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Old 10-10-2011, 07:23 AM   #16
francs
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Have to say that Baia Mare does have a good number of really good looking girls.
No pictures?
I like your RR anyway.
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:09 PM   #17
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The good Beer guide to eastern Europe! , you must be a CAMRA member, great trip!.
Yep.
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Old 10-11-2011, 12:12 PM   #18
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No pictures?
Afraid not Francs. You'll have to take my word and visit Romania yourself.
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Old 10-11-2011, 01:18 PM   #19
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6th, Sofia to Ohrid.
So I dragged myself out of bed at 08:20, packed up and carried my panniers back to the Hostel for breakfast. Then packed the bike and set off to go up to the hill overlooking the city. Mapsource was crap and kept turning me up unmade roads and footpaths with steps. So I just joined what looked like the most well used road going up hill and followed that. As I got higher I could see the city disappearing into the morning smog so I caught a couple of photos through a gap in the trees and called it a day on that.

The next road I aimed for should have taken me very close to Bulgaria’s highest peak, Musala, but I got about 15kms up and there was a barrier across the road and a nice man in uniform said “no entry mate” or words to that effect. So it was all the way back and onto the main road to Blagoevgrad and west to the Macedonian border. Some nice views along the way.....

The Border Police checked everything twice and I was into the first, and only, non EU country of the trip. Looked at the time and place and decided that I could get to Ohrid so did that. Macedonia is quite scenic with lots of peaks and troughs with manmade lakes in them.

Mountains of white marble around Prilep. The roads are OK and I was singing along at around 100kph ~ 65mph on the straight bits. At these speeds the bike’s returning over 60mpUKg.
Got to Ohrid around 18:30 and the first hotel I tried was full but they had an association with another just down the road called Vila Niko and it was €65 for two nights incl. breakfast and I must pay cash now.
Ohrid....

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Old 10-11-2011, 01:57 PM   #20
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Niki, Nii on ADV, had agreed to meet me and guide me into Sofia. We met at an OMV petrol station and he gallantly battled in his car through the rush hour into the middle of town to a hostel right in the centre.

In the quiet words of the Virgin Mary... come again
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Old 10-12-2011, 07:01 AM   #21
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7th, Ohrid, day out to Debar and Mavrovo Natl. Park.
Great night’s kip. The bed and pillows are just right. Hooray! Awake at 07:15, got up and went for breakfast, then a walk along the lake shore. Very nice place. Saw what looked like a Kingfisher.
By 09:30 it had warmed up enough to get out on the bike. It seems that Mapsource and the actual roads don’t tally in places. I was all over the place. Eventually I got onto the right road north. Went past another man made lake. Very pretty....

And then Debar came into view across the lake....

So then I routed to a wiggly road on my GPS screen. More lakes..

And into the Natl. Park...

Stopped by this monument for a sandwich

Then just up the road got stopped by the Police for a document check. All good. And so to the wiggly road which turned out to be a dirt road. Probably the old road before they ploughed the tarmac one through. You can just see the road turning below and the little village that it goes to in the distance. A great dirt road that zig zagged down the hillside before flattening and straightening out and heading for the village along the valley floor.

No other photos of the track because I turned the camera to video mode.
So when I emerged from the north side of the village I turned back south expecting to take the road back to Debar. That road turned off the main road and into a one dog town and promptly disappeared! Where the GPS showed a left hand hairpin, in front of me was a field. Nothing. Nada! So, back to the main road. Further on I spotted a little dotted line that would/should take me back to the dirt track I did earlier. Well, that took me a few attempts to get onto the right track. More videos to come.
So that nice climb back up the hill completed I was merrily winging my way towards Debar when I turned a corner to see this....

That’s pissing down in them hills and I’m heading right into it. And, I didn’t bring any waterproofs. Bugger! I still had about 40 miles to do back to Ohrid, so yes, I did get soaked but there was a nice rainbow....

And the same view across the lake to Debar looked a bit different....

The roads dried out about 20 miles out and Ohrid hadn’t had any rain at all. But, since I was damp, I took the opportunity to wash my riding trousers which were quite dreadfull.
Walked into town for eats and found the B.A.D. restaurant which wasn’t "bad" at all. In fact I had the best feast I’d had since leaving home...

ODO = about 200 miles.
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Old 10-12-2011, 07:13 AM   #22
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8th, Day off the bike.
Blew up a hell of a gale last night. Looks like the waves have been breaking over the shore front. The weather’s changed for the worse. Cloudy and cold. So I just strolled up to Czar Samuel’s fortress, passing some other sights on the way

and took some shots over town..


