Mike and Shelley go to Europe and ride around some

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by AMEretired, Sep 6, 2018.

  1. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    Just got corrected and need to make a slight correction. The next day ride is to Luxembourg and it actually happened before Cochem. No matter really , just keeping my chronology straight.
    So off to Luxembourg for the day we went. In part due to its history and unique culture.
    From Wikipedia
    Luxembourg, officially the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, is a small landlocked country in western Europe. It is bordered by Belgium to the west and north, Germany to the east, and France to the south. Its capital, Luxembourg City, together with Brussels and Strasbourg, is one of the three official capitals of the European Union and the seat of the European Court of Justice, the highest judicial authority in the EU. Its culture, people, and languages are highly intertwined with its neighbours, making it essentially a mixture of French and German cultures, as evident by the nation's three official languages: French, German, and the national language, Luxembourgish. The repeated invasions by Germany, especially in World War II, resulted in the country's strong will for mediation between France and Germany and, among other things, led to the foundation of the European Union.

    In part because petrol is cheaper there and partly why not as its a nice day out.

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    On the way out of town we needed to deal with a couple of small motorcycle things. A shout out to this place for treating us well.
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    Lunch in the city and home to Trier as we had to get moving.
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    #21
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  2. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    Perhaps you will forgive me for posting out of sequence. I am more than a little emotional about today as its the 22nd of September, the 15th day of our trip and it is my 71st birthday. I awoke today at an amazing b&B located on a working apple farm in spectacularly beautiful Vols Am Schlern. The day began with a knock on the door , the owners delivering a happy birthday fruit flan for breakfast, completely unexpected. They must have picked up my birthday from the passport. After departure on the bike with no name and the required passes to exit the area we proceeded through the Prosecco hills to Belluna and beyond to Vittorio Vinetto for a couple of days. On arriving we found that the owner was absent for the day but her Mama would greet us. Well, Mama was amazing!! By way of introduction she opened a nice bottle of Prosecco and shared a drink with us in the garden. Walked until we were a bit lost, had a great dinner, too much wine, perhaps a dram to end the evening. My words may be a little off a little( or perhaps a lot)as a result of the wine and whisky. Oh, and the bike now has a name "Sella" translates to saddle which seems quite appropriate.
    Thanks to all who read this.
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    Italian road food !!!!!
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    If you can just ride up then just park indoors----- no-- sorry--- a bit too much for me. I will park on the street thanks.

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    #22
  3. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    Happy Birthday!:thumb

    I'm enjoying your ride!
    #23
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  4. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    Getting back on some sort of track .
    Trier to Rosenfeld. This was to be a transit section but some of the vistas in France and the section of route 500 that we rode were really quite good, sensational in fact. The capture below is not entirely accurate as we spent more time in France and joined route 500 part way down. Later in the day, directionally challenge once again, we stopped in Glatt to get our bearings. A small car follows us into the parking and out comes Andreas and his wife. They rightly assessed that we were la bit lost and offered guidance which we happily accepted. Happenstance, luck, serendipity, fate, call it what you like but good people do seem to appear at the most fortuitous times. We chatted for a while, accepted Andreas card and his ``come visit us when you are next in the black forest`` They hopped in the car, led us to the correct junction and waved goodbye. A very cool moment in time!!

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    And off to Rosenfeld we went for a one night stand.
    After a long and hot day you have to love a place with decent parking, a comfortable bed, beer in the vending machine and a deck in the sun to drink on.
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    Good evening from beautiful downtown Rottweiler where we dined.
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    Here we started to learn a lesson or 2. We stayed up too late route planning instead of living in the moment. More lessons on this followed but it was a start.
    Morning greeted us bright and warm. I think the tractor might be straight from the cast of cars.
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    Here is a small sample of the day. This was heading down to intersect route 500 below Baden Baden.

