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Old 11-23-2013, 02:24 PM   #16
TobyG OP
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The evening of the previous day,
I spontaneously decided to ride through Kosovo instead of going right up north.

In the morning I headed out to Peje (Kosovo), once again riding through beautiful landscape







Because of Montenegro being as small as it is I ended up riding along the small canyon between Podgorica and Kolasin.

This turned out to be a good thing though,
because one could spot a small bar down in the canyon, right by the river, which you couldn't see coming from the other direction. I later found out that it was called the "Bar Of No Return"

Let alone the small path to get down to the bar was rather interesting,
but I really wanted to go down there, even if for nothing but a coke.






See the suspension bridge in the background?
Of course you had to use it to get to the bar

At the time I've been the owners family had a small family gathering with some great food






Thanks to two "interpreters" the communication worked out just fine
and just as I was ready to leave they basically forced some of their food on me

Oh well, time to order a second coke.
At that time I figured I could just as well ask them if I could pitch my tent down at the bar and stay there for the night.

Luckily they gave me the ok and also showed me a small gravel road I could use to carry my stuff down into the canyon, but I just rode my bike down, so I only had to carry my stuff through the river.

We sat there a couple more hours,
shared stories and had a couple beers before they returned home



The lesson is clear:
It was a great decision to go to the bar, after all the day ended with good company, great food and a perfect camping spot
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"a scoot (that wouldn't go more than 28mph if you dropped it out of an airplane)" ~duck
"If loud pipes saved lives, then ambulances would run straight pipes instead of lights and sirens." ~Phlemdog
This is why I always wear gloves. How you gonna wipe your butt with hands covered in bandages? ~MrBob
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Old 12-07-2013, 09:58 AM   #17
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..I should really get this RR finished.


One last look and off we go to Kosovo




Riding on tiny roads through mountain villages I crossed the border between Murina [Montenegro] and Peje [Kosovo],
while enjoying seome great scenery, especially on the kosovan side of the border
I could swear Iwould've taken a picture...can't seem to find it though :/

Next destination: Pristina, where I'd planned to stay for two nights.
Nope, that won't do.

While I stopped in a cafe to find out the exact address of the hostel I'd planned to stay at,
my phone decided to crash and upon restarting it, I didn't get a GPS Fix, no matter what I tried.

Well, f***.

After searching for over 30 minutes, I finally found the hostel,
of course it's not even 5 minutes away from the cafe I stopped at before.
On a side note: Kosovo should invest in street signs, thst would have helped a lot

Time to park the bike and carry my stuff up to the 3rd floor.


To sum the happenings of the next few days up:
The first 2 days I tried fixing my phone by backing everything up,
doing a factory reset, completely re-installing everything blablabla.
No luck though. Should've just ridden through Kosovo instead.

At least I'd taken a few walks through Pristina, even though I am not a big fan of cities.
Pristina was pretty cool though,
they have a large bazaar in the islamic neighborhood, great (and very affordable) restaurants are to be found everywhere, the historic disctric ain't bad, either.

I do have to mention, however, that Pristina, as is Kosovo in itself, doesn't yield too many things of touristical interest.

The nightlife in contrast is pretty darn awesome, though, which is probably to be attributed
to the fact that Kosovo is the youngest country in europe, over 50% of it's inhabitants are 25 or younger!

On my third day in the country I got back on the bike and headed to Prizren where the Doku Fest took place at that time.
One week filled with about 200 documentaries being shown in cinemas and open air stages throughout the city,
followed by aftershow parties every single night

They also have a large bazaar, of course.




The historic district is pretty awesome, too, and features many small restaurants.
Just to say it again: I didn't eat any cheaper in any other country I visited.








Time to buy a map of the Balkans and a pen somewhere for navigation purposes and to sorta track where I'd been,
sadly I couldn't use the phone for those purposes anymore
On my way back to Pristina I took a detour through the mountains:









One thing that I got to say is that it indeed is surprisingly hard to find any structures ravaged by war.
Don't get me wrong, it's not impossible, either, but the huge financial aid Kosovo received after the war shows pretty well, they didn't exactly waste any time rebuilding the country, it seems.

No way the country could have done this all by itself,
considering today's economic situation (which is worrying to put it mildly) and it's dependency on foreign insvestors.

