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  #1  
Old 16 Oct 2010
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Eastern European tour, Spring '11

Hello all,

I'm planning a trip from the UK to Istanbul starting mid April for 3 weeks next year. Most of the trip will be touring around Eastern Europe.

Living close to Newcastle upon Tyne, I'll be getting the ferry to Amsterdam, then my first idea of the route goes like this:

Amsterdam -> Berlin -> Krakow, Poland -> Budapest, Hungary -> Deva, Romania -> Bucharest, Romania -> then across to the Black sea and down the coast as far as possible to Istanbul.

Then back from Istanbul:

Istanbul -> Sofia, Bulgaria -> Belgrade, Serbia -> Zagreb, Croatia -> then skirting the Austrian border to Bratislava, Slovak Republic -> Prague -> then back across Germany to Amsterdam. Just under 4000 miles, I reckon.

This will be my first time motorcycling outside of Western Europe, and am looking to do this on a budget of about £2000.

So, a number of questions for you more seasoned travellers:
- Time of year: Will the weather be OK, especially for the more northerly parts of this trip?
- Mileage: Does 4000 miles on mostley Eastern European roads sound doable in 3 weeks?
- Borders: A lot of this trip will be in the EU, but are there any issues with getting into those that aren't, any special docs I need, etc?
- Budget: To keep costs down I was thinking of doing some camping, but are there any equivalents of e.g. Travelodges in this part of the world?

If anyone has any ideas of places to visit along the way, or equally, to avoid/ Any other general advice will also be welcome.

Thanks in advance,

Nigel.
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  #2  
Old 16 Oct 2010
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Nigel

I presume that you are a UK citizen so your EU travel is painless as far as borders go - just make sure that you have insurance cover for Europe and take all your documents with you - driving licence, V5, insurance etc etc.
As far as entering Turkey - it's relatively easy. Visa costs either £10 sterling or 15 euros BUT make sure that the money notes are not torn or defaced as they might be refused (I had a ten pound note refused because it had a small rip, and I do mean small - luckily I had a couple of crisp fivers). Though not essential it might help to have an International Driving Permit (get it from the Post Office) which is useful if stopped as it has translations but remember that it is not a valid substitute for you actual licence which you must take with you (plus counterpart).

You will need a greencard for Turkey but if your insurers don't do them then (and some don't) you can buy third party insurance at the border.

Fuel in Turkey is very expensive as are phone calls back to the UK from your mobile otherwise it is a wonderful country to visit.

4000 miles in 3 weeks is no problem.

Last edited by strimstrum; 16 Oct 2010 at 22:29. Reason: missed info.
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  #3  
Old 18 Oct 2010
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Thanks Strimstrum,
Yes, I'm a UK citizen, and the bike is UK registered, so should be no problem with the majority of the trip.

Am looking forward to spending time in Turkey, was surprised to hear that petrol's expensive though!

Thanks again for the advice,

Nigel.
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  #4  
Old 18 Oct 2010
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In Eastern Europe, the roads are excellent with perhaps a few exceptions. It depends on whether or not you will ride off the beaten track or stick to major roads. So your estimated distance over this time would be fine I should think.

The time of year will depend on what you want to see and do. Winter is obviously not great on a bike unless you are prepared for snow and freezing temps. Summer is not great because of the hoards of tourists. I would pick autumn or spring if you have the choice.

Btw be aware the max speed limit for ALL motorcycles in Turkey is 70kph (40mph) if you speed, be prepared for very hefty fines in Euros! Apart from that, why only go to Istanbul? There is so much more to see in Turkey and then you have Syria, Jordan, Israel. You could do like a friend of mine, Miquel and take the ferry from Israel to Italy... the options are endless.
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  #5  
Old 18 Oct 2010
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Hi Turbocharger,

Thanks for your reply. I'm not indenting to spend the whole 4000 miles on autobahns and motorways, although I will use them to get quickly through western Europe I expect. After that I want to experience the countries I'm travelling through, and not just bypass them.

Whilst I would love to go further into Asia and/or into N Africa, time is the limiting factor, and 3 weeks is the max I can get for this trip (combination of family and work, you know how it is). So realistically, my aim is to get to Istanbul and back (just to say I rode to Asia!), taking my time and soaking up the atmosphere of places on the way.

Thx for the tip off about speed limits in Turkey - It'll be hard to keep the speed down if the roads are good!

BTW, when travelling through these various countries, what is the best currency to have - Euros, Sterling or US Dollars? Or should I exchange into the local currency of wherever I am?

Thx, Nigel.
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Last edited by fatbot686; 18 Oct 2010 at 17:38.
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  #6  
Old 19 Oct 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbot686 View Post
Hello all,

I'm planning a trip from the UK to Istanbul starting mid April for 3 weeks next year. Most of the trip will be touring around Eastern Europe.

