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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by young1, Apr 17, 2014.
Those roads looked great
Great report...more places added to my 'would like to travel around' list
I have a track log on Mapsource for a nice track that I found in Macedonia near Debar and runs down through some woods to Zdunje. I think it's the old road before they built an easier tarmac one, the E-65.
I rode it alone on my Tiger800XC and it's a nice route, not difficult. If you PM me your email I'll send it through.
It would be great to see you in NZ Rob, we will keep in touch.
That rough road would be a lot of fun on an enduro bike. But on a heavy loaded up bike where if I had dropped it I would probably still be waiting for help, it was more of a challenge
If you are like Leanne and I, that list gets longer with the more places we go and the more people we talk to.
I have just walked back from town to the hotel and for part of the way chatted to a Macedonian tour guide. She has suggested a different route to the main road to Skopje for tomorrow. To be honest I am a little "gun shy" to go to remote when I am by myself and don't have detailed maps or much mechanical ability. Thank you though for the offer
It was a strange start to the day, I really felt like I was a long way from anywhere and was worried about ending up on rough tracks lost.
I followed a couple on a GS out of Berat which was nice but I turned East and they unfortunately continued North.
I mentioned the state of the roads leading into Berat yesterday, here is what they are like for about 16 kms. Half of the road is dug up and there is very bumpy gravel to ride on. Of course anything bigger than a motorbike has right of way... so you are continually watching the road surface and also the oncoming traffic to see what direction to take.
And here is an example of a very pot holed bridge. Of course with the sides so close there is not much option on where to ride.
Two other observations this morning; first a woman herding turkeys across the road
Secondly igloos (what!). There are meant to be thousands of these dotted through Albania. They are bunkers and were built throughout the country, from 1950 to 1985, to help repel an invasion. They are made of concrete and steel and can withstand an attack by a tank.
After yesterday's navigation nightmare I was more aware of where I was going today. Unfortunately most of the place names on the signs weren't on my map (maybe Albanian signage verses English spelling on my map?)
Of course it didn't help when I got to Macedonia as I couldn't read theirs at all!
There was a nice pass to cross just before the border, you can see the top in the distance
Looking back into Albania from the top
That is where I am going, looking across Lake Ohrid to Ohrid
A couple more things, driving out of Albania I saw lots of signs saying "Lavahz" which had me beat. Then I sussed it, all along the side of the road, in petrol stations, at restaurants, or just on the road verge, like this one, are car washes. You can see they advertise with the water spaying into the air. Bizarre
I had a late lunch or early dinner when I arrived (it is easy to miss meals when it is hard work reading the menu and then ordering), as this report hasn't had enough food pictures I thought you might all enjoy the look of my banana split My glasses are there to give a size comparison, yes I ate it all!
And finally wall decoration in the restaurant to help remind you to pay the bill.
That Parkway biker bar in Bari has to have about the most elegant entrance I've ever seen for such a place!
Enjoying the heck out of your continued journey! Thanks again for sharing. I second your thoughts about the inadvisability of getting lost in inhospitable, rarely-traveled terrain whilst solo. Bad place to drop or get hurt.
How cool was it that an archeological discovery was made precisely while you were present!
Yes it was cool. What they found was a piece of bronze (from what I saw, as they looked at it, it was heart shaped) from a statue or monument.
Good stuff mate, enjoying the updates! Good too see some proper adventures being had
Did ask the shepherd what his secret was? Here in NZ we always have to chase the sheep to move them...
You've probably worked it out by now but you get the Cyrilic spelling first, before the "dash", then the one we can read after.
Ohrid...........do take the walk up to King Samual's fortress. Good views across the town and lake.
Food...............try the B.A.D. restaurant. Best meal I'd had for weeks.
If I remember right...........probably not as it's three years ago...............it's just behind the green shades in this photo...
You would think that in a city with a large lake on one side and a castle on a hill on the other side that it would be hard to get lost when walking? Wrong! I lost track of the lake last night and embarrassingly had to ask a taxi driver which direction it was in!
Once I found where I was I walked part way back to my hotel talking to a tour guide from Macedonia who suggested a good route to take today. The route I followed was via Struga, Debar, Mavrovo National Park and Gostivar. A nice scenic ride with maybe 30kms at the end on a toll road into Skopje (tolls were slow as at two of three booths they wanted to know where I was from and when I told them was asked " what do you think of our country" quite cool)
For about 30kms I followed some hydro lakes, it was nice as the road was very quiet.
The second dam I came too, this was quite high
The national park
The Kiwi number plate attracts a lot of attention.
More cool memorials
I am now in Skopje (actually sitting enjoying a bottle, soon to be two, of the local brew, the label on the bottle says "CKONCKO").
As you may have picked I quite like statues and fountains and this city is full of them. Some are very new, this one was completed on 8.9.11 to commemorate 20 years of the independence of Macedonia. It is enormous, the sculpture and base (yes I have the info sheet!) stand 25 metres high and includes a spectacular fountain.
I like this fountain of women and children (no objections please to my choice of photo, I took one on the other side of a pregnant woman but it is not focused)
As I said there are a lot and they are spectacular. A couple of funnier statues, swimmers in the river (spot the feet in the water?)
When these two saw my KTM cap they wanted to travel with me! Unfortunately no helmet, no ride....
