Madrid-Europe (TET)-Asia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Pcq, Jun 14, 2018.

  1. 78er

    78er Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2017
    Oddometer:
    96
    Location:
    Dumaguete City, Philippines
    I'm actually just here for the waves, I live in the Philippines.

    Sumatra must be great with a bike. I've only been there as a backpacker couple years ago in the medan area up north - Bukit Lawang small town in the rain forest where they do hikes into Orang utan reservations. Also lake Toba - big lake with an island in the middle, very scenic.
    #61
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  2. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    85
    Thanks for all the info I wonder about buying in Malaysia (which seems less restrictive) and then ferrying and using throughout Indonesia ? I don’t know how restricted that might be ...because I think buying in Indonesia is also complicated for a non resident... ??


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  3. yokesman

    yokesman Long timer

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    1,290
    Location:
    Meridian, Idaho
    there is an active thread in horizons unlimited, regional forums, south asia,ferry service -Indonesia to malaysia
    #63
  4. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
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    85
    Thanks !


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  5. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    85
    So here is the Greece portion of my adventure...

    I’ve split the post into a few parts as it’s long

    This is the overall route I covered approx of course... a significant part of TET especially in the Peloponnese peninsula, a lot of beautiful coastlines, incredible rocky mountain passes, a visit to Mykonos and amazing experience in Athens...

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    Overall I spent nearly 4 weeks travelling mostly through the south of Greece and it was absolutely worth it. I think I also enjoyed great timing, being last week of August to mid September. Tourism was starting to ease but I managed to catch end of summer fun and parties in Mykonos which was much appreciated socially after a couple of months of riding mostly solo !

    Part 1

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    Coming up from Sarande which was horribly congested with ferry and cruise tourists, I fled inland and came through the border from Albania at Kakavia. This is a very green and beautiful area with a park and the highway runs through it up towards Ioanina.
    When I arrived to Ioanina it was starting to rain. I was quite tired, thinking of stopping to look for a place to sleep, and decided to stop off the side of the road. Stupidly I hit the rear brake as I was veering onto the sidewalk and down I came in a millisecond... fortunately I didn’t harm myself but I broke both mirrors off must have been myself impacting them.
    So that was enough for the day. I found a small hotel conveniently part of a cafe and pastry shop, and called it a night.

    The next day I took advantage of the cafe and had a great breakfast with a delicious Greek pastry and amazing coffee.

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    I attached one of the stumps of the mirrors back onto the handlebar with a fastener and made my way to the TET trails in the mountains above...

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    The tracks in the mountains above Ioanina were breathtaking.

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    The weather was looking rainy so I decided to head south ...

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    I thought this sign was funny but that’s just me being childish (and too much time alone on the road)

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    The next portion of the TET was amazing. The track went up a rocky mountain pass full of goats everywhere and ended up on the coast at a fisherman village opposite two amazing islands. I was super thrilled!

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    The village was just what I needed and I decided to spend a couple of days there, taking one day to rent a boat and visit the islands.

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    Amazing coffee at this beachside place. The guys hooked me up to rent an apartment and a boat. BTW Greece does the best iced coffee I’ve ever had (along with Italy).

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    The apartment was fantastic a studio with a terrace and views of the island of Kalamos...

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    The village of Mitikas is still very authentic and not overrun with tourists.

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    That evening I had an excellent dinner of Greek salad and local grilled sardines

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    The next day I ventured out to the islands on my rental boat. It was amazing

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    I tried to get an invitation aboard this beauty but no luck!

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    I took a picnic and enjoyed some amazing swims and had a great day... beautiful rock formations also

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    By the afternoon though the weather had turned and quite a storm was brewing. Along with this the ageing engine of my boat was slowly sputtering out, so I headed back to the marina and called the owner. The engine ended up cutting out and he came to tow me in another boat...anyway a bit of an adventure which I’m always up for !

    The next day I reluctantly made my way south taking more TET trails towards Patra.
    The views were amazing

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    This portion of the TET was tough as the rain had swept much of the trails, I got to a point with a gate, tried to get by but the trail was extremely washed out so I turned back...

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    That evening I arrived to Patra after crossing the amazing bridge that links the mainland with the Peloponeso peninsula. I found a hotel in the Centre with safe parking and went for some fantastic souvlaki and beer... I had to get 2!

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    Next up from Patra to Athens and onto Mykonos ...!




