Trip To Albania From England

Discussion in 'Global Trip Reports' started by blackb15, Dec 10, 2016.

  1. blackb15

    blackb15 Ol'Timer

    This adventure started with a friend deciding to have a stag weekend at the MotoGP in Assen, Holland, and of course being committed motorcyclists, Martin Davis and myself thought we would ride over there, instead of flying with all the other chaps.

    Martin then suggested we should extend it, and pop down to Germany for a few days to add a bit of interest, so after many long beer-fuelled conversations in our local pub, it somehow became a three week trip week trip to Eastern Europe with the target being Albania (funny how these things develop...!).

    Having successfully survived the stag / race weekend (when the younger element preferred to sleep naked in the corridor) we left the pouring rain at the GP, setting off to the Black Forest in Germany. We used the German auto-routes with no speed limits largely, this was a fantastic way to cover ground quickly and we did the journey in one day. We stopped overnight in pension William, a superb motorcycling hotel in the Black Forest, and the next day we went to Austria again using some superb roads German roads, the B500 is rightly famous for its bends.

    When we arrived in Austria, Martin tried to emulate the Norwegian Vikings, almost managing to set fire to his motorcycle by pouring petrol all over the tank and very very hot engine as he filled up in temperatures of 90 degrees plus. This led to a few tense moments, but thankfully no flames!

    The next day we headed off over the mountains towards Lake Bled in Slovenia. On the way we crossed the border and saw a tank left from the war there. Lake Bled was superb, and by now it was getting very hot, which was an improvement on the pouring rain.

    Riding down the Croatian coast road was a superb experience, the views of the sea and the islands on your right were awesome and the roads were very quiet, smooth-ish and winding, but we made very good progress with snappy overtakes being the order of the day.

    We found a hotel to stay in right next to the sea, and when we took our bike gear off we were swimming minutes later in a clear and unpolluted sea...... this is motorcycle touring Croatian style.

    As we carried on down, our next stop was Dubrovnik, this is a fantastic city which again was heavily involved in the war, it's also where some of the filming of Game of Thrones took place. Unfortunately the bed-and-breakfast was 150 stairs away from the bikes in 90 degree heat, so carrying all our motorcycle gear was a good cardio test after a long days riding.

    After a couple of days rest to recharge our batteries and witnessing scooter crashes, we headed down the coast via Bosnia, and Montenegro. We had planned to go to Kosovo but no insurance company would cover the bikes. The border crossings were now becoming more challenging and long-winded with long queues in the heat, and when we reached Albania they obviously took the Albanian secret police reputation / attitude seriously, as they were the grumpiest border officials I've ever met.The reason for the long queue we were told were IT issues but having just stopped for lunch at the border we had been eating with all the custom officials who were in full uniform and obviously enjoyed wine over a very lengthy lunch. Strangely, when they all staggered back, the IT issues were resolved.

    However, they eventually let us and our vehicles into Albania, and the roads and people were amazingly different straight away. Even on the main roads there were horses, carts and pedestrians in the fast lane of two lane roads and diverse styles of driving between tractors doing 10 miles an hour and 4x4's doing 100 miles an hour (and you WILL get out of my way). At this stage dehydration became a real issue and it is very difficult to take enough liquids, so frequent stops were needed. We had never seen so many police manning speed traps, they were everywhere, on every road. When we stopped for petrol the staff wanted to chat, and although they wouldn't take credit card, gave us a really good exchange rates so we took some photos.

    We then decided to Loop to back England via Macedonia, Serbia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic and found some of the best roads of the whole trip in Romania. The DN 57 was 100 miles of fantastic road, however we did come round one bend and find a Telegraph pole in the middle of the road as per the picture. The people were really friendly and all the prices since we reached Croatia had been really cheap. The roads were very very bumpy and full of large pot holes with no kerb at all at some points. Martin was carrying some of my gear and had big metal boxes on his bike, so it made a challenging ride, testing all our I.A.M skills. Whenever we stopped, the drinks and food were really nice and so cheap, and the people really pleased to see us and the bikes.

    We had used a combination of maps and Garmin to plan the route, and in Macedonia I put in the wrong town in as it was very similar spelling to where we wanted to go. I realised fairly quickly and U- turned, but as I headed back I made an overtake and lost sight of Martin, then I saw a police radar trap with about 4 police cars. I thought 'I hope Martin sees it', but unfortunately he was in pursuit of me, but I had stopped, and witnessed him making full use of his ABS braking, managing to narrowly avoid the policeman's head with his bike. To be fair, the officer was very nifty on his feet, giving Martin a very long talking to with much finger pointing, but luckily due to his speed of approach they had missed him on the radar gun.

    As we made our way back up through Hungary, Serbia, and Slovakia we tried to stop a least one night in each country and try different beers and some local food. The countryside was beautiful, and for 100 miles there were fields of sunflowers which I was told were grown because of EU subsidies, but made a amazing sight. We reached Prague for an enjoyable two days stop, and recovering from the journey we met a friend, Martin Forsyth. Martin F managed to take 8 hours to complete a two and a half hour journey, his excuse was that he hadn't updated his prehistoric sat nav (ever) and clearly has no sense of direction! We then rode together back to Germany, showing Martin F the correct route and being very sympathetic as to his complete lack of sense of direction.....

    We then met Richard who is an English friend living in Germany. He took us on a superb ride over some awesome roads at fairly good pace as Richard is a racer and a very fast rider. Previously some friends had visited him and crashed on his ride following Richard (he was very impressed with German hospitals but we didn't want to give them another try) so we knew the roads would be challenging and treated them with respect which was a good job as they could have bit back. I was so impressed with my KTM 1190 as it can go like a sports bike when needed and the traction control came into its own under hard acceleration out of bends, with lots of flashing lights on the dash.

    In total the trip took us to 17 different countries in 21 days and covered 4800 miles, which was a fantastic motorbike experience. This part of the world is somewhere I will revisit, particularly my favourite countries which were probably Croatia and Romania. Would I do it again....? Yes. The bikes, a Yamaha Terene 1200 and my KTM 1190 Adventure were superb for this type of trip, it would be a shame not to use them to their full potential again.

    Martin and Paul <Paul.pdf>
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  3. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Moderator Staff Member

    Excellent, looking forward to trip photos or videos if any. Eastern Europe is amazing travel destination, I will be doing it late summer 2017. Very pleased you like Croatia since it's my homeland, I am from city of Split. Perhaps you're unaware but our admin David's family roots are Croatian too.
  4. blackb15

    blackb15 Ol'Timer

    image. No I didn't no that .I have photos but I struggle to post them on this site no doubt user error but I just tried again and it worked this is the view from the hotel I stopped in Croatia.
    I'm back in Crotaia in May having visited Rossi home town in Italy .I enjoyed it that much ( not as much as Thailand thought)
    Safe riding
  5. blackb15

    blackb15 Ol'Timer

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  6. blackb15

    blackb15 Ol'Timer

    image. image. image. image. image. image. Just posting a few more photos of the trip
  7. Goran Phuket

    Goran Phuket Moderator Staff Member

    Typical small Adriatic coast many look like this, can't figure where exactly this is.
  8. blackb15

    blackb15 Ol'Timer

    It was Karlobag we went swimming of the pier you can see, as we stopped on way to Dubronvik the hotel was really nice with very friendly staff as I mentioned hope to go back and stay again in May.We stopped in Split as well.
    Safe riding
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