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Old 02-18-2013, 02:23 PM   #31
AlpineGuerrilla OP
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Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Basel, Switzerland
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Größere Kartenansicht

This is going to be a less picture-heavy post with a bit more words. I try to keep it short, so please bear with me.

It's noon and the sun heats us up rather good now that we aren't on the lake anymore, so we better get going. The road is under heavy construction and it's a mix of loose gravel with sandy patches (more like gravel grinded to dust) and sometimes it turns to golfball-sized stones flattened by the construction vehicles. After maybe 10 minutes we arrive at the small village of Fierzë. Together with our new german friend (the guy on the XT 500) we get something to eat in the local bistro.

The waiter is a young guy of 20 years max and he's not too motivated to serve us or communicate. So it's a bit of a roulette what we will get. After a greek salad he serves us a plate of meat. Before I even take a bite the craving for something to eat is gone. It's a huge plate of meat that smells horrible and is partly burnt. Still hungry, I decide to try it anyway and eat a few pieces. It's the worst meat I've ever eaten and we all only take a few bites... Judging from the bulk of meat we get, it's not meant that you eat all of it but to pick out the best part. Still, it's horrible. Interestingly, many wasps join in and start to cut and detach some meat and fly away. I've never seen wasps eating meat this vigorously.

After some more coke we pay and leave. Stefan is going north and we head south towards the kosovan border. I'm still hungry and we're low on drinks since there is not really a store to replenish. We are now on a twisty and lonesome road through the mountains. Nice!

On the 120 km to Kukës, we only pass two cars and in one spot we are 'ambushed' by three girls blocking the road. They're between 6-12 and try to sell us some berries they picked. We only have a big bill left and we're not too fond of the idea of giving them money anyway. But we have nothing else we could give them. Would have been great to give them SOMETHING, at least. If it only were a small toy, I don't know.

It takes us ages to ride these 120km and our fuel economy is bad on this narrow twisty road. With the last drops we arrive at a gas station that has no price posted and the pump only counting the amount of fuel dispensed. Again, a young guy not older than us serves us and dutifully calculates the price with his calculator. We give him a small tip and he gets even more excited than when we turned into his gas station. On the other side of the road is a small shop led by some kids, maybe 12 or 14. We buy some water and again they are very professional about the procedure. It's a great encounter but I ask myself where the older people are? Since the ferry we haven't really seen anyone over the age of 25, including us.

Would have loved to be able to show you some more pictures of this part of Albania, but I wasn't too much in the mood to take any.

A few clicks before the kosovan border we turn off the pothole-ridden road and onto a freshly paved, wide freeway. First, we stick meticulously to the speed limit until we are passed by a couple on a V-Strom with macedonian license plate. We keep up with them and when we reach the border we stop and talk for a while. We have to buy an insurance for 15€ that is valid for two weeks. It's a lot of money considering we would only just ride through the country for less than three hours. Martin thinks it's not a good idea to go to Kosovo ("do as I say, not as I do" ) and we should rather come with him to Skopje. We don't have any fixed plan and decide to go with the flow and join him. Aah, the freedom of travel.

He warns us that kosovan traffic is absolutely crazy and everyone is out there to get us. After we started it's obvious: it turns out HE is the craziest one in kosovan traffic. He races through rush hour Prizren, passes cars left and right, sometimes into oncoming traffic and on the sidewalk - with us closely following. Outside of the city we stop for a drink at a gas station and then we ride through the mountains towards Macedonia, now a bit more relaxed. We don't stop to take any pics, unfortunately.

"Been there, done that" shot at the border.

Martin and his girlfriend are just coming back from a trip along the croatian coast and we first stop at a supermarket to stock up on beer and snacks before they are inviting us. They live in a small but nice apartment overlooking Skopje.

Since he's just come home himself he can't provide accomodation, but leads us to the campsite at the other end of the city.

While pitching our tents, Andi hears a quiet "pfffffffffffffft"

We decide it's not the time to deal with it now but the next morning. I brought a tyre repair kit so we start to clean the "wound" and try to fix it. It works more or less but it's not good enough for the remaining trip, so we look out for a vulcaniser. I've noticed the abundance of vulcanisers since Bosnia but now there is of course none to be found. After some asking and riding from here to there we find one.