There are obvious problems in this country (very, very high unemployment rate, poverty and a struggling economy),
still I did absolutely not regret going there.
Yeah, there's not much to see for a typical tourist,
but there's a ton of other reasons to visit, ranging from beautiful landscapes over an interesting history to the great people I met!

The next day a couple from italy arrived on their XT660R,
she was born in germany and later emigrated to italy.
Not that it mattered, after all the "officialese" in hostels is english anyways.

We later went to a combo of a bar and bookstore, called the "Dit e Nat",
rather interesting combo, but not a bad one

Once again, my tab was paid for by someone else
Well, thanks for the Cuba Libre

Later that night, a girl from Swiss, a professional football (soccer for yer 'Muricans) player who was in town to meet with his old team, a guy from France and a guy from Finland, the hostels' owners (2 brothers) and me went out again...you know, for science

We met a couple girls and planned on meeting them again the next day in Prizren, before heading back to the hostel at like 6 AM.

Not much to say about the next day,
unless you wanna hear more about food.

In the evening it was time to get on the bike and to ride to Prizren once more,
the others took the bus, but I wanted to head back in the night as I wanted to leave Pristina the next morning.

I will just throw in a couple pics from Prizren at night...










Every now and then you saw some KFOR units, they got a big base in Prizren.





I got back to the Hostel at around 1 AM, deadbeat.



Oh well, I didn't get out of bed before 11am (don't judge me, I had to enjoy my last night sleeping in a bed for the rest of the trip) and rode through Mitrovica in the direction of Peje.

(Mitrovica with the Mitrovica Memorial)





After leaving Mitrovica I was not exactly sure which direction I had to go (remember no GPS anymore and my map wasn't too detailed).

So I just went straight ahead, passed a military checkpoint, didn't think anything of it, after all it was northern Kosovo,
so that didn't seem too unusal.

I started to wonder though, why are there serbian flags on every single lamp post....






Oops,
seem like I just entered Serbia on accident.

Gotta turn around then, as I couldn't have left Serbia, as I didn't have neither a serbian entry stamp nor an serbian entry permit (which is issued if I one uses his standard passport instead of the travel passport to enter the country).

After turning back I spotted the sign I was looking for, though :





Once again time for an PSA:
The conflict between Kosovars and Serbs, even though it's not as tense as it was in the past anymore,
still shows on a few occasions.
Take a look at the sign above, again.
Those are always bilingual, the albanian name on the top, the serbian on the bottom.
The serbian name is often painted over, corrected to the albanian or scratched off.


I went back to Montenegro using the same border post near Peje that I used to enter the country,
only to go into Serbia a bit further north legally.
Novi Pazar, basically a city highly influenced by the islamic culture, is where I was heading.
Someone in Pristina recommended me to go there, so I went.
Not spectacular, but pretty nice.

So let's go to Bosnia...
wait...oh no, several miles of backed up traffic in Novi Pazar.

Who cares, after all I learned riding by local standards on this trip, so I'll find a way for my bike.
Ok, now I am suddenly standing in front of a couple cops who themselves stand in front of a crowd.
But they signal me to ride through, so off we go.

What I then saw still baffles me. I cannot quite wrap my head around what the heck was going on

Right in the middle of aforementioned crowd there was a table, right in the middle of the road,
with 4 elderly men sitting around it.
Just sitting there, talking and blocking the main road through Novi Pazar and causing like 2 miles of backed up traffic.

To this day I have no idea what was going on.
I kinda wish I would've stopped to take a picture or maybe ask what the hell was going on


The same day I made it to Bosnia and stopped on an old part of the road (they rerouted the new, paved stretch of road and dug a tunnel for it) and simply laid out my sleeping mat right there.

The angler who appeared on site the next morning at around 5:30am did have a funny look on his face once he spotted me


Stay tuned for Bosnia!
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"a scoot (that wouldn't go more than 28mph if you dropped it out of an airplane)" ~duck
"If loud pipes saved lives, then ambulances would run straight pipes instead of lights and sirens." ~Phlemdog
This is why I always wear gloves. How you gonna wipe your butt with hands covered in bandages? ~MrBob
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:24 PM   #18
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Did I mention thar shortly after crossing the border into Bosnia, my phone emitted a "beeep",
to be more specific it was an "Hey! Look I just got a GPS Fix!"-beep.

