A Frenchie around the Balkans – I saw lots of the world but never my backyard!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by mana, May 29, 2019.

  1. mana

    mana Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Day 8 2019-05-15 Wed - Let’s go back to Croatia 271 km ⭐⭐

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    Highlight: again getting out of my comfort zone. What sucked: REALLY out of my comfort zone :-). Unable to run away from the rain.

    After a quick walk around the Bled castle that disappointed me a bit against what I had read, I started following the route recommended by Gregor the evening before. We had talked about the snow I had encountered a few days before in Italy and took that into account to plan the day. Well, even a local can get things wrong! :-)

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    This is beautiful. Me like. As long as the snow is NOT making it to the pavement.

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    It wasn’t raining. It was snowing. So the snow DID make it to the pavement! :-( :-)

    I keep telling myself that an “adventure” is getting out of one’s comfort zone. This must have definitely qualified as an adventure then :-).

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    Break at a restaurant. I am frozen to death. My feet are cold and wet. I went to my bike to get a second pair of socks with plastic bags for insulation!

    This was too much for me, I dropped Gregor’s plans and headed as straight as possible to the Krk island (love this name) in Croatia in a town that I wrongfully thought would be pretty.

    My worst airbnb, tiny, in an ugly place, the host gave me the keys and disappeared, making me feel I was nothing more than a source of business income. I do know that’s what I am when I rent an airbnb, but it’s unpleasant when the host stresses that point by having no human interaction with me whatsoever :-)

    The super positive conclusion of the day: ventusky.com says no rain for tomorrow!
    #21
  2. mana

    mana Adventurer

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    Merci de suivre le trip! I wonder how others manage to do it daily... I am sooo late reporting.
    #22
  3. Eric75

    Eric75 n00b

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    Hi Frenchie I'm following up as well . Nice RR. Keep going even if you're late!!

    Je te souhaite un meilleur temps ;-)
    #23
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  4. bout2ride

    bout2ride Been here awhile Supporter

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    sorry to hear of your plight, I'm in Zadar and the weather is perfect! I had planned on riding to lake bled in 2-3 weeks. what was disappointing?
    #24
  5. mana

    mana Adventurer

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    The road to Bled wasn't disappointing at all, on the contrary. If you're going to Bled, I strongly recommend that you ride through Sella Nevea, I passed through there because the road was marked green on https://www.viamichelin.com/web/Maps, it is very often the guarantee of a very scenic road.

    I was just a bit disappointed by the city that was quite touristic with lots of buses. I parked at the bottom of the castle and was asked to pay for it, then walked around it but didn't visit the castle itself. I recommend the area very much! Though :-) I hope for you that there will still be snow on the peaks for the beauty of the scenery.

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    BTW plight is too strong a word :-)

    EDIT: gmaps https://goo.gl/maps/kUvM1MRxwtufJHRo6
    #25
  6. mana

    mana Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Day 9 2019-05-16 Thu - Let’s try that famous Croatian coastal road! 253 km

    Highlights: both a fun narrow twisty road and amazing fast sweepers along the Croation coas towards the south. What sucked: not much!

    I started with a ride around the island of Krk that turned out to be more scenic than I expected, even had some fun twisties on flat land.

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    I loved this road in Krk, very twisty but on flat land - why the heck wouldn’t people draw straight lines? To go around different owners’ properties? To make it a nicer motorcycle ride? Thank you anyway.


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    Lunch = local cheese and bread. The line of clouds in the distance are stopped by the mountain range running along the coast. It’s raining over there. Finally I’m on the right side :-)

    After Krk the road became a motorcyclist dream. Beautiful, and soo many long fast sweepers. I thought this only existed in Northern California where I lived for a few years, compared to the much more twisty and slower European roads I've encountered so far.

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    Many towns are just by the sea. The house, the road, the boat, over 15m. Kewl!


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    My pictures (gopro captures) don’t do it justice, so many high speed curves!

    Tomorrow I’ll stop in Split.
    #26
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  7. bout2ride

    bout2ride Been here awhile Supporter

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    too bad you are not stopping in Zadar...I'm here for another 7 days and riding the coast again tomorrow! it is an awesome ride! :y0!
    #27
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  8. mana

    mana Adventurer

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    Day 10 - 2019-05-17 Fri 309 km - Visual delight on my way to Split ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
    hg
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    Highlights: Nature kicks ass. What sucked: my airbnb locationh

    As I’m about to turn north up the island you see above, I notice beautiful reflections of the clouds on the water and decide to take a few pictures.

