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Old 09-21-2011, 09:59 AM   #1
Mifune OP
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Southeastern Europe to Istanbul

Hello All,

I'm in the early stages of planning a trip to Istanbul, starting and ending in Munich sometime towards the middle of 2012. Although I live in the UK, I've chosen Munich as the starting point because I need to fit this trip into no more than three weeks of travel and I have a secure private garage in Munich where I -- or anyone else who wants to come along -- can bring the bike down some weekend ahead of time. Here's the approximate route I have in mind:



I'm aiming to keep it under 5000km (3000mi) to average no more than 250km/day (150mi/day). The itinerary may change, but Munich as the starting point, Transfăgărășan Road in Romania, Istanbul as the turnaround point, and Croatian coast on the route back are the backbone of the plan.

I'll post more details and welcome suggestions as this all firms up over the coming months. My initial thought had been to do this trip solo, but I'd welcome others to join and put their own stamp on the trip, if there's interest. Time of year remains to be determined (suggestions?) and I could make it shorter or perhaps more intensive, but won't be able to take off any more than 3 weeks at a time -- that's the only hard constraint.

-Stuart
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Mifune screwed with this post 09-21-2011 at 11:45 AM
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:04 PM   #2
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Just came back from a trip to Armenia and came thru the area you show on the map. I loved Albania and Montenegro. I see you have a lot of coastal traveling. I got tired of that really quick. Very busy, lots of uninteresting touristy busy towns. Inland was a lot more fun. Or you could just get thru all of that quickly and spend some more time in Turkey. That would be my choice. Turkey is fabulous and you have enough time.

KP
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:58 PM   #3
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Thanks KP! That's just the kind of feedback I was hpong for. I've been of two minds about the coastal sections myself. A little probably goes a long way. I'd like to hear mor about your experience in Albania. The last time I was in the area - must have been around 1991 - the border was closed. I'll give some more thought to inland routes in Croatia - and also Slovenia, which I've also heard should not be overlooked. My original plan had been to come back through Trieste and Bolzen, but I've done that route by car many times and, although the Dolomites are beautiful, they're also easily accessible on a long weekend from Munich. So perhaps I'll simplify the latter legs and try to delve a bit deeper into Turkey.

Did you do any of your trip through this area on your own? Would you have any concerns about doing so? I tend to prefer being on my own, but also prefer to avoid the stupidly dangerous.

-Stuart
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:44 PM   #4
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what will you be riding, dirt or paved? I traveled alone and never felt any issues around me. Albania is rapidly changing I would imagine, and becoming like the other countries in the area.

I had originally planned the coastal route more or less like you. I didn't do a fraction of it. But it all depends on what you like. I like back roads with little or no traffic a lot better. They are around there, just a matter of getting away from the major roads and taking some side roads just because you see them, not because they go anywhere in particular.

KP
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Old 10-03-2011, 03:10 AM   #5
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Hi KP,

I'll be on my KTM 640 Adv, lightly loaded -- not averse to dirt roads, but not seeking them out, either. I've given some further thought to the itinerary and decided to avoid the Croation coast, except to see Dubrovnik. I will also be avoiding the Black Sea coast in Romania and Bulgaria, having seen enough Eastern European sunbathing for a lifetime already.


Quote:
Originally Posted by khpossum View Post
what will you be riding, dirt or paved? I traveled alone and never felt any issues around me. Albania is rapidly changing I would imagine, and becoming like the other countries in the area.

I had originally planned the coastal route more or less like you. I didn't do a fraction of it. But it all depends on what you like. I like back roads with little or no traffic a lot better. They are around there, just a matter of getting away from the major roads and taking some side roads just because you see them, not because they go anywhere in particular.

KP
So, as it's now shaping up, I'll be leaving Munich in June, avoiding, with very few exceptions, the major cities that I could reach by plane on a weekend anyway, heading East through Southern Bohemia, the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia, choosing the shortest possible route through Eastern Hungary to reach the Transalpina in Romania, then through Bulgaria to Istanbul, back West through Greece and Macedonia to spend some time exploring Albania and Montenegro, a visit to Dubrovnik and Sarajevo and then back to Munich via Ljubljana. Total distance covered approximately 3400 miles. Anyone who'd like to join is more than welcome.

-Stuart

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Old 10-03-2011, 04:46 AM   #6
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Hi Stuart

Just back from an Athens to Luxembourg trip via much of your Northward route. Make sure you get Green Card insurance for Macedonia. Insurance costs in Kosovo (Euro 15) and Montenegro (Euro 10) are very reasonable (Albania and Croatia I think confused my blue and green V5 document for Green Card insurance so I didn't have to buy) but Macedonia cost me an hours wait for the insurance agent to show up (at the border you're planning to cross) and Euro 60. Maybe I was ripped-off, I don't know. He seemed like a reasonable guy.

If it helps, I didn't like Ohrid so much but Kosovo was lovely. I'd also take a quick detour from Ljubljana via the Dolomites (Kranjska Gora- Vrsic Pass - Tolmezzo - Cortina - Innsbruck - Munich); truly fantastic riding.
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Old 10-03-2011, 06:58 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildman View Post
Hi Stuart

Macedonia cost me an hours wait for the insurance agent to show up (at the border you're planning to cross) and Euro 60. Maybe I was ripped-off, I don't know. He seemed like a reasonable guy.
Ran into the same guy probably. In addition to the 60 euro's for the insurance he also wanted 15 euor's as his fee. I declined and went from Greece to Albania directly instead. The border crossing is just a bit south of where you show crossing into Macedonia and from there to Albania. I am glad I did. I really liked Albania and no reason to get ripped for the insurance fee.