View across the lake to Albania..

More rain on the way

So I head back down and milled around town drinking beer and coffee and people watching.

ODO Zero.
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Old 10-12-2011, 07:37 AM   #23
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So I head back down and milled around town drinking beer and coffee and people watching.

ODO Zero.
Howard I see you finally found "the best beer"
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Old 10-12-2011, 07:40 AM   #24
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9th, Ohrid to Olympic Beach, Greece.
Raining this morning and 6.8C showing on the “Icewarner”. Didn’t go for breakfast because I still felt full from yesterday. So it was on with a wooly and all the waterproofs and got going at 08:20. The route followed the lake shore south and then climbs away and over a pass. Well, I didn’t realise just how high that pass was. At 1300m (4000ft) the rain turned to sleet. At 1500m (4600ft) the sleet turned to snow. Bloody hell! Icewarner now showing 1.7C!!
Stopped at the top

and shot a video...
MVI 3287
And so into Greece and the scenery is all good

There seem to be mountains in every shot. Is that the sun trying to get through?


As things had started to dry out I stopped for a coffee and a bun in a small village. The young geezer spoke good English so we had a good chat whilst I thawed out.
My route cut across country and I didn’t know what to expect but got some dirt anyway.


I love this bike. Doesn’t matter what is thrown its way, it just gets on with it and copes.

Mount Olympus had its head in the clouds

So on into Olympic Beach and was pointed towards Hotel Ioanna at €40 excl breakfast. It had good internet access though so I made good use of that and Skyped my brother. Also managed to upload the snow video (above)
Also spotted that Zandisero had made a few suggestions on my planning thread so I incorporated some of the ones that were close to my routes. Thanks mate.
Out for dinner and it’s pissing down again. Not much in town at all but I found a nice little sea food place and stuffed “Mixed fish” and a Greek salad. Kaiser Pils to wash it down.
ODO187 miles. FUEL AT €1.58~1.78 PER LITRE! HOW MUCH? Bloody hell I'll be in economy mode whilst in Greece.
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Old 10-12-2011, 08:25 AM   #25
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10th, Olympic Beach to Lamia.
Pissing down this morning and has been all night as far as I can make out. Out of bed at 08:20 and on the road at 08:50 fully kitted for a full day in the rain. So I started on the allotted route and was slip, sliding my way into the foothills of the real lumpy bits when I saw cars coming the other way with snow on them. Not again? So I decided to abandon Meteroa Monasteries and got Zumo to route direct to Lamia and, maybe, beyond.
Anyway, got the best view yet of Mt. Olympus form the west side....

Still had its head in the clouds but was looking bright. And snowy on top.
Well it seems that the Zumo classes the E78, 2 lane road as an Autoroute because it avoided that and took me down all these nice roads which would have been really nice in the dry but they are slippery when wet and I had quite a few “whoa!” moments.

I was thinking that maybe the tyre pressures could be low as I hadn’t checked them since leaving home and considering the lumps and bumps we’d been over........ well, I spotted a garage with free air so stopped. They were both about 5psi down. So pumped up and ready for some bend swinging? Nope! Didn’t make the slightest difference.
So got to Lamia and it seemed to be rush hour, again. Why is it every time I turn up in a town everyone comes out to see me? And block all the roads with traffic! So round and round I went in all the little back street one way here, no entry there type streets. Well, I turned a corner and there was the Hotel America. Stopped outside and before I could dismount the bloke had come out to greet me. Booked in. It was basic but I was cold and damp and fed up.
Showered and changed and headed out into town which had died whilst I was in the shower! No-one around. Strange. Anyway, I found a coffee shop and had a couple whilst writing my journal. Paid for that and wandered around some more. Police use 650 Stroms here. Found another cafe and had a beer this time. Seems the town is full of students of late teen early twenties age group. I tell you, things can’t be too bad in Greece because these youths can still afford their styling gel! And boy, were there ever some laughable “styles”. OK I’m too old to appreciate it.
Was getting hungry now & so spent quite a while hunting the streets for a restaurant but there was nothing really recognisable. I settled on a place that had what looked like a complete cooked dog on a skewer in the window. Plus some other stuff. 350 grams of chicken and a salad. Kaiser beer. Although it was tasty I thought €15 was a couple too much.
ODO 169.7
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Old 10-12-2011, 09:01 AM   #26
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11th. Lamia to Sparta.
Overcast but dry this morning. Put wooly and windproof top on but left off the leggings. Got going at about 8am and soon got out of Lamia. The first port of call today was the Sparta Memorial at Thermopyles which commemorates the “300” Sparta warriors who defended Greece against the Persian millions.