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  6. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    85
    The next day in Patra I was on a mission to get replacement for my mirrors and a few other bits and pieces..

    The owner of the hotel, himself also a biker, recommended an adventure moto shop so I headed straight there.

    I did manage to find one of the mirrors there (the other one at a local Yamaha dealer) and everything else I needed also. The guys at Motoraid were super friendly and helped me out so much.
    I also got a new roll up bag as mine had developed a big tear from accidentally trailing it off the side of the bike. Plus I got a side helmet mount for my GoPro and a couple of heavy duty rock straps. Super !
    The guys are so kind there that when they mounted the camera they even cleaned my helmet.. they also gave me the contact of the Klim rep in Athens as I had a problem with my helmet visor, so I planned to be in Athens the next day.

    With the Motoraid team in front of their fantastic shop

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    Fitting the GoPro side mount

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    New waterproof roll bag which was also slightly bigger than the previous one and rock straps-perfect match

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    The cleanest 950 Id ever seen beautiful!

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    I then took the TET section that is directly above Patra, the route is outstanding and quite challenging, but a real thrill over the mountain passes with amazing views of Patra. You can make out the Patra bridge in the pic.

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    This was one of the best moments of the adventure so far !

    I stopped to have a rest and celebrate that life was so peachy ; ) and that my 701 companion was so trustworthy...

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    That evening I found a small village on the coast (Diakopto) to stay the night on the way to Athens. I had a sunset swim and an amazing fish dinner to celebrate a day’s great riding.

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    The next day rested and happy I had an amazing ride on the coastal road towards Athens..

    I stopped for a bite close to Corinth at the Isthmus channel where you can see big cargo ships crossing in the high man made canyon. Truly a site.

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    I crossed a chaotic Athens and made my way to the Klim showroom in the Glyfada area. This is actually a very elegant and quiet suburb of Athens. The shop Most Wanted Warehouse is run by two brothers. Super nice guys and huge off road enthusiasts. We chatted and had coffee and they fixed my visor. To fix it they had to take a part off one of their personal helmets. That is real customer care. And I didn’t even purchase the helmet from them, they are acting on behalf of the manufacturer Klim.
    They told me about their very interesting project which combines off road tours of Greece with archeological sites. They are also architects and run the bike business on the side so they are very enthusiastic about archeology. A great idea!

    https://mythicalroutes.com/

    They also gave me tips for Athens and we agreed to grab beers after my return from Mykonos. Awesome guys Angelo and Paris!

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    Next up Mykonos !



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  7. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    So I was excited to be off to Mykonos for a few days!
    I have a good friend there who was working for the Scorpios group and who I hadn’t seen in quite some time so I was looking forward to visiting her and partying with her : )

    Getting on board at el Pireo for the 4 hour cruise, stopover at Sifnos.

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    When I got off the ferry it was nearly midnight it was so windy that the first thing that happened was that my bike fell over!

    Anyway no harm except for a somewhat humiliating debut on the island ; )
    I headed straight to the club where I was meeting my friend and we ended up at a private party until the wee hours ... a great first night ! Also the most beautiful people I had seen for a while ... maybe I need to get away from the goats more often !!

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    This is a map of Mykonos and the places I visited in the 5 days I spent there. Btw the airport was very close to my friends house so I got to see loads of planes landing and taking off, the strip is very visible and there is a small road that follows part of it so I was happy since I’m quite an aviation fan.

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    The following day trying to get rid of our hangover at the amazing restaurant at Fokos beach a real “mezze” feast

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    Back for a siesta and then on to sunset at the 180 sunset bar, you judge for yourselves but this place is amazing in my book ...

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    Another night of drinks and fun!

    Mykonos in the early morning

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    The next day Sunday sunset party at Scorpios the club where my friend Marina works.

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    Some really colourful characters ... hehe

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    Great beer

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    Lining up at Kiki, that guy really knows how to make business... provide free white wine, water and a beach like -that as well as the reputation for the best tavern food on the island- and hungover rich kids will literally line up for hours... another colourful character no shortage on the island ! Also being pessimistic about waiting time and telling funny island anecdotes adds to the suspense of it all..

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    Even the cat is patient...

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    Food was indeed amazing some of the freshest best so far on the trip...best grilled octopus I’ve ever had .. and company and vibe spectacular

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    Since my friend Marina is working for these guys I got to hang out and enjoy the pool and private sea access at the fancy St George hotel while she was at meetings, feeling a bit guilty for that ;) not too shabby !