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    Sometimes you get lucky and find yourself at the right spot at the right time to witness nature’s beauty. The clouds reflecting on the still water of these oyster farms made for a stunning view.

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    My 160 HP beast looks better under the sun! On my smartphone I noticed that The picture that I edited on my laptop was over saturated, but my laptop’s screen isn't calibrated :-(

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    Quick stop in Zadar where I visited the Church of St Donat.

    On the way to Split, I highly recommend the detour via the Krka National Park! I had a hard time finding how to get there, first I went to a port on the river where you get on a boat that gets you up to the waterfalls, but instead I went back up the road and found a free shuttle that took us down to the park. You then get a chance to walk along very nicely setup wooden alleys above and around a bunch of waterfalls. The place looked enchanted, Nature kicks ass!

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    I arrived in Split and got disappointed by the airbnb I had rented, the interior of the apartment was nice, but the door faced the dumpsters of a bunch of 10 stories buildings. I am starting to enjoy airbnbs less than I used to…
    #28
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  9. bout2ride

    bout2ride Been here awhile Supporter

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    airbnb, like you I am hesitant using them in the future as well, went to the apt I had reserved in pula and the outside of the apt building looked as if it was a rat's nest or vampire "hang out" ( they have vampires in the balkans right?) going to try booking.coom on the next place. any suggestions? your pictures are awesome! :thumb
    #29
  10. mana

    mana Adventurer

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    Txs! I find that I have more human contacts in boutique hotels where you often can chat with the owner or manager. But it's tricky to find out, so I look at a combination of Google, booking.com and TripAdvisor

    As we're off season I usually do not book online and get a cheaper price at the reception. I'm taking off but I'll look later where I stayed in your current neck of the woods.
    #30
  11. Ian.H

    Ian.H Adventurer

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    Poland
    I did the drive down the coast of Croatia all the way to Dubrovnik last summer on my GSX1400....beautiful.
    I camped rather than hotel / airbnb....my choice of scenery...good decision!
    #31
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  12. bout2ride

    bout2ride Been here awhile Supporter

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    #32
  13. mana

    mana Adventurer

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    #33
  14. mana

    mana Adventurer

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    Day 11 - 2019-05-18 Sat Tourism in Split

    Day 12 - 2019-05-19 Sun 260 km Split Dubrovnik

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    I started the day with a big scare that I would run out of gas, first google maps took me to a hotel that had a Tesla charging station but no unleaded gas (showed as a regular gas station!), then it took me to another one that only had LPG / natural gas and was closed anyway :-). I ended up filling a bit more than 22l in a tank supposedly holding 23l - one day I need to leave with a can of gas and run out to check how pessimistic my gauge is, as it had been showing 0 km left for a while :-) I know, every adventure / touring website tells you to fill as soon as you’re beyond 50%...

    I continued the coastal road for a bit then turned inland to try to get to Sveti Jure, supposed to be a nice and difficult road according to dangerousroads. I struggled to find it: first it was a dirt road closed to the public, then when I found the entrance to the national park it was to be told that that particular day it was closed due to a bicycle race :-(


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    Me trying to decipher the post that said I couldn’t go there. Thanks google translate

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    NOT MY PICTURE, just to get a taste of what I missed. @bout2ride you must try it for me!

    I had decided to ride a tough road so the only way to get one was to ask Tomtom to get me to my destination via winding roads. As usual it worked and took me to a very challenging section with lots of sand and gravel.

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    On the way down from the mountain, a surprising area of flooded flat land.

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    Cool kite surfing bar

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    Along the coast towards Dubrovnik there’s a short stretch of Bosnia.


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    9 Brazilians met on the road, one of them lives in Germany and organizes trips through the riding season. I happen to have lived in Brasil so got a chance to practice my portuguese.


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    Dubrovnik in the evening. I don’t watch Game of Thrones but those who do may recognize this? The town (as well as Split) is full of stores selling GoT related junk.

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    #34
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  15. bout2ride

    bout2ride Been here awhile Supporter

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    trials and tribulations we face but thankfully we get thru it somehow. great pictures btw! :y0!
    #35
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  16. mana

    mana Adventurer

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    It's usually the things that don't go as planned that make the best memories :-)

    I'm really liking TomTom's winding roads option. When traveling abroad it's a very efficient way to go through the real countryside where people look at you with weird faces wondering what the heck you're doing there.

