South-East Europe - round trip '07

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by vstrom, Aug 24, 2007.

  1. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

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    I'll jump in again, sorry this was a good year for me too ;)

    I have been planning this ride for a longer time and searching for riders who would like to join in this thread in regional forum for Europe

    There were 2 additional riders willing to join: Mike from Poland and Robert from England. Unfortunately, Mike had some health issues and he was not able to go with us. So it was Robert and me at the end.

    Plan was somehow modified, but we did most of the planned route. Ukraine was skipped because of formalities & visas, Turkey because we didn't have enough time. I wanted to go to Turkey so much, but it was impossible this time :(

    Here is what we have done - in total nearly 7400 km in 19 days of riding (we had only 2 resting days in Greece), 14 countries (Robert did 16 countries), 2 different time zones, 9 currencies:

    [​IMG]

    This was the biggest adventure for me until now.

    I'll try to update this report on a daily basis, but having 2 small kids and work means no guarantee ;)
    #1
  2. Starstriker

    Starstriker www.transasia.se

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    Haha, cool! I just did the same trip. Check map!

    [​IMG]
    #2
  3. cyprys

    cyprys Been here awhile

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    edinburgh
    Cool, very cool. I can only hope that you did enjoy my home country?:D
    #3
  4. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

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    Cool, than we can compare our impressions about the journey :freaky
    #4
  5. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

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    Which? I guess Greece? It was the best part, IMHO.
    #5
  6. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    this should be great... lots of pics please :thumb

    :lurk
    #6
  7. GB

    GB . Administrator

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    Cyprys is from Poland and will soon be embarking on his own Long Way Round :thumb.
    #7
  8. nerudarider

    nerudarider nerudarider

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    Istanbul, Stockholm
    Excellent Route! :thumb

    I'd see Ukraine and Turkey are extensions from your route, but why skip Macedonia and Czech?

    This is gonna be a good report! Bring it on!:lurk :lurk :lurk :lurk
    #8
  9. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

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    I was in Macedonia (FYROM) last year, Czech is on my todo list for the next journey. Ukraine is a problem for me - I need a visa and getting one is not easy. Also, we had arranged a visit to Krakow and Dresden, so it was a bit off our route and, as you already know for us having fixed vacation, limited time ;(
    #9
  10. Starstriker

    Starstriker www.transasia.se

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    A visa for Ukraine? Are you 100% sure? I thought we didnt need visas to go there? Last year, during my trip across Asia some of my travelcompanions chose to go through Ukraine, and they did it without visa. U sure you dont mean Belarus, there you will need a visa.
    #10
  11. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

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    I´m a Croatian citizen, 100% sure I need visa. Unfortunately. I wanted to visit Ukraine, but visa issue was just too much for me this time.
    #11
  12. Starstriker

    Starstriker www.transasia.se

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    Oh I see. For some reason I thought you were German.

    Croatia was great BTW. We spent some days on Hvar. Beautiful Island and town!!!
    #12
  13. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

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    I know it`s confusing :) I live in Germany, married here, but I have a Croatian citizenship :D
    #13
  14. Starstriker

    Starstriker www.transasia.se

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    Ah, ok, now I get it. Very confusing with marriage and all ;)
    #14
  15. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

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    Day 1 (2007-08-01)

    Nothing really worth to write about day one. We knew it from the beginning, riding through western EU is just a gateway to the more adventurous ride.

    The only thing worth to mention is Robert's iron butt. Yes, he is of a special breed, an European version or IronButt man. He already did one spectacular IronButt ride from London to Belgrade in 24 hours riding under constant rain (2500 km) :huh , so the ride he did on that day was just a short ride in his world. At 08 PM 2007-07-31 he was still in London, 01 AM 2007-08-01 in France, 07 AM in Frankfurt:

    [​IMG]

    Then all day ride through Germany (motorways) and Austria towards Innsbruck and Brenner pass in Italy. :eek1

    We took a camp near city Varna in Italy. Dinner, few beers and the day was over for me while Robert continued writing his diary in the bathroom. The diary thing was very important for him. It was not only about the ride, but about his life in the past couple of years which were not easy for him.

    Our first day route:

    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. DRglidarn

    DRglidarn Panzer pilot

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    Trollhättan, Sweden
    :lurk
    #16
  17. MK96xj

    MK96xj 100% Seat Time

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    Asheville NC
    +1:lurk

    This one is looks to be a good one.
    #17
  18. Frgich

    Frgich Long timer

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    We're waiting for some more Igore, so bring it on my friend :clap
    #18
  19. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

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    Location:
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    Day 2 (2007-08-02)

    Where the adventure begins...

    I didn't think it will be so soon that our ride will become a real adventure. To define adventure, the simplest would be : adventure = problem. And this is what we had on that day, our second day riding together :(

    The night was cold. And there was a busy railway just 100 meters away from the camping site. Robert had a very exhausting ride on the first day and he slept bad. It was too cold for him, and the noise from the train was waking him up over and over again.

    [​IMG]

    Luckily, weather was great. We woke up early and hit the road at 07AM. The first couple of hours were just horrible. Traffic in Italy from Varna and Brunico all the way to the Austrian border was just horrible. I didn't want to filter and overtake, there was no point doing this since the road was full of cars, and I'm very unlucky with the traffic police.

    Scenery was standard: beautiful, but after seeing things for the 20th time, boring. It was a pleasure to ride Austrian part from Italian border to Hermagor though. Very nice road, empty, good pavement.