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    Amazing water

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    More evenings partying and enjoying the amazing Scorpios setting and Mykonos sunsets, amazing food, beautiful people, Marinas amazing hospitality ... I’m a happy guy ... there was a ferry and seaman strike so I ended up extending my visit for a couple more days..

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    But all good things have an end to allow new good things (and I was abusing my friend’s hospitality!)

    But just in case you think that I didn’t touch the bike you are right especially when going out partying at night, but I did go for a few tours of the island, here are a couple of videos..







    Then it was time to head back to the Athens.

    Back in Athens I sorted out an oil and filter change at a KTM shop and a fresh set of MT 21 as well as a much needed wash to get ready continue exploring the Peloponeso peninsula...

    I have to say that everybody treated me really well, the the guy at the KTM shop, the tire shop, cleaning the bike... no waiting and super friendly and professional...

    One thing about KTM and husqvarna in Greece and maybe in the entire region (Slovenia appears to be an exception) ... from what locals tell me there are issues with getting KTM parts now. Lots of complaints about people with older bikes (950, 990s) waiting for parts for weeks. And some turf disputes between KTM and sister Husqvarna means there are no more husky dealers past Ljubljana. So if it’s a KTM part maybe you’ll get it but if husky you’ll have to have it shipped from EU. That is a pity as the Balkans are exactly KTM/husky territory and more importantly a consideration to make when choosing an adventure travel bike outside the geographical span of dealerships... anyway they’ll be more on this subject later in the blog as I’ll wrap up this leg of the adventure and the experience with the 701 and look forward to new regions / bike choices....

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    Bike hadn’t looked this new since I bought it ...

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    Next up riding to the southern most part of mainland Greece (and Europe)...!


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  8. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    85
    For the next leg of my adventure in Greece I set off to explore the southern peninsula of Peloponeso. My idea was to combine the TET routes with coastal roads and make my way around the land. Peloponeso includes 3 “fingers” of land that jut south, including the southernmost point of mainland Hreeca and Europe. I had heard amazing things about the mountain tracks, coastal roads, beaches, food, archeological sites so I was very excited to hit the road.

    This is the route I ended up doing more or less

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    The evening before I had a few beers with the guys from Most Wanted Warehouse, it was great to chat about travelling, bikes, gear, Greece etc. They actually wrote a piece in their blog reviewing my bike and gear. You can see it here

    https://mostwantedwarehouse.com/en/stories/news/spanish-odyssey

    Right by my hotel in Glyfada I spotted these two classics just sitting in some driveway collecting dust. A Maserati Indy and a De Tomaso Mangusta ...Incredible ! The De Tomaso has a wild interior !

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    So I set off from Athens I took the road parallel to the highway and made my way back to head down the east coast and catch the TET tracks south of Corinth towards Epidavros my intention to do this portion of the TET

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    Caught the first tracks into the mountains on this beautiful afternoon overlooking the coast, amazing scenery and just a blast...



    It was getting close to dusk so I made it down to the coast to look for a room for the night. I arrived at Epidavros and went searching for a hotel... Epidavros is actually a beautiful fishing village in a small bay. The place, in the middle of some orange groves and which looked really nice, was fully booked, but the hotel owner told me he had another place in town so I headed there.
    As I drove up to the hotel I saw two Harley’s parked outside so then I just thought, this is great fellow bikers, so I parked up and got a room.

    Here the two beasts

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    I ran into the guys as we were all checking in. They were Serbian riding down from Belgrade and they just said: are you alone come out and let’s have dinner together. So of course we did and ended up telling each other our story, getting smashed and having a fantastic meal together. Filip and Dragan are cousins, Filip is from Belgrade and was getting married in 10 days. Dragan is Serbian originally but lives in north east Italy and is married to an Italian. This is how nice these guys are that Filip invited me to his wedding pretty much after telling me about it and maybe after knowing each other for 1 hour!
    I said be careful I’ll take you up on it seriously ! More to come on that later : )

    The guys also invited me to join them for the ride the next day so of course I said yes. First they are super friendly, second I think mixing 2 Harley’s and a husky is just funny, and third I’m tired of just riding by myself...

    So the next day -three quite hungover no longer teenage guys- got on the bikes and made off lazily towards the south. The idea was to eventually make it to the town of Naflios and then the archeological site at Mykines.