That means nothing other than that I can finally use my phone for navigation again



Next up:
National War Monument on Makljen (near Prozor)
&
Livno Valley



Through Sarajevo I rode to Prozor,
the town next to the mountain "Makjlen" which is home to the Makjlen Monument,
one of many jugoslavian monuments ordered to be erected by the former jugoslavian head of state Josip Broz Tito back in the 70s (the Mitrovica Monument also is one of those).

Those monuments (this specific group of monuments is called "Spomenik",
which simply means *surprise*: Monument.) all stand in a context with WWII,
in example there's one to honor the bravery of the jugoslavian partisans,
others honor the resistance of whole towns against the national socialists.

The "Makjlen Spomenik" is dedicated to the battle of Neretva and was destroyed after the downfall of Jugoslavia and has since been decorated with graffiti.

I will just show you a couple impressions of it right here:

















Enough talking, time to head out to Livno,
on the way there I was once again blessed with awesome landscapes:



The absolute highlight which launched Bosnia on the 1st place, together with Montenegro,
was the scenery I got to enjoy shortly before Livno valley.
Not gonna comment on this, other than it looked even more awesome in person




Right around the corner it looked just as cool,
of course I just had to take the opportunity to take the following picture :




I mean c'mon, it had to be done

and this scenery stretched out for miles, only interrupted by the occasional hut and some cows.


Just when you thought it couldn't get any better....BAM....I present to you, the view over Livno valley:

One could barely see from one side to the other...and that's the shorter side.






In Livno I stopped to get some of that great Cevapi,
the owner of the takeaway spoke german and handed me a plate with great local made sheep's cheese, free of charge, let's just say that ended up with me leaving him a pretty good tip

Heading west to make my way out of the valley,
the atmosphere changed dramatically, at first it looked like normal, small villages scattered all over the place.
That's until you notice that most of the houses are missing their roofs and that those signs keep popping up next to the streets.




I proceeded to actually ride though a couple of those villages
[Disclaimer: Before using ANY paths in posted areas, consult some locals on whether it is safe to use those,
better double check on this!!
In my case I was lucky as some of those villages were in between new villages and the fields their farmers' are using,
so those paths had all been cleared.
Still, it is highly advised not to leave the paths!!]







Quite an eerie atmosphere around those parts,
which do remind you of the recent history of the former jugoslavian states without any detours whatsoever.

After I made it out of the valley,
I headed straight towards Croatia, where I was gonna stay for the night.
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"a scoot (that wouldn't go more than 28mph if you dropped it out of an airplane)" ~duck
"If loud pipes saved lives, then ambulances would run straight pipes instead of lights and sirens." ~Phlemdog
This is why I always wear gloves. How you gonna wipe your butt with hands covered in bandages? ~MrBob
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Old 12-09-2013, 03:24 PM   #19
TobyG OP
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At this point I'd might wanna say that there wont be too many pictures in this post.
Yeah, I should really get some cheap&waterproof Point'n'Shoot in addition to the DLSR.


So...Croatia.
My first impression.

Honestly, something put me off.

One contributing factor may have been that it turned out to be almost impossible to find a camping place that'd take me and my (reaaaaally small) tent for 10€ or less. Most wanted between 12 and 14 €,
no matter if I tried the ones right at the coast or the ones a couple miles away.

My tries to barter for the price were strictly rejected, no counter offer, no nothing.

At that point I already started wondering if I maybe teleported to Italy??
Once I entered the country, it didn't seem to be much different from the Bosnia,
other than the denser population. Infrastructure seemed pretty much the same,
a lot of remnants of the war and so on.

Once you get near the coast however....looks like western europe right there.

And it seems that the whole countries' prices are, contradictary to the infrastructure,
somehow adjusted to the levels on the coast,
where, of course, they get a lot of tourists, and with them money, from other european countries, especially young people.

Well,
after a while I found an elderly couple that offered me a camping spot for 50 Kuna (~6,50 €, IIRC).
And even only like 200 m away from the sea.

A short trip to the supermarket to get some bread, cheese and salami for dinner and breakfast
and it was already time to go to bed.

Around 4am I was woken up by some ear-shattering noise.
A thunderstorm. I guess some lightning must've hit the sea nearby.

