|05-31-2013, 08:52 AM||#76|
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Karlsruhe, Germany
(I guess you do, based on you location ...)
|05-31-2013, 01:47 PM||#77|
Joined: Jul 2010
I had a good night sleep, more hours then i had in a long time. I packed my bags and checked out of the hotel. Before i left Turkey my stepdad gave me a 500 Euro note.
The biggest note i have ever seen. Problem with it is that no one wanted to touch it or able break it into smaller notes. The hotel took it and i was finally able to spilt it into lesser notes, but they had to open the vault to have enough.
Today i did not have much plans. My original plans was to visit Athen but i decided to skip it and find something else to do. Somewhere i had read about some monasteries in a area called Meteora and as it was not much of a detour from my route west in Greece i decided to go see them. Tonight i wanted to reach the west coast of Greece and find a campsite close to the beach. Maybe i would finally be able to go for a swim to cool down. I found a border crossing on the map i wanted to use to cross into Albania. The route to Meteora would also take me close to Mount Olympus, a mountain reaching 2.917m.
I left the hotel and in the next street i found the whole street had shops selling military surplus gear. So my first stop was 1 min after leaving the hotel. I spent a bit of money there and talked to several of the shop owners.
Parking is only limited by your imagination.
Leaving Thessaloniki i could already see Mount Olympus and its snow covered peaks.
MY first real stop was at Olympus service station and i bought myself a tasty sandwich.
27C for some reeason i dont belive that.
This is more belivable, this one was taken about 1 hour later.
The road going up into the mountains was a beautiful ride.
See that dirt trail going up there? where is Dickybs bike when you need it.
Road was going thru several small towns and here i had a close call. A car hit the brakes in front of me and when i did the same there was no grip at all. Im glad i have abs. The tarmac in Greece was the most slippery i had encountered on the whole ride so far. Specially if its wet, but also while dry.
Maybe i should get me one of these on the slippery roads.
The road took me over a couple of mountains and after a couple of hours the landscape changed and i saw the first cliffs.
They looked like they did not belong in this landscape as everything else around there was so different.
I reached the town Kalabaka in Meteora.
I needed a drink so pulled over beside a BMW1200 GS and meet a nice couple from Germany. We sat down for about a hour chatting about our travels. We also had a look at our maps and found out what the route was to see the monasteries.
We set off at the same time but as he had a camera girl and i didn't and had to stop to take pictures we soon lost contact. I told them about adv rider so they might be reading this. If so it was nice to meet you.
Meteora was unreal, not like anything i have ever seen before. There is a total of 6 monasteries and one of the largest and most important in Greece, second only to Mount Athos. Its also a Unesco World Heritage Site.
The monasteries was impressive and looked unreal built on top of these high cliffs. But there was one cliff that got my attention. It was a tall cliff and there was no building on top of it, but in the side there was a tall cave in the side with wooden structures inside it.
The monasteries there was lots of information but this cave i found nothing.
I asked a old lady i bought some water from and her face turned serious and she almost whispered: in the old days not all men are good, some want to take away from monasteries. Her english was not good enough to explain in detail so if anyone have any info on this cave i would love to hear what it is.
I spent a couple of hours riding around Meteora then found my way west determine to find a campsite on the west coast and enter Albania tomorrow morning. It sounded like a perfect plan. The road west took me over and between more mountains.
Another mountain top church along th eway.
I reached the west coast in good time to find a campsite. i heeded north toward the the border crossing... But there was a fault in my perfect plan. I could not find any border crossing. The road got more and more narrow and soon i was trying to find my way between old farms. I pulled over and studied my maps. MY map showed a border crossing, my gps said there was no one. There was also no signs along th eroad so i realized there was no crossing and i had to find another route. This resulted in that i had to backtrack 140km. I hate backtracking so i looked for a alternative route. I found one and thought that it looked more interesting then the main road back the way i came.
This road turned out to be a real find.
And another one
It took me up into the mountains again but this time the road was more narrow and even more twistys. On the main roads ell road signs is in greek and english but here it was totaly greek to me. So a little harder to navigate.
This is greek to me
It was getting late and i knew that this time i would not be able to find a hotel so it would be camping again. And there would not be a camp site anywhere. So i looked for somewhere i could camp along the road.