The good thing about doing this out of season is that there’s no-one else about.



So it was up into the hills and some dry roads and nice views


And more evidence of snow on the upper hills

And so I went past Athens to try to get a photo over the city from a view point in the hills to the north. Well, that plan was scuppered because those hills were all military so I couldn't get up there. So I made my way along the outer edges on the suburbs which were sort of part way up the hills and got my shot from a layby by a church. That’s the Parthenon on top of that hill.

There was rubbish piled high everywhere and queues for fuel. It seems that Athens is on strike.
Back to the route and was heading for Nafplio and its castle in the sea when I spotted a sign for ancient Mykenai(Myceni sp). So I turned off to have a look. I expected quite a big place but it was like a small hill fort type place.

So on to Nafplio and rode onto the harbour without anyone batting an eye lid.


On way out I spotted a beach that seemed to want some tyre marks on it.


More nice views

Bit dry considering all the rain we’d had


Monastery perched on a cliff


More nice roads


So then after taking that last shot I spotted this


More bloody rain! So with the dark clouds gathering


I raced onward towards Sparta and got lucky. I passed behind this


And only got wet boots from the wet roads. Booked into the Hotel Sparta Inn. Showered and out just before the light disappeared for a photo of the local Hero, Leonides

A look down the main street

ODO 314.6
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Old 10-12-2011, 12:44 PM   #27
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12th. Sparta to megalipoli via the southern tip of Greece.
Well, what a surprise. Clear blue sky.

So down for breakfast and pack a sarnie for lunch. On the road by about 09:40. My route took me down the east side of the Mani peninsular to the southernmost tip of Greece and it was absolutely beautiful. The road twists and turns in and out of coves with great views right across to the parallel Krithina peninsular.



Almost as far south as I can get

Can’t get any farther south in Greece by bike

The western side of the peninsular had more resorts but today there was some cloud forming off the mountains making it a bit chilly

So on up the coast road skirting Kalamata and into the hills to the site of ancient Messini. Not to be confused with Myceni of yesterday. Much bigger and more to see for free.




On the move again and Megalipoli wasn't far off. Great name for a place but it was a bit of a dump. The Hotel Arcadia was like something from the 60s but discovered that I could get free internet from the cafe next door.
Food was another half chicken and salad. Kaiser beer to wash it down. All the youths seem intent on making as much noise as they can with screeching tyres, loud exhausts and booming stereos. Bastards.
ODO 188.9 miles.
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Old 10-16-2011, 12:10 PM   #28
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13th, Meaglipoli to Ingoumenitsa and the ferry to Italy.
Came to at 08:00, paid hotel a rip off €40 and was going by 08:45. When I had stopped last night I had 40 miles range left showing on the bike’s trip computer. All the petrol stations in town were priced at €1.74, so I decided to get going and find some elsewhere. Couldn’t be any more expensive, could it? Well, anyway, leaving the power stations of Magalipoli

the route wound itself up into the hills, higher and higher and 40 miles range went to 30, 20, 10, then, with 7 miles left, I got to the town, Andritsaina, at the top of it all and thought “I’m in the shit here”. So I looked at the Zumo for the next fuel and it showed 0.6 miles or 12.6 miles! WTF! Yes it was there, just round the corner but it too was priced at €1.74. Oh well, it was worth a try.
So with a full, expensive tank of fuel, I decided to see if I could free wheel down the other side to see if I could have made it to the other one at 12.6 miles away. A bit of freewheeling and the range calculations went to this...

That next fuel was actually at 14.7 miles so I might just have made it on fumes but you don’t take the chance, do you?
Went to visit the original Olympic site but it was really busy and I just thought “do I really want to traipse around some old stones in my bike gear, getting hot and sweaty?” Or, do I ride some more in the cool hills? The riding won, so I snatched a photo of the stadium

And went off to ride some more.
The first part of route today was beautiful. That part of Greece south of Patra has to be the most visually attractive part.





All too soon I approached the bridge at Patra


And the route continued by following the west coast up to Ingoumenitsa.



