A spring ride across Europe on a S10 - in search of warmer weather and good company.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Don T, Apr 16, 2017.

  1. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    I have the next couple of weeks off from work and have decided to grab the opportunity to take the S10 for a spin. I have an itch that needs scratching after a long winter with no riding.

    It is still early spring here in Denmark and I'm longing for warmer weather. Besides that I have a good friend living in Greece who has invited me to drop by, so why not take him up on his offer and kill two birds with one stone :)

    There are around 3.000 kilometers and from Denmark to Greece.

    I’ll take off tomorrow and plan on meeting up with my friend in Greece on Friday. This leaves me 5 days to cover the distance. I will be passing through several countries and a wide variety of landscapes en route. This has the potential of a really nice spring ride!

    The S10 is packed, ready and stomping its hoofs in the garage.

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    I’ll try to keep this RR up to date as the journey unfolds.

    Stay tuned!
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Sounds like a great trip ahead.. only 3000 km from Denmark to Greece.. wow! i need frequent reminders how compact Europe is, with plenty of cultural, historical, linguistic and culinary diversity! Thanks for taking us along..
    #2
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  3. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Day 1: Vordingborg (DK) to Nittenau (D) – 761 km.

    Today have been all about covering distance in an attempt to escape a bout of cold weather that affects most of east and central Europe at the moment.

    I pulled out of my driveway at 9 am. It was raining and the temperature hovered around 5 degrees C.
    The rain soon subsided. When I reached the ferry port in Gedser the sun was peeking through the clouds.

    After a pleasant 2 hours crossing I arrived in Rostock/Germany just before 1 pm. I soon hit the Autobahn. I made good time. I hit “stau” several times but it didn’t slow me down much, as the Germans are good at making space for a lane splitting motorcycle. For the next 500 km I enjoyed mostly dry roads and temperatures above 10 degrees C.

    Later in the day when the sun started to set, the temperatures dropped significantly and the sky started to leak. Sleet on the visor is never a welcoming sight. At 8.30 pm I arrived at an old gasthof in the small town of Nittenau. After check-in I retired to my room to soak in a steaming hot bath.
    When my body temperature was back to normal I sauntered down to the bar to have a couple of cold beers. I’m writing this sitting at a table by the bar.

    My intended route was through the Austrian Alps to Slovenia, but the weather in the Alps doesn’t look tempting (-10 degrees C and snow), so I’ll have to figure out an alternative route for tomorrow.
    A long cold day in the saddle and a couple of big German beers has made me sleepy, so I’m off to bed.
    I’m very excited about tomorrows riding as I have some mountains to cross and the weather remains a joker…

    Sorry for the lack of pictures – I’ll amend that in the coming days.


    At the ferry port in Gedser:
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    The S10 in front of the gasthof in Nittenau (after check-in I parked it a garage just below my room):
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    #3
  4. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Day 2: Nittenau (D) to Karlovac (HR) – 840 km.

    What a day!

    The town church was located right behind the hotel in Nittenau and at 6 am I was roused by loudly chiming bells. When the bells fell silent I noticed that the beers the night before had resulted in a slight hangover this morning. All in all a great start to the day.
    A couple of hours later when the bike was packed and I had consumed a hearty breakfast things was starting to look better. Then – just as I swung my leg over the saddle – sleet started pouring down. I had a lot of ground to cover today, so the only option was to get going.

    I started out on small country roads as I’ve had more than enough of highway riding yesterday. After a short while, the sleet was replaced with heavy snow and the wind picked up. The small twisty roads soon lost their charm as I had zero confidence in the corners and was battling to keep the visor free of snow. I set the GPS for fastest route headed for the nearest highway in an attempt to get the hell out of Dodge.

    Not long after I hit the highway I crossed the border to Austria. As I circumvented Vienna the weather finally began to clear up. It was still freezing cold but I was making good time. From Vienna I continued towards Zagreb. The border crossings - first into Slovenia then Croatia – went smoothly. South of Zagreb just before sunset I left the highway in search of a place to spend the night.

