A ride from London to the Red Sea (and back)

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by simondippenhall, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

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    Here is a report of a 9,009 mile trip I just finished on Sunday, from my home near London, to the Red Sea South of Jordan. I enjoyed it so much that I turned around and rode back, using a different route.:D

    Here is the bike packed up and ready to go.It is pretty grubby because I took a long ride in English snow a few weeks before, and then a half-day offroading on Salisbury Plain. I decided, being idle, it was hardly worth cleaning it before it got all dirty again.

    [​IMG]
    #1
    dixiethedog likes this.
  2. MarkN

    MarkN Long timer

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    Hope there's more to come, looking forward to the report and the pictures:lurk
    #2
  3. damasovi

    damasovi Long timer

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    OK let's start this!!! from 9009 miles I think you got something to write about and maybe some 9009 pictures to share! :ear:ear:ear:ear

    Damasovi
    #3
  4. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

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    This report is a mixture of my diary/blog notes at the time, and subsequent stuff. So if the chronology seems confusing, bear with me!



    Here is the rough itinerary:



    Channel Tunnel to <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Calais</st1:place></st1:city>
    Then boring motorway across <st1:country-region w:st="on">France</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Germany</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on">Austria</st1:country-region> down to <st1:country-region w:st="on">Slovenia</st1:country-region> and <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Zagreb</st1:place></st1:city> .
    From <st1:city w:st="on">Zagreb</st1:city> down through <st1:country-region w:st="on">Croatia</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Bosnia</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Serbia</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">Montenegro</st1:country-region> and <st1:country-region w:st="on">Albania</st1:country-region> and possibly <st1:country-region w:st="on">Macedonia</st1:country-region> (as in FYROM - and not sure if I have even got the order of the countries right!) and into <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Greece</st1:place></st1:country-region>. Places like Mostar and <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Sarajevo</st1:place></st1:city>, for example.
    Then by way of Gallipoli and Canakkale to Turkey, bypassing Istanbul as I have been there before, and will save it perhaps for the return journey, I hope to take a Southern route via Izmir and towards Anatolia and along the coastal roads to Adana and then on to Aleppo in Syria.
    Cappadocia and <st1:city w:st="on">Konya</st1:city> in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Turkey</st1:place></st1:country-region> may have to wait for the return journey.
    From Aleppo down to Damascus (possibly via Lebanon) and into Jordan where I hope to visit Petra and Wadi Rum, before turning North and heading back, this time visiting Palmyra in Eastern Syria. I am exploring whether I can ship the bike back from Aqaba in Southern Jordan, as the road home is never as exciting as the road out, just long!
    I am doing my imitation of a pin-cushion in the coming weeks so I am suitably immunised.
    Paperwork so far is simple (possibly because I am missing something !) :
    I now have my Syrian multiple entry visa.
    The word is that a carnet is not necessary for <st1:country-region w:st="on">Syria</st1:country-region> or <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Jordan</st1:place></st1:country-region>.

    Only struggle has been to get a Green card (failure so far at both Devitt and Carol Nash/BMW ) so I will need to buy local insurance in the non-EU countries.:dog<!--[if gte vml 1]><v:shapetype id="_x0000_t75" coordsize="21600,21600" o:spt="75" o:preferrelative="t" path="m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe" filled="f" stroked="f"> <v:stroke joinstyle="miter"/> <v:formulas> <v:f eqn="if lineDrawn pixelLineWidth 0"/> <v:f eqn="sum @0 1 0"/> <v:f eqn="sum 0 0 @1"/> <v:f eqn="prod @2 1 2"/> <v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelWidth"/> <v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelHeight"/> <v:f eqn="sum @0 0 1"/> <v:f eqn="prod @6 1 2"/> <v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelWidth"/> <v:f eqn="sum @8 21600 0"/> <v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelHeight"/> <v:f eqn="sum @10 21600 0"/> </v:formulas> <v:path o:extrusionok="f" gradientshapeok="t" o:connecttype="rect"/> <o:lock v:ext="edit" aspectratio="t"/> </v:shapetype><v:shape id="_x0000_i1025" type="#_x0000_t75" alt="" style='width:24pt; height:24pt'/><![endif]--><!--[if !vml]-->




    Not too long now!

