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Old 03-19-2013, 02:55 PM   #46
AlpineGuerrilla OP
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Yes yes yes - I feel bad for letting you wait already. Had some busy weeks lately but I started preparing the next chapter last weekend and hope to finish it this week. Thanks for your patience.

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Originally Posted by S7MAT View Post
In June I'm going around Montenegro Any advice?
I thought the Bay of Kotor was very nice and I wish to explore it more. The coastal villages and the two islands with curches on it looked interesting. And the mountains of course. If you're on a big street bike, the road from Podgorica to Mojkovac in the mountains is amazing. Don't forget to ride the Durmitor Pass. In fact, it seems like I can recommend you every bit of Montenegro.
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Old 03-20-2013, 01:21 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by AlpineGuerrilla View Post
I thought the Bay of Kotor was very nice and I wish to explore it more. The coastal villages and the two islands with curches on it looked interesting. And the mountains of course. If you're on a big street bike, the road from Podgorica to Mojkovac in the mountains is amazing. Don't forget to ride the Durmitor Pass. In fact, it seems like I can recommend you every bit of Montenegro.
Thank you very much!

Bay of Kotor, Durmitor - this is a must

Road from Podgorica to Mojkovac, that's road along canyon of the Moraca river, that's right? Also, I would like to see a bridge on the Tara river and canyon of Piva (closer to the border with Bosnia).
In the photo look fantastic

P.S Waiting for the rest of the RR
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Old 03-21-2013, 04:31 PM   #48
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Almost to Istanpolis, Constantinople, Byzantium, or whatever it may or may not have been called at some point in its long history. Have been caught up at work lately and was barely able to even keep up with my ADV RR subscriptions. Oh, how cruel life can be. But thanks for your interest, guys.

----

The turkish border is so far the most complicated on this trip. We have all the documents (passport, vehicle documents, insurance green card) and start at the first counter. The passports are stamped and we're sent to the next booth for vehicle import. It seems fast and efficient so far. Next stop is the goods import office where the officer has to decide if he wants to check our luggague or not. The clerk doesn't tell us where it is and sends us away while the next group approaches his booth. He's not willing to answer where we have to go and so we stand in line again until we have his attention and he points us the right direction, by now he is quite annoyed of us.

Easy peasy, all in all it took about half an hour and we're ready to ride on. Still a lot better than my dad who got caught up at the turkish border and put in jail for two weeks - while on his way to India in the 70s. Oh, different times.

Right after the border, the road becomes a four-lane road (and later a four-lane dual carriageway).



A few minutes of riding brings us out of the forest and the mountains even out into this wide plain. Niiiice. I love those landscape transformations. The road is wide, well-paved with little traffic and the weather is great. A superb moment to just ride the flow of the moment, enjoying the breeze and the smell of the dried flora.



Heading on the highway, we ride around the toll boths because we neither have pay cards nor is there anyone who sells them. Having a break somewhere at a truck stop, we make friends with this nice fella. Our family never had dogs, only cats, but encounters like this make me wish to have a dog someday.



This cheeky cats wants some attention, too, but is mostly interested in our food.



The traffic thickens as we approach Istanbul. There's another toll station shortly before we cross the Bosphorus and we buy toll cards with a few bucks on it. The queue in front of the toll booths is a huge mess as everyone tries to get in front. It's mostly too narrow to ride inbetween cars and when there is enough room, often it's because there's somebody on foot selling some kind of bread and water.

Suddenly, we're on the bridge spanning to Asia. Cool! Although it's nice to arrive here, there's no time to enjoy it much. We're both fairly free of pain when it comes to horrible and crazy traffic (Mailand rush hour or the italian coast roads in summer, anyone?) but this is like Italy on steroids. Even in traffic jams, it flows somehow, with only inches between vehicles. Spaces are filled quickly which leaves no room for prolonged judgement. The drivers love to use their horns and wouldn't miss a chance to honk at you. This all adds up to a nice overflow of your senses. And in all this chaos I have a rough google map printout in front of me to navigate.
We see three crashes happening in only a few hours. That's more than all the crashed I've seen so far in my 100'000km of riding.



We turn around and take the other bridge further south back to the european side.

