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  #1  
Old 18 Mar 2009
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Albania to Slovenia: Looking for Input. Thanks

First of all many thanks to Gecko, Graham Kawa, Vaufi, Mermaid, Tourider, Martinjeffes and Tirana Transplant who replied to my previous posting re a base in the Balkans

Based on that feedback, we have changed our plans and are now playing with the idea to get to the southern Balkans as fast as possible and take in Albania and then take our time returning to northern Europe.

Based on information from other posts I have put together a rough routing that takes in some coast and some mountains.

We will be on a tight budget, have a liking for history, small villages/ towns over large cities, paved roads or easy dirt over rough goat tracks and mud, prefer mountain passes over beaches and rather go slow and explore rather than fast and clock up large km each day.

We are on a very cheap budget, so will avoid the toll roads here possible, camp in central Europe/ Greece and try to find cheap hotels for the rest of the trip.


We hope to leave our base near Paderborn, Germany around the 16 or 17 of June and need to be back by the 7 or 8 of July in time to pack the bikes up and go home to Australia.


That gives us three weeks to do the round trip.


I am hoping that people could give us some more feed back on places to see, routes to take and places to stay. I have already noted and saved and included the suggestions from the previous posting.[/font]


A rough working concept is;


Germany
Day One. Paderborn/ Nurnberg Autobahns A&/ A70 391 km, stay a friends in near Nurnberg.
Day Two/ Three Nurnberg/ Venice 640 km (try and avoid the tolls in Austria/ Italy, but do a side trip across some of the Dolomite passes. Camping (unless anyone knows of a cheap hotel in the region for less than 40 Euros for two?)
Day Four Catch ferry to Igoumenitsa, Greece (Does anyone know how far in advance you need to book to secure ticket? Can it be left to the last minute in case the Dolomites have extra charm and delay our journey?)
Day Five arrive Greece

Here we have no real idea, but some posts suggest Meteora. Would anyone have another suggestions in Northern Greece? Plus suggested places to camp/ cheap hotel (again our upper price is 40 Euros absolute max!!)

Albania(Southern Coastal Option which looks interesting and I have lifted this suggestion from a couple of postings)
Qafe Bota
Ferry across the Vivari Channel at Butrint Tour ruins.
North to Saranda.
Make a side trip to Gjirokaster, taking in the "Blue Eye" spring along the way.
Return to Saranda head north along the coast road through Piqeras,
Bunec,
Palasa.
Up and over the Qafe Llogara pass.
South back over the pass. North again over the pass. One posting reckons its good value
Orikum, Inland to Berat (castle plus riding close by, possible base for a couple of days),
North to Rroghozhine,
East to Elbasan (Turkish fortress), (Elbasan to Qafe-Thane rd is suppose to be good value)
From here we would like to head inland and north rather than visit Tirana
Then come back to Shkoder (Rozafa Castle and accommodation at Kolping House) and
exit into Montenegro

With Montenegro we will stay inland away from the coast

Just based on the maps the following looks interesting;
Podgorica
Lijeva Rijeka

Berane

Mojkovac

Zabljak (small camp site)

Niksic

Cross into Bosnia
Then head towards Sarajevo
At this stage might rest up for a couple of days so maybe use Sarajevo as a base for a few round trips as a few posting have mentioned the city is worth a closer look. After Sarajevo, we are am not sure, so looking for suggestions for the rest of BiH. Have been told that Jajce is interesting and has camping opportunities, plus Banja Luka.

After our tour of BiH we will return to the coast via Mostar and continue along Croatian coastline maybe some island hopping to Slovenia. Almost everybody reckons this coastline is a must do. Will try and take in Plitvice lakes as well.

