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Old 09-06-2010, 10:16 AM   #1
asilindean OP
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RO-SRB-HR-SLO-IT-BiH-MN-AL-MK-BG

A ride in the neighboring Balkans 2010. First long trip by bike. First RR.

2 bikes, 17 days, 4500 km, 10 countries. A ride in the Balkans.

Romania - Serbia - Croatia - Slovenia - Italy - Bosnia Herzegovina - Montenegro - Albania - Macedonia - Bulgaria



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Old 09-06-2010, 11:32 AM   #2
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Introduction&Day 0

Introduction
As I was born near the Balkans area, specifically in the city of Timisoara on the west part of Romania, close to the border with Hungary and Serbia, I have always been curious to visit the neighborhoods. I have friends of all the nationalities living in the area and I was ashamed that I didn’t visit their countries.
So for this year is it was time for a tour of former Yugoslavia and some countries around. On the motorbike.

The Route
The Plan was to fly from Bucharest on Friday the 13th of August 2010 to Timisoara, where we had previously taken our bikes the week before. Then on Saturday we will head for Serbia, visiting Novi Sad on our way to Belgrade (250 km). From Belgrade we will take the highway to Zagreb (400 km), Ljubljana (150 km), Trieste – Piran – Pula - Fazana (250 km), Rijeka - Plivnice Lakes - Zadar (300 km), Trogir - Split – (220km), Mostar – Sarajevo (330 km), Gacko - Trebinje - Dubrovnik (280 km), Kotor - Budva - Niksic – Zabliak (300 km), Tara Klisura - Podgorica - Virpazar – Donjic Morici (Skarda Lake) (220 km), Sukobin - Tirana – (160 km); Elbasan – Pogradec - Ohrid (210 km), Skopje (180 km), Sofia (220 km), Bucharest (400 km).

The Team
Me.


My friend Razvan.




The Bikes

My bike, a 1993 Honda Transalp.


Razvan's bike, a 2000 Yamaha Dragstar.



Day 0, Romania, Bucharest to Timisoara
We decided to take the bikes to what would be the starting point of our trip, namely Timisoara, a week before the actual start of the trip. That was for 2 main reasons: first that I didn't want to start off with 550 km of Romanian traffic, and second because we will gain an extra day on the actual trip
Nothing spectacular on this leg of the journey, except my problems with the regulator-rectifier of the bike which did not charge the battery. It was fixed in Timisoara during the next week. Before I left I had replaced the rear shock absorber of the bike with new Hagon. After 4500km I'm very pleased with it. New rear brake pads and we are ready to roll. The front ones were good and I had a spare set with me anyway .
At arrival in Timisoara I had the oil and filter changed. I put a 20W60 oil and it was very god considering the temperatures on the road in August. Moreover, considering that my bike eats oil, thicker oil is better.

The only picture of the day:

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Old 09-06-2010, 11:42 AM   #3
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Day 1

Day 1, Serbia - Novi Sad and Belgrade

The plan was to leave as early as possible from my home town of Timisoara, heading towards Serbia. Do you know how to make God laugh? Tell him your plans…
As we arrived the day before late in the evening from Bucharest by plane, with my new front fork upper bridge, we had wisely decided to postpone the replacement of said fork to Saturday morning and to head straight to the pub for some beers since it was the birthday of a very good friend of mine. Said and done.
Next morning I woke up early in the morning and while waiting for Razvan to arrive, I started replacing the front fork upper bridge. Since there was a specific tool which was missing from my kit I managed to mess with the screws.





As consequence, 4 hours later than planned (at 1 pm!!!) we managed to replace the part and we set off towards the Romanian-Serbian border at Jimbolia.
Lesson learned: check and have all the tools for all the screws.

With my Mother


Ready to leave


No problems at all at the border crossing, we passed in 5 minutes. Then we headed for the city of Novi Sad where we planed to visit the The Petrovaradin Citadel. It was a very hot day. Also, considering my previous experience from a few years ago with the Serbian police (when I had to pay four bribes in a 16 hours trip) we were very cautious and stuck to the speed limits.
Actually, the Petrovaradin Citadel is quite big. Not knowing that is possible to take the bikes up to the Citadel, we left them down the hill and climbed by foot. Nice view of Novi Sad. There is also a restaurant in the Citadel.

Nice view of the citadel:





We decided not to stay and press on to our final destination of the day the city of Belgrade.
We arrived there in the late afternoon, fond the Hostel which is on the river Danube and is not normally reachable by cars, but you can get there by bike(there is a barrier, as it is nominally a pedestrian zone) but the guards are very laid-back and there is room for a bike to pass.