    I have to say that plodding behind two Harley’s makes for a great hangover cure as well as a good breakfast and a couple of litres of water ! Plus it’s a nice change of perspective to ride in a group, and also ride “nice and easy” Filip’s favourite phrase !

    We took a great winding and undulating road that goes through kms of olive plantations. Then since we just winged it and started exploring different beaches, coastlines etc
    I mean that’s the whole purpose ...

    Following the Harley’s



    Arrived at this great beach for a much needed dip ; )

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    After a beer and some relax on the beach we attempted to head towards Naflion, the road we were on took us to some amazing remote beaches but actually ended up at a dead end and the only way forward would have been to get on a dirt track. I thought this might be amusing but probably looking for trouble with the big boys on the Harley’s : )

    Check this property out together with a helipad has to be some fat cat ...

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    Turtles crossing the road

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    At this point we had doubled back and were getting pretty hungry so we found a sign for a fish restaurant on right on the beach at a small village called Kandia. As we walked in I spotted a table with some fine looking ladies that seemed to be having quite some fun so we pulled up to a table beside them. We had an amazing fish meal and got an invitation by
    these super friendly ladies along with their families to a party at their hotel. They were 3 sisters from Athens with their families celebrating that they had just recovered the hotel from the people who had rented it for some years.

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    We ended up drinking singing and laughing so much. The family of three sisters run a book publishing company in Athens and also own the hotel which is a real jewel of a place.
    Very interesting and fun family and we felt very fortunate to have been invited to this special occasion. I got along especially well with Anna, the blond in the photo ;)
    Fantastic evening...

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    We woke up to a sunny day. Here are Dragan and Filip with their Harley’s

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    A little hung over, we headed towards Naflion.

    Naflion is a very pretty seaside town catering to high level tourism with quality restaurants, shops ...

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    After a nice stroll we headed to the famous archeological site at Mycenae it was pretty hot but very enjoyable.
    Mycenae was a powerful ancient Greek civilisation who’s kings ruled much of southern Greece. The ruins of it’s a acropolis still stand as well as a very rich museum with many interesting remains.

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    We had some nice lunch close by and said our goodbyes. The guys were going to slowly head north back to Belgrade and Italy and I was going to continue south exploring the peninsula. These were such nice guys and we’d had a blast together.

    Filip insisted on his invitation to his wedding and I took it seriously (more on that later)...

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    Next up reaching the southern most tip of mainland Greece ...



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  9. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    85
    I set off towards the south with the intention of eventually reaching the island of Elafonisos at the southern tip of the first “finger” of Peloponeso.

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    Again combining tracks from TET and some coastal roads, this is my route approx

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    I rode down to catch the TET tracks south of Naflion, they were amazing actually quite demanding, but the weather was stormy so after a couple of hours on the rocks and dirt I decided to head down to the coast and find a place to stay.

    I found a cool little fishing town and found some souvlaki and cover for the evening as a storm that was brewing.

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    A pretty girl at the hotel lobby gave me a tip to go to see the Panavia Malegi Monastery so the next day I headed up, it is actually on the beautiful TET track.

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    I then headed down again from the TET to the coastal village of Leónidas and found a really nice small hotel. The surrounding mountains are well know for the rock climbing. You can see why in the photos. I went for a nice dip and a delicious meal of aubergine salad and a shrimp orzo dish like risotto.

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    The next day I crossed the amazing pass towards the south and found a great beach for a morning coffee and a swim.

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    I took the coastal road which had just been finished and continued south. At one point I came to this amazing natural bay of Limin Leraka. It’s very enclosed and unique. I had a great lunch of salad and grilled sardines.

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    Coming out of the town I crossed a guy on a Belgian plated GS. He was riding alone like me. On his bike he had a dedication to his sister who had passed away recently. He also told me that he had suffered a heart attack recently and that he wanted to live life to it’s fullest. It was very endearing. I Couldn’t agree more.

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    The tracks and views on this portion were amazing

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    Down to the town of Gefira with the islet of Monemvasia. Spectacular setting.

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    Spotted a super cool old GS that was two up, waited for the the riders but they didn’t show. I’m sure they’d of had some stories to share!

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    I eventually got to the ferry for the island of Elafonisos which had been recommended to me by the Greek family we met in Kandy.

    The crossing is only a 15minute affair and about 3€. The place was amazing.

