Balkan 2011 – Part 1

More Photos

So, due to unforeseen issues I didn’t get around to goto Morocco in 2011. But as I have these friends who have been telling me all these wonderful things about Bulgaria (thanks), I decided that why not make it into a round trip.

So with 3 weeks of preparation I decided on a route which would take me through; Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and via Germany home. Needless to say long trip, and probably I would end up hating myself at the end of it.

Well got 4 weeks of from the end of July, and everything was set … right…

Now sitting infront of my computer reading my travel diary, I can see that everything didn’t start as planned.

Day 1 (23/7-2011)
Got everything packed (I though), one the way out of Rotterdam I was almost pushed off the bike by a Polish tourist (or maybe not), well it didn’t go that far, but it was a close few seconds. The first few hours are always the worst, as I spend the time going through everything in my mind, did I remember to close the balcony door, did I lock the front door, and so forth. Also going through everything did I remember to bring this and that. And then 100km from home… eBook reader…. FUCK… still om my bedside table. Turned around fetched it, but was feeling a bit silly to say the least.

Got through Dortmund, when it started raining, not what I needed. I really dislike rain the first day on the road, any other day does not really matter, but not the first (please).

Found a gasthouse/inn in Effeln, got something to eat and off to bed.

Day 2 (24/7-2011)
Todays plan was to get to Dresden, and everything was not looking great… cold and misty rain (poor me). But I headed off, and was taking landes strassen, as I was on vacation, and actually was there to see things. It’s amazing, Germany is like hugh, lots of people, but when one gets ourside the really big cities, like Berlin, München, Düsseldorf, etc. there isn’t really anything except for small cities, villages, and nature. Going through south part of Harz was stunning, and absolutely miserable – cold and wet (from 7c – 14c), but glad that I did it.

At some point I somewhere before getting to Leipzig I decided that enough is enough, and jumped on the autobahn. Growing up I was watching things from East Germany, and Leipzig was one of these places where they used to dig coal (open pit mining) and passed on of these

Quite stunning actually that things simply disappear.

Finally got to Dresden, found a hotel, and set out to see the rebuild city center

And no problems sleeping…..

Day 3 (25/7-2011)
Got up, breakfast, and off to Prague…. Getting out of Dresden was kind of interesting, where the bloody !@#$!@#4 is the sign for Prague, but I managed. Followed the 170 instead of the river or the autobahn… I’ve been to Morocco where people are kind of suicidal when it comes to driving, but in CZ things are kind of different. It wasn’t until later I found out that it could get worse. Got to Prague, checked in to the hotel, and went to the office (yes we, that is the company I work for have an office there), to see some friends, and just hang around for a couple of hours. Went out for dinner with the local crowd, and had a nice time. And it was kind of embarrassing to have to borrow money for the metro, but I am proud to have paid it back ;-) (yes got photos … :-))

Driving in Prague is not fun, slightly moist cobble stones, tram tracks, and insane people in cars, no good.

Day 4 (26/7-2011)
Up, pack (getting into the rhythm), Still following B roads as much as possible, and I wanted to see the Church of Bones, as everyone is raving about it. I found it (took a bit of doing), got the bike planted, and stopped… Long’ish queue, and they wanted money. Errr I’m sorry not really that interested. Found a bottle of water and an ice-cream (A Cone..) which, I am sure, was more gratifying.

I have to say I’ve until that point been on bad roads all over Europe, but from here until much later it would not get better, it would get worse, and the introduction to the eastern Czech roads was like being hit in the head with something very solid, like a goldbar. Some have told me that they do not find them that bad, I am glad that I have an Enduro bike, as I otherwise would have given up at that point.

Made it to Brno, the have a cathedral, which is used 1 day a year for MotoGP racing, absolutely awesome.

Continued on, and yet again rain, was looking for a pension, or maybe a small hotel, but no luck, finally found a camping (in the blasting rain), put the tent up, got something to eat, and enjoyed sleeping in a tent in the rain (poetic justice some will say)

Day 5 (27/7-2011)
Right, got up… in the rain’ish… had forgotten to close the right side pannier… which now had a “bit” of water in it, or was it leaking, %#@$%@. Got the stuff packed, and then off.

Got into Slovakia, no really difference, and decided to use the motorways to get to the High Tratras, and guess what; more rain… must be something I’ve done in a previous life.

Found a hotel in the middle of nowhere. Did I forget to mention that at this point I was soaked, like really soaked. The poor girls in the reception was laughing their head off (for obvious reasons), as they knew something I didn’t – no heating in the room, so drying the cloth was going to be difficult.

Now the High Tatras is a major turist area, but nothing much have changed the last few decades, including the service. The restaurant in the Hotel was an interesting experience, at the end of the all we (me and another guest) had to chase down the locals to be able to pay for the meal.

View from the Hotel

But as always a good night sleep will sort everything out.

Day 6 (28/7-2011)
Wet cloth… eeee not nice….
Right, be a grownup and get on with it, back on the road, and todays destination would be Romania (I got no interest in Hungary – maybe someday), saw my first Gypsy village, didn’t look pleasant. Poor creatures. One thing about Slovakia the tourist brochure forget to say is that in Slovakia, there are hills/mountains and vallies, the vallies are where the people and industry is jammed in, which means that the air quality might not be perfect… far from it. My throat was in agony for most of the time until I got to Hungary.

Now Hungary is a different matter, there are ongoing discussions about toll roads (vignette), I stopped at the border to get one, and was told as I would be going to Romania directly there would be no need for it. 30 km. later I see a sign that I should have one… hummm, at this point the jury is still out on this issue.

The Eastern parts of Hungary are as depressing as things can get, I was lucky I only had good 200km to get to Romania.

Got to Romania (Petea border crossing), and in the next town I found a Hotel. Nice enough, and a very nice looking receptionist – did’t get at it at point, but Romanian women will laugh at anything as long as you carry a western european passport.. wierd. Got some nice food, and off to bed.

One of the things which I do wonder about is that, how is it that Hotels will let dusty, sweaty and smelling bikes in…

Continue with Balkan 2011 – Part 2

Balkan 2011 – Part 1
Balkan 2011 – Part 2
Balkan 2011 – Part 3
Balkan 2011 – Part 4
Balkan 2011 – Part 5
Balkan 2011 – Part 6

5 thoughts on “Balkan 2011 – Part 1”

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