3 weeks in Poland/Ukraine/Romania/Serbia/Bosnia and... Montenegro? Advice please

Discussion in 'EMEA' started by Omer, Jun 30, 2012.

  1. Omer

    Omer Brrrr

    Aug 31, 2010
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Howdy folks

    We're planning on around three weeks in the above mentioned countries - starting second week of July.
    It would be awesome to meet locals along the way, so If you are one - speak up! We'd love to come by and buy you a beer (or vodka, or Kvass or mouth wash or whatever :freaky).

    One of us will be riding on a V-Rod so we're trying to stick mainly to paved roads - though good unpaved is also fine.
    At the moment, we don't have a specific route in mind but rather plan on mostly following The Carpathians range.

    So far, this is what we have(err... not much :shog):
    1. Starting at Tallinn, Estonia - we'll go through Latvia, Lithuania quickly - the Baltics are sadly totally flat and have mostly uninteresting biking roads.
    2. Poland - Krakow
    3. Ukraine - Lviv, Zakarpattia.. specifics?
    4. Romania - nothing in mind - would appreciate pointers!
      What about Transalpina vs. Transfagarasan? Transalpina seems in a much better condition than it was previously according to http://www.transalpina.biz/.
    5. Bulgaria or Serbia next? Noticed there is a Horizons Unlimited meeting at Doug's Moto Camp near Veliko, right around the time we should be there.
    6. Serbia - Nothing yet; advice?
    7. Bosnia - we're not sure about this one, it's mostly blank on Google maps. Should we skipe it and go Serbia -> Montenegro -> Croatia?
    8. Croatia - Nothing yet
    9. Montenegro -> Nothing yet
  2. jesperd

    jesperd Adventurer

    Oct 15, 2011
    Malmo, Sweden
    Hi Omer,

    You're up for a fantastic trip. Here are my thoughts on your plan:

    Krakow: A busy city with a very nice city center. Lots of nice restaurants, great architecture. You can find reasonable accommodation if you can settle with basics. Parking on the street seemed a little too unsafe for me, so I found a nearby hotel and paid 20 Sloty for parking my bike in their guarded parking basement.

    If you're into World War 2 stuff, Auschwitz is not far from Krakow. I stayed at a hotel Galicja, recommended to me by another AdvRider. A bit pricy, but great rooms, friendly staff and safe parking for the bike.

    Ukraine: We crossed the border at Kroscienko. Easy crossing, no queue, it is not particular busy. As soon as you enter Ukraine, you get to practice your contra steering abilities on the heavily potholed roads. But it gets a lot better in just a couple of KM's.

    Consider staying on major roads as back roads are gravel and poor quality. But great fun, and very interesting if you and your bikes are up for it. My PIO HD helmet cam base unit mounted on the handlebar couldn't take the beating. Bring duct tape and cable ties! Another rider lost a bolt that held the headlight in place. Replaced by a spare carried by a lokal Ukrainian. Extremely nice people, very helpful.

    We didn't meet any bad cops. Maybe they were all in Kiev for the European Championship. Also, we travelled mostly back roads, and I'd assume they would be at the major roads. But if you stick to the rules, you'll be fine.

    Beautiful girls seemed to pop up in the middle of nowhere. Walking down dirt roads in the tight jeans, tight tops and high heels. We wondered where they came from and where they were going. Very surrealistic, but a nice experience. But they can easily take your focus away from the avoiding potholes.

    We went to the ruins of an old stronghold. There are locals selling tea, cakes, souvenirs. These are not the usual made in China pastic rubbish, it is worh a visit. Spend a little time, buy a cup of local tea, sit for a while and watch people to their stuff. A quiet place, nice place. But last bit is gravel, but is doable on any bike. I can give you the coordinates, if you want.

    Do Ukraine to experience the unspoiled country (tourism-wise), and all that goes with it. Do not expect out of the ordinary scenic roads. The other countries you will visit offer just as good, and sometimes better scenery.