Prior to the trip I've contacted a local motorcycle club in Istanbul, the guys invite everyone who passes through to their club house. They don't have a website, but they can be contacted through Facebook: istanbul bisiklet motosiklet ihtisas klübü

Since it's pretty much impossible to find them without a GPS, we arrange to meet up at a metro station where we will be picked up.

Upon arrival, I call Mehmet and maybe 10 minutes later he arrives on a scooter and takes us back to the club.



We arrive at the club house, thirsty and tired of the exhaustive ride through rush-hour Istanbul. After a quick shower in an apartment we rent closeby we join the crew downstairs. We are welcomed like long lost friends and enjoy a beer and a nice evening with the guys. Here we also meet Oliver (in the red shirt) and another traveller from Australia (forgot his name), the bloke in the background. They both have interesting stories to share. The australian just came all the way through southeastern and central asia to Istanbul and is now on his way to London to ship back to Sydney and his family. Oliver on the other hand started his ride more than two years ago while he was on a trip in South Africa. Up until then he's never ridden a bike before but when he met somebody travelling by bike he decided to do the same. Since then he's been riding around Africa and India, taking it slow. Reeeaal slow. He stayed in Istanbul multiple months and went to Georgia last fall where he stayed for winter. Now he's enjoying a two-months vacation from travelling on the Philippines and will be back in Georgia in summer. He's probably the slowest traveller I'll ever meet but he has the perfect attitude for it.



Spot the stickers.



Now on the next day we want to head out into the touristic center of Istanbul. Since I don't have a bag and I don't fancy openly carrying the big DSLR around all day, I leave it in the room. We take a tram to Sultanahmet and walk around the Blue Mosque and look at the Grand Bazaar. There, we buy a waterpipe and look for a quiet place to have a smoke.

It's a cats world. "These seats are taken, MIAU!"



Looking back, it would have been great having the camera with me, there are so many great photo opportunities in Istanbul. And after this day in downtown Istanbul we've only scratched on the surface of the surface of how beautiful and interesting this city is. In some streets it could as well be London or Berlin and other corners put you deep into the arabic world. It's true what they say: Istanbul is the most westernized city of the orient while also being the most oriental city in the occident.

Of course there are many people trying to sell you their services and stuff, like in every big and touristic city. But they're not obnoxious but try to be funny and cheeky about it. At one point, a dude sitting on a park bench wants to clean our shoes for a fee and starts insulting them as ugly and dirty. Or another guy selling ice cream punks a buyer by repeatedly taking away either the scoop or the cone with neat tricks and sleight of hand.

And when the hustle and bustle of central Istanbul becomes too much there are nice cafés, gelaterias, bars, etc. everywhere where we could just sit undisturbed and have a tea with a waterpipe. Oh, the tea culture.

With the evening approaching we head back to the club. The club is a bit outside of the center (but still far away from the outskirts of course) and we go to eat something with one of the guys of the club. He takes us to his favourite joint, but we arrive to a full restaurant. Istanbul wouldn't be Istanbul if they wouldn't just take a table and some chairs and put them on the street.


We really had a great time in Istanbul. I have to come back here, there is so much more to see, the gastronomy alone can keep you busy for a few months. We'll leave Istanbul with number two of two pictures I shot with the digicam.



Early in the morning, we meet Ahmed who opens up the club for us and leads us to the harbor. We take the first ferry across the Sea of Marmara to Bandirma. For the first time since Croatia, the sky isn't blue. Combined with the more industrious towns along the road makes for a rather dull ride. I hoped to have more sight of the sea but we have to take small roads away from the main road to get to the sea.





I'm staggered at a gas station, where the guy collecting the money just gives himself a tip by rounding up the total amount. Only an hour later on the ferry on the Dardanelles, a guy in no uniform or anything looking officcial approaches us and wants to see our tickets (they have to be bought at the office and you can't board the ferry without them). We tell him that we have to retrieve them from our bags but he tries to stop us and insistently demands money right away. We finally push him away to get the tickets and he stops pestering us, nowhere to be seen again. At the next gas station, again, I feel cheated of my change while buying drinks but can't bring the point across due to the language barrier. These incidents (among others) have been quite irritating and stand as a strong contrast to the otherwise great hospitality we experienced.



But now it's time to cross into the stans! Well, 'stan' means 'country' or 'land' in persian and the name Yunanistan is still being used in Turkish to this day.