    March 24, 2008
    It’s only about 4 weeks now until the starting day, 25th April. That’s when I hope to hop onto the GS and set off for the Channel Tunnel, early in the morning so I can get a good start.
    The last few weeks have been very frustrating because in my wisdom I decided to replace the cat with a Y piece in the hope of lower weight, improved fuel consumption and performance. And in any case the cat was a dog ( ; )) after the regular doses of leaded fuel in <st1:place w:st="on">Western Sahara</st1:place> a few years ago.
    The cat was hard work to remove, even with Steptoe’s hard work, and the Y piece I had bought immediately melted the indicator! So had to procure another Y piece and fit that. It then threatened to melt the pannier…until a fellow GSer helped me out with an extension pipe, very generously.
    So that just left a huge thirst for petrol (it seemed). Only after 3 tanks full has that (seemingly) abated. Fingers crossed.




    <!--[endif]-->
    #4
  5. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

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    April 3, 2008
    Just noticed that the Zumo is not charging when it is on the bike. Tried it in 2 other cradles and it would not power in either one. I managed to charge it via the transformer.
    A big problem for a long ride. So I turned to my technical guru, el-Tim of <st1:place w:st="on">Fes</st1:place>, who gave me the obvious solution:
    Send it back to Garmin. (A bit like the IT guys solution: Turn it off and then on again).
    So today it went off in the post. This is the third Garmin Zumo that has failed for me in the past 10 months &#8230;and yet the units have had very little use. Maybe I will get an award!
    Now I am hoping to get a brand-spanking new Zumo (with City Navigator 2008 version) in the post while I am away next week.
    Following Mick&#8217;s helpful suggestion I have ordered an extra puncture repair kit on eBay (hopefully this will guarantee no punctures!). I am off after dinner to check the spark-plug circuit after some dazzling technical advice from the sage of <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Chesterfield</st1:place></st1:city> (who is also the maker of the pipe-extension that has stopped my panniers and indicator melting!).
    If anything is going to break on the bike, I would rather it happened in the next few weeks here in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">UK</st1:place></st1:country-region> rather than halfway through the trip. Or at least, that is my pretext for accepting a very doubtful invitation from Nick Smith to go off-roading in the mud of Salisbury Plan last Saturday.
    The usual embarrassing pictures are included in the youtube vid kindly contributed by Nick, link below. As usual I fell off rather often while Nick saved his off for a perfectly straightforward piece of track! (Something to do with the length of his legs, I think). Enjoy.
    <object height="355" width="425">

    <embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/gcr01DwYhbA&hl=en" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" height="355" width="425"></object>

    It did serve the purpose because the photos showed me that my main beam bulb had gone (possibly as a result of me throwing the bike at the scenery on that day), and the LHS rear indicator lense disappeared. It was already looking Dali-esque after the combination of new Y piece and standard can melting the indicator.
    After the sale of the Pan European, I started to clear the garage as a result of which a gaucho, an adjustable Y piece, and a billet aluminium RAM mount for a Garmin i3 are likely to hit the UKGser For Sale stand soon!
    It also allowed me to spot a large brown rat making its way up the garage wall to the &#8216;teenager space&#8217; above. Could explain the mysteriously chewed objects around there.
    #5
  6. MaddBrit

    MaddBrit Now officially a Yank.

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    Allen, Tejas. Blissful state...
    :lurk
    #6
  7. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Awesome ride!!

