorials



I am now in Skopje (actually sitting enjoying a bottle, soon to be two, of the local brew, the label on the bottle says "CKONCKO").

As you may have picked I quite like statues and fountains and this city is full of them. Some are very new, this one was completed on 8.9.11 to commemorate 20 years of the independence of Macedonia. It is enormous, the sculpture and base (yes I have the info sheet!) stand 25 metres high and includes a spectacular fountain.



I like this fountain of women and children (no objections please to my choice of photo, I took one on the other side of a pregnant woman but it is not focused)



As I said there are a lot and they are spectacular. A couple of funnier statues, swimmers in the river (spot the feet in the water?)



When these two saw my KTM cap they wanted to travel with me! Unfortunately no helmet, no ride....



This is me standing on the stone bridge, built in the 6th century! No not sure what she is looking at!



Anne if you are out there a photo for David. I dropped some money in their hat, then spent the next 10 minutes trying to calculate exactly how much I had given!



Finally today I visited the "Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Statehood and Independence". You can only go around it with a guide so I paid for one. Amazing museum. What was funny often when I asked a question about the country today I was told that he was here to explain history and not answer political questions.

Tomorrow I am off to one of the newer countries in the world - Kosovo.
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Europe trip 2014 http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=971014
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