Beaming with pride I announce to my buddy while pointing to the sign "look, that means Vulkaniser, good thing I can read cyrillic, right?". He crushes my ego by pointing out it's obvious because there are tons of tyres piled up outside.

The two guys running the garage don't mess around and start to take off the rear wheel 10 seconds after we arrived. They seem to have never worked on a bike and start fiddling around with the chain adjuster. Andi intervenes in their enthusiasm and shows them the rear axle nut and dismounts it.

The procedure is well-coordinated and they fix the hole in no time.

They're fast learners and mount the rear wheel by themselves, only supervised by Andi.

Since their work was very good and fast we want to pay them a bit more. They charge 300 macedonian denar (the denar bills are beautifully done, by the way), that's less than five euros, for about 15 minutes of work. We want to give them 400 MKD and they categorical refuse the tip. We feel they are a bit embarassed by this. This is only another chapter of our awkward tipping attempts we had on the trip - that's something we definitely have to learn. Can you guys share any advice on how/when and how much to tip?

Hungry after all this work (aka riding around town looking for some tyres piled up) we call Martin since we agreed to meet for lunch. While we mount our bikes another car stops with a tyre slowly deflating making the infamous "pffffffffft" sound. Seems commong to have nails lying around.

First, some sightseeing. Somewhere in the city center: a big Alexander the Great (or Alexander III of Macedon) statue. There is some dispute about the name Macedonia with Greece, since Macedonia is a historical region bigger than today's Macedonia, including some land of Bulgaria, Greece and a small part of Albania. So the macedonian government puts up statues of Alexander the Great to reinforce the association of Macedonia and Alexander the Great. The Greeks are of course not happy about this and the use of Macedonia and thus Macedonia is officially called FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and can't join the EU until the naming dispute has been settled (which looks like it's never going to happen). There are of course many sides to it, so if you're interested, there's a huge Wikipedia article about it: Macedonia naming dispute.

Anyway, back to Skopje.

They love lions and we have to grab the lions ass for this picture.

Aah, the girls. They were kinda cute and I wanted to take a picture of them. I seemed too hesitant for Martin so he snatched my camera, yelled and waved at the girls to get their faces in the pictures. The camera was to slow (it was in the wrong mode) and it didn't work out, but I can learn a lot of the master of wooing girls. Oh, did I tell you his girlfriend is 20 years younger than him?

Finally something to eat. The table is never empty and every 30 seconds the waiter brings some more food. Delicious self-made chips, cheese-balls, roasted eggplants and some nice sauces like tarator (a variation of Tzatziki, but do NOT call it that) are only the beginning. We have a lot of fun eating with Martin. It's noon and we enjoy a beer but when he want's to order some stronger stuff for us we have to stop him. One beer is ok with this heap of oily food, but not more. We still want to ride in the afternoon.

He jokes about us drinking only water and points out that fish fuck in it. So what are we supposed to breath, not the air in which filthy humans fuck I guess?

Aah, great times.

With filled stomachs we head out on a small hill to walk around the fortress. Or maybe not. It's closed because they found new old stuff there lately and are now doing archaelogical magic inside the fences.

The time with Martin has been great, he showed us what real eastern-european motorcycle brotherhood and hospitality is like. He also invites us to join the Macedonian Rally in a week and we think about going there on our way back from Istanbul....

AlpineGuerrilla screwed with this post 02-19-2013 at 01:26 PM
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Old 02-18-2013, 04:57 PM   #32
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Considering your quest, PM sent.
Moriunt omnes pauci vivunt
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Old 02-19-2013, 09:06 AM   #33
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Joined: Sep 2010
Location: Tirol / Austria
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Originally Posted by AlpineGuerrilla View Post

Hope you don't mind if I post one of your pictures here for a comparison of colours.
no problem at all !

Originally Posted by AlpineGuerrilla View Post
(~ end of August/early September)

About a month later, taken from scotty's ride report

I think it´s a mixture of the effect the rain had and different settings of the cameras (WB, etc...)