    :bow


    :lurk :lurk
    #7
  8. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

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    When I got back to <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">UK after a short overseas trip</st1:place></st1:country-region>, my replacement Garmin unit was waiting for me. (Recall this is the 4th I have had in 10 months).
    Within 30 minutes of use it developed a fault, and put itself into automatic backup and shutdown. I was so incensed :hair:fightthat I rang Garmin and said I would return it in person that afternoon (they are 36 miles away in <st1:place w:st="on">Southampton</st1:place>).

    Net result, I returned the unit and the guys there told me that it was a new fault they had not seen before. (Always good to know you are part of the R&D programme, when you have paid full price!). They have given me a new unit, so now I am crossing my fingers that unit number 5 does not give up during the trip.

    2 days and counting&#8230;!

    It&#8217;s Tuesday evening and I am now booked on the Eurotunnel on Friday morning. (Amazingly it&#8217;s £56 one way, or £23 for a day-return&#8230;.!). Guess which one I went for?
    This week&#8217;s revelation was that if I get to Dusseldorf by 17h30 on Friday I can take the Deutschebahn Autozug (Car-train to you and me) from there to Villach on the southern border of Austria. It gets in Saturday morning at 0926 and costs much the same as fuel and a hotel to do it by road.
    Let&#8217;s hope the couchette is comfortable.
    I have also booked a hotel in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Zagreb</st1:place></st1:city>, apparently a former workers&#8217; complex and 30 minutes from Main Sq. Hoping to meet Damir for a beer Saturday evening before collapsing for a well-earned sleep.


    A frantic last day:

    I ended up making 2 trips to <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">London</st1:place></st1:city> today&#8230;got home after 3 meetings to get a call back for a follow up meeting &#8230;
    I had managed to get caught in a torrential storm leaving <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">London</st1:place></st1:city> at 2, biked amidst deafening lightning thru Battersea and discovered that the 12 year-old Aerostich suit does not hold out a good celestial torrent any more. (No time to wash and re-proof it before I go).

    So I elected to take the train for the 2nd trip to <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">London</st1:place></st1:city>.
    As a result got home at 8pm and the packing has only just been finished now, at 11pm. Departure tomorrow at 7 am.
    Bike already looks filthy as a result of today&#8217;s storm and the outing on Salisbury Plain a few weeks ago.
    Everyone that I have told about the trip have been wildly enthusiastic. I think I could have sold extra seats! It turned out that 1 person I met today spent their gap-year in <st1:country-region w:st="on">Jordan</st1:country-region>, and another had worked in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Syria</st1:place></st1:country-region>. They all had excellent memories of their time there.
    #8
  9. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

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    I have made it to <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Greece</st1:place></st1:country-region> and am now installed overnight in a Greek seaside town called Asprovalta…….. Have negotiated a nice room for 25euro, and wifi thrown in. Just got back from a dinner of Greek salad and kalimari with Mythos beer…just the job after a day on the bike.
    The departure from home was pretty straightforward, and when I got to the tunnel there were a lot of Hardly riders there - believe it or not, the ‘Surrey Chapter of Harley’…not sure if they were wearing Hush Puppies! I just followed them onto the train an hour or more earlier than I had booked - no-one pays attention to the code letters showing which train time you have booked, just waved us on. All the HD riders had tons of ‘just bought in the shop’ kit…so I am already concerned about my recent purchase of an Electraglide! The HD riders were off to Le Touquet to celebrate <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">St George’s</st1:place></st1:City> Day (!) – (for overseas viewers, this is a quaint English celebration of their patron saint who was actually Greek!)
    I rolled onto the motorway and headed for <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Dusseldorf</st1:City></st1:place>, with a much better margin for error now. Kept going until a desperate petrol stop after 20 miles on empty. While refuelling I got the first of many questions from other bikers about:
    -where are you going? <st1:country-region w:st="on">Syria</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Jordan</st1:place></st1:country-region><o:p></o:p>
    -are you on your own? Yes<o:p></o:p>
    Then silence, followed by:
    -why????? Harder to answer but any ADVRider knows why!

