Tag Archives: Balkan

Albania, Macedonia and a quick visit of an old friend in Greece – and aaaaaaaaall the way back to Vienna

Albania, Theth – The day after: To lick our wounds and to repair the bikes.

Luckily nothing serious was broken on the bikes. We all had some sore muscles, Kerstin had many bruises and the bikes little wounds as: Broken Windscreen, Fairing all around, Engine Protection and scratches all over the bike.  We spend the day bending, gluing and fixing all parts – remember most important things you need to have with you: Duct tape, superglue, zip ties, some extra screws J And occasionally we relaxed, had a beer and chatted around.

The next day we drove to Koman.

There is a nice camp under the bridge owned by Marco. We spend the early evening straying around and we walked up through the tunnel to the Ferry station. We asked for tickets as we wanted to take the Koman-Lake-Ferry to Fierze the next morning. But the ferry guys asked for an horrendous price and we knew what about it should cost. So, we left and got the tickets from Marco who asked the real price and then nearly did not charge us for the night at his camping; additional he served us a gorgeous delicious homemade grilled fish for dinner.

The ferry trip through this beautiful landscape took about 3,5 hours and we continued afterwards to the Valbona Valley. Actually we were surprised how touristic it is and it seemed half of the French population is around. We found a nice spot for our tents and enjoyed the lovely alpine scenery.

Not planned but the best decision! Short intense visit of an old friend in Greece.

From now on we were zick-zacking south, we made an excursion to Macedonia, to Lake Ohrid.The original plan was to cross over to the Albanian Riviera one of these days. We had a look at the map and recognized that we can make a short cut while driving via Greece as there are not many roads in Albania. The last kilometers from Leskovik to the Greek border there were two road options and Stefan’s and Kerstin’s GPS said it will be off-road. We chose the `propper road´ which was after a few meters already in really bad condition and we were wondering if there will be really a border crossing at all. On the other side of the valley we reached the other `road option´ the off-road one – which was in fact a wide brand new tarmac road J Anyhow we reached the border and Sascha and me we were immediately feeling like home hearing the Greek language. We wanted to continue a little bit and then looking for any place to stay. While doing so we remembered that we have a good old friend who was supposed to live somewhere in here in the northern mountain part of Greece. Sascha contacted some friends to find out his actual telephone number and later in the evening we reached him! Georgios invited us immediately to his place but we had already some beer and Rakia so we promised to come the next day.

Truly it was the opposite direction than planned but Christina and Stefan agreed to skip the Albanian Riviera so we have the chance to meet again our old friend Georgios. How great! – and thank you both once again!

Next day we were crossing the mountains and Georgios picked us up in Ptolemaida with a friend of him. Sascha´s back tire had vanished completely and we asked for a possibility to get a new one around here. They brought us directly to a Honda shop where we got one. But it was older, from 2004, one size to big and we agreed they will put it on and test it while we go for something to eat. We left Sascha´s bike there and enjoyed a wonderful afternoon eating and drinking –  greek-style: Ola! Georgios has built a wonderful nature stone house powered by solar and fresh spring water up in the mountain about 25km from Ptolemaida. We picked up Sascha´s bike and spend a lovely evening at the fire and took a trip down the memory lane.

The next day we started with a walk through the forest. In this area wolves and bears are common and we could find their `relicts´ everywhere.

Later all the boys went to get more spring water with the UNIMOG a little fun drive included I guess

Georgios wife, Theodora, is running a family Hotel about 60km north in Florina and she planned a `season closing party´ on the roof terrace. We were all heartily invited to stay and join the party what we truly did. We left with tears in our eyes and we hope this time will we see each other much sooner again! Thank you both so much again!!! pollá filiá kai tha doúme sýntoma!

Time is flying and we had to plan the route back.

Once more we crossed Macedonia. Unfortunately in the Albanian inland a thunderstorm slowed us down but we arrived early evening at the coast with blue sky and sun. We stayed at camping Pa Emer, south of Durrës, which is not the cheapest but has a great location with a beautiful view and a little artificial Island with a restaurant in front.

The weather forecast was not so good and the days were limited now. We decided to pass Shkodra for some shopping as the famous Skënderbeu Brandy / Konjak, Tabaco, bells for the bikes to scare the street trolls off etc. The first part in Montenegro we followed a nice little road along the Shkodra Lake, P16. Later on we arrived at the coast road and noticed how packed it is so we spontaneous decided to change the plan. We drove up and chose the road via Bosnia Herzegovina – actually I think we were crossing 4 – 5 times borders that day and sometimes we were not sure anymore in which country we are currently :) We got very wet that day and gusty winds gave us a good shaking here and there when we were back at the coast in Croatia. We found an apartment with sea view a little bit north of Omiš where we stayed two nights. So we spent one wonderful day with blue sky and sun at the beach and dried all our clothes beside. 

Our last night all together we spend in Korana not far from Plitvička Jezera. It is a beautiful quit idyllic valley with streams lakes and waterfalls and not that touristic – somehow a miniature of the famous Plitvička National Parc.