It is absolutely bucketing down, of course.

It stopped for a short while around 7:30, but only really stopped at 2pm.

Dammit,
that meant that probably all my riding gear was soaking wet.
Remember, I had a very small tent, so I usually just put my riding gear outside in a way that it stayed mostly dry during some short, normal rain.
But this rain was more like the apocalypse.

I hurried to get all my stuff hing up in some trees and whatever I could find to let it dry once the sun came out.

6pm, it was finally more or less dry,
so I headed out back to Bihac in Bosnia,
I had seen enough of Croatia to get out of there as soon as possible.

Little did I know what Croatia would do to try and keep me there.


Only about 20km after I left, I got a nasty surprise.

My engine mad some gut-wrenching sounds



Turned the engine off and let it roll to a stop on the shoulder.
What now

I figured if it was something really bad, it was too late, anyways.
So I ended up checking if it's start again,
maybe I could figure out what's wrong by listening to where the sound comes from.

After firing it up,
it took it a couple seconds until I hread the noise again.
Seemed like it came from the front of the engine, somwhere close to the starter motor.

Sure enough, it actually was the starter itself.

Time to figure out why the starter is running all by itself.
Wait...rain....heavy rain...I should probably take the case of the starter button apart.

Yep, that was the issue. it was completely filled with water.
After draining it my problem was gone. Or so I thought.


Couple miles later it looked like rain again, but luckily most of it was east of me, instead of ahead of me.
Anyways, it already started getting dark again,
so I just stopped at gas station to grab something to eat and fill up, before looking for a place to set my tent.

Just as I wanted to ride my bike out of the way so others could fill up while I ate,
it wouldn't start.
Ok, now worries, just roll it out of the way to get it figured out, just as I said that,
my kickstand dropped on the ground.

Yes, the attendant gave me some funny looks as I rolled my bike to a post to lean it against.

Should've just stayed in my tent all day long.

It turned out that my starter button was done for.

So I just taped the 2 wires on my handlebar and started the bike "by hand",
strapped the kickstand on the back and off I went,
now looking for an camping place where I could do some work the next day.

This time I managed to get the price down from 100 Kuna to 80,
actually those were the last Kuna I had on me, anyways.



The next day I was quite happy that I bought the 2 pole version of the button I was using as my starter button,
because only the one side was fried, the other one still worked,
so I just grabbed my soldering iron and fixed this issue.

As for the kickstand, I must've lost the pivot screw.
Not at the gas station (no idea how the bike didn't fall over), but somwhere on the road before,
at least I didn't find it at the gas station the night before.

However, I got that temporarily fixed by using a long M6 screw, a nut and some washers instead of the super-duper-special-BMW-kickstand-screw and some zip ties to keep the kickstand switch out of the way.


Fixing that stuff also gave me time to really dry my still sorta wet clothes, as well



Now that I had dry clothes again,
I also got back in the mood to take some pictures.

Next up was the (former) Zeljava military airfield.
I would've really like to take a closer look, as it is an partially underground airbase (!),
but it's exactly on the border between Croatia and Bosnia,
so, you do need some sort of permit to be able to explore it completely, without potentially getting into trouble because of illegal crossing of the border .



On the bright side, one can at least explore some of the non-underground installations close to the croatian town Zeljava.
[Another Disclaimer: Do not leave the paved areas, this area is not cleared of mines!!]



















A couple miles further I crossed the border into Bosnia again,
riding along the beauriful river "Una" (partially a border river between Croatia and Bosnia),
where I also pitched my tent, later.

Sadly it was already time to start heading back home,
with a couple days "reserve" in case I ran into any more mechanical problems.




After this wall of text,
I'll call it a day.

Stay tuned for a bit more Bosnia, a bit more Croatia, another Spomenik and some Slovenjia
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"a scoot (that wouldn't go more than 28mph if you dropped it out of an airplane)" ~duck
"If loud pipes saved lives, then ambulances would run straight pipes instead of lights and sirens." ~Phlemdog
This is why I always wear gloves. How you gonna wipe your butt with hands covered in bandages? ~MrBob
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Old 12-17-2013, 05:54 PM   #20
TobyG OP
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The plan for tiday was to head back to Croatia and make my way to Slovenia,
as I said before, it was time to head back home

I Croatia I took a detour to see another jugoslavian monument,
the "Spomenik revolucije naroda Moslavine" near Podgaric,
which is dedicated to the inhabitants of Moslavin.