    <o:p></o:p>
    I tried to find a cafe somewhere in the German countryside to have my first coffee of the day, which I needed badly aftre the tedium of German roads. I ended up going for miles in unsuccessful pursuit - a few sad-looking bier-kellars (closed!) and that was it.
    [​IMG]


    Made it to the train fine, and it was an excellent decision to let the train take the strain….easy to get on (other than the ultra-low vehicle carriages which meant wearing a helmet while loading was essential, esp on the GS). I had a big compartment for 6 shared with 2 others…a Dutch biker and a Bosnian taxi driver, who has lived for 40 years in <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Germany</st1:place></st1:country-region>. He looked about 60 ish but proudly announced he was 78 and looking for his 5th wife! He was a former Yugoslav officer and had all tyhe military bearing. Geography was I suspect his special subject in officer training as he described every river we crossed on our trip. I will try to attach his picture (I never learnt his name, sadly).
    #9
  10. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

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    I am already in violation of the report rules as I am now posting pictures of the train ride I took...but please forgive me Mr Mod as the bike was in the caboose, see pictures below.

    There was also a good crew of bikers on the train...for some reason all my photos of them, taken in the train bar, are very blurry and partly obscured by beer bottles so I will not post them here:lol3.

    There was another bike traveller near the Dusseldorf station who tok a more minimalist approach than most of us (AND he had a dog with him as well!).
    [​IMG]

    There was also a group of Austrian Triumph and Austin enthusiasts preparing to travel on the train.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a train load of bikes headed South.
    [​IMG]
    Here is the Bosnian taxi-driver, in pretty good shape for a 78 year old man.

    [​IMG]
    My other train companion was a Dutch builder. He was a little worried because he had a 3 day trip on his own until his biking buddy joined him. When he thought about what I was doing I think he became a little more relaxed about the chances of him surviving for the 3 days, and he even began to plan his itinerary a bit more adventurously!
    [​IMG]

    Conditions in the Austrian Alps were looking a little cool!


    [​IMG]

    And here, even trucks take the train! (En route to Turkey, or at least, Turkish registerd).
    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

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    Train arrived in Villach close to the scheduled 0926 (but not the legendary, Germanic punctuality of hearsay) and it was a 10 minute job to unload and get on the road. I had decided that I did not want a Euro 100 fine for not having an Austrian motorway vignette but was also too tight to buy one (all of 5 Euro!). So the answer was to enter <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Slovenia</st1:place></st1:country-region> via the Wurzenpass, altho one of the riders was muttering that he had seen on t&#8217;internet that it might be closed for snow.
    [​IMG]




    So as I started uphill I checked at a petrol station who confirmed all was well and I had a good refresher on Alpine bends as I rode through the forest. The <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Slovenia</st1:place></st1:country-region> border, at the top of a montain, was a non-event&#8230;there was no-one there!

    [​IMG]



    I stopped for coffee on the way to Bled, and ignorantly asked if they would accept Euros. &#8216;Sir we have been using the Euro for 2 years!&#8217;. Bled castle, a little later, was very Dracula-esque on the mountain-top.





    [​IMG]



    From there I went via Kranj to Ljubjlana (try spelling that after 2 beers!) where I had a Coke and a toasted sandwich while watching the crowds.

    A not-so-ordinary car in main square of Ljubjlana:
    [​IMG]



    Then on to <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Zagreb</st1:place></st1:city> thru the mountains. I ended up following fabulous biker roads which got smaller and smaller. Puzzled, and after stopping a Slovene biker for directions, I realised that I had set the GPS preferences to avoid not just Motorways but also Highways! So it was sending me down the smallest lanes it could find in the <st1:place w:st="on">Julian Alps</st1:place>. I was probably destined to end up in a haystack or farmyard somewhere!