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    This weird native was hanging out at the ferry ticket office then he strolled off onto the beach. Caught this pose. Very Greek hippy god like. Hahaha

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    The evening ferry ride and the approach to elafonisos was special

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    The island turned out to be even more a amazing than I could have imagined so I stayed for an extra night. Like a smaller version of Formentera. And very few people at this late moment of the season.

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    Delicious stewed cuttle fish

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    Reluctantly heading back to mainland

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    From there I headed towards the second “finger”. On the way I came across this ship run ashore.

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    Next reaching Poseidon’s tomb or the southern most point of mainland Europe...






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  10. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    85
    The next leg of the journey was to reach the southernmost tip of Greece mainland (and Europe). I had heard the ride there was amazing.

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    The landscape and roads / tracks were amazing

    The land starts to change colour to golden and the sea a deep blue. A truly unique spot in Greece. There are a number of coves / beaches you can explore around lands end. Make sure you check the brakes first though as the inclines are pretty steep. Lots of motor homes around also.

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    When you reach the end of the road there is a tavern and lodging for those that want to sleep there. Then you have a 30min hike to the lighthouse. Absolutely worth the trek. Met a couple of bikers. I love trekking in my biking gear and seeing other fellow bikers do the same, actually the boots and protections are very useful when hiking some rockier sections. Also the hydration pack

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    The lighthouse most southern point of mainland Europe where you can see tankers / cargo and other ships sail by. What a place. Took some out time here just to reflect how fortunate I was to be here doing this.

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  11. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    85
    I had a recommendation to visit the village of Limeni, as it was nearing sunset I aimed to make it there and find a place to sleep and have dinner..

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    Limeni did not disappoint although it was already nearly dark, a small beautiful fishing village really nicely maintained. I could also enjoy it in the morning. I found a great little apartment with good parking for the bike and an amazing place for dinner. This is the kind of place you really want to come to with someone special...

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    This little friendly fellas were hanging out just outside my room...there were 4 identical siblings.

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    I actually had an amazing dinner here. The best cheese croquettes ever and grilled octopus with wasabi mayo.

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    The next morning I took some time out in the morning to rearrange my bags and filter some useless stuff to lighten and redistribute the loads on the bike. The Most Wanted guys in Glyfada had also given me tips to tie down my Enduristan panniers better. I was missing a tie down Rok strap that fixes the inner face of the bags to the pannier mounts.

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    Also some additional straps across the rear of the seat.

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    As you can see the village is beautiful and as usual the water in Greece spectacular...

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    Then I made my way towards Kalamata, of course well known for the variety of olives grown in this region.

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    It is a bigger town with a nice stretch of beach and some good restaurants and nightlife. I found a place just outside town with very nice views of the bay.

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    The following morning I had been tipped by the hotel owner in Patras to go to visit these waterfalls close by. On the way I grabbed a fantastic breakfast at this coffee and pastry shop. The Greeks really like their coffee and pastry !

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    Old fighter planes at Kalamata airfield.

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    The waterfalls at Polilimnio. The water was freezing !

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    After the trek and the dip, I headed north to Megalopolis to ride some more of the TET trails. They were beautiful and quite challenging lots of beautiful ventures into the woods...

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    More goats as expected !

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    And some awesome red dirt tracks, some of the sections were quite demanding but I managed to get through them.
    That evening I headed to Olympia to sleep and visit the home of the original Olympic Games the following day.

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    I found a nice place. The owner of the hotel was a big Hellas rally fan so he let me park the bike right in the garden of the hotel. And I had a great dinner of Kalamata olive bruschetta and local lamb dish at a local tavern.

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    The next day after coffee I headed to the Olympic village.

    This is the birthplace of the Olympic Games and still is the starting point where the flame is lit. You get goosebumps at this place. The setting is godly surrounded by pine trees. The sheer scale and the amount of remains still standing are incredible. I highly recommend this visit.

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    The arena

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    Where the Olympic torch is actually still lit

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    Only the Greeks (and Italians) have millennial scrapyards !

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    On my way back towards Athens I headed back up towards Patras on the TET. This is an amazing route some parts of which I had done on my way down a few weeks earlier.

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    I crossed a fellow biker an English guy living in Italy who had taken a couple of weeks taken the ferry and was also enjoying the TET. I actually came across very few people on the TET the whole time from Spain, but I guess that’s just statistics that it’s unlikely.
    We had a drink of water together, compared bikes and kit and continued our ways. He had some cool panniers he had come up with himself.