I found a narrow gravel road and thought that looks promising. It was no dark and set off down the gavel road. This road quickly got more narrow and there was no where to turn around. Soon the road started to climb up a mountain and soon it was so steep my bikes rear wheel started to slip on the loose rocks.
Some how i made it to the top and found... another old stone church.
Im not a very religious person and i don't understand the motives for building a church in the most inhospitable site they can find. Looking into the church while the wind was blowing and to see the old decorations was a special feeling.
It was tempting to just sleep on the stone floor of the church but it did not feel right so i pitched my tent beside a newer church that was built a little lower then the old one. While setting up camp i was thinking about the going back down the road tomorrow and hoping it would not start to rain.
Someone is a joker, but who carried that thing all the way up herč?
I sat in my tent typing on my report for ADV for a little while before going to sleep.
As i lay in my sleeping bag i could hear the wind picking up and as i drifted into sleep it started to rain.
JohnnyTh screwed with this post 05-31-2013 at 01:55 PM
|06-12-2013, 01:31 AM||#78|
Joined: Jul 2010
My 13 year old daughter made a movie from my riding in Istanbul. Take a look ad see if it somwhere you wana ride your bike
Most of it is x2 speed so it would not be so long.
|06-13-2013, 11:04 AM||#79|
Joined: Jul 2010
That night it was windy and raining heavy, I woke up a couple of times worried that the bike would tip over if the ground would go soft because of the rain. I cheeked it a few times and it looked like it was going to be ok and i finally got a good nights sleep.
When i woke up it was still raining, so i stayed in my tent for almost 2 hours. In the end i decided that it was time to go. No matter how much rain there was. Luckily as i started to pack my tent the rain slowed down and when i was done packing it stopped.
Bfore going to sleep i had some grand plans for cool and impresive pictures of the view from this peak, but mother nature would not let me have that and it was foggy and wet.
I started going back down the trail.
As i said before it was steep and made of loose big rocks. I keept the bike in first gear and engine off. That way i could use the clutch to inch my way back down. Some of the bends was very tight and i was worried i would not make the turn. If that happend it would be hard to push the bike backwards up the hill for a 2nd atempt.
It is anoying that you cant realy see how steep and narrow it was in these pictures. I wanted to get off the bike to get some pictures but there was no way to park it. The ground was to loose and steep for the sidestand.
After about 30 minutes i reached the "main" road again and i feelt tlike there should have been someone waving a flag there, maybe a marching ban and a major giving a speach contraatulating me on getting back down without damaging the bike or myself.
There was noone there so i snaped a pictures and got on with the twisty road.
The road going up the hillside is what i did not see last night in the darkness.
This road was yesterday pure joy but today they where wet and i had to keep the speed down.
Im glad i did keep my speed down as comming around a bend i found the mother of all Greek potholes.
Thats not so bad you think? Take a look at the next picture.
yes, im standing up in it.
The land had changed alot from yesterday. Now there was water evrywhere. Rivers and green forest. Yesterday all the rivers was dry and the fields where dusty. Farmers had watering equiptment evrywhere. Here there was no need for that. Its strange how much diference a few mountains do to nature.
The road keept going up and down hills. When the sun came up the roads dried up a little and i had more fun riding these backroads. But they still did not invite to any agressive riding as you could never know what would be behind the next bend. Maybe a big pot hole or rocks from a minor landslide. Talking about landslides it was clear that this area had a few of those. Many places you could see a part of the road had sunken down a little, anything fro a couple of inches to maybe as much as 10 inches. You could see the asfalt bend down and after a flat section bend back up again. These where a little scary as they sometimes was hard to see.
It was beautifull here and it could have been taken from a scene in Lord of The Rings movie.
Could this be a treeant?
Impresive tree coverd mountains with steep peaks peaking up from the dense woods. North west Greece is highly recomended to ride. I totaly forgot that this had been a detour due to a navigational error.
Somewhere along the route i found this sign. It cant be right. The place i live is called Lista. No way its 3 km to Lista.....
There was lots of bends like this.
To bad the road is still a little wet.