    I'm staying at a nice hotel on the outskirts of Karlovac. The staff made room for the S10 in a storage shed behind the hotel. After a much needed warm shower I enjoyed a well prepared traditional Croatian dinner in the hotel restaurant – accompanied by one (and only one) local beer.

    The reward of another grueling day in the saddle is that I’m now within striking distance of the Adriatic Coast where I’m hoping to find more accommodating riding conditions.


    I didn't notice the church next door when I arrived last night in the dark, but I sure did in the morning - the view from my balcony this morning:
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    The weather was a real treat early in the day (notice how the screen is covered with snow):
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    Enjoying the view and dry weather just south of Vienna:
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    The s10 tucked in for the night behind the hotel in Karlovac:
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    #4
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  5. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Day 3: Karlovac (HR) to Cavtat (HR) – 543 km.

    When I looked out the window this morning, I was pleased to see patches of blue sky. Today I intended to stick to the smaller roads! It was still early in the morning when I continued my journey. The roads were dry and I was having a good time. There was still a range of mountains between me and the coast. As I continued south and started to gain altitude the temperature dropped. Before long I was riding through a winter wonderland. Despite the cold and the snow I enjoyed the riding. The roads were still mostly dry, visibility good and the scenery breathtaking.
    Despite all that, I welcomed the rising temperatures as I descended the mountains towards the Mediterranean Sea. Just before I reached the coast I stopped at a gas station to give the bike a rinse. I like salt on my eggs, not on my bike.

    I intercepted the scenic coastal road just south of Split. The road was almost devoid of traffic and I was having a blast as I continued south towards Dubrovnik. It’s a wonder that I avoided a speeding ticket... I made two border crossings today (check out a map of the region). At the first one from Croatia to Bosnia there was a looong line of cars waiting to get across. I did the only sensible thing to do when on a bike. I rode to the front of the line, parked the bike, took off my helmet, dug out my papers and politely asked the people in the second car in line, if it was OK that I jumped in front. 2 minutes later I was on my way. There was no line at the border back into Croatia.

    When I reached Dubrovnik I used booking.com to search for a place to stay for the night. Nothing was available in Dubrovnik (?), but I managed to book an apartment in a small town 20 km further south along the coast.

    I arrived early in the evening. It’s a very nice place – both the town and the accommodation. I took an evening stroll around town and had a delicious pizza at a restaurant by the marina, before returning to the apartment to create this post for the RR.


    My view from the balcony in the morning:
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    A Picturesque town I passed by in the morning. Imagine the noise from the water in those houses:
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    Winter wonderland near Plitvice Lakes:
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    Descending the mountains:
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    The S10 got a well deserved and thorough rinse:
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    Finally! Sunny weather and warmer temperatures at the coast:
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    Even this far south, winter isn't far away. The top of the mountains along the coast is cover by snow:
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    Dubrovnik:
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    Evening view from the marina in Cavtat:
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    #5
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  6. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    You are welcome :-)
    #6
  7. ChiefVPK

    ChiefVPK n00b

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    Don T,
    Thank you !! I am enjoying the ride and the Beautiful sights. You seem to have had all 4 seasons in a few days !! Enjoy, and be safe
    V
    #7
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  8. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Good to hear from you V :wave
    I presume that you have arrived home safely from your ride to the Blue Ridge Mountains?

    Yes, the weather have been crazy so far on this trip - but I'm still having a good time :ricky
    #8
  9. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Day 4: Cavtat (HR) to Gjirokaster (AL) – 456 km.

    After three long days I was ahead of schedule, so I decided to take it easy this morning. I slept late. When I finally got out of bed, I walked down to the local grocery store to pick up something for breakfast. It was really nice to have a relaxing start to the day – for a change.
    It was late in the morning when I finally got back on the bike. The weather was perfect.