For Slovenia I have the “Grosser Alpen Strassen Fuhrer” with a couple of suggested rides in the Alps plus a few posting have suggested that the lakes Bohinj and Lake Bled are worth seeing plus have camp sites. Also mentioned has been Pivka and Predjama Castle


Across to Villach in Austria then head north again. For the return journey through Austria/ Germany I will use the Garmin with four pre loaded rides from the Motorrad touring software that will take us from Austrian/ German border, along the Czech border, once we are close to the Hartz Mountains we will swing west and head back to base.

We have toyed with an alternative way home, via Serbia/ Hungry/ Slovak/ Czech, but Croatian coastline and the Julian Alps in Slovenia sound very interesting.


If anyone has any suggestions for cheap places to stay along the way, side trips or must see places or alternatives, would love to hear from you.


Cheers

Brett
Brisbane/ Oz
’00 Triumph Tiger
London/Tokyo 03 (via Morocco and Iceland)
Seoul/ Amsterdam 06 (via Mongolia and the Baltic)
Czech/ Poland/ Slovak 07
Pyrenees 08
Albania 09 (?)

Last edited by Brett Dean; 18 Mar 2009 at 09:16.
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  #2  
Old 19 Mar 2009
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I'll be honest mate, I reckon you've done a solid job of planning. That's a really good route, very similar to one I was hoping to do this year, but might be getting scaled back a little due to a wedding popping up in the middle of it. I'd do a stop off in Ston, not far out of your way, I think I mentioned previously, lovely little place, near where you hit the coast coming in from Mostar. In Mostar there were a lot of pensions to stay at. We stayed at a placed called Pension Bocatelli (sp?) she had space for the 2 bikes in her garage, free brekky. Might have been 50 euro's for us both, slightly over your limit, but it was nice and close to the old town, and she even did some laundry for us!! So I would recommend! We lived it up in sarajevo, so can't help you on the cheap accom there.

My only question is time? You've got about 3 weeks give or take? You lose the best part of a week getting to greece. You look to be spending almost a week in Albania or near enough, then you've only got a week +day or 2 to get from Montenegro to Germany?

I reckon your basic route is do-able, but might need to 'straight-shot' it in a couple places. Maybe i'm overestimating what it will take to see all those sites in Albania. That could be due to me normally always drinking too much when I do a trip and not getting moving till midday

Hows brissy these days? Used to live there, originally from sunny coast, been 6 or 7 years now though.

PS - I got addicted to Cevapi (little sasauge type things in pita bread thing they do in a lot of the countries you are going through) - i'm sure it's not too good for your waistline, so be warned
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  #3  
Old 20 Mar 2009
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Gday Graham,

Your right mate the time is a bummer. Was only going to go to Croatia maybe Bosina, but all the posts on make Albania sound too interesting. We have "done" Siberia twice and it sounds very similar as will stretch it this time. Maybe will drop the side trip in the Dolomites and just high tail it back to base from after Croatia. Thats the good thing about Europe, if you want to make distance the Motorway system is pretty good

Did file away your suggestion re Ston and found a few camp sites on the web close by.

Brisbane is still Brisbane mate, nothing ever to interesting happens, slowly starting to cool off now.

Looking forward to the Cevapi's

Brett
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  #4  
Old 20 Mar 2009
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I've done a smimilar trip last year. I'm living near Karlsruhe, so I had a different initiary. First stop was in Austria, on the second day I crossed Italy and stopped in Ancaran (Slovenia). Since I already knew the northern part of the croatian coast, I went into the country and stopped near the Plitvice lakes. From there it is just a stone's throw to the border and since I've never been in Bosnia-Herzegovina before, I went there and ended up in Sarajevo.

From Sarajevo I went south-easterly heading for the Durmitor national park in Montenegro. I stayed in Zabljak. After a round trip around the national park I went through the valley of the Tara and to Plav to get to the back entrance of Albania.

At the border crossing you can say goodbye to tarmac for several dozens of kilometers and you enter the Vermosh valley (doesn't have a proper entry in Wikipedia, but this one is about the region). There is a small hotel near Lepushe lead by a very friendly family where I stayed. Then down the Vermosh valley to the mediterranian, from almost 1500m to sea level in about 60km. Skoder is just a city, so I headed on to Tirana and Elbasan. I ended up in Gramsh.