I reached the Greece-Albanian boarder and again it was a easy crossing. A quick look at my passport and off i went into Albania.
Funny enough the weather changed again as i crossed a border. Albania was warmer and more sunny. Also the countryside changed again . I find it strange that so much can change by just crossing a border. Roads change, houses are not the same and also people dress differently. But also things that are not man made often change and the mountains was different on this side. I suppose the terrain at some point was a factor in placing the border, but today its strange that it is so different on the other side of a border.
After a couple of minutes i saw the first Albanian bunker.
During the forty-year leadership of Enver Hoxha he built 700.000 bunkers all over Albania. 1 bunker for every 4 Albanian. And today these mushroom bunkers can be seen all over. Some places they have been dug up and removed but its still enough so you will find one. I saw 2 types. most of them was a smaller type for one or two men, the other type had the same design but was larger.
I found a road that look me over the mountains again and down to the coastline.
Again the scenery was beautiful and green. But the GPS was not to be trusted. At one point it told me to ride over a big lake. I was curious about how that would happen, but when i reached this "lake" there was no lake.
I passed something that looked like a refugee camp along the road and i pulled over to see if i could take a picture whit out anyone noticing. But as soon as i pulled over some guy started to walk out of the camp and towards me. I decided i did not need a picture and left. So sorry guys no picture here. And to be honest its easy to picture in your head. Just think about a muddy campsite where the tents are made of rubbish. It was not a nice sight.
A little later i arrived at the costal city of Sarande. I found the road going south out of Sarande to go down to Butrint to see if i could find the cable ferry, famous for its part in Top Gear. On the way south i passed several buildings that was not completed and now was falling down. Looking more like a ruin then a building under construction. It was like someone took all the money from them and left them with a half done project.
I found the ferry and payed 2 Euro to get across.
Then had a look at the caste on the other side before i took the ferry back. The kid on the ferry looked like i was a really strange man. And maybe i was taking the ferry back and forth like this but i just had to.
I found this information map along the road going to the ferry and it clearly show a border crossing where i was searching yesterday.. Maybe there is one after all, guess i will never know.
I got back on the bike and heeded north and back into Sarande. This time searching for the road north. I trusted my instincts looking for the road going up the coast. The GPS told me to go back east the way i originally came from but i did not believe that so i tried to find the route whit out using the GPS. After riding around the city for 30 min and only ending up at dead ends i decided to listen to the GPS. Going out of the city the Lady inside the GPS told me: turn left. But that was into a petrol station. I did not listen to her so i carried on. Reaching a roundabout a little later it was clear that this was not the right way. I pulled over to look at my map. While i was looking at my map a group of 3 motorbikes went past me and i thought maybe they know there way around this place. I followed them into the city and asked one of the guys where they where heading. North up the coast his reply was so i followed them back into the city.
After a few minutes we ended up at the same dead end that i found just a few minutes before. We serched around for a bit and after a while found the road going north. The GPS was right all the time. You had to turn off the road and into the service station. And behind the service station the road north started.
I stayed with this group heeding north and after a couple of hours we met the 2nd half of this group. Two croatian guys that was waiting at a restaurant close to the coast. We spent the next hour eating and chatting and i was invited to join them for the ride north.
Again the group split and I joined the first two. The speed was more suited to my riding style. The road north was more or less hugging the coastline and all the way we where riding thru small villages and past small towns.
Submarine base, also known from Top Gear
Another coastal fortress
They had plans to meet up at a hotel in a national park about midway thru Albania. We heeded that way, but soon the weather was getting worse.
When we started to climb up into the mountains and into the national park we hit fog..
This was the thickest fog i have ever seen and visibility was sometimes as little as 5 meters. It was slow going but we made it to the top and found the first hotel that was open.
Price for a room with 3 beds was 30 Euro so we shared a room and heeded for the restaurant. Between us we had the languages: Norwegian, English, German, Croatian and Italian but it was still hard to explain that we wanted something to eat. We managed in the end and after a couple hours the rest off the group joined us.
I believe this was one of the best nights for this simple hotel.
The room was nothing fancy but the hotel had its own guard dog that i made friends with. The dog was sleeping outside in the rain and if i did not share the room i think i would have invited the poor dog.