Got to the ferry terminal and booked in and got my tickets and room key etc. Went off to get myself something to eat and waste 4 hours until the ferry arrives.
Waiting on the dock, the first boat was, I thought mine but was the one for Ancona. I thought it was the same boat which called at Bari and then went on to Ancona. No, mine was later, and late!

So, instead of getting boarded and underway at 23:59 we didn’t get on board until 00:30.
ODO 339.5 miles.
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Old 10-16-2011, 12:45 PM   #29
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14th Bari to Terni.
So I after initially getting off to sleep on a calm start to the crossing, I awoke at 5am with the boat heaving and rocking, wondering if the bike’s tied down well enough. I dozed off and on for another 3 hours and got up at 08:00 Italian time and went to the lounge for a coffee. This is the sight that greeted me....

Well, I thought I might as well just whizz north on the Autostrada if the weather is that bad. But when we eventually docked it wasn’t too bad. Dry and looked like brightening. I got out of the docks and straight into the madness of Italian town driving. Filled up with fuel at €1.67 and fought my way out of Bari and on to my route which should lead me up the spine of Italy. Well, once again Mapsource didn’t tally with what’s on the ground and took me on a wild goose chase through the Olive groves to a left turn onto a main road. But, the junction was right turn only. Brilliant. So I turned round and found my own way through the back roads onto the main road further up. The weather turned rainy again so I routed back onto the Autostrada up to Pescara where, again it looked like brightening up.
So off and into the hills where I came across this memorial. Couldn’t make out what it was really about but it had Fangio’s name on a broken plaque.


As you can see the weather had cleared and I pressed on towards L’Aquilla where I had planned to stop for the night. Got there at 16:15 so decided to continue and thought that Terni was possible. The route took me around a Natl. Park which had a big black cloud hanging over it.

And threw some nice wiggly roads at me


The roads were now quite grippy and I was enjoying the ride through the higher bits of this part of Italy...


But it was freezing with that cloud coming down over the mountain!! Temps down to 4.5C at one point.
I got into Terni and routed to an Hotel on Mapsource that didn’t exist! The next one was a Best Western and it did exist but it was a 4*. Oh well, it’s only money. I was freezing cold and needed a warm shower and a beer.
ODO 409.4 miles.
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Old 10-16-2011, 01:19 PM   #30
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15th, Terni to Gap.
Slept like a log last night. Got up at 07:00 and went for breakfast and packed a sarnie for lunch. 12C to start with but the wind had got up to gale force from the north east and bloody freezing.
This part of Italy is ancient volcanic and quite pretty and the roads are nice but there’s too much traffic to really enjoy them.
Lake Bolsena

is a bit like Crater lake in the US. Big and round and sat in an old volcanic Caldera.
Italian version of Devil’s Tower...

Once I reached Lucca, I got onto the Autostrada to take me round the coast past Genova and up to Cuneo. That part of the Italian coast is all twists and turns on the ordinary roads and so would take literally all day. So the Autostrada is the only way to get around. The Autostrada is actually quite entertaining itself because it twists and turns in and out of each cove and in and out of tunnels and across viaducts. Those winds also threw some terrible gusts at me between the tunnels. At one point I was almost off my wheels. Not cheap these Autostradas. €26.40 for about 120 miles.
I got to the outskirts of Cuneo at 15:15 and stopped to eat that sarnie I’d packed. I looked at the map and thought that Gap was achievable. Routed it on the Zumo and it gave an ETA of 17:30. So off up the Colle Della Maddalena which looked a bit iffy to start with but the views soon came through the gloom....

And, of course, no mountain pass would be right without hairpins...

More views...

Got to Gap and looked at the Ibis hotel but the parking was a bit exposed so I routed to the Hotel Napolian but the bloke in charge wasn’t there until later but there was another hotel right next door. The Hotel le Globe. Well they had a room for €26 but it was like something from the 1950s. Well, when I say that, that was the last time it had been updated or decorated. Still there it was and they promised some live Blues later. I went off to a Pizza place just down the road. It was huge (the Pizza, that is) and I couldn’t finish it.
Walked into town a bit and found a place called the Highlander. Their range of beer was immense with Trappiste brews etc. Pelforth Brune was followed by a rather strange beer from Belgium. Ploeger-somethingorother. To do with ploughing. It was almost off but then had a fizzy, cherry after taste. They also had a 3 piece Folk type band going. So after a few beers there I went back to the hotel and, instead of Blues, I found them all watching France has got talent! NOT! A swift beer then off to bed.
ODO 419 miles.
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