Here are a couple of pictures for you:

(This is the side you see from the road)






The other side:





A bit further down the road a sign pointed towars some castle ruins,
so I headed up the (damn steep ) road only to find out that it's currently closed to the public due to restoration work.
Ok, whatever, time to get back on the road, then.

Other than that the day was rather uneventful and I barely ever stopped for pictures.


Just as nightfall set in in Slovenia, I rode along a steep face,
which belonged to quite a big hill...hhhmmmmm....there's a huge antenna up there, so there just had to be a way up?!

That'd be a pretty cool place to set camp,
I'd passed on such opportunities 2 or 3 times on this trip...
so I opened the Soviet Military Map navigation App to check where that path could be.
I found one, the problem was that they'd built an interstate where it had been.

Dammit, well, let's check the price for camping around these parts.

Turned out to be 10€. Thanks, but I'm gonna pass on the offer.

After looking for a bit longer I finally found a way that led up the hill and after kinda guessing where to go an a couple wrong turns I found the path the led right up to the plateau I spotted from below

Just another short, steep uphill and I'd made it,
I pitched my tent roughly 1'200 m above sea level and quickly got in as it started to get cold



It was however not before the next morning that I found out how great of a decision it was to keep looking for the right path and pass on the camping place







I am by no means a professional photographer, so I didn't manage to capture the moment in all it's beauty,
but believe me that was hell of a great view!

Right next to the fog (roughly in the middle of the pic) one could even see the sea

Just had to take the opportunity to take a panorama shot:





(for a bigger version Click me! )



After enjoying the view for a while I packed my stuff
to head out to get to Italy and Austria, maybe even already back into Germany, if the time allowed to do so.

That day I'd been even more "picture-lazy",
so don't expect to see many pictures (should have taken at least a few more

So here's a short written summary instead:
The way down the hill had already been rather interesting,
it started to rain a bit and the last couple hundred meters are paved.
And those few meters turned out to be slippery. Really slippery. Yay "fun"!

Filled up the tank in Slovenia, had some breakfast and meanwhile it stopped raining.

On my way to Italy my Navigation app sent me through a beautiful forest riddled with marmor boulders.
As if that wasn't enough to make happy, they'd seemingly prepared the road to be newly paved.
Luckily they didn't make it past laying dirt and gravel
Only 2 or 3 cars on that "road" as well...time to open the throttle and have some fun

After exiting my nav app got confused and routed me along streets that weren't there,
but I didn't have much choice either, there were only like 2 main roads there.

In Gorizia I crossed the border to Italy.
First shock: The gas prices. Just two days ago I paid 1,15€ a liter, now it's more like 1,70 € to 1,80 € a liter.


From there to the Dolomites/Alps the ride was rather boring,
there were some pretty cool old towns, but the roads were dead-straight


The first small mountain pass, however, was great, it was a very, very narrow road and the hairpins led through tunnels,
which had traffic lights in front of them, that's how narrow everything was

As for the rest of it:
A couple bigger mountain passes and some tiny roads towards the Zugspitze,
you know, the alps and all

Near the Zugspitze I decided that I was gonna head to Füssen (Germany) that day.

On my way there I stumbled upon an Oldtimer Rallye






and saw a few alpine lakes, as well.





In Füssen I treated myself with a bed in a Hostel, mainly because my tent had still been a little bit damp,
I really needed to wash some clothes and a camping place would've barely been any cheaper.

So that's almost it.
The next day I was only gonna ride west to Niedereschach to pay Touratech a visit
and afterwards head north, home.


Another non-scheduled stop at Neuschwanstein castle, just to buy two postcards and send them out.
The things we do...


After a great ride through the Allgäu I found a couple specimens related to my bike in Niedereschach







Other than the two Oryx Extreme they also had half a dozen stock Oryx bikes in their showroom.
But I was there to check out a few details on the Extreme bikes,
which are not exactly well thought out on the stock Oryx.

I took a couple pictures of what I was most interested in and already have a bunch of mods scheduled

Sadly they still didn't want to sell me their last "Extreme" rear fairing
(I want one to be able to install my other manifold and exhaust, as I don't like the low swung exhaust)


After a couple minutes talking with one of their employees about the bike,
I got back on the bike.