There was also a flock of hens and a rooster.
Last thing we discussed before going to bed was witch bike would be stolen first. We all decided it would be the BMW then maybe mine or the crosstourer...
JohnnyTh screwed with this post 06-13-2013 at 11:49 AM
|06-21-2013, 01:15 AM||#80|
Joined: Jul 2010
Sorry im slow on updating. When i got home, real life hit me hard and i had lots of things to catch up on. But if anyone is still reading i promise to finish the report
The next morning the sky was clearer, there was still a few low clouds. Visibility was good so everything was ready for a good day on the road, this time in company with new friends.
I took a few pictures of the hotel and the area around. It was a beautiful area, to bad we could not see anything going up the mountains yesterday. I found Sinisa in the restaurant, he os one of the two Croatians i rode with yesterday. I had a look at our bikes and was happy to confirm that none of the bikes was stolen. Not even the BMW. Before i left home everyone told me if your going to Albania they will steel the tires off your bike while riding. So far i don't have that impression at all, people here are friendly and helpful. So maybe its just us Norwegians that have a bad impression of the Albanians.
The hotels breakfast was omelet, no big surprise when you saw all the hens outside. Soon Zdenko, the 2nd Croatian joined us and we all ordered a omelet. While we where eating the rest of the group joined us one by one. We had a laugh as each one would first go out to the parking lot to see if his bike was still there. Maybe its not just us Norwegians that have a bad impression of Albanians or maybe its just that it was so foggy that no one could see the bikes. I don't know, but not one single time on the ride so far have i felt unsafe.
After we all had breakfast we had a look at the map and decided on the next place to regroup and a rough route to get there. Todays target would be a national park in the south of Montenegro. I was pulled between staying with the group or leaving on my own. On my own i had the freedom of going anywhere i wanted and stopping whenever i wanted to. And we did pass a few places i would have liked to make a stop. But i also enjoyed the company of my new friends and the safety of traveling in a group.
I decided i would stay with them for at least one more day unless i found something along the road i did not want to miss. They had more focus on riding i think, i had more focus on seeing things along the road.
I needed gas so we made a stop at a petrol station. The owner of the petrol station filled up my bike and i had to pay 17 euro. He did not have any change so told me 15 euro would be enough. This is the first time ever i have had a discount at a petrol station. I was ready to give him 20 euro but he would not take it. Zdenko told me i had a stuck brake light and while mending that i thought about how different Albania was to what i thought it would be before i left home. I was sure there would be times i felt unsafe, but it was not like that at all here. We took off from the petrol station and i kinda felt bad about accepting the 2 euro discount. Im sure the 2 euro means a lot less for me then for him.. But he did change the way i look at Albanians so in that way im sure it was worth it for Albania as a contry.
The road towards Tirana took us away from the coast for most of the time, but occasionally it would go back out and give us a view of the beautiful beaches and small towns on the coastline.
Somewhere we pulled over at a small restaurant for a drink. I orderd a Coke, Sinisa a ice coffee and Zdenko a regular coffee. my coke was just a regular coke, the regular coffee was albanian coffee witch i think was ok. The funny part of this is the ice coffee, clearly the Albanian did not know what ice coffee was so Sinisia was served cold coffee and a glass with ice water.
I asked Sinisa what it tasted like and he replied: it taste like fucking cold coffee..
Then i said why do you think i order a coke..
I think that is Tirana over there.
We did not go to Tirana but heeded north towards Montenegro. But still lots to see in Albania. I would have liked to go to Tirana but on a ride like this you can only see so much, and some sacrifices have to be made. Tirana will need to wait for some other time.
This is the best looking building i saw in Albania
The road north was a mix of good roads, some great highways and some really shitty roads. Also lots of roadwork and i don't think out average speed was much more then 40 km/h. Talking about highways. This was our first and only highway in Albania and we where going at about 130 km/h. Sinisa was at front and after a few kilometers we came to a tiny bridge crossing a stream. I dont think any of us payed much atention to the road as it was a good quality new highway. But at this bridge there was a bump in the road at the start and end of the road. Like the bridge was to tall for the road and they just made the road fit. Sinisia was airborne for a split sec. I saw this and manage to slow down and give a signal to slow down to Zdenko. If your riding highways in Albania you are now warned. This was not the last one of these bumps.