    The crossing into <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Croatia</st1:place></st1:country-region> was pretty straightforward, just a passport check and no more.
    Got to <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Zagreb</st1:place></st1:city> safely, and to Hotel Dora - a former railway workers home of some sort and surrounded by trains in the garden, it was vastly overpriced and generally smelling of cabbage.



    Charming approach to Hotel Dora in Zagreb:
    [​IMG]

    Each room I was given had either unmade beds or someone else&#8217;s clothes, to the point I told the clerk to check the room out personally before he sent me off to occupy it - especially as there was no lift and it was very hot.




    The hotel:[​IMG]

    In the basement a big party was going on, with a lot of booze flowing and cheery singing of ballads - possibly a railway-workers lament for the demise of central planning?



    The hotel was surrounded by lots of defunct trains...possibly a trainspotter's paradise?
    [​IMG]

    Riding into <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Zagreb</st1:place></st1:city> I realised the drivers were very aggressive. When I met Damir he said that beyond <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Zagreb</st1:place></st1:city> the drivers were lunatics so I should be careful. (Absent Tirana, I think the <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Zagreb</st1:place></st1:city> drivers were actually the worst!). I was st6arving and Damir very generously bought me dinner before we went out on a motorcycle tour of the city with his friend. It was a wet night which made an interesting combination with all the cobbled streets in the City - but no falls, fortunately.



    Damir's friend tells me that Croatian bikers generally drink and drive, and the police are not too worried. Generally the trnd on this trip is that as I go South the degree of 'worrying about bikers' goes down, with the notable exception of Turkey as I discovered later!
    #11
  12. aurel

    aurel Cheese&Wine!

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    More ! more ! more ! :lurk
    #12
  13. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

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    This is a brief update only as i am struggling with a Cyrillic keyboard which makes anything very slow! More will follow.

    Today (Day 3( I have ridden from Zagreb / Croatia to Sarajevo in Bosnia Hercegovina, stopped for lunch in Banja Luka which is also in BH but is also the administrative capital of the Republic of Serbia / not to be confused with Serbia which is a separate state (and does not recognise Kosovo is a separate state!).

    I made the mistake of asking to see a mosque….this is the place where they destroyed all 16 mosques during the unrest!

    All clear on that now?

    All has gone smoothly and the bike is runnng fine touch wood. Roads are magnificent, hardly any other bikes. Lots of Bosnian cops hiding in speed traps but I have been lucky so far.

    Hope I find a more friendly keyboard soon.



    Lunch was a rather pricey lasagne (8 Euro)![​IMG]
    #13
  14. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

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    that i first planned down to Turkey.

    Of course the eventual route turned out different.....which is part of the fun!

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

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    Leaving the Hotel Dora in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Zagreb</st1:place></st1:city> the next day, I felt a little more fond of it after a good breakfast with a very fresh omelette. Following Damir’s GPS trail I headed straight out of the City and onto A roads which were slow enough to enjoy everything around.



    Still all was very tidy and ‘Mittel Europa’ style, a little like the <st1:place w:st="on">Tyrol</st1:place>. Then at Petrinja (still <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Croatia</st1:place></st1:country-region>) it started to get a bit more ‘Wild West’. Finally I entered Bosnia-Herzegovina at Kostunica.

    Approaching Bosnia:
    [​IMG]

    The border guard quizzed me about the absence of a Green Card and said: 'big problem'. He pondered a little longer, then justified inaction to himself as I was ‘just in transit to Banja Luca’ (not quite true!).



    So off I rode into a fascinating new country. Or rather two, as Hercegovina is (so the signs say) ‘<st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placetype w:st="on">Republic</st1:placetype> of <st1:placename w:st="on">Serbia</st1:placename></st1:place>’ and now remarkably free of mosques..or at least, in Banja Luca. There are a lot of roadside shrines to road death victims, usually 20 something years old, complete with picture. I see more of these every mile or less, throughout the Balkan countries.

