Europe - Balkan Tour '06

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by vstrom, Mar 4, 2007.

  1. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Everything started in late 2005. The idea to visit Croatia and other countries on the Balkan peninsula in early summer 2006 finally come true beginning of June 2006.

    Day 1.

    I was sitting in front of my PC waiting for first riders to come. Gathering point was a small hotel in a small residential village above Frankfurt in Germany. The first to come was Norvegians: Irene and Trond. I've heard the well known VStrom sound while they were approaching my house at around 16 hours on June 2nd 2006. Much later arrived friends from England (Simon and Robert), and Katherine (from USA) riding Simon's second bike. The latest for that day was my dear friend Zeljko, Croatian living in Muenster in Germany.

    Katherine

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    Parking bikes behind the hotel:

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    Finally, Zeljko arrived. Me standing.

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    Nice sunset.

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    From left to right: Katherine (USA), Robert (England), me (Croatia), Trond & Irene (Norway), Zeljko (Croatia), Simon (England).

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    Back to the hotel, small chat, few drinks and adventure will officially start.

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    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    61,697
    Balkan tours are always gorgeous!! :thumb

    :lurk
    #2
  3. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Day 2.

    Everybody is excited. For most of them, especially for Kath, today starts a real adventure. She was never in Europe, while the rest except Zeljko and me have never been more south than Austria, and they have only heard terrible stories about Slovenia, Croatia, Monte Negro, Serbia, Albania and Macedonia (FYROM). What they know was that this was a war region with lot of ethnics violations. Some of them have doubts will everything go well after all...

    On Saturday 3rd, we started early. The plan was to ride from Frankfurt/Germany to Kranjska Gora in Slovenia, using highways through Germany and local roads from Austrian border. Tough plan for the day. And the weather made it even tougher.

    At cca. 7 in the morning, we were about to start.

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    First break, an hour later. For some of the riders not used to German highway speeds, it was a bit terrifying experience.

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    Second break, fuelling. We were attracting even the old ladies. Here we have met our next rider, Oded from Israel who works in Germnay (Dresden).

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    Third and the last break in Germany. A cup of coffee was 5 E. Remember this price...

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    Just before Austrian border. We want to avoid highways because they cost money. The tiny local roads to reach the first faster local roads were really fantastic. But we have to do the triple checks, consult our maps and recheck the GPS routes.

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    Rain, cold. Crazy weather for June. We met our next fellow rider, my dear friend Jordi from Spain/Catalonia on his brand new GS12000 ADV. Later we had a heavy winter thunderstorm at the Obertauern pass at 1800 m altitude. We were lucky nobody fell. There was snow on the road...

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    My Slovenian friend Glazar was waiting for us on Slovenian border and lead us to the hotel and dinner. He arranged everything for us earlier. From left to right: Trond, Irene, Jordi (Catalonia/Spain), me, Zeljko, Simon, Kath, Oded (Israel), Robert.

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    My friend Glazar showing us the route for the next day.

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    We were hungry and thirsty...

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    #3
  4. GalacticGS

    GalacticGS 1200 GS Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
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    3,626
    Location:
    Camas, WA
    Enjoying the report so far! Keep it coming...
    #4
  5. MichaelJ

    MichaelJ Long timer

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    Location:
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    Amazingly bad taste to bring a GS to what was obviously a VStrom ride. :D :D
    #5
  6. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
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    Location:
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    Friendship was stronger :D
    #6
  7. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Day 3 - Slovenian ride

    What a beautiful morning...

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    Our Slovenian friends have organized a breakfast for us in the village centre . Before we went there, some have oil the chain, some check the oil in the engine :wink: Breakfast was delicious.

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    We arranged with the hotel to deposit our cases to enjoy the ride. First we stop for refuelling, teasing Jordi all the time :D

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    First stop was at the worlds biggest ski jump - Planica:

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planica
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4c4DhVVAwU

    Then we entered Italy, riding in the beautiful nature:

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    Above us was serious mountains. I climbed one of theese few years ago:

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    Then we were about to enter Slovenia once again, but made a stop just before the border to see the old bunker from the 1st world war. Many thousands died there once...


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    There's more for this day...
    #7
  8. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Day 3 continuing...

    Entered Slovenia again. Few stops on the way to nice pass Vrsic (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vrsic).

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    One of the Slovenian riders that was with us was policeman off the duty. He is riding police bike when on duty. If we were riding like you might see in the following video clip alone and were caught by the police, we would end up in jail. Since our friend was in front of us, some of us followed. Crazy guys was in front of me, else they would have great video clip while riding faster/crazy? Anyway, it was a bit of fun :evil

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mA0FwbB6bSg

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    Then we went back to Kranjska Gora to get our cases and continued our ride towards Croatia:

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    Faster ride made Oded tired :D

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Bled

    After that we visited lake Bohinj (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Bohinj), where we made larger lunch brake. Some of our riders had to have regular meals :lol3

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    Next fueling in Slovenia (was a great spirited ride) and Yosh treatment to one Slovenian bike. I'm famous for this in this part of the world ;)

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    Last stop in Slovenia - Kostanjevica na Krki. Our last coffee with our dear Slovenian hosts:

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    Fun 4 wheel machine with BMW boxer engine:

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    Thank you, my dear friends!