    The next day would see us heading to the mountains
    #24
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  5. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    Rosenfeld Germany to Wiesen Switzerland land of the one year vignette.
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    Beautiful day sunny with a high of 23c. Interesting day of riding with highs and lows. Routing plans are all good until the road is closed near Fromern with no way around obvious. Overly detailed plans are pointless as it all goes for shit at some point anyway. Another road closure near Lindau made it interesting again.
    Traffic, no TRAFFIC around Bregenz turned out to be a mixed blessing. Lane split or melt, so lane split practice !!!!! Very effective but a steep curve with pillion and luggage. A little fun with rain near Davos and there we were. And there turned out to be really very nice indeed.
    Wiesen, or more properly Davos Wiesen is a village and one of six parts of the municipality of Davos besides Davos Dorf, Davos Platz, Davos Frauenkirch, Davos Glaris and Davos Monstein.


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    Probably time for a shave.
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    #25
  6. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    September 17 2018, day 10.
    Wiesen Switzerland to Vols Am Schlern in Italy.
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    No alarm needed in the morning as cows being herded under your window will do just fine.
    No tunnel for us today, so, Albula pass, Umbrail pass and down Stelvio pass on the way to Vols Am Schlern




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    After a great day of riding we found ourselves here. Absolutely bloody magical !!!! :)
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    #26
  7. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    At this point I have to give a shout out to my brave pillion Shelley. There was really no indication of stress when I was passing the bus on Stelvio Pass and to be honest perhaps a few other times other than a gentle "fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck" over the communication system.
    #27
  8. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    So, Vols Am Schlern, or more accutately, Masuner in Vols , where the heck?
    Our B&B was around 12 km from the city of Bolzano in Masuner which is in the municipality of Vols Am Schlern in the South Tyrol region of northern Italy. The area gets its name from being at the foot of the Schlern mountain of the Dolomite range.
    You really can't go wrong using the area around Bolzano as a base for riding the Dolomites.
    Not only was the B&B excellent, located on a working apple farm and central to GREAT riding, they also provided us with "seiser alm live" cards which provided free use of all public transport in the South Tyrol and other benefits.

    A day trip to Bolzano was the perfect solution as we desperately needed a bit of exercise. The free use of all public transport was as huge plus. We climbed up to the Oswald Promenade, wandered along and ended up at the Castle Runkelstein which, as it turned out, was really quite good. Built in 1237, the castle has quite the history. For example in 1274 it was damaged during a siege and in 1520 the powder magazine on the ground floor of the tower exploded making a bit of a mess.
    Free entry with our seiser alm live cards and beer available in the castle courtyard :)
    The views along the promenade were pretty spectacular.

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    Pretty cool walking past the vineyards during harvest.
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    Something tells me they do not trust us to keep our fingers off.
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    Cat fix at the castle
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    The interior must have been spectacular at one time.
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    Hello from Castle Runklestein.
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    A bit of shopping and then back home. You can see that our place was up quite high. Bolzano city in the mist down below.
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    We found it surprising how much the Bolzano area was German even though it is in Italy.

    This was also a surprise. Scorpion in Italy !! Not venomous we are told.
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    #28
  9. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Loving your report!! Jealous, and inspired! As I recall, the whole Tyrol region formerly belonged to the Hapsburg empire (Austro-Hungarian). It split into several parts following WW 1, with the part having Bolzano going to Italy. North and East Tyrol became part of Austria; South and West...Italy.
    #29
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  10. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    September 19 2018 and day 12 of this little trip.
    Go for a little walk in a small town and you will always find something interesting. In this case the village church.
    The churches may be small on the outside.
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    Beautiful and immaculate on the inside.
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    Then a day ride from Vols to Vigo di Fassa.

    Traveling East or South from Vols this route will be repeated on a couple of occasions.
    Vols through Tiers to the Passo Nigra (1688 m)which connects the Tieser Tal with the Karerpass.
    The Karerpass (1745 m) then connects Bolzano through the Eggental and the Welschnofen Valley with the Fassa Valley.
    Over the Karerpass to Vigo di Fassa where we turned around and retraced our steps.
    Wiki says that the Nigerpass, at 24 degrees maximum, is the steepest in Italy. We did not feel that except perhaps on one small section.

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    Just a small sample of the day.


    And a little more


    The bike was nameless but no more. Shelley came up with the perfect name "Sella", saddle in Italian.
    Sella had a shower on the way home.

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    Then back home to this.