The turkish way of watering flowers. I'd rather call id drowning.



Greece and Turkey don't particularly like each other, so the border crossing is made up of a lot of bullshit.

We get our stamps for exiting Turkey and go into the bank to change our last Turkish Lira into Euros. The clerk doesn't accept one of the bills, but since she doesn't speak anything else than turkish we don't understand why exactly. She just points to the middle of the bill (it is ripped half-way) and says "police! police!" repeatedly. We don't want to give up on our 50 Lira (about 27 USD) so easy and follow her "advice", thinking we can get an intact bill there. It doesn't take long to find the police buro where we try to ask them how we can change the ripped bill. A lot of gesturing and nervous calls laters someone speaking german arrives and we start to feel relaxed. But what he tells us is not relaxing at all. He tells us this is a forged bill and shows us an original one. It's almost undistinguishable, even the watermarks (see the glaring strip on the right) seem to be correct. Only the height and width of the forged bill are off a few milimeters. The questioning starts, where we're coming from, what we were doing in Turkey, where we got this bill from, etc. We're pretty sure we received it at the Grand Bazaar. The police officer ends his speech by telling us that normally, we'd have to go to jail but he's not like that. He hands us back the bill only to take it away from us again, ripping it apart multiple times and handing it back again.

Thinking that people have been arrested at the turkish border for less, we got off pretty good.



Between the two checkpoints, we have to ride through a puddle of something that should probably resemble disinfectants. I mean it would be disastrous to have turkish dirt in Greece!?

The greek side of the border control is a lot less smaller and only one lane is open, contrasting the five lanes on the turkish side. One guy has to do all the work, inspecting both vehicles and pedestrians crossing and is pretty stressed out. Right before it's our turn he has a heated argument with a pedestrian only to ask us if we have anything to declare, already shouting. Half a second later we still haven't answered and he starts screaming at us, repeating his question. Welcome to the friendly EU!

At a truck stop we meet this guy. He's drunk and can barely stand but he's pretty proud of his hack. He mumbles something about the sidehack being from a "Hitler motorcycle" like it was some kind of seal of approval.



I have to admit, it's a rather nice looking bike, but I don't want to see him riding it in his condition. But hey, at least he cannot fall over at a traffic light. He was nice at first but he got needy for approval so we left.



Finally, we arrive at a nice deserted campsite with a beach. It seems to already be off season so we enjoy the empty beach.










I'll give you a preview of the next update, since this wasn't the most interesting one so far. The next will be rather picture heavy and with some fun stories. I'll tell you why we are on the stage.

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Old 03-21-2013, 05:50 PM   #49
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"Not the most interesting so far..."


Hitler motorcycle. Hm, me looking for traces of bmw, zundapp, and the likes: no boy, Kawasaki. Yeah, right.
Bringing forged money to the border police. In full possession of inside knowledge of turkish prison facilities. Yeah, right.
Well as intro to a far more interesting post this is a sizeable hors d'oevre, my word.


Last time I was in Greece stray dogs were rampant, chasing and snapping at every wheel.
I wonder if that is still so. From this post I gather not so much in Turkey, correct?
Cats are very intriguing creatures, and I like them, a lot.
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:10 PM   #50
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We are on a mission, so we leave this idyllic place the next morning. We have an appointment with Martin (whom we met in Skopje) in southern Macedonia to attend a motorcycle rally. Well, sounds like fun.

We arrive in the city of Kavadarci just in time when all the motorcyclists begin to arrive.





Walking around rather aimless, those guys from the local club, the Tikves Riders, invite us for a beer and we talk a bit.





It's a party for young and old.



Soon our new friends invites us to line up with them in front of the city hall.



Our view of the crowd gathering.



A few minutes later, music starts and a school class dances for us...



...and then the local newspaper takes our picture.



The MC bosses enter the city hall to hold important peace talks about what the bad motorcyclists will leave behind once they leave town.



All the while we remaining folks get to pose with the local girls. She chatted me up all friendly and smiling but struck that serious pose once the cameras got pointed at her.



Asked about where to eat, one of the guys leads to the other end of town where they apparently have the best meat in town. We're also quite interested in Pizza Erotika. It's special features are eggs and sauge *cough cough*.