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    Day is not yet over. Still a lot more to do...
    #8
  9. GalacticGS

    GalacticGS 1200 GS Rider

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Camas, WA
    What a beautiful country...

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    Enjoying a ride with good friends is one of the great pleasures of life. Enjoying good meals is another. Looks like you're getting plenty of both on this trip.
    #9
  10. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Day 3, finale

    Croatia, here we come. Our first stop was popular bikers meeting point on the Zagreb suburban area. My friends from Zagreb organized a welcomed party for us:


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    It was the first year of new 1200 ADV, so the bike got much attention wherever we've been:

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    Our dear hosts for tonight - Tomislav & Ljiljana (and others, of course):

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    After 2-3 hours, because it was already late and day was tough, we started our final ride towards little village in the area called Hrvatsko Zagorje. It was raining, the final road was unpaved, some of the riders was about to sleep in the barn. Shock :eek1. The place:

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    Some of them asked themselves, did they made a smart decision to go on a Balkan tour with me...

    Simon and Kath opened their tents, our hosts were a bit confused. They didn't know what they did wrong... I was a bit sorry for them since I knew how much effort they did. We were offered some food again, and after an hour of chatting we went to bed...

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    While other were a bit depressed, Robert was in his best element. After a hard day, he managed to dance with the local lady. It was after midnight ;)

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    #10
  11. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Day 4.

    The next day. Too much alcohol last night:

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    But, it was a good sleep after all. Fresh air, silent night after a long day ride:

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    Kath was worried the night before, but the good rest was all she needed:

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    Our dear hosts did a great breakfast:

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    New riders in our group, Croatian living in Graz (Austria) Davorin (right) and his 15 year old daughter Kasandra as a pillion on Yamaha FJ1200.

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    The day before was too much for Oded, so he continued sleeping :)

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    After that, we did a small ride (nothing big planned for the day). Kath and Robert at the birth place of one of the greatest politicians of the 20th century, JB Tito:

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tito

    And the, the highlight of the whole journey, visit to the small school in passive part of Croatia, where all children sit in the same classroom (1-8th grade). Our visit made this kids very, very happy.

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    They were so sweet to sing a song for people coming from all sides of the world into their small village, and prepared a lot of delicious food for us:

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    Simon brough a lot of nice gifts and the moment when he was distributing them to kids was really sweet:

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    After 3 hours of nice time spent in school, we had to continue our small ride and say goodbye to kids:

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    Finally, we arrived back to our base ;)

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    Our dear hosts have organized a party for us... I can't thank them enough:

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    The night was great. Quite different from the night before:

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    Thank you my dear friends:

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    #11
  12. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Day 5.

    It started early, at 00:00 :D Party was going on and on. It was really great, and all very happy. Very positive atmosphere that night:

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    There was a funny game going on, requesting new "victims". In order to finish the game, one had to drink all the vine from the special pot with a lot of holes. Since it was not easy, one had to try several times, taking too much alcohol at the end ;)

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    Getting into the bed was easy:

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    but getting out not quite:

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    Again breakfast prepared by the lovely people:

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    We are ready go go. Day was terrible, temperature in mountain area was only 9 C degrees with heavy rain. The worst scenario for a part of Europe where in June temperature might reach 35 C degrees...

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    After a long and exhausting ride, we have reached the Croatian Adriatic coast:

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    War scars :(

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    Finally, we have reached the private house of one Croatian rider that was with us from Zagreb. We were allowed to use his house for the following night. This was really generous from him (thanks Freshman) :

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    Later dinner in local pizzeria, and in the photo our next rider, Boban from Belgrade, Serbia on DL1000.

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    We went to bed early to be ready for the next, somewhat dramatic day.
    #12
  13. Renegade6

    Renegade6 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2004
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    820
    Location:
    Ft. Riley, KS
    Great report. Reminds me of how much I miss Europe.
    #13
  14. nachtflug

    nachtflug infidel

    Joined:
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    Harrys place
    well I guess everybody else might as well round file their ride reports. why bother?

    :huh

    great shot.

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    #14
  15. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    61,697
    Wow! An epic journey with an epic ride report to match! Thanks for taking us along every step of your journey!! Fantastic trip, thanks for taking us along and posting all those pics and comments :bow

    :clap :clap
    #15
  16. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Day 6

    We start relatively early. Took our stuff from the house and went for a short ride to city to get some breakfast. In the first 200 meters, Robert was about to impress 2-3 local girls in the early morning, did his wheelie (with fully loaded bike) but didn't notice the sharp turn, slammed the brakes and, of curse, crashed ;) Nothing badly hurt except of pride :D

    Lined up bikes in front of the small cafeteria and simple breakfast:

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    We took a walk to see a city center (Nin) where is the small church from 9th century:

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    After that, we took a ride towards south, taking the inner roads through former war zone (1990-1995) where my dear friends could see the damages still not fixed 11 years after the war :(

    We took a small break to check the further route and one of our riders had stomach problems and needed the toilet. URGENTLY :D

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    From missile at the children's playground...