    I continued south along the coast. Traffic was dense and the going slow. Before long I crossed the border to Montenegro. I then took a ferry across the Bay of Kotor. During the short crossing I had a chat with a German guy travelling in a RV with his wife. He dreamed about replacing the RV with a R1200GS one day.

    Early in the afternoon I reached the border to Albania. The last bit of riding through Montenegro had been great with little traffic on beautiful curvy roads. There was a slow moving line of cars at the border. Before I could initiate my usual border crossing procedure, a border officer waved me to the front in the pedestrian lane. While I waited for the officer to check my papers (it took a while) I noticed a sign proclaiming this to be the first joint Balkan border after the war. This meant that instead of two check points separated by a stretch of no man’s land (as is the standard when passing between most Balkan countries), this check point let me out of Montenegro and into Albania in one proceeding. Nice.

    This is not my first time in Albania, so I knew what to expect. Along the main roads and around densely populated areas Albania is a sorry sight. Most roads and buildings are in disrepair. There is trash everywhere. Traffic is a nightmare due to a majority of really bad drivers. You constantly see animals being treated badly. It was in this uplifting environment that I spend most of the afternoon. Late in the day I moved inland towards the mountains. Here another side of Albania is revealed. The scenery is nice, some of the small towns are charming and people are more accommodating.

    Just before I reached Gjirokaster I noticed a hotel in a cluster of houses a bit off the road. I turned down a gravel road to get there. At first the place looked deserted, but as I shut off the bike and removed my helmet a woman and a man emerged. It turned out that they were the owners of the place. Besides signs and a few words in French, we didn’t share a common language. They managed to explain to me, that the place was open, but there were no guests. She showed me my room and asked if I would like some dinner. After a quick shower I was treated with a nice 3 course dinner (2 of the courses was on the house). As there were no other guests, the heating had been turned off. To remedy that my host placed a LPG heater right next to my table. It worked like a charm. After dinner my hostess brought me a cup of coffee and an ashtray, so I stayed at the table to work on this post. I put the writing on hold when the owners 18 years old son joined me at the table to talk bikes. This is a pretty simple no-star hotel, but I really enjoy staying here.

    I have retired to my room. The gates are sealed and the owners have left. I’m now the only one on the premises.

    Tomorrow evening I’m meeting up with my friend in Nafpaktos in Greece. We will be riding together for 3 days. Don’t expect any updates during that time. In the evenings we’ll be busy catching up, drinking beers and playing Tavli :freaky


    The view from my Balcony in the morning:
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    It was chilly early in the morning and the central heating wasn't working, so I turned on and opened the oven to create a warm and cozy den in the kitchen:
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    The ferry crossing at the Bay of Kotor:
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    Nice riding in Montenegro:
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    Heading towards the mountains in Albania:
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    Restorant "Viktoria" Hotel - where I stay the night:
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    There is quite a bit of traffic on the road past the hotel:
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    #9
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  10. KHERDK

    KHERDK n00b

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    In the past I'v always read your ride report on your website Tommy - This time I'm following your trip thru ADVrider! It's funny to follow along and get inspiration for further trips. Unfortunate my own trip to Skotland this summer i cancelled, because of a herniated disc (L5,S1). It is a big bummer - But that is life.

    Have a safe journey - It looks to be a good diverse trip :-)

    God tur - Hilsen Kristian Hergott ;-)
    #10
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  11. boristhebold

    boristhebold Been here awhile

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    Enjoy your weekend in Greece with your buddy...and ride safe.
    #11
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  12. ChiefVPK

    ChiefVPK n00b

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    HAIR !!! LOL !

    Beautiful shots T , thanks again for taking the time to post the ride. Be safe
    V
    #12
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  13. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    It's good to hear that you find my RR's inspirational.

    Thank you - so far we are having a great time!