A bit outside of town, there is a place to camp for the motorcyclists. There's also a stage where a local rock band plays, loud as hell. Some guys with open mufflers join in the fun, park their bikes in front of the stage and let their engies roar to the sound of the music. One guy with a customised Honda Shadow just opens the throttle for minutes (!) until the bike is that much overheated, it only misfires (is that the correct term?), which is when he finally seems happy about the loud noise the exhausted engine produces. He repeats it multiple times this evening (and the next one also), but we are surely not the only ones hoping the engine finally decides to put and end to his torture.



With the crowd seemingly drunk as bollocks, a huge truck drives onto the place and some guys play tough guy trying to pull it. Boy, those balkan moto festivals are great.



The next morning brings us back to Kavadarci. There is a full-fledged festival the whole weekend, the motorcycle show the day before was only the beginning. Today seems to be more about cars.



Soon the hundreds of bikes line up to start the convoy through the macedonian mountains. The noise all those bikes with 3rd-party exhausts or no exhausts at all and with revving engines is immense. In Switzerland (or probably all of Western Europe for that matter) the people would think badly of 'those motorcyclists', but here it's a huge folk fest.



About a minute in front of the group are multiple police motorcycles, running oncoming traffic off the street rather aggressively, then just in front of the first bike is a police car, followed by the head of the Rally organizers.



As we pass villages, the roads are blocked off all other traffic so we can use both lanes. Amazing! The more flashy you, your bike and the noise you make, the better. In towns all the supermoto and sportsbike guys are popping wheelies, doing burnouts and other crazy stunts - all with the police no worrying about it a bit. It's almost surreal but I can imagine how liberating it has to be when once a year you can do this.

Taking a break somewhere on a mountain top. Most of the bikes are japanese, so Andis british Daytona got quite some attention, the MV Agusta of the girl here likewise (or even more ).





I hit up a moto cop to talk about his bike. He tells me it's a cop bike from Yugoslav times that is still in use and he starts to swoon over those good old times. Interestingly, this happened almost everywhere in Macedonia, where the Yugoslav times are considered a golden age. Anyway, I try to sweet-talk him into letting me sit on the bike (and probably take a goofy picture with his helmet on) but he wouldn't let me touch his sacred beauty.



One of the organisers hits us up for a chat once he sees our license plates. He barely speaks english, but he's fluent in french. He worked with french organizations in Yugoslav times and travelled to France multiple times so he speaks french rather good. He suggests we go visit a museum nearby. It is about a, or rather THE famous macedonian singer Toše Proeski. Doesn't ring a bell? We didn't know him either. He was considered the Elvis Presley of the Balkans and was popular across all Eastern Europe. He died in 2007 in a car crash, with only 27 years of age.

We pay a small fee and enter the museum. It's full of photographs of him, clothes he owned, his musical equipment, etc. For us, never having heard of him, it seems more like cult of personality, many things are only exposed there because he touched or signed them. Well, not to play down his legacy, he sure had some influence on people and the macedonian are very proud of him.

Unfortunately, they didn't let us take pictures inside, so here's a shot from outside.





We ride on towards Ohrid Lake. Found this picture after the trip on the official organizers site.



This guy was dry humping his bike almost all the time when riding through towns. Even on my four week long trip the year before I never became that desperate.



We check into a small hostel. Being able to take a shower after this hot day with only slow riding is worth a lot.



The french speaking organizer with whom we talked earlier advices us to register to the rally for a 15€ fee because he has a surprise for us.

With registering, we get some nice shirts, a participation certificate and stickers for the bikes.





Sitting around on the bed, I'm a bit afraid when suddenly Andi pulls out some rubber gloves.



It's only for pulling out the dead bird he caught somewhere on the road today.

But this still doesn't explain why he has taken rubber gloves on this trip in the first place.



Our view.



Good times - someone is happy.



We head out into the town (Ohrid) to grab something to eat and afterwards have a smoke at the seaside.



Incredibly beautiful sunset.





Now, we still have to get back for the main show. In the meantine, tables and a stage have been set up.



We walk between the tables rather aimless and look for a place to sit. It's already quite crowded so we're unsure where to go. Some guys wave us over like we were looking for them and invite us to their table. This is true eastern european moto brotherhood. The meal is included in the registration fee, but drinks are not. Do not worry, the Moto Club Djinka has plenty of it. The white pot on the table is a bowle filled with a mix of some high percentage alcohol fruit brandy and plenty of fruits. Delicious. But also very very dangerous.