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    Then out for dinner, this was quite special.
    The restaurant was a 10 minute walk through the orchard, down the road a bit and then on a path through the vineyard. Everything on the menu was grown in-house including the wine.
    It was a beautiful evening so a table outside please. We had a great dinner and drank Pinot with vines of Pinot grapes just behind and within reach. Very cool.
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    That was one fine day.:D
    #30
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  11. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    Sept. 20 2018
    The original plan that on leaving Vols we would ride to Cortina for lunch and then on to Vittorio Veneto. Changed the plan and decided on a day trip to Cortina. Not only did it give us a fabulous ride to Cortina, but also shortened the day to Vittorio Veneto.

    It looks something like this.
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    This route has to rank right up there as a great ride!
    Passo Nigra, Karerpass , Passo Pordoi, Grande Strada Del Dolomiti, Passo Falzarego, Passo Di Valparola, Passo Gardena and I may have missed some.
    What an amazing area. Pretty much every pass and every valley could be it's own destination. Hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

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    We stopped for a quick lunch just at the entrance to Cortina and headed back.
    Here is a taste of the ride back.

    #31
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  12. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    One more day in Vols and then it was off to Vittorio Veneto on my birthday. I described that day previously and won't bore you with a repeat.
    Just a bit more about Vittorio Veneto before I move on. The town has quite a place in history due to the battle of Vittorio Veneto.
    The Battle of Vittorio Veneto was fought from 24 October to 3 November 1918 near Vittorio Veneto on the Italian Front during World War I. The Italian victory marked the end of the war on the Italian Front, secured the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and contributed to the end of the First World War less than two weeks later.
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    It also has an old phone booth turned into a mini-library, how cool is that.
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    We looked at various ways to break up the ride from Vittorio Veneto to the coast of Slovenia and finally decided that a couple of sleeps in Bled would be perfect.

    Vittorio Veneto Italy to Bled Slovenia
    In Slovenia, for legal passage on motorway sections vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes, including motorcycles require a valid vignette. The vignette can be purchased at any gas station in week/month/6 month/annual time frames.
    We purchased a one week vignette for 7 Euros and were happy we did when, after getting lost again, we ended up on a section requiring one.
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    This place turned our rather well as it had a full kitchen for a home cooked meal and was a nice 20 minute walk from town and the lake.
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    Fun Cabins as well as conventional apartments.
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    This was a day off from riding and we again needed a bit of exercise, so we ate.
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    Drank some beer
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    Played tourist and walked around the lake.
    Lake Bled is not ugly.
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    Had a travelers lunch overlooking the rowing basin.
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    This is the best we could do for fish Friday.
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    Warm days and cool evenings would now be the norm.

    Next stop Strunjan Slovenia which is a charming old salt-making village on the Adriatic coast. It's located between Piran and Izola, one of the sunniest places on the Adriatic with 2300 hours of sun per year.
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    The map is not quite correct as we deviated ( ok lost again ) into Italy for a bit.
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    We spent 5 days in Strunjan and what follows is a bit of opinion and summary.
    Opinion-- is that I FRIGGEN HATE off camber, slippery roundabouts!!! Pushed the front end twice on those bloody things, the second time almost put us down. Changed my approach and reduced my speed a ridiculous amount in them and all was well.
    On arrival we were a bit like "nice house but what the hell in the middle of nowhere" but by departure we were like "we really need more time here". Pretty normal I guess.

    Didn't know what these trees were but I think persimmon as Together with the Vipava Valley and the Gorizia Hills, Strunjan has a favorable microclimate for persimmon cultivation, producing 30% of Slovenia's annual persimmon crop on about 20 hectares.

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    Olive trees everywhere. Too bad you can't eat them off the tree.