Originally Posted by AlpineGuerrilla View Post
Your bike has a great engine, by the way. has yours... ( the best...)
RR to Montenegro
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Old 02-20-2013, 03:39 AM   #34
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Great RR!
for english version click on "english" on the categories column
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:32 AM   #35
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Great report.
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:06 AM   #36
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Keep it Coming!

Really enjoying your RR. I am kind of planning a ride to Istanbul from Germany for July, so paying close attention to your adventure.
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:08 PM   #37
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Größere Kartenansicht

Now quite a bit in the afternoon, we head back to the campsite, pack our stuff and head towards Bulgaria. Not a lot to report, the first stretch is a highway that transforms into a fast and fun rural road.

The bulgarian border - a EU border, but not yet Schengen (meaning, there are still passport checks) - is quite funny. The macedonian customs is cleared fast and efficient, but the bulgarian customs officer just sits there and looks at us with a grim face. I don't know what he wants exactly so I just stop and look at him. Then he shouts something at us in bulgarian to which I answer that I dont understand him, in english. He proceeds to shout at us getting more angry until he finally waves us through. Did he want our passports? Or anything else for that matter? Wasn't too important as it seems.

Jay! Another border crossing complete!

We continue on a more or less good rural road and stop to make breaks at turnoffs to cool roads like this.

Roadside attractions. I like the details in the face and the head lamp but I'm not sure if that's a seat or if he is just happy to see us.

How great it would be to have roads like this in Switzerland that you are actually allowed to ride on...

The sun is setting fast and we have neither something to eat nor an idea where we will sleep.

We reach Radomir, an industrial city outside of Sofia. We look for a bankomat (ATM) but aren't sure how much money we should get. After all these Marks, Denars, Kunas and Leks we have no idea what this money is worth. Should we get 100? 1000? 10'000? We decide to go for the second-highest recommendation the bankomat makes.

We park at an old store with socialist appeal to buy something for dinner. When I get inside, I realise that it's one of those stores where you have to order everything you want. I go in and ask if they speak russian - Da. I ask for bread - U vas yest chleb? She just shakes her head. Well, it was supposed to be a rhetorical questions since I saw the bread behind her but don't know how to order bread in russian yet. So I point to the bread and ask if that's not bread. She shakes her head again but puts in on the counter and tells me how much it costs. What the hell is going on here?

Finally it dawns on me that in Bulgaria shaking your head means Yes and nodding means No. I've read about it beforehand but totally forgot it. Well, now buying the stuff should be easy. Next, we want some cheese!

Now I ask "U vas yest syr" - do you have cheese? She nods. Damn, they don't have cheese. But she points to some cheese in one of the fridges. Well great, she switched to non-bulgarian nodding=yes and headshaking=no for the bloody tourist. Shit just got more confusing. In the end I get enough for our dinner and I can finally leave this culture clash hell.

Outside, a few people have gathered to have a look at the bikes. Some young women with their children are close-by and when I start my engine I wave at some kids of maybe 8-10 years to come and twist the throttle. The oldest, a girl, is the least hesitant and grabs the throttle and accelerates the engine into the limiter. Now, a younger boy gathers all his courage and wants to try it, too. He's very gentle and slowly pushes the revs up, like he already knows how to treat a bike engine.

After these fun encounters we head out of the city and take a few small roads to look for a wild camping spot. We have to backtrack sometimes but end up on an open field where we finally pitch our tents and eat our well-deserverd meal.

The day dawns and off we are. We want to reach the black sea today to get a days rest at the beach. We hit the freeway for a few hours.

Reaching Burgas, we look for the black sea and find some interesting monuments on the way.

A bit further south, in Sozopol, we find a campsite right at the beach.

Bulgaria so far reminded me of Russia in some aspects. The roads and cities have a similar layout and architecture and many monuments roam the street. Not as big as in Russia, but there are some cool monuments.

After pitching tents we head into Sozopol itself. On the way, we pick up an american backpacker, who starts to study in Bulgaria in a few weeks. Another one crossed off the bucket list: pick up a hitchiker on the bike (with no helmet of course).