A bit later we are called to the stage and receive an award. What for? Apparently we have had the the longest distance ride to the Rally. The guy on the right is our french speaking friend.

And no, I don't know what Andi is doing with his left hand. Is it pure enjoyment?



What would fit better to the long distance award than a worn out chain and sprocket?

The label says wer'e the 'strangers with the longest mileage'.



The night became long and a bit blurry, we stayed until the last guys went to bed and drank every kind of beverage with many many people. Naturally, it takes a while until we head out the next morning. The weather is again great, almost a bit kitschy, cloudless blue skies for days now. We ride south along Lake Ohrid.



At a gas station we meet some guys from the previous evening and they advice us to take a loot at the Water Museum (or something like that) along the road. There is a water museum, because Lake Ohrid has quite some importance. I could just paraphrase Wikipedia, but I'd rather quote it:

Quote:
It is one of Europe's deepest and oldest lakes, preserving a unique aquatic ecosystem that is of worldwide importance, with more than 200 endemic species. The importance of the lake was further emphasized when it was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1979 and when, in 2010, NASA decided to name one of Titan's lakes after Lake Ohrid.


They built some stilt houses the way they were built in prehistoric times. Pretty neat.











Walking around in 35°C heat in full black gear is exhausting so we decide to take a break inside one of the houses.



The road leads up the mountain. The signs promises quite a fun road.



We reach the view point on the pass. Lake Ohrid, we have to come back to you!






AlpineGuerrilla screwed with this post 03-28-2013 at 04:35 PM
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Old 03-28-2013, 04:33 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by Rango View Post
Last time I was in Greece stray dogs were rampant, chasing and snapping at every wheel.
I wonder if that is still so. From this post I gather not so much in Turkey, correct?
Cats are very intriguing creatures, and I like them, a lot.
Yes we had quite a few close calls with dogs in Greece, and to a lesser extent in other countries. But nothing too serious, I'm used to it from Italy. We had way more encounters with free-roaming sheep, cattle and goats. Oh and the bull that blocked our way was probably the scariest wildlife encounter so far.
Nothing like that happened in Turkey, but we were only on major roads there anyway.
I'm not really concerned about hitting a dog, they usually just want to hunt you, not catch you. As soon as you stop they are not interested anymore. The biggest danger in my opinion comes from yourself reacting startled to an approaching dog.

I'm totally a cat person, if there is such a thing as to classify oneself. Their grace and character is something to marvel at. But I am also starting to understand dog owners, with four-legged friends faithful to death. It has something very intriguing, too.
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Old 03-30-2013, 10:32 AM   #52
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Nice RR , thanks for shearing
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Old 04-01-2013, 03:38 AM   #53
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Great ride report!
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Old 04-04-2013, 01:37 PM   #54
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Funtastic as ever!!!
let me know when you come into my area. Sure we could enjoy some miles together!
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Old 04-07-2013, 04:06 PM   #55
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We continue towards the greek border. It's a quiet afternoon and we're the only ones at the border. After the macedonian officer checked my documents, I decide to ride to the greek border post (only a few hundred meters) with the helmet on the mirrors and, for this short ride, I casually store my passport inbetween my teeth. The greek officer laughs, takes the passport outside of my mouth and after a quick check puts it in his mouth to hand it back to me.

It's an 'effing hot day. Just as I pull the trigger on the camera, the display switches from 40° C to 39° C (102° F).



We changed our route quite a bit so we could make it to the macedonian rally and thus added more kilometers and gave up a day of rest. This, the heat and the alcohol-filled last nights take the toll on us. But taking a short nap next to the bike is surprisingly refreshing.



Rock formations next to the road on the way to Meteora.







Every other few hundres meters, there are these boxes next to the road. It's for good luck and sometimes people put letters with wishes inside.



Though you might want to be cautious with this one.



Meteora. Unfortunately we underestimated the distance and only arrived after sunset the day before. And there is now not time to explore it on the next day. Bummer.



The Katara Pass road. There is a new piece of highway going straight through the mountain, making the pass obsolete. It's a toll road and thus almost all signs try to persuade us to use the highway. We don't listen to them of course and enjoy the empty mountain road.