On the track below you can see I turned around at the Macedonia border and went South instead. Nice road to the Albanian border.




If you want to do a 40 mile dirt road in Albania then the following one is nice:



Not technical at all, but it will take some time. The 40 miles took me 4 hours. You will get in to some remote back country. I got it from a Horiznons Unlimited posting I can find again if you want it.

Montenegro: I would take one loop further North then what I think you show:



Very nice country, all very good roads.

For both I can send you tracks if you want them. If you let me know if you will be camping I can send you a few places that I would go to again if I were back in the area again.

I agree with Wildman, if you have an extra day to spare swing thru the Dolomites. It just doesn't get much better for M/C riding.

KP
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Old 10-04-2011, 02:55 PM   #8
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If one possess 'people skills' there are ways around paying extortions like ecology tax and non-existent insurance.
They just like to skin the foreigners and easy targets...
Please explain the "people skills" required. I'm interested to learn.
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Old 10-05-2011, 06:02 AM   #9
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Thanks, KP. I'll definitely bear those suggestions in mind. If you have a track for your route through Albania -- or any information about roads in Eastern Albania (where my map is completely empty), that would be much appreciated.

I agree with everyone that the Dolomites are lovely, but they are also an easy jaunt down from Munich and a side trip there could mean spending less time in some of the more remote places I can't so easily get to over a long weekend.

-Stuart
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Old 10-11-2011, 09:00 AM   #10
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As far as I know - and that is limited to Austrian/German Insurance - green card should be valid for every country but Kosova and sometimes they do not put Turkey on it - but would do it if asked, without surcharge.
Check with your insurance agent.

Otherwise sound plan;

I loved the road from Tirana to Elbasan in Albania, absolutely spectacular

We took the croatian costal road from Split, coming down from Knin and loved it; was preseason, though

See if you can fit RTW-Dougs place in Ildilevo near Veliko Tarnovo in Bulgaria in your plans, it's lovely
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by asphaltmueller View Post
As far as I know - and that is limited to Austrian/German Insurance - green card should be valid for every country but Kosova and sometimes they do not put Turkey on it - but would do it if asked, without surcharge.

This is my experience, FWIW:

My hugely expensive (100+ euro's for a month) ADAC German insurance did not cover Albania, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia, Kosovo, Moldovia, Macedonia, Russia, Andorra, Turkey and Ukraine. It left a big hole for SE Europe. Why? I have no idea, I surely paid enough for just liability insurance.

Turkey: buy insurance at the border, pretty cheap 20 euro's (?) or so for 6 months
Albania: bought it at the border, not too expensive from what I remember. Because of the setup, a guy somewhere in a back office, I am not so sure if this is std availble at every crossing.
Macedonia: extortion as mentioned earlier 60 euro's plus fees for a week

These are trhe countries that wanted to see my green card. Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia: I just winged it, and was not asked for insurance.

KP
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Old 10-12-2011, 04:26 AM   #12
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Thanks everyone. I've looked a bit more closely into the insurance situation and come to the conclusion that my current UK insurer, while bound to provide coverage within the EU, will balk at providing any sort of coverage for most of the countries on this tour. So I'm reconciled to dealing with this at each border.

FWIW, here is what the UK government (http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Motoring...nce/DG_067624) has to say about insurance coverage and the so-called green card:

Quote:
A Green Card is not required by law to cross borders within the European Union and some other countries. This is because all EU countries and certain other countries comply with the first directive on motor insurance, which says that every insurance policy issued in the EU must provide the minimum insurance cover required by law in any other EU country.

The countries that don't need a Green Card are:

Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

The countries that do need a Green card are:

Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Moldova, Morocco, Russia, Serbia and Montenegro, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine.
In practice it seems that some insurers on the continent, particularly in Germany, do provide green cards for countries on this list, but that is of course only available for DE-registered bikes. There are one or two insurance companies in the UK (e.g., Groupama via Carole Nash) that are said to have done this as well, but recent posts on other forums (HUBB) suggest this is becoming more rare. And, anyway, it's just not worth the hassle for me to change insurers to get a piece of paper that may not be recognized in these countries anyway. Sounds like Macedonia is the only place the fee may be excessive; but I'm not going to let that influence my itinerary.

-Stuart
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Old 10-12-2011, 04:34 AM   #13
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Camping & lodging along this route

Here's question for those of you who've travelled recently in this area. I'd initially planned to camp through most of this trip, but stories of bears, tics and bandits have made me think twice about doing that in Romania and, to a lesser extent, Slovakia. What are your thoughts about camping and lodging alternatives elsewhere along this route? Truth be told, I'd rather travel lighter without the tent, bag and cooking gear.

-Stuart
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Old 10-12-2011, 05:06 AM   #14
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I took the tent without cooking gear; used it once. If you stop anywhere up the East Adriatic coast, you'll have five people stop by in cars or on mopeds or bicycles to ask if you need accommodation. I usually found small but good quality hotels for 25 to 40 per night (my budget, may not be yours) including a half-decent breakfast in Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro and Croatia.

Someone will be along soon to tell me I was ripped-off and need to develop better people skills.
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Old 10-12-2011, 05:23 AM   #15
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Thanks everyone. I've been thinking about all of your suggestions and have updated my itinerary to spend more time in Albania and Montenegro, include Kosovo, skip Macedonia and Dubrovnik, add a loop through the Dolomites on the last leg (didn't add that much mileage after all). This route is now looking like about 3700 miles in total.


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