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    Stopped for a coke at a very friendly restaurant run by a family. One of the kids was very much at home.

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    That evening I made it to a small coastal town on the way to Corinth and Athens. I had passed this beach and had wanted to stay at a really nice place on the beach on my way down but it had been fully booked so now was my chance to stay there on my way back to Athens.

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    The owner Costas was a really friendly guy. We had a good chat about life, Madrid...and I got a super nice fish dinner and amazing white wine. This is a very recommendable place with a very authentic and kind family running the business.

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    The next day I was off to Athens to meet Anna the charming girl I had met in Kantia and visit the Acropolis with her...

    I rode back on a big high on the secondary road that hugs the beautiful coast back to Athens ...





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  12. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    85
    I returned from the beach to Athens to meet the wonderful Anna and visit the city and acropolis together

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    She showed me around the old city centre and then we went out for dinner and drinks with some of her friends

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    Needless to say this was a fantastic 24 hours ...

    The next day with a slight hangover I headed up to visit and spend a night in Salonica. I was headed north, to cross the Macedonian border, ride through Macedonia then Serbia, final destination Belgrade, where I was going to attend Filip’s wedding (the Harley biker I had met in south Greece)

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    On the way I stopped for lunch at a village where they were celebrating local festivities. I had great grilled ribs. Fuel for the trip : )

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    Salonica has a beautiful quarter that is very lively at night

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    The open air market was fantastic

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    As I was getting ready to leave on the bike outside of the hotel on the street side a guy wearing a Romaniacs red bull t shirt approached me. He told me that he was a bike mechanic and enduro rider from a town in Macedonia. He had spotted my Spanish plated bike. It turns out he often collaborated with a Spanish enduro team and tour operator and had been to Romaniacs and many other enduro racing events. He invited me the next day to meet him in Veles, Macedonia have dinner and go riding the following day with he and his kid, who turns out is the current enduro champion in his class of Macedonia and the Balkan region. Sounded awesome !

    So I headed to the border with Macedonia at lake Dojran.

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    Next up riding Macedonia with Sashko ...!




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  13. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    85
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    I crossed the border with Macedonia at lake Dojran just before lunchtime. The Macedonian border officer tried to get 50€ from me for some BS on my insurance but I bored him until he let me in.

    My idea was to head north, spend a day in Veles with Sashko who had very kindly offered to take me around the area, and continue north to Serbia and Belgrade where I was going to attend Filip’s wedding.

    After getting through the border, I stopped for lunch at Fuk Tak a well know fish restaurant just on the lake.

    You always find something to chuckle about on the translations of menus...
    The fish & chips were outstanding.

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    On to the TET tracks just a bit north of here...

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    The track was tough and difficult to identify at times as there were various ramifications but lots of fun. Quite a bit of sand, whoops and river crossings...

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    I finally ended up in Veles and got a room at a hostel that Sashko had recommended.
    We met for dinner and rakya (of course) and exchanged stories.

    We instantly became friends. Sashko is a super nice guy, extremely generous and amazingly knowledgable about the enduro -adventure bike world.

    He told me the story of how his father had been one of the first guys to import a BMW to Yugoslavia and how his passion for bikes and life had flowed down to Sashko and now also his son. Sashko is a mechanic with extensive experience in enduro racing, he knows all the guys at Romaniacs and other major events. In fact he also organises local enduro races in Macedonia and his son is Dragan is currently champ of his class. He collaborates with a Spanish enduro tour organiser who also participates for husqvarna at Romaniacs. Sashko also keeps busy producing ceramic components for textile companies.

    This is a picture of his father reading the paper while a boy admires the Bmw. We both lost our fathers recently so we are both emotional about this and shared stories about together. I could see the pride he held in keeping his father’s motorcycling passion alive.

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    So after a bit too much Rakya we called it a night as the next day we were going to go riding together also with Sashko’s son. Sashko had promised a beautiful ride up a major mountain in the region.

    The next day we met at Sashko’s shop. I had taken all the luggage off my bike. Sashko had a 2 stroke 125 and his son was on his 250 4 stroke racing bike. Needless to say I was a bit nervous about the ride. 2 experienced racing guys on all enduro bikes vs. a relatively inexperienced clumsy traveller on a 700cc bike that still hadn’t been properly “enduroed”

    But off we went with big smiles on our faces, our goal was to reach the top of Solunska Gava. I don’t know how and where we went but we made it !