We find this truck next to the road and Andy investiages it. It doesn't look like it's from a crash but rather that it has been disposed there.



Due to the redundancy of the mountain road, it doesn't seem to be maintained anymore. It's in various states of disrepair, with a lot of dirt and what seem like temporary fixes. But it's quite a fun road with surprises like this.



Later on, we decide to hit the highway anyway. Why take a picture while stopping on a highway, you ask? Well...

Suddenly I realise Andy is not behind me anymore. I slow down but he still doesn't show up. If it were on a rural road, he would probably just take a leak - but on the highway? I'm a bit concerned and decide to wait at the side. A few minutes later he shows up, waving around what looks like my wallet. What the heck? Apparently, I didn't close my pocked well, so my wallet flew off at high speeds, scattering the contents on the highway. Andy stopped, took a u-turn and collected everything he could find. Luckily, there was little traffic, only one car passed during this time. This could have been a major problem if I was alone or not riding in front of him, so I'm rather angry at myself for something that stupid. But Andy, being the good sport he is, just triumphed that he is now able to stroke off another item off the bucket list: riding the wrong-way on the highway.



A few hours later, we arrive at the albanian border. I'm really excited to get back to Albania at this moment. I can't really say why, but Albania seems to have the most "adventure feeling" to it of the countries in this trip. Standing at the border I feel the same kind of tingling sensation in the stomach that I had at the russian border a year earlier. This mix of excitement, uncertainity and anticipation is what fuels my drive to explore.

Hello Albania! After a wrong turn, we ask a sheperd for the way and he answers with sheer enjoyment of meeting us, pointing us to the right direction. Shortly after, we arrive at this ferry (you might know from Top Gear in Albania).



It's a cool ferry, being pulled by these steel cables.



The passage costs 1€ or 100 Albanian lek, 100 lek being slightly less, 0.70 €.



With these bikes, we of course stand out like multi-coloured dogs, as we would say in german.







Arriving on the other side, we stop at the left side of the road to put our gear back on. A police officer, standing on the other side of the road blows his whistle vigorously and waves us over. I ride to him but Andy decides to play hard to get and puts his gear on as slow as he can.

With Andy riding the 20m to us, I try to ask him what the problem is. He doesn't speak a word of english or anything else, of course. Already expecting to be hassled, we realise that he's not a police officer but a hired security guy who wants to protect our bikes while we explore the nearby openair museum of Butrint. Well, that was funny. Something similar happened when I stopped next to the road to ask a security guy which way it is to Durres. Before I could even say a word, he walked away and wanted us to follow him to the parking place, again being difficult to persuade to listen to us.

We take a short stroll around the historic sight, but we are too exhausted and hungry to see more than a few ruins.



Every other kilometer, we see a campsite sign painted on rocks, walls and on the road, with distance indiciations slowly decreasing. We arrive at a small campsite and just as we roll in, a nice lady greets us and asks us if we want a banana shake. We feel welcome and put up our tents after enjoying the delicious banana shake.

And if you're ever in southern Albania, look for this campsite in Ksamil. The campsite is simple, but has everything one needs.



The town of Ksamil looks strange. The main road is newly paved and the only paved road in the town, there are no street signs, lights or access roads to the houses. And the houses are all either new or somewhere between unfinished and demolished. Only later did I find out what happened:
Quote:
In 2010, national authorities demolished over 200 illegal structures that violated the town's master plan and the integrity of Butrint National Park. Some remains from the demolished buildings have yet to be removed by authorities.
Article on Wikipedia



Albania is still recovering from communism, poverty and financial difficulties. Albania has some of the last remaining unspoilt coastlines of Europe and is now starting to observe what is being built. And that is a good thing in my opinion. Take the italian coastlines in some areas for example, it is heavily overcrowded and there are houses, hotels, campsites, etc. along the shore. There have to be some restrictions on how much can and should be built along the coast.

With albanians working abroad and bringing money back home, they of course want to rebuild their country and invest in touristic facilities. The potential is huge and the effects can already be seen in the city only 15km further north, Sarandë. Huge hotel and spa complexes are being built there, now catering mostly to Albanians living abroad or in the big cities.