We loved it and the owner of the guest house welcomed us with fresh plums and Sljivovica. The next morning it was time to say good-bye. Christina and Stefan had to go to Karlsruhe and we had to go to Vienna to catch our car train and to visit our friend BigTom.

The ride to Vienna was very stormy; we were nearly pushed `home´ – and we had again a great day with Tom and his girlfriend playing with his new toy: a drone.

The trip was as well a probation period to see if Kerstin is ready for the planned BIG JOURNEY `PanAmericana´ – for sure there is still a lot of room for improvement but hey everybody had to start sometime and we are looking forward to our next trip!





Romania – I. Touring a country rich in history, arts and scenic beauty



The largest of the Balkan countries is rich in cultural heritage has a dramatic mountain scenery, the unique Danube Delta and a stunning coastline at the Black Sea. We had 23 days to explore Romania´s various areas and once more we started with the car-sleeper train to get from Hamburg to Vienna to save the time and the German highway for the first 1100km. We past Hungary within one day to have as much time as possible to discover Romania. It is a large country with intense contrasts: some cities are truly Western Europe; some villages can seem to have been brought back from the past into the NOW. And all over the country you will find horse carriages… and behind the next turn on the gravel maybe a Lamborghini or Ferrari…This time we will not give you such a detailed report as it would be too much to read. You can look up the route we took under the `route section´ (going to be ready later though). Here you can read the first of two parts with a couple of pictures and a slight show at the end.

Touring Romania with the motorbike is just fantastic. Meanwhile most of the roads are in a pretty good condition, many are renewed others are still under construction and we discovered that we prefer to ride the little roads and we avoided the national roads even when they were marked as `scenic´. You have much less traffic especially trucks and you pass idyllic landscapes, picturesque villages with haystacks on the surrounding hillside. Romania is full of opportunities to drive your motorcycle in various conditions and all kind of sceneries: high altitude mountains with deep gorges and incredible beautiful alpine roads on and off road as you prefer, plains with wide views, river valleys with cascades. The mighty Danube River flows 1,788 miles from its springs in Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea ending in the wonderful Danube Delta. It has a rich cultural heritage; you can visit historic places, castles, monasteries and listen of course to all the mysterious stories of Transylvania and Dracula. The fact that Romania is known for its wildlife with a high population of brown bears and grey wolf is maybe pricking up your ears thinking of spending the night in your tent somewhere outside – wild camping is allowed everywhere except inside the natural parks – we haven’t seen any bear or wolf nowhere. Probably you are more afraid of your fantasy which goes wild as it happen to Sascha who was sitting a full night  with a head torch in the tent absolutely sure a wolf or bear is creeping around our tent. I was sleeping mostly and when I woke up I was wondering what Sascha would do against the `beast´ with a head torch on his head J If you prefer a more protected overnight stay there are several affordable options such as camping areas, wooden huts to rent on camp grounds or pensions. Last but not least: Romanians are very friendly warm and hospitable people with a good sense of humor and always open for one or two Palinka! ;).

We entered Romania close to Arad, which is about in the middle of the western border line.  From there we head inland passing the Apuseni Mountains and continuing then north to the Ukraine border to the famous `Merry Cemetery´, Maramures County. This region is dominated by extensive wooden gates and houses and the cemetery from the village of Sapanta  is famous for the brightly colored crosses with paintings representing scenes from the life or the habits of the deceased.

From now on we were zigzagging south east until we reached the fantastic Danube Delta. The best preserved of Europe’s deltas includes 2,200 square miles of rivers, canals, marshes, tree-fringed lakes and reed islands. We really recommend spending a full day to explore this beautiful area on a boat tour. We were lucky to meet Cornel in Murighiol. Actually he picked us up when looking for a spot to camp. In the end he found us a wooden hut for 50 Lei on a little private camp which was rented by one family (partly from Bosnia, Romania and Serbia) for a one-week-coming-together-party. Shortly said: we had fun drinking eating dancing… But as well we agreed with Cornel a one day trip on his little boat for the next day starting at 6am. Just fantastic! We enjoyed this mystic spirit, the sunrise, to discover the little old channels with their wildlife the laces, seeing herons, pelicans, sea eagles… and entering the open Black Sea; it’s hard to describe this experience with words – therefore just do it! Cornel was born in that village, speaks fluent English and even some German. He loves the area, takes pains not to disturb the ecosystem and knows some old, hidden channels and stories about the villages and areas. Just ask for him:  cornel.uncu AT yahoo.com, or just give him a call at +40763260176

Along the Black Sea we visited some of the archeological excavations for instance the Greek Citadel, the most ancient city attested in Romania. The most south coastal point we visited was Constanta; an ancient metropolis founded by Greek colonists from Miletos in the 6th century BC. It is the fourth largest port in Europe. Of course we took the chance as well to jump into the sea before the sunset.

… Coming up: The Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania at full moon, Brasov and great time with Gavin and Andrea, spectacular alpine roads such as the famous Transfagarasan and Transalpina