    The beautiful seaside town of Piran is a nice hour or so walk from Strunjan.
    It is also not at all ugly.
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    Being a tourist is thirsty work.
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    The sunset from the beach at Strunjan is not so bad either with Piran in the distance.
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    #32
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  13. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    Viticulture and winemaking has existed in Slovenia since the time of the Celts and Illyrians tribes, long before the Romans would introduce wine making to the lands of France, Spain and Germany. `` I wonder about wine tasting`` she said. ``let me see`` said he. I looked up the local wine tasting and came up with a highly recommended winery called Lepa Vita.
    Called and made the required reservation for a tasting, WOW, what passion !! During the conversation the owner Matija said that we must come for a tasting and also eat at the Bistro Stanjel where his friend the chef had passion for and knowledge of Prosciutto.
    Long story short we spent the next 3 days commuting to the Vipava valley, one of the country's most successful viticultural areas and also to Stanjel for lunch, dinner and a sleep-over.
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    A wine tasting at Lepa Vita is not just a quick taste and next please, but rather a 2 or 3 hour experience. Others have said that the experience would be a journey of Slovenia, the geography, historical background and climate and that is exactly what Irena took us on. Certainly exceeded expectation. Made a wrong turn (again) and just about missed out, now that would not have been bloody tragic.
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    At least I did not get lost on the way home this time.
    Now Stanjel is not downtown anywhere.
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    Once an ancient Roman fort, the village of Stanjel stands proudly atop a hill; its geographic location making it an important settlement in this area since the iron age. Walls built around the village in the 15th century were fortified during the 17th century to defend against Turkish raids. The village served as a base for occupying German troops during the second world war and was heavily damaged by Allied bombing at the end of the war. Since then it has been slowly rebuilt.

    As Stanjel resisted our best efforts to find (reasonable) accommodations near the restaurant and because riding at night after drinking was not going to happen, we said to hell with that and just went for lunch. Chef came out, introduced himself and said that Matija had texted him that we were coming, a nice gesture to be sure. Chef described each of the items on the board and left us to enjoy. All local and all excellent.
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    In conversation with the waiter we mentioned our inability to attend dinner as we had nowhere to stay. "I know someone" he said "A lady i know rents a place not 50 meters from here,would you like me to call her". Yes please. We would have stayed that night but it was Saturday and the restaurant was booked for a wedding. However, just like that we had a cheap place to stay the next evening after a meal of 7 to 9 courses with wine pairings. Definitely would be worth the commute!!

    We packed up for a sleepover and had, once again, a nice ride from Strunjan to Stanjel, this time with one inattentive cager, and all the low sun and glare needed for one-handed riding.


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    To find our room all we had to do was to climb these stairs.
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    And find this door.
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    Which apparently we did.
    Local Grappa !!!
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    #33
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  14. Jim K.

    Jim K. Long timer

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    & now referred to as the "Alto Adige" in Italy. The Adige being the major river that drains the area.
    #34
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  15. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    Motorcycle parking !! Free and easy most of the time. North America could learn from this example.
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    The ruins at pula really are quite spectacular.
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    The ride from Pula to Opatija is stunning and varied. The last section near Opatija is a thing of dreams!

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    Video, of course not, why would I want to be smart enough to have the camera mounted and on for the best bits.
    Actually the GoPro and it's mounting need to be improved. The helmet mount is ok but not all that good for the pillion.
    Using the crash bars as a mount on the Vstrom is a no-go, way too much vibration. Pannier side mount might be fun at times but we are already pretty wide when lane splitting. Moving the Inreach and using the handlebars as a mount is one possibility. I really need some sort of looping setup. Suggestions?

    The statue of Maiden with the seagull is a symbol, not only of Opatija, but the entire Kvarner region. Kvarner and Highlands is a region 0f Croatia including the seashore and highlands north of Dalmatia and connects Istria with the rest of Croatia.
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    Restaurant Roko in Opatija, not at all expensive. Surprising considering that Opatija is very much a tourist town.
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    So, you start out on a ride and 3300 km later you end up on a sidewalk in Zagreb. Not for long though as Sella was soon put away in a garage at Lobagola.
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    I was able to change the oil and filter here. Dooby moved the bike to storage after we headed home.
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    Sella is now resting comfortably in Zagreb.
    Now, for full disclosure.
    Leaving my bike and a fair amount of our gear in another country, in a strange place, moved by a stranger to another location with the promise of secure storage, insurance, care and battery tender was a stress for me. But that's me, EVERYTHING we asked was answered, EVERYTHING Dooby said he would do he has done.
    Thanks Lobagola !
    Thanks Dooby !

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    3365 km for this leg of our trip. Not a bad start.
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    Really poor excuse for a gear explosion. Maybe we are finally learning not to overpack. Not too bad but we can do better.
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    We didn't have a ton of time in Zagreb but did manage some sightseeing and a couple of nice meals.