End of the story.
It was a great 4 weeks and I will sure be paying the Balkans another visit in the future
(Yeah, I'll even give Croatia a second chance )
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"a scoot (that wouldn't go more than 28mph if you dropped it out of an airplane)" ~duck
"If loud pipes saved lives, then ambulances would run straight pipes instead of lights and sirens." ~Phlemdog
This is why I always wear gloves. How you gonna wipe your butt with hands covered in bandages? ~MrBob
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Old 12-25-2013, 05:28 PM   #21
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Hey Toby, great retrospect my friend!! It was worth the wait. Still owe a RR myself... Best wishes for the year to come, from both me (Konstantinos) and Maria!!!
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Old 12-28-2013, 11:33 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kosa View Post
Hey Toby, great retrospect my friend!! It was worth the wait. Still owe a RR myself... Best wishes for the year to come, from both me (Konstantinos) and Maria!!!
..and there I was wondering why you didn't answer my email


Wish you two the best of 2014 as well
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"If loud pipes saved lives, then ambulances would run straight pipes instead of lights and sirens." ~Phlemdog
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Old 12-29-2013, 02:00 PM   #23
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Old 12-29-2013, 02:22 PM   #24
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Great ride! More pics please!
Nice that you visited my country!
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Old 01-02-2014, 05:03 AM   #25
TobyG OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Direktor View Post
Great ride! More pics please!
Nice that you visited my country!
...and I am looking forward to going there again!
Wish I had more time to explore it this time :(

Well, let's hope the weather is gonna be better next time


Here are at least a few more random pictures:





































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"a scoot (that wouldn't go more than 28mph if you dropped it out of an airplane)" ~duck
"If loud pipes saved lives, then ambulances would run straight pipes instead of lights and sirens." ~Phlemdog
This is why I always wear gloves. How you gonna wipe your butt with hands covered in bandages? ~MrBob
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Old 01-02-2014, 05:41 AM   #26
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Wow! Great trip, wonderful adventures, and an awesome account of it all. I admire your travel style and insights of the local history's. You come into an area with minimal impact and leave with treasure trove of local flavor. Well done. Look forward to your next adventure.
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Old 01-02-2014, 07:19 AM   #27
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Wish I'd known about that abandoned Zeljava military airfield, those are my favourite to see! Was there somebody there to check for permits? I noticed there are many towns on the (relatively new) border and it seems very common to cross temporarily.. Thanks for the pics and report!
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:21 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squawk77 View Post
Wish I'd known about that abandoned Zeljava military airfield, those are my favourite to see! Was there somebody there to check for permits? I noticed there are many towns on the (relatively new) border and it seems very common to cross temporarily.. Thanks for the pics and report!
There you got your reason to go back

There's no actual control post or any barrier there that'd keep you from entering the base,
but the next border crossing is literally only a couple hundred meters away and from what I'd read before starting my trip the area is being patrolled by border control every now and then.

I guess this may not be a problem for locals,
but if they spot a bike crossing the border just one km away from the official crossing...not sure if that'd go too well

I'd really like to see a bit more of it myself,
so whenever I get down there the next time...
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Old 01-10-2014, 09:33 AM   #29
Twinmike
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squawk77 View Post
Wish I'd known about that abandoned Zeljava military airfield, those are my favourite to see! Was there somebody there to check for permits? I noticed there are many towns on the (relatively new) border and it seems very common to cross temporarily.. Thanks for the pics and report!
There are often mobile Bordercontrol in the area, friend of me try to come in from the Bosnian side to the airfield and where stopped by the borderpolice and have to pay fine for illegal bordercrossing.
Part of the airfield is on Bosnian side.
From the Kroatian side you can go there easy. But be careful and stay on the Asphalt or gravel the area is not clean from dangerous things and mines, also in the Caves when you want explore this dark smelling holes.


PM me i you need tracks from this area, also from the abandoned Radarstation on top of the mountain obove the airfield.

I hope it is OK to post some pics from this area, if not i will delete it.





one of the airfield



airfield with caverne




inside the caverne




before the mountain top with Radarstation




view to the landingstrip from the Radarstation

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Old 01-10-2014, 11:24 AM   #30
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