    [​IMG]




    The first (but certainly not last) horse and cart of the trip:
    [​IMG]


    Hard to tell from this picture but here is a lapdancing club next to a mosque![​IMG]

    I had an overpriced lunch of lasagne in Banja Luca which was rather stalinesque, I felt, and was keen to get on to <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Sarajevo</st1:place></st1:city>. A biggish city with a 6km approach road leading into a small city cntre around the river- very appealing and lively. Zumo took me straight to the city centre address I wanted where a tout offered me a pension for 20 Eu which turned out to be fine. Bike was secure as it was parked outside the police station.







    There was a feeling of crispness in the air because of the altitude - <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Sarajevo</st1:place></st1:city> did, after all, host the Winter Olympics. This is probably a fonder memory fopr the citizens than the several years of siege they endured from the Serbians in the 90’s.
    #15
  16. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

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    From Sarajevo to Montenegro via Banja Luca and Mostar

    I had an interesting evening in Sarajevo, walking the town and seeing the few bright lights.


    Next morning I set off, after a scraped together breakfast (Bosnians don’t seem to brakfast, so I got orange juice in one cafe and a cheese burek at another stand) I left <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Sarajevo</st1:place></st1:city> by its majestic entry road and set off to Mostar to see the new/old bridge. Very few motorcycles, and lots of fun roads - except for the bits which had had the surface scraped off in readiness for new tarmac. However there were 10’s of kms of these sections which would be horrible in the wet as the wheels go in different directions from what the rider intends. And it looks like these sections have been around a long time without any work being done.



    Mostar building (not the builder's original finish!):
    [​IMG]



    Mostar was shell-torn and notable for the bullet holes in many of the buildings, and the picture-postcard bridge.

    Driving into a very hot Mostar:

    [​IMG]

    It was early in the season so there were few tourists. No-one was diving from it today, the problem with travelling out of season! The river was high, over its banks in part due all the recent rain.

    The famous (and now, rebuilt) bridge:

    [​IMG]

    From there I rode along the Aegean coastline which was breath-takingly beautiful, down to <st1:city w:st="on">Dubrovnik</st1:city> - picture-postcard beautiful but stuffed with tourists so I made my excuses and left for <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Montenegro</st1:place></st1:country-region>.
    At the approach to the frontier I met a group of 5 very grumpy looking Slovenian bikers I had seen earlier - no smiles anywhere, reminds me of Sartre and ‘les autres’. Long queue to get into <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Montenegro</st1:place></st1:country-region> and a charge for insurance - I was sent off to see a chain-smoking administrator who took 10 Euro and gave me a piece of paper. Not sure he stopped viewing his TV during the process. Lots of duty free between the border posts.
    Once I got properly into <st1:country-region w:st="on">Montenegro</st1:country-region> I stopped for some doner kebab or local equivalent, and in leaving met an Italian biker, ‘Simon from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Italy</st1:place></st1:country-region>’. He was riding all the way round the <st1:place w:st="on">Mediterranean</st1:place> over a 3 month period. I mwntioned that I was aiming for Kotor that day and we sort of agreed to ride together to that town.
    Immediately I felt hemmed-in and irritated, needing to match my speed to someone else and potentially compromise on stopping point, possibly hotel if we agreed to split a room. Only after an hour or two, and perhaps soothed by the beauty of the Kotor fiord, I relaxed again. We were passed by a bus from Simon Tours, and then we came across it IN the fiord having dodged to avoid a truck and nearly found a worse fate. Happily the 5 passengers broke the window and managed to climb out.

    Local bus bites the dust - I mean, water:[​IMG]



    In fact Simon was excellent company and we tried to get rooms in Kotor town - a walled city where motorbikes are not allowed- but it was way too expensive (90 euro + for a double room).