It is interesting to see the investments into tourism. All along the coast, everyone we met was super friendly and going out of their way to help us. I hope this feeling, this 'atmosphere of departure' can last a while. Although it's on one hand a pity to probably see Albania losing its unique charm, but on the other hand I really hope for the albanian people to catch up to the rest of Europe.



Our crickety neighbour.



That's an interesting critter I don't remember seeing before.





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Old 04-07-2013, 05:49 PM   #56
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Do remember the Top Gear ferry.
We sincerely hope you didn't name a car a car in Albania.

The sad effect of Top Gear passing: the five legged chair of the ferry has been replaced by two plastic universal ones.
You sat on the original site of the five legged one and have the picture to prove it. Well done!

Interesting story on Butrint National Park and the ghost area Ksamil.
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Old 04-09-2013, 08:05 AM   #57
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Im going to Albnia in may, where is this ferry?
Great report!
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:16 PM   #58
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Im going to Albnia in may, where is this ferry?
Great report!
In google (earth or maps) search for "Butrint". It lies at the Ionian coast in view of the Greek island of Korfoe, though the ferry goes to a peninsula.
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Old 04-16-2013, 03:31 PM   #59
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The road along the coast is beautiful, seems to be paved only for a short time now and features some neat monuments along the road.



One of those "features" are the infamous albanian bunkers. Albanian leader Enver Hoxha (reigning from 1944 to 1985) had a plan to build a bunker for every four citizen. Conservative estimates say that there are about 700'000 bunkers all over the country - Albania is slightly smaller than Belgium or Maryland.




As we have been told, the regime used to make roads into the mountains to build the bunkers just to destroy the roads and any other evidence afterwards to keep the bunkers hidden from 'the enemy'.

Nowadays, however, they seem to be used differently. Money quote from Wikipedia:
Quote:
A few briefly saw use in the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s but their most common use now is said to be as a convenient place for young Albanians to lose their virginity.






Some very nice dirt roads lead to probably secluded beaches.





Landscapes like oil paintings.





At least here the trash is inside a container. But there are also many open garbage dumps out in the wild. In this heat, they ignite themselves from decomposing stuff and spread a layer of stench around.

Sorry, I can't ignore the environmental problems that are huge in eastern europe and I hope they will be adressed eventually!



The coast road later leads up to Llogara Pass that has also only been paved recently. There are a few RR here where it's still gravel. What a bummer, that was probably one of the last remaining 'offroad' coast roads in the European Mediterranean.



Also famous from Top Gear in Albania, the race with the police on this mountain road. Everyone in Albania knows it, we have been asked specifically if we know Top Gear by a few Albanians and they loved it. And frankly, Top Gear had a lot to do with my interest in Albania.



Some military memorial at the pass.



We stop at this turnout when we see this guy fiddling around with his Harley. He's ridden it all the way from the Netherlands to Albania and has clocked more than 200'000 km on it in the years before.

Apparently something's wrong, his bike is always overheating after 15 minutes of riding. He has no clue how to fix it (and so do we) so he just takes it easy, rides for 15 minutes and stops for 30. We can't help him and he's in the perfect spirit, joking about being stuck in Albania, so after a while he rides on south and we make our way north.





I always have to laugh, seeing the lower sign at city or motorway entrances.



But then - disaster strikes.

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Old 04-16-2013, 03:41 PM   #60
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Funtastic as ever!!!
let me know when you come into my area. Sure we could enjoy some miles together!
Sounds good! Where exactly are you located in Tirol? And the same applies to you: just message me if you're somewhere in north-western Switzerland. We'll have no problems riding those V2-650s around the place.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rango View Post
Do remember the Top Gear ferry.
We sincerely hope you didn't name a car a car in Albania.

The sad effect of Top Gear passing: the five legged chair of the ferry has been replaced by two plastic universal ones.
You sat on the original site of the five legged one and have the picture to prove it. Well done!

Interesting story on Butrint National Park and the ghost area Ksamil.
No no no, we went the other way and called them 'gentleman sausages'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rango View Post
In google (earth or maps) search for "Butrint". It lies at the Ionian coast in view of the Greek island of Korfoe, though the ferry goes to a peninsula.
Exactly! Thanks for chiming in. Why did you know, have you been there or is it the inquiring mind that already knew it?
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