For those who do not like reading a lot ;) The Balkan-Tour was incredible nice and we really can recommend Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina and Albania! We adored every minute. Again we met incredible lovely people all over, we were lucky with finding the right spots for the nights and choosing nice tracks to drive. As well: Kerstin learned how to drive and managed even 40km gravel road downhill in the Albanian Alps! Here is the tip of the day for all beginners: load your bike and just go… “(Kerstin;)” The motto of the journey became: “Gas!Gas!Gas!” And the first winding up- and downhill roads were waiting for her! Sascha was sure of Kerstin is driving so slow that she has to tumble down. And you may be sure that we had some serious discussions about driving…
For those who are interested in some more details… please read more and enjoy the first part:
We have been nearly 2 years on the road on our bike, the Big Lady, two-up. Being back in a ‘daily tread-mill’ we decided to spend our vacation on our motorbikes direction Balkan. (and … [dramatic pause] Kerstin has her own bike now!). The first time for Kerstin on her own bike on a bigger tour, that being said… our first trouble: What to take and what not. We felt like before our “big” trip and tried to stick to our rule not to take more than really necessary. (But of cause we had 30% we didn´t use at all, and hey(!) who cares; we had 2 panniers more and one 40l Bag so what to do with all this? ;)
The plan was: taking the motor-rail-train from Hamburg to Vienna, driving through Slovenia, Croatia and exploring mainly Montenegro, maybe Albania (Sascha: “Of course Albania off-road was on the “Hidden Agenda” even b4 the trip ;) – 23 days limit were given for driving and that was the most challenging thing: being limited in time. Funny it was as well (my dear Jedi) to worry in the beginning about the same things like we did before the trip: where we are going to sleep? What if something breaks? What to eat? Who we are going to meet?… Even though we did it 2 years in a row every day, the same “fear” was there… maybe not that intense but still… ;)
Just one hour before we had to leave to catch the train and pack the bikes with our gear, out of any reason Sascha decided to “check” the screws of the underbody protection. Suddenly there was this “CLONCK” sound and immediately Sascha´s scream went though the parking lot “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUKKKKKKCCCCCCCC that!” and “ Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo f…. WAY!!!!!!”. A furious swearing and angry faced Sascha was hopping around the bike. Easy does it! Or we say in German “Nach fest kommt los!” (After tightened there comes looooose). And he ripped of the holder of the ground guard; the whole thing broke off the frame, “Unfuc…g Believable!!) No time to weld it (don’t have to mention that we don’t have a welding unit anyhow). For luck we had Ziplocs and like usual they do a damn good job (after this there is only Duct Tape and Super Glue but as usual Ziplocs did the trick). We thought we might fix it on the road but they are still holding it now – “Note to myself: get new zip ties”.
After the bikes were loaded (the first challenge for Kerstin: driving this low wagon) and saying goodbye to our friend and landlord, Petra, who accompanied us; we finally were leaving the train station. Yes! There we go!!! But after rolling until the next station the stop took longer than planned. The loco was broken and they had to exchange it. After three more hours – STILL IN HAMBURG (3km from our flat) – and a couple of beers later the train started rolling again – hurray!
When we arrived in Vienna the next day, noon instead morning, the sky was grey and it was raining… What the hey! For the first part we chose the highway and got wet of cause. But later on it cleared and when we crossed the Slovenian border the rain stopped. The last 100km´s of todays planned 450 we really started enjoying riding. We cruised along a river valley with nice turns and more and more beautiful landscapes around.
Our first night in Slovenia, we had a shelter via Couchsurfing in an idyllic little spot named Kostanjevica na Krki close at the Croatian border. Jana, Goran and their kids welcomed us hearty and we had a lovely dinner with local veggies all together. Goran is the curator in the Kostanjeviški monastery which most people call Kostanjevica Castle. The castle grounds are now used as exhibition space and we took the chance having a look at it the next day. We strolled around about 4 hours and explored the little old town. It was a great place to get into the travel mood and we want to thank Jana, Goran and their Kids for the great hospitality!
The next day we left for Croatia. The plan was to drive inland and getting south pretty fast as it was still main season and the coast line supposed to be super busy. Via Novo Mesto and Karlovac we drove the AutoRoute No1 and we didn’t decide if we maybe stop at Plitvička Jezera. But it was incredible crowded – caravans and cars were cuing along the road for kilometers and still some rain looking clouds were hanging around up there. We decided to continue and as more south we got as warmer it got. We ended up close to Šibenik at the border to the Nacionalni Park Krka on the Camp Krka. A nice little place shaded with pine trees and suddenly there was this Mediterranean smell… And the first time Kerstin had to listen to the words: gas!gas!gas! on this twisting mountain roads…
This time we chose the coast road to proceed driving south. The view was nice but the traffic was immediately ten times more and it became clear we won’t make it that far. We had another stop somewhere between Makarska and Dubrovnik as we preferred to have a closer look at the map and our opportunities. It was not that we did not like Croatia but it was simply packed, 99% of the camp grounds were huge, almost like cities and it was pretty expensive on top of that. So we decided not to drive too far the next day as it was Kerstin´s Birthday as well. We headed to the most southern point of Croatia, where we hoped to find a nice camp spot to enjoy the afternoon with swimming and visiting Dubrovnik the day after. When we stopped at a view point at Dubrovnik we talked to a German couple in a campervan and we discovered that we had the same idea with the camp ground. With the words: “maybe see you later” we all continued. And about two, three hours later we truly met again in Molunat, Adria Camp. After a refreshing swim in the sea we spent a great night talking and drinking together with Monika and Gerd.
A Sightseeing Day: Dubrovnik. We took the bus; 40 minutes from Molunat to get there. Dubrovnik is definitely worth to see. But with 35°C and thousands of people we easily got tired. After five hours we left the center and enjoyed walking around the side roads. We discovered great view points and finally we decided we deserve a pizza before we catch the bus back to Mulunat. We really like this little fishing village and we spontaneously agreed to stay one more day. We explored the village trails, the tracks around, went snorkeling and had nice chats and a couple of drinks in the evening with our camp neighbors.
Time for Montenegro! We were really curious and crossed the little border around the corner of our camping spot. The custom officials had nothing to do and examined us interested. Especially when they saw the GoPro which we completely forgot (running of course, this time…) – but they had different things in mind and waved us through.
Apropos GoPro! Our brand new toy we got. The problem was: This little nice damned thing seemed to have a life on its own. As soon as we were driving nice roads, beautiful places or gorgeous landscapes it stopped recording but rather boring parts it never stopped and was recording for hours. Anyhow we spend some stops, sweating and swearing minutes with this great new toy. We got some out of it but not what we wanted and expected… :( Maybe you will see a selection of what we got when it decided to start. Gosh…. Gave it back to the shop in the end…
More about us, Montenegro, Albania and Kerstin´s 1st time riding in the rain, off-road, narrow corners, narrow corners downhill, narrow corners downhill on gravel, narrow corners downhill on gravel in the rain… “C´mon guys don´t exaggerate!” … coming soon. ;)
AND: We miss you all! Having this freedom of driving, even though it was pretty short, brought back to us many lovely memories!