    Yes hair... we'll see how long that will last :dirtdog


    As predicted I'm too busy with other stuff at the moment to update the RR - but just wait, I have much to report :nod
    #13
  14. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Day 5: Gjirokaster (AL) to Nafpaktos (GR) – 447 km.

    I woke up to a beautiful morning and started the day with a walk in the area before breakfast.

    I was going to meet up with my Greek friend Alex in Nafpaktos late in the afternoon. According to my Zumo I would arrive way early if I took the direct route so I decided on a scenic one instead. Good choice! The riding was great all day and the scenery nice. At some point during the afternoon I discovered that I had entered another time zone. This meant that I had the keep a brisk pace for the last couple of hours to arrive in Nafpaktos as planned.

    When I arrived I spotted Alex’ Monster parked at the town square. I parked next to it, and a moment later Alex showed up. It was good to see him again.

    I have known Alex for a couple of years. First time we had contact was on advrider, when he send me a pm asking for off road tracks in Romania. He had seen me respond earlier to a thread regarding the subject. He was planning a trip with some friends. A few month later, after he had completed the trip, he wrote me again to tell me the tracks I had share with him, had been a great help in planning the trip and a joy to ride – and if I ever decided to ride in Greece he would be more than happy to help me out in return. As it turn out my girlfriend and I did a trip to Turkey the following year. En route we passed through Greece. We met up with Alex and his wife and spend a couple of great days together. Since then we have kept in touch – we have been to Greece again and they have visited us in Denmark.

    Alex and I spend a nice evening together. We strolled around Nafpaktos, had a great dinner and found a cozy bar where we could play a game of Tavli. We have an ongoing battle. I was the reigning champion.
    It was late before we got back to the hotel.


    Pictures from my morning walk in the countryside:
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    The scenic route through northwestern Greece:
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    Where I spotted the Monster in Nafpktos:
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    The view from the town square:
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    Alex:
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    The Rio-antirrio Bridge at dusk:
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    Nafpaktos by night:
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    #14
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  15. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Day 6, 7 and 8: The Peloponnese peninsula (GR) – 1.154 km.

    Despite the late night we were up early the next day. Alex had a plan. He wanted to show me around the Peloponnese peninsula, and to cover as much as possible in the 3 days we had – showing me the best roads, the most amazing scenery and to explore some of the interesting sites and cities.

    The theme of the first day was mountain riding exploring the interior of the peninsula. The weather forecast didn’t look promising. Compared to what I had experienced earlier in the trip, we started out in mild weather, but as we climbed the mountains the temperature started to drop. Late in the morning the first spots of rain hit the visor. The rain then got heavier. When the rain turned into snow around noon, we stopped for a coffee. Alex wasn’t dressed for this kind of weather. He was freezing his ass off. I had become used to this kind of riding weather by now – but still a bit surprised to encounter snow this far south.

    During the afternoon the weather cleared up. Everything considered the riding was still very good. Before me returned to the coast we stopped at Olympia and had a short walk. We spend the night in the coastal town of Pilos.


    Early morning at the Rio-antirrio Bridge that connects the mainland with the Peloponnese peninsula.
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    Time for a short break in the morning:
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    Alex was in dire need of warm coffee when it started to snow.
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    The mountains:
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    Olympia:
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    Arrived in Pilos:
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    The next day we woke to a clear blue sky. This day we would follow the southern coast (more or less) all the way to Monemvasia in the southeastern part of the peninsula. The temperatures soon started to rise. When we reached the marina in Kalamata it was time for ice cream and ice coffee! The riding was great all day. We pasted through several charming coastal villages. We were making good time. Late in the afternoon we arrived in Monemvasia. It’s a remarkable place.

    We checked into a hotel and got out of our riding gear. Then we went exploring. The old part of the town is located on a rock 200 meters off the coast. At a plateau on top of the rock, 100 meters above sea level, you find the ruins of a huge medieval fortress. It is up to 300 meters wide and 1 kilometer long. Alex and I did the climb. It was worth it. We build up a healthy appétit before sunset. We spend the rest of the evening in the old town doing the usual stuff (ate well, drank and played Tavli). Again it was late before we returned to the hotel.