Living close to Newcastle upon Tyne, I'll be getting the ferry to Amsterdam, then my first idea of the route goes like this:

Amsterdam -> Berlin -> Krakow, Poland -> Budapest, Hungary -> Deva, Romania -> Bucharest, Romania -> then across to the Black sea and down the coast as far as possible to Istanbul.

Then back from Istanbul:

Istanbul -> Sofia, Bulgaria -> Belgrade, Serbia -> Zagreb, Croatia -> then skirting the Austrian border to Bratislava, Slovak Republic -> Prague -> then back across Germany to Amsterdam. Just under 4000 miles, I reckon.

This will be my first time motorcycling outside of Western Europe, and am looking to do this on a budget of about £2000.

So, a number of questions for you more seasoned travellers:
- Time of year: Will the weather be OK, especially for the more northerly parts of this trip?
- Mileage: Does 4000 miles on mostley Eastern European roads sound doable in 3 weeks?
- Borders: A lot of this trip will be in the EU, but are there any issues with getting into those that aren't, any special docs I need, etc?
- Budget: To keep costs down I was thinking of doing some camping, but are there any equivalents of e.g. Travelodges in this part of the world?

If anyone has any ideas of places to visit along the way, or equally, to avoid/ Any other general advice will also be welcome.

Thanks in advance,

Nigel.
Nigel where to start. You say April. Can I say to you look at end of May and run in to the middle of June. You are going in land all the way. Central Europe and the hook a right to travel south. I've done Budapest last year in April and it rained 17 day's out of 20. I learned from that. That April shower's brings out the May flower's. Try and find some one to go with you, Sharing a cheap hotel room, is about the same price as two tent's on a camp site. Formula one room's are about 30 euros a night for two and a camp site runs out at about 12 Euros. So for a few bob extra. You get a shower and a bed and a solid roof over your head.

Some of the place's you are talking about going to you have to be careful. As the police in some of the old east European country's will rob you blind for made up traffic offence's. And they will take about £180 a go off of you. No argument, in-pound your bike and drive you to a hole in the wall machine to get the money. Then smile at you as you ride away knowing that you have just been mugged by the police.

I would like to go to Greece next year at the time I was saying. So if you are interested in changing your destination from Istanbul to Athens. And riding the same way back, I know a place in Budapest was can stay at. And I'm interested in seeing the death camp's in Poland. But like all trip's and plan's. By day two you have a destination. But the time table gets slightly changed.
Let me know.

John933
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  #7  
Old 20 Oct 2010
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Hi John,
Can't change the dates unfortunately, as it's the only time I can get off work

I'll be doing the whole journey alone, but will no doubt meet up with some people I know along the way. I think I might forget camping at that time of the year, and go with the cheap motel/B&B option. At least if it rains I can get dried.

Am a bit worried about what you say about the cops in some countries - which countries have you had trouble in? Has anyone else experienced this, and how's best to handle it?

Thanks, Nigel.
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  #8  
Old 20 Oct 2010
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Nigel

My pal, Mark, and I travelled all the way down from Tallin in Estonia through Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic and whilst we saw cops with laser speed traps we were never stopped or stiffed for non existent traffic offences.

And just to reiterate Turbochargers warning about Turkey - speed limits are 70kph and not much leeway. The benefit from this is that the petrol prices are so steep that riding at 42mph gives you more mpg so it's a bit of a trade off plus you get to see more things at a slower pace.

If you want to go to Asia I would avoid Istanbul and go south to the Gallipoli peninsula and then get a ferry at cannakale for a few pounds - then you arrive in Asia but much better scenery plus further south the weather might be just a shade drier and warmer.

Martin
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  #9  
Old 20 Oct 2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbot686 View Post
Hi John,
Am a bit worried about what you say about the cops in some countries - which countries have you had trouble in? Has anyone else experienced this, and how's best to handle it?
I've ridden Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Rep.,Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria. I got stopped for speeding in Bulgaria and got a telling off.

In the Baltics I got stopped by a Police Office, he just wanted to look at my bike, shook my hand, appologised and sent me on my way.

In Romania (crossing the Danube to Bulgaria) the border guards were taking money form some Romains in UK registered cars, they didn't bother me at all.

In nearly every country you go to, there will be someone who will give you a 'horror' story about the folk in the next.

Some people will have bad experiences, many others will have great experiences, but you don't often hear about them as bad news is more interesting than good.....
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  #10  
Old 20 Oct 2010
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Originally Posted by fatbot686 View Post
Hi John,
Can't change the dates unfortunately, as it's the only time I can get off work

I'll be doing the whole journey alone, but will no doubt meet up with some people I know along the way. I think I might forget camping at that time of the year, and go with the cheap motel/B&B option. At least if it rains I can get dried.