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    The route was spectacular. And it was very challenging for my level. By far the toughest ride I’d ventured on...At one point I thought I should better turn around. But Sashko urged me on. He just said “Try ...You can do it” at one point he showed me how to clear a rocky uphill section. And that was it ... I went for everything and we made the summit of this very intimidating track that is composed of huge rocks. But I realised that the 701 with its chassis and suspension and that power would fly over everything and it did!

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    We stopped for fresh spring water here

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    Our awesome expedition leader

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    This is the rocky track that leads up to the military base and observatory ... it might be difficult to gauge the hugeness and raw beauty of this

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    Celebrating the summit !

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    The views were out of this world

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    Father and son

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    Checking the altitude

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    The beast at the top

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    At the end of the track where the military zone starts

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    The look in my eyes ... : )

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    Reflecting on the climb and the view from the summit



    Sashko and Dragan passing by me on the way down



    Lunch and beers at Ezero Mladost where Sashko’s wife works

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    Back that evening at the hotel

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    We had a few beers and rested up as the next day I was driving straight to Belgrade.

    Next up Serbia !


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  14. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    19,640
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Simply outstanding! :clap
    #74
  15. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    85
    The Serbian experience has involved more food drink fun and new friendships than actual riding. The bad news was that my road trip was cut short due to the incident with a drunk driver (more below), the good news is that I made so many new and meaningful relationships there... Belgrade has become a home away from home !

    I arrived into Belgrade riding up the highway from Macedonia. I don’t ever ride highways if I can avoid them but in this occasion I had a lot of ground to cover and I needed to ensure I arrived into the city on the same day as Filip’s wedding was the next day...

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    Passing through the border with no issues

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    I got into Belgrade, setup in the apartment Filip had organised for me and cleaned up for the following day.

    Let me tell you Serbs don’t screw around when it comes to celebrating... food, drinks, dancing and singing. The wedding ended up being an entire week affair, with different friends, family members, visits to homes... and of course when you’re a foreign guest there you can be sure that they will treat you with honours..

    The day of the wedding, warm up breakfast with local street bands, food and beer of course. A super fun and lively start to the day ...





    The orthodox ceremony

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    The newly weds and Dragan and his wife Lara

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    A Serbian banquet

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    Trying to look the part

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    Easy riders

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    Gift from 1st mate Filip

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    The bride and her girl friends ; )

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    Serbian traditional music and dance



    The evening was huge fun and long, as can be imagined...

    The next few days I spent meeting more family and friends, touring Belgrade, eating and drinking and enjoying Belgrade’s lively nightlife.

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    Bike parked outside apartment, Novo Beogrado

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    The bohemian quarter of Belgrade

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    Belgrade fortress

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    Church at the fortress

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    Hanging out with some new friends. Two of them run the coolest culture centre by the river under the famous bridge.

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    Hanging out at Filip’s family’s place on the river, love this place... it’s straight out of an American movie

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    Putting my AdvSpec jacket to good use

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    The Yugoslva era Blok... actually very cool

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    Munito the family puppy pug

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    Going for a ride with Filip and his Harley around and outside of Belgrade

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    In terrible company

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    Lunch at Dara’s mother’s place in the country

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    Saying so long to Filip and Dara ...My new Belgrade family !

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    As it turns out Filip and Dara ended up going on their honeymoon to Spain, staying at my place in Madrid and touring the south and east Mediterranean coast in my car... that’s how hospitality exchange works ! Super happy for them !!

    The next post will be about what happened in south Serbia and the aftermath ...






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  16. BLucare

    BLucare ADV General Counsel

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,227
    Location:
    Wandering in Wisconsin
    Looks like a great time! Thanks for the updates, mate :thumb
    #76
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  17. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    85
    My idea was now to tour a loop around the TET of the south of Serbia, onto Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and eventually Georgia and Armenia before the winter snow hit hard.

    This was my loose “plan”

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    But what eventually ended up happening was that I only reached Kosjeric in the south of Serbia. A drunk guy in a Golf II smashed head on into my bike and literally snapped the chassis in two. Within this unlucky incident I was extremely fortunate not be on the bike at the time, checking into the hotel so it basically saved my life.