Since I was on light bike (DR-Z 400), I took it crossing the mountains to Berat. If you want to go to the castle by bike, don't take the slippery road from the town center but the other road from the northern exit of the town. The tall hotel near the bumper car ride is fine and offers a nice breakfast. Take a room without air condition (half the price and not needed) in the top most storey with a view on the castle.

Via Gjirokaster and Sarande I went to Kalambaka in Greece to go to see the Meteora cloisters.

I headed back into Albania going north to Kastoria and then Korce in Albania.

An alternative would have been to go through Macedonia and enter Albania later via Debar. My main objective in Albania was to take the ride with the ferry on the river Drin (albanian: Liqeni i Fierzës) from Fierza to Komani. This is absolutely worth a detour.

Pictures and a report (german only) from friends Phil and Ralf and pictures from my trip.

Last edited by Mandarax; 20 Mar 2009 at 08:34.
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  #5  
Old 20 Mar 2009
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Originally Posted by Mandarax View Post
An alternative would have been to go through Macedonia and enter Albania later via Debar. My main objective in Albania was to take the ride with the ferry on the river Drin (albanian: Liqeni i Fierzës) from Fierza to Komani. This is absolutely worth a detour.
I found out about this scenic ferry only after my return. But could I have fitted it in? You can only do so much. I'll do it if I return to Albania. I looked at the your link to the wiki site for Saranda (spellings seem to vary in these countries). I reckon it was written by the Saranda tourist board. "Premier tourist attraction" my arse. I found every Albanian city I passed through, including Saranda, was pretty grotty. And that's putting it mildly. Interesting to see as you ride through, true, but not really somewhere you'd want to spend much time.


I rode through Albania (& Croatia) back in September. You're in for some fun if you don't mind slumming it sometimes. I'd suggest you'd be wise to use hotels in Albania - they're cheap and secure. You could try asking a local to put you up, that would be cheaper but might be "interesting". Outside Albania, hotels are pricier. I therefore usually camped, except once in Trogir (North of Split) when I got lucky with accom.

Pages 5, 6 and 7 of the link below might give you some additional feel for Meteora, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia.

Last edited by SpitfireTriple; 20 Mar 2009 at 16:06.
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  #6  
Old 20 Mar 2009
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Nürnberg

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brett Dean View Post
If anyone has any suggestions for cheap places to stay along the way, side trips or must see places or alternatives, would love to hear from you.
Brett
If you haven't been there before, try to allow at least half a day to visit the old city of Nürnberg. It's a beautiful, historic area.

Enjoy Albania. It's great.
Stephan
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Old 24 Mar 2009
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If you need any specific info on Slovenia or Croatian coast, PM me. I'm a bit tight on time so haven't gone into details reading your post.
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Old 25 Mar 2009
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Hi brett,

If you have the time ride the Vrsic pas in Slovenie, it is beautifull.

You can see a small movie of our motor holiday in Slovenie and other countrys on Life Is Joy - Home

Enjoy!
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Old 26 Mar 2009
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Originally Posted by Caminando View Post
Hi SpitTrip I hope to be passing through Albania en route further east this autumn, so the pics were handy...Ta.

Can't agree about "Investment Biker " though - an unpleasant book of unpleasant values IMO.
Each to his own. It struck a chord with me. So much so I've read it a couple of times. But then I was a merchant banker in a previous life. I must admit, I have found more recent Jim Rogers stuff leaning towards the selfish and arrogant. Or is it just me becoming more moderate?!

PS Daresay you won't have enjoyed Liar's Poker either...
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Old 26 Mar 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpitfireTriple View Post
Each to his own. It struck a chord with me. So much so I've read it a couple of times. But then I was a merchant banker in a previous life. I must admit, I have found more recent Jim Rogers stuff leaning towards the selfish and arrogant. Or is it just me becoming more moderate?!