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    We continued our ride. Few of us wanted a bit faster ride, and we arranged a meeting point. Faster riders went through the accident place (with badly hurt female car driver) while the others had to wait.

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    We have seen 3 bad car accidents (cars on roof, completely damaged) in 2 hours, but luckily went through without problems :eek1

    Faster riders were too fast... We took the longer way around ;)

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    It started to rain again. Pity, the area was really beautiful. One thing when raining to really think about is - extremely slippery roads in Dalmatia :eek1

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    And then it happened - Davorin and his daughter were in front of me. He accidentally opened the throttle and in a fraction of a second, his 15 year daughter was flying 3 meters in the air and hitting the road and her father slided on the other side of the street where the bike hit the rocks... Luckily, thanks God, at that moment the very busy street was empty so both of them didn't get hurt much. Our riding friends in front of us were waiting for us:

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    We had to find a first hotel to stay overnight. Yamaha was out of the game and this was the last stop for Davorin and his great daughter. She was only 15, but brave and calm. Impressive for a young lady. We found a hotel in Makarska city on the Adriatic coast:

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    Later, the rain stopped and we could enjoy in beautiful evening:

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    #16
  17. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Day 7

    We had to wait and find an arrangement for Davorin and his daughter. They had to fix the bike and find they way home to Graz/Austria.

    Some were sleeping...

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    The others were enjoying the beautiful morning. The area below Biokovo mountain is really beautiful:

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    The young Kasandra was not angry about her father, she was just sad that her journey have ended and that she could not go with us. Great young lady.

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    We were preparing easily:

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    After 11 AM we started our ride towards Dubrovnik. Our first stop was some 25 km before the city. I had to call our host and arrange a sleeping on our way back.

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    We arranged a meeting point at the very nice bridge at the Dubrovnik entrance:

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    After a photo session, we were advised to visit a great place from which Dubrovnik can bee seen as being on the palm of our hands:

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    Everything for a good photograph:

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    As you know, Dubrovnik was a heavy war zone just 15 years ago. There are still mine zones around the city:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubrovnik

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    After sightseeing, small coffee brake. Robert always smiling ;)

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    Our destination was a small village in Monte Negro. The more south you go, the more problems on the borders. You can enter Croatia on motorbike that nobody ask a question, but not in Monte Negro. Green cards checkup, English riders had to pay insurance, we lost 40 minutes... At the end, we reached Boban's resting house we could use for the following night:

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    Monte Negro is one most beautiful country:

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    And then came the part of the day I liked very much :D

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    #17
  18. farquharson

    farquharson Tartan clad redneck

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2002
    Oddometer:
    705
    Location:
    NC Sandhills
    Unbelievable - keep the story coming!

    Cheers.
    #18
  19. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Border problems? Yes and No. We could enter each country, but it was more and more difficult as we went south. While spending zero time in middle and northern countries, the culmination was on the next day when we lost 4 hours altogether on borders between Monte Negro/Albania/FYROM. Still, no serious problems or inconveniences, just more inefficient bureaucracy and lost time...
    #19
  20. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
    221
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Day 8

    This was THE DAY - ALBANIA

    How much do you know about this country? Until 15 years ago, this was the completely isolated country with hundreds of thousands concrete bunkers, left forgotten in time... Enver Hoxha, autocratic ruler destroyed the country. If you find more time, check what Wikipedia knows about this country at the Europe's south:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albania

    Albania was new and completely unknown to us. I know that country have developed a bit, and decided to go through. It was a bit frightening for my western friends. The idea was to enter Albania from Monte Negro and exit on the same day in FYROM. We did it, but it was dramatic at the moments... Still, many say, the most adventures part of our journey.

    We had to wake up very early. Start was set for 07 AM. The following photo was done at 05:38 AM. Nice morning in Monte Negro:

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    We started engines at cca. 07:30 AM. Our Croatian friend Danijel (Freshman) had to leave us there.

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    Kotor bay is beautiful, but a ride along the coastline might took us too long, so we used the ferry to get to the other side:

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    Robert, saint :huh Yeah right :D

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    In each country, no matter how developed it is, you can burn your money. Monte negro? No problems - apartments for 1.500 E a night at Sveti Stefan:

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    Monte Negro is really beautiful and contains an impressive coast:

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    Our Montenegrin host - Gasho. He welcomed us in his pizzeria "Pulena" in the city Bar and offered us a brunch ;) Again, we did not pay a cent for the food and drinks. Our hosts were really generous.

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    We were a bit excited and full of expectations before entering Albania. Gasho was there, showing us on the map where we should go:

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    Simon was 2.500 km away from his home, wife and 4 dear kids. Postcard before Albania, and off we go...

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    #20