We had a reservation at Arka Barka Hostel (Arka Barka Hostel, Bulevar Nikole Tesle bb - Park "Usce" - floating hostel on Danube; Coordinates: 44°49'20.01"N 20°25'55.25"E, +381 (0)64 925 35 07).We had a small private room for the price of 40 Euros/room. Very hot.



The is the view from the hostel terrace


We were advice not to leave the bikes in front of the Hostel but in the parking lot at the end of the alley where there is also a guard who for 500 dinars/3 Euros will take care of your bike.
After unloading the luggage and parking the bikes we headed on for the city. From our side of the Danube we had a nice view of the ancient Kalemegdan Citadel.We crossed the Branko's bridge (Serbian: Бранков мост/Brankov most) and went for the heart of the old city in order to visit the Kalemegdan Citadel and the Military Museum.

The Citadel



The Citadel is big and well preserved some parts are restored and it contains the large museum complex which presents a complete military history of the former Yugoslavia. Proudly displayed are captured Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) weapons and bits of the American stealth fighter that was shot down in 1999.We did not enter the museum, but on the outside there are displayed all sort of toys for boys.







T34






Then we took a well deserted breake on the pedestrian street Knez Mihailova, a street of restaurants, bookshops, galleries and shops. There we refilled ourselves with a generous provision of Jelen Pivo, which is extremely good and wondered out eyes over the beauties of Belgrade who were passing by. Very impressive.
We end up the day on the side of the Danube with more Jelen Pivo and a nice view of the city.










Our favorite: Jelen Pivo



Reaching the hostel we had a small surprise. Near the floating hostel was anchored another boat which had a DJ and house music. All night. So considering also the fact that it was hot, we did not have a very restful night.

End of day one.



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Old 09-06-2010, 11:56 AM   #4
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Tunisia ride report

Ukraine, Russia and Romania

Croatian Backroads
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Old 09-06-2010, 12:01 PM   #5
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Subscribed. Keep them coming
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Old 09-06-2010, 12:16 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by cold_fire
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Old 09-06-2010, 12:44 PM   #7
Alex TA Forever
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nice ride...
more girls' pics!
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Old 09-06-2010, 01:05 PM   #8
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Yay! Another Balkan Report, my favourite kind. I'm in.
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Old 09-06-2010, 01:14 PM   #9
asilindean OP
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Day 2, Croatia, Zagreb


After a light breakfast we collected our bikes from the parking lot, put the luggage on, fueled at petrol station and head for Zagreb. No problems at the Serbian-Croatian border.







It was a 400 km ride on a good highway. No problems on the road. By the way, for the highways in Croatia you have to pay small fees (depending on the length, between 5 to 30 kuna, if I remember correctly).
We arrived at the Ravnice Youth Hostel (I Ravnice 38d, Zagreb, p.+385-1-2332-325), which is situated on a quiet residential area of Zagreb. We had 2 beds in a 4- bed room for the price of 15 Euros/bed. The Hostel was very decent and most of all, after last night, quiet.
In order to reach the city center one would have to take the trams no. 11 and 12 for a 20 minutes ride to the city center. It is what we did and stopped at Ban Jelačić Square. We were a bit concerned because we did not have tickets.




From Ban Jelačić Square, where we admired the statue of Ban Jelačić, we went in the medieval Upper Town which centers on Kaptol Sq. Most buildings in that area date from the 17th century. There we looked at the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the statue of Virgin Mary in the middle of the square.






After, we ate something in one of the streets behind Ban Jelačić Square in a small place recommended by the guys from the hostel. Tasty meal for a decent price. A lot of restaurants in the area where one can eat, have a beer of a coffee.



Then, we took Tr Nikole Subica Zrinskog which ends at the Train station passing near some beautiful parks. In front of the Trans station is the statue of King Tomislav (Kralj Tomislav), the first King of Croatia.








After such an exhausting walk we took a stop near the statue of Nikolaus Tesla and refueled with some local beer before heading towards Lotrscak Tower. Did I mentioned that we liked the local beer?





On out way there we passed by the Opera.



On some lovely streets



Backpackers resting


For the Lotrscak Towerwe took the funicular in order to avoid climbing the stairs.


From up there we had a spectacular view over the city. We also learned that the cannon which we saw in the tower has been fired every day for the last hundred years at 12 o’clock. Unfortunately we missed that part. We looked at the Cathedral and St Mark's Church in Markov trg (St Mark's Square) where we went after we descended from the tower. Near St Mark's Church is also the Parliament and down the street we found Stone Gate - the eastern gate to medieval Gradec Town (Gornji Gradec).















Of course after all that walk it was time for another beer rest in one of the small plazas near the center. Then we went to the hostel for a well deserved sleep.
Zagreb is a very beautiful city which resembles a lot with my hometown, Timisoara. It appears that the influence of Habsburgic Empire left a strong mark in all Central and Eastern Europe.