PS Daresay you won't have enjoyed Liar's Poker either...
I know this hijacking the thread.... but isn't that the same book he says Clinton will be the last Democrat ever elected an American president because of irresponsible policies....

I think he should stick to investing instead of political predictions

Back to albania.....
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Old 2 Apr 2009
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Sorry to hijack the thread but if you were doing this trip in a truck (a 10 ton 4x4 Merc 9 metres long) are there reasonable park up places, places you can't get to etc? Where would go if you were in a truck like this?

Any info gratefully received

Thanks

Q
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  #12  
Old 2 Apr 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mandarax View Post
I've done a smimilar trip last year. I'm living near Karlsruhe, so I had a different initiary. First stop was in Austria, on the second day I crossed Italy and stopped in Ancaran (Slovenia). Since I already knew the northern part of the croatian coast, I went into the country and stopped near the Plitvice lakes. From there it is just a stone's throw to the border and since I've never been in Bosnia-Herzegovina before, I went there and ended up in Sarajevo.

From Sarajevo I went south-easterly heading for the Durmitor national park in Montenegro. I stayed in Zabljak. After a round trip around the national park I went through the valley of the Tara and to Plav to get to the back entrance of Albania.

At the border crossing you can say goodbye to tarmac for several dozens of kilometers and you enter the Vermosh valley (doesn't have a proper entry in Wikipedia, but this one is about the region). There is a small hotel near Lepushe lead by a very friendly family where I stayed. Then down the Vermosh valley to the mediterranian, from almost 1500m to sea level in about 60km. Skoder is just a city, so I headed on to Tirana and Elbasan. I ended up in Gramsh.

Since I was on light bike (DR-Z 400), I took it crossing the mountains to Berat. If you want to go to the castle by bike, don't take the slippery road from the town center but the other road from the northern exit of the town. The tall hotel near the bumper car ride is fine and offers a nice breakfast. Take a room without air condition (half the price and not needed) in the top most storey with a view on the castle.

Via Gjirokaster and Sarande I went to Kalambaka in Greece to go to see the Meteora cloisters.

I headed back into Albania going north to Kastoria and then Korce in Albania.

An alternative would have been to go through Macedonia and enter Albania later via Debar. My main objective in Albania was to take the ride with the ferry on the river Drin (albanian: Liqeni i Fierzës) from Fierza to Komani. This is absolutely worth a detour.

Pictures and a report (german only) from friends Phil and Ralf and pictures from my trip.
Thanks for the very interesting pics, Mandarax. I hope to ride in Albania this year so your pics wre very useful.
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Old 2 Apr 2009
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Brett,

in Albania you can try any hotel you find. The rooms should be no more than 20 - 30 Euros incl. brekkies. There is a nice hotel in Sarande on the beach front called Hotel Kaonia N39 52.072 E20 00.423 where I usually stay. The double room for 30 Euros incl. breakfeast. But that's the off-season price...

Out in the boondocks you could camp in the wild, but huge sheep dogs can be quite a menace at times
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Old 12 Apr 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quintin View Post
Sorry to hijack the thread but if you were doing this trip in a truck (a 10 ton 4x4 Merc 9 metres long) are there reasonable park up places, places you can't get to etc? Where would go if you were in a truck like this?

Any info gratefully received

Thanks

Q
What's the wheelbase? Mine is 4.200, Desert Soul, no problems anywhere, but in Croatia you might be forced to sleep in the camps, especially if you plan it during the tourism season (officially 15.6.-15.9.). There's always some place to park, even if car-parks have a height limit. Tourist attractions are prepared for the long-wheelbase buses.
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Old 15 Apr 2009
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Brett - did you decide on something in the end? Just curious as i'll be passing through part of your route (from montenegro north) about a month later.

Just interested what you had pulled together
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