    We crossed the border to Romania at the Sighetu Marmatiei (RO) border. Google maps does not show the road accros the border, nor Garmin, but it is there and open for international traffic. A single lane bridge, shared by traffic in both directions. It is small, not very busy and mostly used by local Romanians who go to Ukraine to buy cheap goods.

    Romaina: Great country for riding. Good sceneric roads everywhere, but do watch out for bumps and large, deep potholes as they are not always marked and some can probably damage your rim, although it didn't happen to us. You'll see horse drawn carriages, people harvesting the good old way, extremely authentic. Nice people, but they are more used to travellers.

    At Petrosani, one of the riders had a broken rear brake piston. Helpful people wherever we went, and we ended up being invited in for soup made by the shop owner's wife and only paying for the parts.

    Transfagarasan was nice, but unfortunately closed due to rock slides on the souther part. We rode the northen part up to the lake and back. Very nice, extremely scenic. We were told to try to avoid riding it on weekends as there are much traffic.

    We decided to not go to Brasov and Dracula's castle as we've been warned that it was a tourist trap. Instead we rode to Sighisoara, where Vlad Dracul allegedly was born. I nice town, center. Worth a visit.

    Romaina is highly recommended. I was warned about reckless drivers. We met nothing but considerate drivers. Sure, they can pass you where the lines aren't broken, but we never felt unsafe.

    We rode into Serbia and rode along the Danube river through the Iron Gates. One of the most scenic legs of our trip. Serbian roads are great. Smooth and paved and compared to Romania, better quality. We rode mostly back roads, all good pavement. Rode into Belgrade, nice town, worh a visit. Not too big, but big enough to offer what you'd expect.

    Parts of Serbia we rode, reminded us much on Tuscany, Italy.

    Bosnia: We rode into Bosnia from Serbia and long the river towards Dubrovnik in Croatia. That leg turned out to be one of the most scenic parts or our entire 6300 km trip.

    We were pulled over by Bosnian poilce for speeding. We were, admitted. But after spending maybe only 5 minutes of not understanding a word they said, and the waved us to move on.

    Croatia: Nice scenery, but lots of tourists. No special treatment for motorcycle riders anymore. Dubrovnik is expensive, but entrance to the old town is free, and is worth a visit.

    Plitvicka National Park is a nice place, but touristy, and the prices accondingly. We stayed at a private B&B, single rooms with bathroom, nice and clean, including dinner and breakfast at €80 each (!). Free Wifi. Actually most private places we stayed at had free wifi. Only at expensive hotels, like Hilton, do they charge additionally.

    We did not go to any other former Yugoslavic countries, but I would expect all to be similar to Serbia and Bosnia. I believe they got a lot of help rebuilding infrastructure after the conflicts in the 1990's. All roads were in good condition.

    Let me know if you have any questions.
  3. Omer

    Omer Brrrr

    Aug 31, 2010
    Tallinn, Estonia
    Jesper, thanks for the very helpful reply.

    I would appreciate the coordinates to the old stronghold you mentioned, sounds interesting - and it's sometimes good for me to have some sort of destination along the way and a sense of purpose (even if you end up going a completely different way).
    Really looking forward to both Ukraine and Romania - though unfortunately may have to skip Serbia (friend needs a visa to go there and doesn't have one.. the fool! :)).

    I don't believe I'll have time for both Transalpina and Transfagarasan, any input from anyone on which one would be better suited for road bikes these days?
  4. Oldbear

    Oldbear Been here awhile

    Jun 16, 2011
    Fin Land
    Transalpina is in perfect condition, it was just repaved. This is what it looked like today:


    And nothing wrong with Transfagarasan either :D

  5. jetjackson

    jetjackson Been here awhile

    Nov 4, 2009
    Houston, TX - Aussie expat
    Check out Zjabliak in Montenegro, go from Sarajevo in Bosnia, across the border and then take the first main road left to go up to Zjabliak, the road that goes up through the mountains there is great!