    It also sends you to roads that aren't real roads anymore though, like this afternoon in Bulgaria on my way to Sofia :-)

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    #36
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  17. mana

    mana Adventurer

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    not the right tires for the task BTW, but it was fun!
    #37
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  18. mana

    mana Adventurer

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    2019-06-12 TODAY - OUT OF CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

    The pace at which I’m writing this ride report is ridiculous. Too much time spent on finding the cool pictures and editing the light and colors, not enough time spent reporting what is actually happening. I’m changing course. I’ll catch up with past days when I can and instead I’ll report on what’s happening. And so much happened of course.

    I last reported on day 12 or May 19, today is June 12, probably day 36, after 8186.4 km since I left. My track on garmin: https://eur-share.inreach.garmin.com/manastrips

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    A little random introspection before I resume the reporting (I'll probably repeat some of what follows in the respective day report):

    I loved Turkey. People there go out of their way to help you, they’re also super warm and welcoming. I spent a day and a half with a young couple of motorcyclists who adopted me and took me to waterfalls deep in the mountains where I was the only dude not from Turkey. Once I stopped to take a picture of a Mosque under construction and after 5 min a scooter stopped asking if I needed help - although I had my GPS the super nice fellow insisted that I follow him for 5 km to take me to where I wanted to go. When you stop on the side of the road for a drink people invite you to seat with them and won’t let you pay for your drinks :-)

    I loved the crappy Albanian roads where asphalt suddenly stops, yet where regular 2 way traffic is dense like on normal pavement (albeit slower) and where you have lunch for 3.30 euros.

    I found Croatia too much like Western Europe. I’m from Western Europe so I’m allowed to make that comment :-).

    Everywhere you go, countryside is so much more enjoyable than big cities. I’m not a big city guy. I love nature, I love people. TomTom “winding roads” is your friend for that, especially in countries where the maps are not up to date. It takes you to remote places that probably see one foreign tourist a year. It also takes you to roads that aren’t roads anymore :-)

    I ride solo and I had not done it yet - well I had never left for an 8k km ride either. My Garmin InReach is the safety net replacing riding buddies. At times I feel a bit lonely (never in Turkey!) but I also feel relieved to know that no one will complain about how I plan or don’t plan my journey.

    Bulgaria and Serbia that I crossed in the last few days are VERY different. Very poor it seems to me. Tons of abandoned houses and factories. Ghost towns. Churches with bell towers crooked and about to fall. Sometimes post apocalyptic. People who traveled there say it, but it's hard to picture it until you experience it. I left the country with a strange feeling of sadness. I had dinner with a friend in Sofia and a friend of his, it was enlightening. Europe stopped commerce with Russia, which affected a lot of local businesses and farmers. They only pay 10% income tax, a lot of the money that should go into fixing the infrastructure goes to the pockets of a few corrupted powerful people.

    I realize that some of the roads I enjoyed the most were dirt roads. I live in the French Riviera that has countless superb roads and I regularly go out on weekends with buddies, but always on asphalt. When I get back home I must find a group of riders who get on trails, maybe pay for a dirt riding course. Should I keep my 160 hp KTM super adventure S monster of a bike or get the 790 or something lighter?

    I LOVE my KTM. It’s so versatile, so comfortable. I enjoy being able to change suspension and engine settings on the fly. It’s the perfect bike for the bad pavement I encounter all the time, it’s so much fun cruising at high speed ignoring the holes and bumps when cagers must slow to 60 kmph. It’s just a bit heavy (it may just be me not used to dirt) and I ended up with street tires although I was hoping to get hybrid ones.

    Rambling over.

    A few abandoned places because a post is better with pictures :-)

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    This one is not abandoned. People live there

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    I've got many more on my gopro - for another time
    #38
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  19. TM1(SS)

    TM1(SS) Matthew 24:36, Ride today, ride now :-) Supporter

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    LOVING your RR !!
    #39
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  20. Milqman

    Milqman Adventurer

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    As far as large adventure bikes go, KTM's are my absolute favorite, the African twin my second favorite, with BMW and Triumph tied after that.

    But when it comes to middleweight adventure bikes, I think BMW is the absolute best. The new F850s are absolutely fantastic too, but you don't need to go brand new, everything they put out in the 2010s was fantastic.
    #40
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