    [​IMG]
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    At one point we entered the road under construction. It was a bit tricky section, very narrow and after a sharp turn. I was behind Yamaha FJR 1300, we both did a full stop easily. Few moments later I was hit in my left case and the a yellow Strom went left off the road and hit the rocks, luckily at low speed. It was Robert. He could not explain what happened. He was just too tired. Something long distance travelers should always have in mind - tiredness kills.

    Broken turn signal, few more scratches. But nothing duct tape could not fix. Ant it would fit perfectly to his rat Strom. Robert managed to lift the bike, and was lucky enough that left pannier saved his leg from being smashed under the heavy loaded bike. My bike was OK, just the pannier was scratched. Not a big deal. It could be much worse.

    We continued our ride and stopped at the petrol station in Hermagor. Continued our ride towards Slovenian border and Podkoren (Wuerzenpass). I was in front of Robert. My understanding of Slovenian and German to some extent helped. Austrian border police was asking for the documents. While I started to put my gloves off, officer saw it will last forever and just asked me if I have documents. I replied positive, of course. He asked me the same question for Robert. I replied that he is English with valid passport. The same scenario was at the Slovenian border. We entered Slovenia and 15 minutes we were in Kranjska Gora ready for a coffee break and late breakfast.

    We parked our bikes, turned off the engines. And then I've heard Robert almost screaming in panic: "where is my tank bag, where is my tank bag????".

    Shock for both of us! Robert was pale, confused, afraid. The only thing he had was his wallet. Bike documents, cameras & charges, iPod, passport, home keys, diary, & many other valuables were gone. It took us 10 minutes to start thinking what to do. Robert went to the touristic office, but come back very disappointed. He felt so "exposed". This was the term he was using.

    I have suggested a lunch and time to rethink where he could have lost his tank bag. He has 2 possibilities to choose from: when he fell (100 km from Kranjska Gora) and petrol station in Hermagor in Austria (50 km). He was illigal in Slovenia, riding a bike without documents. The extra insurance he was paying in England left him empty handed (so much about insurances...), his credit cards were not working and he was very short with cash.

    After he calmed down a bit and had some food, he remembered that the tank bag was on the bike at the petrol station! We decided to go back together to Hermagor. We had to pass the same border, just 2 hours later.

    This is how our ride have looked - Kranjska Gora was the dead end :(

    [jpeg's are links to bigger images]

    [​IMG]

    Of course, officers remembered us. I had to tell the truth this time. It was a bit hairy, but they let us go back to Austria. We came at the petrol station 1 hour later. People at the petrol station were friendly, they asked us for the receipt so they could check the video material because station is video controlled. We could see a very sad thing : Robert had his tank bag on the bike, but had put it on the top case to release the tank, start fueling, went to pay the bill, come back and chat with me for a second, sit on the bike and went away - with tank bag on the top case :(

    We were very depressed at that moment. All our hopes were dead. Went to the police to report the lost passport. Police have told Robert that a colleague police officer have seen one bag on the street just few hundred meters away from the petrol station. Robert and me immediately jumped on the bikes and went back. We were searching like mad. Below is the petrol station and the surroundings:

    [​IMG]

    But it was too late. Again to the police and county offices to get the official document about the lost passport.

    It looked like this will be the last day riding together. We had a rough plan to enter illegally Slovenia again. Robert would go to Ljubljana to English Consulate, because this one was the closest. I would continue my journey alone. Shit, I didn't want to ride alone, but also I didn't want to stop my journey.

    We found a nice camping near Fakersee. Had a nice dinner and long talks about what a disaster it is to loose a tank bag :cry

    Below is the complete route for the second day:

    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. vstrom

    vstrom Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Day 3 (2007-08-03)

    Early start. We were lucky to pack our tents before rain started. It was raining heavily all day.

    Our destination - Slovenia again, with a little help from God. We choose another border crossing - Lubelj. God helped us - the same scenario on both Austrian and Slovenian border - "Do you have passports?", "Yes, of course!". We were in Slovenia again.

    We stopped for some breakfast, and Robert continued his way to Ljubljana and British Consulate. I continued towards Bosnia and Herzegovina, a little village Zavalje, where my father was born. There is still a 100+ year old small family house where my grandparents were living.

    Riding was very difficult and dangerous. Roads in inner Croatia were extremely slippery, I was lucky not to crash once I slided onto another line and almost lost the road. Finally, I have reached the village shortly after 4 PM. Parked the bike in the basement, a place where my grandparents were keeping few horses and cows, pings and chickens. It was a long time ago, more than 20, so the place was not smelling badly :D

    [​IMG]
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    I wasn't been there for more than 20 years, and visiting this place was very emotional for me. I was spending summer holidays there 30+ years ago, when the village was alive and full of young people. Today it's almost dead. Not only because of the recent war, but because living there is not easy, and young people are searching for better perspectives.

    [​IMG]
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    I had a nice afternoon with my parents who were there. And I was really happy to be there after so many years. I'm sure Robert would be very happy to be with me.

    Unfortunately, in the text message he sent to me later that day, he told me that the journey is over for him. Consulate in Ljubljana issued a single travel document so he could enter England. Consulates were not authorized to issue anything more than that. I was very sad about this and had some concerns about the whole journey riding alone.

    Route:

    [​IMG]
    #20