    This is the route and my end point at Kosjeric

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    Kosjeric

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    Old school hotel I stayed at

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    The aftermath of the collision. The bike was catapulted into the middle of the road. Chassis broken, damage to front end forks, wheel, brake, components, fairing etc etc
    Disaster the bike is basically a wreck ....
    The guy blew a 1,26 reading on the breathalyser and was taken handcuffed straight to the police station.

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    You can see how the front end has been displaced back in this pic

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    Now what the hell was I to do... in the middle of rural south Serbia, my bike destroyed, no way to continue my adventure...

    I spent a few days in the village while I tried to sort stuff out, called the insurance, went to the police station to follow up the report and find out what the procedure would be, etc etc

    I figured I needed to get the bike to the closest official husqvarna dealer which was not that close, in Ljubljana for the damage evaluation. The next problem was getting it there as my roadside assistance said they would not cover as I had been outside Spain for more than 60 days... I decided to rent a van in Belgrade drive down to pick up the bike and take it myself to Ljubljana.

    Back in Belgrade trying to get over the incident ; )

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    Some pics of old part of Belgrade

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    I recruited Filip’s brother Duje and a friend of his to come with me on the bike retrieval road trip. One hell of a road trip it turned out to be ! We ended up taking a slight detour to visit some friends of theirs.

    Organising the trip from the rooftop of the Blok

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    Getting some help and contacts from a guy called Igor, check out the sculpture in his office

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    All in all including the drive back to Belgrade (I stayed in Ljubljana) 1.600km in less than 48h including 3 border crossings (4 for them) !!

    Here are some pics of the adventure from south Serbia, Visegrad, Sarajevo, Split, Lake Bled ...

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    Dropping off the bike at the Rus Husqvarna dealer in Ljubljana , really a pity ... but so glad that nothing happened to me ... the bike is really not reparable so I’ll eventually claim the value of the bike to buy a replacement.

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    So grateful to Duje and Podja for helping me out on this mission, forever brothers !

    Next up, visit to Dragan and his family in Italy close to the Slovenian border...and preparing the Asia part of the adventure ...!



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  18. Pcq

    Pcq Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Oddometer:
    85
    I drove from Bled with Dragan’s brother Radan to Dragan’s place just over the Italian border. It just turns out that the Slovenian TET passes a few kms from his house and I remembered the route exactly... so I had passed 5min from his place in August but of course I didn’t know him yet at the time !

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    I spent a few days with Dragan and his family. We ate amazing food and drank wine talked about life, and visited Udine, Lignano, picked chestnuts, cooked barbecues, met some of his Harley buddies... basically a great time in north rural Italy. They treated me like family ...

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    Radan, Dragan’s brother

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    Dragan and his chestnuts !

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    At the local pub

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    No screwing around with food with Dragan

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    Udine

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    Lara Dragan’s wife at the local Ducati / Indian dealer

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    Farewell pizza and beers, so grateful and fortunate they made me feel so at home with Dragan and his family.

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    From Italy I took the train back to Ljubljana. There I sorted through the luggage on my bike. I spent a few days in Split, then in Zagreb and Belgrade and then back to Ljubljana where I am currently. I took some time to remotely sort out some things back in Spain and given the changes to my adventure, figure out my next destination.

    The train from Zagreb to Split, the views are amazing

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    Enjoying Split for a few more days

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    Grilling local fish outdoors my small rental house which was fantastic

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    I want one of these !

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    Enjoying morning breakfast Borek and coffee at the Riva boardwalk

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    I took the train back to Zagreb where I spent a weekend. I stayed at the best Airbnb apartment I have ever been. Amazing. The old city centre is beautiful.

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    Big boss showing up in the Roller at the grand hotel

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    Cool graffiti

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    From Zagreb back to Belgrade to enjoy a weekend with my friends there.

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    Back to Ljubljana for the last time to send saddle bags back to Madrid

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    Fatboy slim concert last night to say so long Ljubljana!

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    Next up Bali and south east Asia !


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  19. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    21,672
    Location:
    Burbank CA
    i was enjoying report and finally caught up. sad that you lost the 701 to a drunk driver. glad to see you're ok and still smiling...haha. great spirit!

    hope to see you continue your adventure.

    good luck.
    #79
  20. 78er

    78er Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2017
    Oddometer:
    96
    Location:
    Dumaguete City, Philippines
    Sad story about the bike but you obviously managed to stay in good spirit :) Enjoy Bali and drop me a line should you plan to go to the Philippines!
    #80
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