I have never seen so many police checkpoints anywhere before. In the towns and outside of them there was a checkpoint at least every 5 km. And a few times i was sure i would be pulled over, but none of them payed any interest in us. Cars in front of us and behind us was stopped but not us. I still don't understand why.
We stopped for food at a restaurant along the road. and hoping we would be lucky. We parked beside another Mercedes.
In Albania every 2nd car is a Mercedes. The Albanians say that its the only car that can handle there bad roads. I even saw petrol stations selling Mercedes bodyparts.
We sat down outside to keep a eye on the bikes. The waiter tried with his limited english to talk us into the restaurant as it was windy outside. We politely refused as we where not cold in our riding gear. The waiter returned with another guy and he explained that he was the chef and would take our orders as he spoke good english. He told us they had pig meat, cow meat and sheep. We ordered beefsteak. A little later they returned with something that clearly was sheep meat.
Maybe his english was not so good after all. Food was ok but not great. And for some reason we all had Coke to drink
We continued north and now it was more plains and less interesting. all along the road we would see more Albanian bunkers and hilltop fortresses.
I regret not visiting any of these fortresses but its a excuse to go back to Albania. I did not stop for many pictures as most of what we saw was the same as what we had seen a lot of yesterday but i knew i had to get a picture of one of those Albanian bunkers but i was always thinking il get the next one. we did not make many stops on the way to the border, exempt when looking for a sticker. Zdenko wanted a Albanian sticker to put on his bike and all the way thru Albania he had been looking for one. Now we where getting close to the border and still no sticker. We had to intensify the search. Suddenly we where at the border. I was the last in our group and just before the border control i saw a souvenir shop, the first one in Albania for me. I manage to speed up and signal the others to stop. We turned back and Zdenko got his sticker and i got a pic of a bunker.
Zdenko got his sticker, im sure there is a smile inside that helmet.
If you look closely you can see that i have the Schubert C3 hair style
I also bought myself a T-shirt with the albanian flag on it.
If you want a suvenir this is the place to get it!
A german also made a stop and looking at the mud covering him and his bike it was clear that his route had been a rougher one then ours.
At the border there was a long line of cars waiting. We waited behind the cars but soon a officer signaled us to use the pedestrian crossing and we where thru in a few minutes.
Albania have Everything going for them. Beautiful nature, nice small towns, great beaches and nice people. Everything else is shit. This should be a holiday paradise for europeans. They just need to be a bit more organized and a lot more money. I hope to be back some day.
So what will Montenegro be like?
JohnnyTh screwed with this post 06-21-2013 at 02:28 AM
|06-21-2013, 05:59 AM||#81|
Joined: Jul 2012
Johnny, don't worry I am certain there are many of us loyal readers who will wait patiently for the next installment of your excellent ride report. I know I will.
|06-21-2013, 10:15 AM||#82|
Joined: Jul 2010
Thanx. Its nice to know someone manage to read my poor excuse for english. Much appreciate the feed back. Hope you enjoy the report.
|06-21-2013, 09:30 PM||#87|
Joined: Jul 2012
Your english is excellent. I wish more Americans used it as well as you do. And yes, I like your report very much. Great writing and photos! More, please, when time permits.
|06-23-2013, 04:50 AM||#89|
Joined: Jul 2010
I found a few more pictures from Albania i wanted to show you guys. hey are taken with my point and shoot camera mounted on the handlebars so the quality is not so good.
I dont know what he is waiting for.. maybe just bussy watching the bikes go past.
We had a bit of rain.
So many beautifull places.
Its no joke, there is a lot of Mercedeses,
This was pretty common. Good roads suddenly interupted by a big hole. This was a land slide that was party refilled. But not realy a road any more.
MAny fun bends like this, but around that last corner there where a digger in the middle of the road.
One of the better roads.
i found it funny how they write for sale.. This VW is nice but some of the things that was for sale was pretty shitty.
Another police checkpoint.
Border crossing to Montenegro.
JohnnyTh screwed with this post 06-23-2013 at 05:03 AM
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