This is me standing on the stone bridge, built in the 6th century! No not sure what she is looking at!
Anne if you are out there a photo for David. I dropped some money in their hat, then spent the next 10 minutes trying to calculate exactly how much I had given!
Finally today I visited the "Museum of the Macedonian Struggle for Statehood and Independence". You can only go around it with a guide so I paid for one. Amazing museum. What was funny often when I asked a question about the country today I was told that he was here to explain history and not answer political questions.
Tomorrow I am off to one of the newer countries in the world - Kosovo.
Perhaps your bum does look big in those trousers. :eek1
Well this morning it was goodbye to Macedonia
And hello to Kosovo. At the border I bought the compulsory insurance, minimum is Euro 15 for 15 days.
It wasn't a long day, under 3 hours which was good as it has given me time to catch up on my washing etc!
Some of the towns I went through earlier reminded me of Morocco with all of the dust blowing around. In some towns, as you can see, the roads don't seem to be paved all the way to the shops etc, which accentuates the problem. This is Ferizaj
Lots of roadworks taking place too, it is hard work riding slowly in a queue of vehicles eating their dust (for you non bikers remember I don't have a window to close or air con to turn on)
This country has had a recent turbulent past with war etc. I have seen signs of that with ruined houses in the country (as in big holes blown in the side of them) and many memorials like,
This one to an individual
Or this one to a much bigger group. What is very upsetting here is that they were all killed the same day and four of them have the same surname which includes 13 year old twin boys.
I would love to be able to talk more with some locals about this past but I think it would be too risky, through my lack of knowledge (and maybe lack of real understanding of what it was like) and I would cause offence.
I did find out about this though. Many of the signs I have ridden past have one of the names painted out. As I thought, the name removed is the Serbian spelling of the name (who of course this country was at war with).
To finish on a brighter and then funnier note. I have struck luck through booking.com and am staying in a very nice hotel (as in maybe not appropriate to hang my washing at the window!). KT is quite happy parked in front with the Audis and Mercs!
And funnier, another globe of the world. Their geography is quite different to ours. New Zealand is upside down, not simply turned over but welded in place. Some other countries have similar problems (see it to the right of Aussie?)
I have changed my plans slightly for Montenegro. Tomorrow I will do a bigger ride and go to Petrovac on the coast. Then I have booked accommodation in Dubrovnik for two nights, my riding gear needs a wash and that will be a good opportunity to do that and hopefully get some beach time.
Looking at the maps it appears as though very soon after leaving here tomorrow I have a mountain range to go over, the road looks very windy. Fingers crossed for good weather
edit - forecast for tomorrow is crap! Off to get my wet weathers out of the pannier ready :-(
Maybe it was shock at the realisation that all Kiwis aren't brown and furry (with green juicy centres)?
I was in kosovo as part of NATO in 2000 out at Pristina airport, hope all the hassle was worth it and the country is starting to come together more
The country had a strange "feel" to it. Lots of roads being built etc but still the very obvious remains of the war. Also some people seem to be very wealthy, if the cars they drive is a reflection of that, while there are also beggars on the street.
KFOR personnel still drive around, if I got my flags right, I think I saw some French soldiers drive pass.
Very cheap though. Coffee was under 1.
That part of the world has a very long history of being a cultural and religious borderland that has been part of many empires, each one overlapping the other in time and geography. Mix in a modern independence movement and blend in state of the art military weapons, communications, and mass media and you have all the ingredients for a lot of suffering and death across the board. Very sad. Hope the apparent improvement over the last 10-15 years continues.
My route today took me over a mountain range into Montenegro. I was lucky as it didn't rain (although it had) but it was still chilly.
As you see I was in the clouds approaching the Montenegro border post. It was strange as this would have been 5 to 10 kilometres past the Kosovo post.
At the immigration window, not busy so I was through quickly
So into Montenegro. All I can say is WOW what awesome roads to be riding a motorbike on. Ugly for a car though, over 220 kms there were only two passing lanes. And in that time it was gorges, hills, tunnels, viaducts, tight corners and simply stunning scenery. It was hard to stop for photos but here is an idea of what it was like.
The road heading down, see the tunnel and also road in the valley?
Spot the tunnel through the trees, middle towards the bottom
Awesome (unlike Europe the tunnels weren't lit)
This was an interesting sign as there does not appear to be a road going straight ahead
And just around the corner from that was this one
And mum I don't have a new Leanne taking photos of me, I have learnt how to use the timer. Here I am at my morning stop trying to look cool after running down to the bridge all the time counting the 12 second delay in my head
This is where I am now (Leanne look away!) it is strange to be back amongst tourists and their traffic. There was a 4.5 kilometre long tunnel just before arriving here (tourism is obviously big business along this coast). The water was fantastic after the 5 hour ride.
I had an interesting chat to a barber last night about what life was like in Peje during the war and learnt a lot (he was a nice guy, I had my beard etc trimmed, as I was his first customer from NZ - no charge).
Then when I arrived here, the owner of where I am staying gave me a glass of wine and also some meats and cheeses to eat while he did the registration etc. I got the other side of the war story from him, how shall I put this.... he didn't talk fondly of the Americans!
from Montenegro heading north you should ride along the Croatian Coastal
Visit Dubrovnik and Split
Take a side trip before you reach Split through the Valley of River Cestina
You will love it