    Time for take-off in the morning - in front of our hotel in Pilos:
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    Shortly after departure we did a short stop in Methhoni:
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    Cool gas station - they were selling all kind of things:
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    Ice cream and coffee break in Kalamata - finally I had found the warm weather I had been looking for:
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    Nice scenery:
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    Why carry a tool kit when riding a S10..? - because you might end up riding with a guy on a Ducati :lol3
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    Nice riding
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    We did a bit of exploring at the village of Varheia:
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    Further along the coast - flowers everywhere:
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    Monemvasia:
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    View from our dinner table:
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    Tavli time:

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    The last day we headed north towards Athens where Alex lives with his wife Despoina. Early in the afternoon we stopped in Nafpli
    o to grab a bite of lunch. We took a stroll around the historic town. It was the first capital of modern Greece – and it was where Alex and Despoina got married a few years ago.

    After another great day of riding we arrived in Athens just in time for a quick visit at the annual motorcycle show. It was the final day of the show. All the big brands were present. Especially 2 models caught our interest. KTM 1090 Adventure R and Desert Sled from Ducati. I expected that I would like the KTM but was surprised to find the Desert Sled attractive – and I really did. When we were done drooling at the show, we met up with Despoina at a renowned pizza, burger and pasta restaurant near their apartment. For ones we found our beds at a reasonable hour, as Despoina had to get up for work the next morning.


    Short morning break - look how the Duc park in the middle of the village square to get attention:
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    The S10 told it to behave like a real bike and park properly:
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    Further north:

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    More nice riding:
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    Nafplio:
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    Arrived in Alex' garage in Athens:

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    The motorcycle show:

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    #15
  16. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Day 9: Athens (GR) to Meteora (GR) – 444 km.

    When I woke in the morning Despoina had left for work. Alex went shopping for breakfast while I started packing. After breakfast it was time for one final round of Tavli. Up until now it had been a draw, and we needed to crown the 2017 champion. Alex won the last round, and there will be no end to his gloating until we get a chance to play again. It was late in the morning before I was ready to leave.

    I had big expectations for this day. It was the only one I had planned prior to the trip. There were two places I wanted to see before leaving Greece. From Athens I took the highway to Lamia. Here I turned inland on smaller roads. I even managed to find some gravel. After a few hours of nice riding I arrived at an old bridge with a waterfall as backdrop. I came to know about it from rtwpaul’s latest RR. It was just as spectacular as I had hoped it would be. It’s located in the middle of nowhere. I had the place all to myself. It was a very special experience.

    From the waterfall I continued north to Meteora. When I got there I rode the circuit connecting the Monasteries. It took me a couple of hours. I stopped many times to enjoy the views and walk around a bit. When I’d had my fill of stunning views I check into a guesthouse below one of the monasteries. I had a quick dinner at a tavern in the nearby village, before I returned to the guesthouse, to catch up on the RR after having neglected it for several days. It has been - yet another - great day!


    Breakfast:
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    Last round:

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    Alex sending me off. He's a good friend, a great host and a fantastic tour guide.
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    Central Greece:

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    I passed this bridge on my way to the one I was looking for:
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    The Real Deal:
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    On my way back to civilization:
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    Meteora:
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    The S10 parked at the guesthouse:
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    #16
  17. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    Day 10: Meteora (GR) to Novi Sad (SRB) – 937 km.

    As I have an appointment in Czech 2 days from now the plan was to cover some distance today.

    I left Meteora early in the morning. I started out on small roads through Northern Greece. Before noon I passed the border to Macedonia (or FYROM as Alex told me it is rightly called). I was following the main roads – a mix of highways and 2 lane roads. It didn’t take me long to pass through the country and soon I entered Serbia. I continued north. Despite taking the main roads the riding wasn’t too bad. The weather was perfect and the traffic mostly light. Early in the evening, after 11 hours of riding I checked in at a guesthouse in a village just south of Novi Sad. It’s a very rustic guesthouse, but the host is very friendly and the rate ridiculously low.