Trying to find a place to grab something for our hungry bellies, we end up riding through a pedestrian zone. We only get interested looks and this guy would, if we were in Switzerland, take the picture not for himself but to have a proof for the police.

Nice sunset at the beach..

We sleep long the next day, go for some swimming and generally take it easy. On a short ride to get some lunch, the FI-indicator lights up. Back at the camp we want to find out why.

If you want some tools to work on the Daytona 675, you just have to unlock the front seat with the key...

...and under it, you find a hex key.

With this hex key you can unscrew the back seat, where you'll find a screw driver. It's really practical!

When turning the ignition, we hear a buzz coming somewhere from under the fairing. It's the exhaust combustion control system (or how do you call it in english?) trying to initialize. We find the bowden cable broken.

We ask our neighbours, a couple from Moscow, if they could help us. Dmitry is working as a car mechanic and has quite a tool set on board, but no appropriate bowden cable. He is swearing badly and tells us that we should buy a transporter like he has, it's much better to carry all your stuff to where you want to go and make holidays and it's easy to fix. We decide he is right and the Daytona is not fixable. We ditch it and I bring Andi to the airport, trip is over.

Just kidding. The Triumph has a little less power now and we won't see if there is a serious error that the FI-indicator wants to show, but who cares? The closest Triumph dealer is at least 1000km away.

Dmitry, who we can now call Dima, invites us to some roasted peanuts and watermelon and we talk in russenglish about motorcycling, travel and Russia. He tells us he has a 'Kharley Davidson'. It's a lot of fun. We exchange our mail addresses with Dima and Marija and are we will hopefully visit them in Moscow this summer.

She's hesitant but he want's to have a good picture of both of them.

We decide to spoil ourselves some more in the evening and go out to eat. And to show it to everyone that we are tourists I take a picture of the food with a bright flash.

Another great sunset at the beach.

Todays destination: Istanbul! We head south towards the turkish border. Autumn is now definitely arriving in the forest.

The first sign indicating Istanbul. We're getting close!

AlpineGuerrilla screwed with this post 02-21-2013 at 02:15 PM
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Old 02-21-2013, 02:39 PM   #38
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This is really great!! Thank you for taking the time to post this!!
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:51 AM   #39
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Great stuff Many thanks


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Old 02-22-2013, 02:26 AM   #40
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Seeing a lot of the sames road I travelled a few years ago, beautiful part of the world the balkans. I the we may have been approached by the same woman in pluzine with the appartment to rent. Fit woman in her early 40's with long black hair? I ended up staying there for 10 euros (midweek in september or october and I didn't see it before I stayed there). Ended up being a really nice place to stay, ended up there for 2 nights as I forgot all my drying laundry after getting most way up Durmitor (on a bicycle). Beautiful and interesting road up to durmitor.
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Old 02-22-2013, 09:00 AM   #41
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Excellent ride report mate ! As usual...
-zie egret.
Mads Mikkelsen - '' I'm a beer man. I tried to drink whiskey and Scotch but I don't get it. It smells like a girl who didn't shower and just splashed a lot of perfume on . ''
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Unknown - '' I've learned to give away not because I have too much but because I know how is to have nothing . ''
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Old 02-22-2013, 10:11 AM   #42
In rust we trust....
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Thumb Cool!

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Old 02-22-2013, 12:20 PM   #43
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I really like your ride reports [Murmansk to Norway and this]. Great pics and very nice video!

In June I'm going around Montenegro Any advice?

A Nordkapp it for me for a long time, such is my little "motorcycle dream".

"Journey, not a destination" R.W. Emerson
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Old 03-05-2013, 04:51 PM   #44
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giving it a deserved bump

Almost to Istanpolis...
we're hungry for what happened next

whenever you're ready...
Moriunt omnes pauci vivunt
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Old 03-18-2013, 10:29 PM   #45
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And another bump...

Ooh common, you can't bring us such a fascinating report with great pictures and then suddenly keep silent!

Really like your ride reports, also the russian-norwegian one. So please keep up the good work and finish this!!
Adventure begins where plans fall apart.
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