    Charming Montenegrin landlady Emma:


    [​IMG]

    About 300m outside the town we found an excellent newly furnished apartment for 30 Euro, and spent the difference on a very good dinner. I had squid stuffed with fish. A local speciality, which was delicious Foolishly I then had a couple of glasses of the local raki and paid the price the next morning.



    'Simon from Italy':[​IMG]

    ‘Simon from <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Italy</st1:place></st1:country-region>’ was a Venetian.


    He was on a circumnavigation of the Mediterranean, going on to Egypt, Libya and then by boat to Italy from Tunisia. He told me a lot about this area, which historically had been part of the Venetian ‘empire’. This explained a lot of the architectural similarity to the Italian Adriatic towns.
    So now it was time for <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Albania</st1:place></st1:country-region>….
    #16
  17. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    116
    Location:
    London
    If I had had more time, the Adriatic coast line would have been a wonderful place to camp...beautiful beaches and towns:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    and more:




















    [​IMG]
    #17
  18. simondippenhall

    simondippenhall Simondippenhall

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    116
    Location:
    London
    The trip from Kotor to the Albanian border near Ulcinj should be a starightforward one.

    However as I approach Bar, there is a long tailback of traffic. In true biker fashion I ignore it and ride to the front....where there is a barrier, as they are dynamiting a widening of the road. (this seems to be standard practice, as the previous day going around the Bay of Kotor (educational note: Southern Europe's largets fiord), we were stopped while the remains of a dynam,iited hillside were tipped off the mountain above us by a bulldozer.)

    They say it will be 30 minutes til the road re-opens...but I want to keep rolling, and besides this is the obvious and direct road to my destination, which ADVriders will agree is never the most interesting way.

    So I decide to head for a very small road marked on my map, which skirts the enormous lake Skardar. If all goes well it should deliver me at a very small border crossing into Albania.

    [​IMG]
    That turns out to be an adventure in itself, as the road has many turns and gets smaller and smaller. I stop frequently to ask if I am on the right road, using my non-existent Montenegrin. At one point, 2 old codgers enter a big argument with each other about how many km's it is to the next village...but for me the main point is they agree which road goes to that village!

    The road continues to dwindle, and now there is grass growing in the middle, so I don't expect to meet much traffic. And I was right.


    Entry to Albania was interesting.

    The road out of Montenegro was a dirt track, as it was being rebuilt. A large Albanian Mercedes pulled up as I did the paperwork to leave Montenegro. The car was marked police but the guy who got out smelled of eau de cologne and gagsterism. He introduced himelf to me, gave me a friendly embrace (that's how I know about the eau de cologne), and after much joking with the border guards jumped back in his car and was driven into Albania.

    I followed shortly afterwards, having got my visa and paid a vsmall amount for local insurance.

    The first impressions of Albania were a shock - much more desolate and poor than Montenegro. I may have been influenced by the grey skies!

    The first Albanian castle

    [​IMG]
    Local transport system is Mercedes Benz, or this:
    [​IMG]


    And if you don't have either, you walk:
    [​IMG]

    There are a lot of legacies of old, inefficient and now abandoned factories:
    [​IMG]

    The country is littered with the bomb-shelters which Enver Hoxha (pronounced Hodja) decreed should be built. They are almost indestructible. (Apparently they also served as local 'lovers' lane' for many young Albanians).

    [​IMG]
    My destination is Tirana:

    It turns out to be like a huge moto-cross track, with roads all dug up and rush hour traffic racing each other (this is the good bit of road!):[​IMG]
    #18
  19. donny662

    donny662 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    394
    Location:
    Michigan
    Yay!! Us Americans aren't the only ignorant travellers in Europe.

    Sorry, I am still reading your report and am enjoying it immensely. I just wanted to share that bit of insight before I read further.
    #19
  20. Yellow Pig

    Yellow Pig Allergic to Asphalt!

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2004
    Oddometer:
    7,706
    Location:
    Kalifornia
    Excellent report. Keep it coming.
    #20