Am a bit worried about what you say about the cops in some countries - which countries have you had trouble in? Has anyone else experienced this, and how's best to handle it?

Thanks, Nigel.
Like every one has said, it's more story's you hear then has happened to me. Ride ran a story about it, was it in last month mag? That's the one I was thinking of when I was typing it up. Just for a precaution I take a couple of coloured photo copy of my V5 and MOT. If you tell the print shop what you want it for they run you up a couple of copy's. easer to hand over a copy it you think you are in a doggy place. And then say you'll be back with what ever money they ask for. But in fact you just F/off. And leave the copy. saves you a few bob.

John933
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  #11  
Old 21 Oct 2010
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Originally Posted by John933 View Post
Just for a precaution I take a couple of coloured photo copy of my V5 and MOT. If you tell the print shop what you want it for they run you up a couple of copy's. easer to hand over a copy it you think you are in a doggy place. And then say you'll be back with what ever money they ask for. But in fact you just F/off. And leave the copy. saves you a few bob.

John933
+1

Also, I spent alot of time getting a good quality copy of my licence and keep it in a well used wallet. In that wallet I keep enough money for the day and no more, I also keep a selection of defunkt credit cards, old notes, recipts some false phone numbers, pictures of randon people (facebook is good for that) - it looks and feels like my everyday wallet. It's just precautionary, but it allows you to 'loose' your wallet if you need to - not that I ever have.

Keep your originals safe in you luggage somewhere, just in case.....

I keep a U-Tag around my neck with all the real information, and electronic coppies of everything. Some dislike this, for me it works.
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  #12  
Old 21 Oct 2010
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Originally Posted by fatbot686 View Post
Hi John,

Am a bit worried about what you say about the cops in some countries - which countries have you had trouble in? Has anyone else experienced this, and how's best to handle it?

Thanks, Nigel.
Hi Nigel,

I'm back home 2 weeks now from my Balkan motorbike tour. I started off in Belgium and drove via Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia,.. back to Belgium.

In this 3 weeks / 6500km tour I have had no problems at all with police or at the borders. There are some police patrols on the roads in Bulgaria (and a lot of speedguns in Albania !) but, when you stick to the speedlimits there is no problem at all. No one has stopped me.
It's a great place to visit ! enjoy !! I'm not sure about the weather though... I've had some days of HEAVY rain in Albania & Montenegro. And I can assure you.. it's no fun driving in the pouring rain all day on potholed roads.
But off course, when you have the luck of sunny weather it's fun !

Peter
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  #13  
Old 21 Oct 2010
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Thanks to everyone, I think my mind has been put at rest regarding the cops and trumped up charges. Seems that there are stories of this happening, but no one who's replied has actually witnessed it or had it hapen to them. There will be dodgy people wherever you go, so I guess as long as you take precautions and keep your wits about you, you'll probably be OK.

Also, no one has seen my route and said not to go here or there, so I guess it's basically sound. Now just need to sort out a bit more detail of what I want to see. I think getting the balance right between having a fully timetabled prescripted tour, and having a vague idea about where I want to go, is the difficult part. I don't want to waste time wandering around aimlessly, but on the other hand, want the flexibility to make unplanned stops if I see something interesting!

I think planning the trip is almost as much fun as actually going on it!

Thanks again everyone,
Nigel.
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  #14  
Old 22 Oct 2010
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Gosh Nigel thats late for a mid life crisis road trip thought that was done around 40ish .
I love the planning stage of the trip every bit as much as the trip itself, and lets face it there is no way you are going to get lost touring around on google maps.
I travelled with husband & 2 friends this year to Romania & back, fab trip plenty to see, but as your going early in the year the Transfagarasan will still be closed. In Romania choose a fairly low level route as the road surfaces seem more chewed up in the higher elevations. We loved Slovenia for the scenery just as beautiful as Austria.
Remember you will need a lot of motorway passes vignettes think we had 3 but probably should have been 4 just took a risk.
If your lucky like me you can fill your bike up in Germany on the return trip then not have to get more fuel until you get back to UK, The Netherlands fuel is even more expensive than ours. I am the envy of our group I get around 260 miles to a tank :-).
You wont be stuck for buying food in Hungry, there is a Tesco at almost every junction or so it seems. Hungarian bike riders are the most friendly and helpful as we found out when someone led us a quick way to the motorway.
Enjoy your winter with google maps and more so enjoy your trip.

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  #15  
Old 22 Oct 2010
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Gosh Nigel thats late for a mid life crisis road trip thought that was done around 40ish .
Haha, you're probably right - I think I'm on to my second or maybe third mid-life crisis now!! However, being the eternal optimist I'm hoping that 50 will be my mid-life, not forty!

Thanks for the advice re. roads and petrol, however not sure what a vignette is? Is it a toll ticket or something. I guess I could Google it, just being a bit lazy!

Thx, Nigel.
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