    Northern Greece in the morning:
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    I picked up lunch from a street vendor at a tollbooth on the highway:
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    Serbia:
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    The S10 park behind the gate at the guesthouse this evening:
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    #17
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  18. Don T

    Don T Bike Addict

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    ᛏᛅᚾᛘᛅᚢᚱᚴ - Scandinavia.
    Day 11: Novi Sad (SRB) to Prostejov (CZ) – 662 km.

    When I tried to get out of bed this morning the bed collapsed under me. As I said: a very rustic guesthouse. The night before I confirmed, when my host asked me if I wanted meat for my breakfast. I sure got what I had asked for. While having my breakfast I was talking with the hostess. Her and her husband had started the guesthouse 5 years earlier. They also live in the house with 3 kids. To begin with there was only 1 room for guests. Up until now they have spend the income from guests on renovation and expansion of the house. It’s their retirement fund. Besides running the guesthouse, they both have full time jobs. She is a doctor and he works with agriculture. Both their salaries are very low. Fortunately for them, they don’t belong to the 44% of the Serbian workforce that is currently unemployed. She also gave me her view on the political and financial situation in Serbia. She wasn’t optimistic regarding the future of the country. It was an interesting conversation.

    The weather was warming up nicely when I left the Guesthouse. I had decided to avoid highways today and continued towards Czech. When I arrived at the border to Hungary the temperature had reached 25 degrees C. This was the last border crossing where I had to show all my papers. From now on I’m back in the Schengen zone. At the Serbian border post the custom officers checked my luggage. It was the first time my luggage got checked during this trip.

    As I crossed through Hungary the weather changed. When I reached Slovakia the temperature had drop to 6 degrees C. As I entered Czech it started to drizzle. The riding was good though. Early in the evening I checked in at H-Club in down town Prostejov. It’s a restaurant with rooms upstairs. When I arrived I was freezing, so the first thing I did was to draw a steaming hot bath. I stay in the tub until I was whistling. Now I was ready to enjoy a late dinner in the restaurant downstairs.

    Tomorrow I have a 4 hours ride to my friend Oleksii’s place in Liberec. I met Oleksii for the first time back in 2014, when I took him up on his offer in the Tent Space Thread. Since then I’ve visited him a couple of times – both alone and with my girlfriend. Besides looking forward to see him again, I’m also looking forward to pick up a new set of riding gear when I’m there. Oleksii is the guy behind Alburmoto. Among other things he sells KLIM clothing. I can’t wait to get rid of the HELD suit I have been using so far on this journey. The functionality of the suit is great but the quality poor – especially failing zippers have been a constant pain in the ass. Now after 4 years and +100.000 km the suit is worn out. I’m not impressed!

    My plan is ride home from Liberec the day after tomorrow. I don’t expect to be able to post any more updates during this trip, but I promise that I won’t leave you hanging. Much can happen before I reach home – and I have some thoughts, stats and not least tracks, that I would like to share with you before I conclude this RR…


    Would you like meat for your breakfast?
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    Leaving Serbia:
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    Hungary:
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    Crossing Danube to get from Hungary to Slovakia:
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    I encountered these trucks with wide loads en route through Slovakia - there was a herd of police cars in front to clear the road:
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    Early evening in Czech:
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    The bike parked in the rain at H-Club:
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    #18
  19. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,688
    Wonderful report! Thanks for posting! Looking forward to the remaining installments!
    #19
    Don T likes this.
  20. ChiefVPK

    ChiefVPK n00b

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2014
    Oddometer:
    5
    Excellent report and photos T !! You are one traveling man ! Really enjoying this, thanks. Be safe V
    #20
    Don T likes this.