It
was a good day.


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Old 09-07-2010, 10:06 AM   #10
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Day 3 Slovenia, Ljublijana



We woke up in the morning, had a small breakfast offered by the hostel and then we headed for medieval fortress of Medvedgrad, on the southern side of Mt Medvednica just 8 km from Zagreb.
The outside walls of the fortress are rebuild after an earthquake struck. The road is nice, through the woods, and you have to be careful because from the main road there is a one way road that leads to the fortress and another one way road that leaves the fortress. You have to pay 10 kuna to visit the place. The fortress itself it’s not much, but it has a beautiful view over the area.


Medvedgrad Fortress



View of Zagreb


From there we got back in the city. We took the highway that goes to Ljublijana. A very short ride and again, no problems at the border. Actually in our entire trip we didn't have any problems at all with the border crossings . Sometimes I was with the helmet on, cagula and sunglasses and border guards didn’t ask me to remove them. I could be anybody.
We reached Ljubljana and the Hostel Celica, which actually is a former prison converted into a pretty hostel (Hostel Celica, Metelkova 8, Ljubljana, p. +386 1 2309700). Good, clean, quiet place. As a room we had a cell with 2 bed and a possibility for a third one. Common bathrooms. All for the price of 54 Euros.

The Hostel


The bikes in the backyard


After a good lunch we rent bikes from the hostel (5 Euros a day) and started to discover the city. I don’t know or remember the names of all the places we have been but below are some photos around the city.

Us on bikes (no engine)


Franciscan Church of the Annunciation








The fortress


Town Square



The Town Hall


Being time for some exercise we took the bikes up to the castle. Man, its hard without an engine. View from the hill (while pushing the bikes up)


View from the castle






Me, exhausted at the top of the Viewing Tower after climbing the hill and the 95 steps of the tower


In the evening we returned to the hostel where we had a big BBQ (all you can eat for 5 Euros) and some local beers. Later in the evening we set to discover the Metelkova squats. Many people in the area drinking, singing, having some beers and generally having a relaxed time. It also appears to be a good place for the backpackers since in the morning we spotted some people sleeping in the area directly on the ground with their sleeping bags and mattresses. People were very friendly and we had some local strong drink with a weird taste at the bartender recommendation. Then sleep.

Another good day.

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Old 09-07-2010, 02:23 PM   #11
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Well done, Adrian.
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Old 09-07-2010, 03:15 PM   #12
cold_fire
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Nice clue, Parigi. I mean, Toma Caragiu...

Com'on Adrian, I want to see Mostar and Kotor and Sarajevo and stuff
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:42 AM   #13
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Beautiful trip, Adrian ! Nice shots, good report ! Hurry up with the next part of the story !
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Old 09-08-2010, 06:53 AM   #14
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Man this rocks, The pic's are great.... Thanks for taking us along on the ride!
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Old 09-08-2010, 10:44 AM   #15
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Day 4 Italy, and again Croatia

After breakfast and a photo session of the Metelkova squats, we get on the road again, this time to Trieste in Italy.

Metelkova squats.








Very good highway from Ljubljana to Trieste. There, we stopped for a coffee in a small café on the seaside. Coffee is delicious there. You can see it on his face.



After some chaotic navigation in the city, we stopped again for some pictures and then press on towards the lovely small village of Piran which is in Slovenia. Piran is situated at the tip of the Piran peninsula on the Gulf of Piran.

Trieste







Piran, Tartini square with cathedral of St. George








We had a very tasty meal there and after admiring the buildings from the village square we took the highway again and in short time we hit Pula on the south end of Istria Peninsula.

The thing that we wanted to see there was the ancient roman amphitheater which apparently is one of the best preserved of its kind in Europe. Besides the Colosseum, of course. Pula's 1st-century Roman amphitheater is built entirely from local limestone. The amphitheater could accommodate up to 20,000 spectators. The outer wall is 30m high and contains two rows of 72 arches. It is still used for spectacles.




(see the blue marks on the asphalt? we were not supposed to park there. Result?100 kuna for each bike. We didn't pay, mainly because there was nobody there)









After visiting the Roman amphitheater, and receiving a ticket for parking, we head to the small village of Fazana. From this small port, Tito used to take his important visitors to the isles of Brijuni.




After some wandering around the area, we found accommodation in a small villa nearby with a sign "Bikers friendly". It was ok, especially after the owner let us put the bikes inside. Price for a room if I remember correctly was 40 Euros. Rooms were comfortable, large, with bathroom. Dinner was much more expensive then we expected, we paid the same amount as for accommodation.



The seaside was at a 10-15 min. walking distance, so there we went before dinner for our first bath in the Adriatic Sea. There were mostly families so we didn’t stay long.

After dinner (the expensive one), a couple of beers and sleep.


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