    Tunnel Gric is huge, goes under the entire hill of the same name.
    From Wikipedia
    "Grič Tunnel (Croatian: Tunel Grič) is a pedestrian tunnel located in the city centre of Zagreb, Croatia, under the historic neighbourhood of Grič (also called Gradec or Gornji Grad), which gave the tunnel its name. The tunnel consists of a central hall, which is connected by two passageways to Mesnička Street in the west and Stjepan Radić Street in the east, and four passageways extending to the south. It was built during World War II by the Ustaše government to serve both as a bomb shelter and a promenade, but following the war it quickly fell into disrepair and disuse. The tunnel saw renewed use only in the 1990s, hosting one of the first raves in Croatia"
    I bet that went down well with the neighbors !!
    A quick search will reveal quite a bit more tunnel information should you be so inclined, including the possibility of more tunnels to be revealed, cool stuff.
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    The egg has the 4 seasons painted on it. Cool
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    The craft beer revolution is alive and well in Zagreb.:beer
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    Zagreb is one of the three European cities that still have functional gas lights? 214 of them, to be exact.
    For 150 years, the streets of Zagreb's Upper Town have been illuminated by gas lanterns. Just like in the olden times, they are manually turned on and off by gas lamp men.
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    And then one of these to take us home.
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    Plan, what plan? Our idea has always been to take 2 trips per year with each one being about a month long. We may alternate that with 3 trips of 3 weeks as this is also quite attractive. We definitely want to spend more time in Croatia so the current plan is to return May 2019, pick up Sella and head for the coast, explore for an month and then return to Zagreb.
    This will make a great trip, simplify storage and perhaps simplify this year's Green Card.
    Ideas ?? Suggestions ?
    Assuming this old fart is still kicking in the spring I will pick up this thread again.
    Thanks and:beer to one and all.
    #35
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  16. Lopburi

    Lopburi Lost in paradise

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    #36
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  17. SDR82

    SDR82 Adventurer

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    Thanks for the write up, very enjoyable!
    I recognize Pula from Gene and Neda's ride report, does it have the most beautiful amphitheathre as they say? ;-)
    I live in europe myself and can go freely to Croatia, but have never been there yet. Your report as well as others inspire me to do so in the near future, it looks amazing.
    #37
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  18. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    Thank you I'm glad you enjoyed it. I cannot compare the ruins at Pula with others but I will say they are quite spectacular. In particular the way the lower levels were constructed. Certainly worth seeing.
    #38
  19. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Thanks for the great report! And for showing us a very interesting way to tour Europe with your own bike but not have to go through the hassle of shipping it over twice a year! And Pula! Made famous by Gene & Neda (at least famous here on advrider!). Very cool! Yes, there is a lot to see in Croatia and I'm looking forward to your next report! If you take the coast road from Split down to Dubrovnik be prepared for a border stop when you get to where a very narrow strip of Bosnia cuts through to the coast. Haven't been there in the last ten years, so maybe it's just your standard EU crossing with just a sign saying "Bosnia-Herzegovina" but back then we had to stop and show passports.
    #39
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  20. AMEretired

    AMEretired Been here awhile Supporter

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    April 2019
    I know that it's a bit early to pick up this report again as we leave on April 30th. Perhaps its my way of making it real again. I don't know how others deal with preparation but for us its alternating between super excited, questioning our sanity and just being fed up with prep. Super anxious to get moving.
    Blader 54.
    You are. of course, correct regarding the border crossing although it can be avoided by taking the ferry to the peninsula of Peljesac, in southern Croatia.
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    This trip will be Zagreb return with the places marked as accommodation. From these points we will ride, hike, explore as much as our (ok my) old body allows. The southern part of Croatia will have to wait until the fall of 2019 along with perhaps a bit of Bosnia and Herzegovina and either Montenegro, Albania to Greece or across to Italy. Don't know yet ( or Shelley has not whispered that as yet).
    So it sort of looks like this. Calgary to Toronto to Paris, wander Paris for 3 days, then to Zagreb to pick up Sella. Ride, enjoy Croatia, probably be lost a great deal and returning to Calgary via Zagreb and Frankfurt.
    Looking forward to it all-- a lot.
    Mike
    #40
    Ozarks Rider, NSFW, yamalama and 2 others like this.