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Well, your trip sounds nice but on Your way back I would add some Croatian coast also avoiding Vienna is a big miss. And in Bratislava there is little (nothing special) to see. Also three weeks are not enough to see all that, most of your time you will spend on the road and gas stations, you can do that at home. I think that your budget is a bit too low...
On your place I would do a shorter run but take more time to actualy see something.
Thanks for your feedback Nikola, I have made some changes to my route - essentially reversing it (so I do the more southerly part first - hopefully a bit warmer that way), and taking in Vienna rather than Bratislava, as you suggest. I am also looking at taking in some of the Ionian coast.
As you suggest, although I love riding my bike, I want to see something of the countries whilst I'm there so am looking to see the best way of achieveing the happy medium.
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,
1. April would be a bit cold at high mountain passes especially in Romania and Bulgaria. Late April or Early may looks better.
2. Mileage: Better to add the half of planned mileage You will understand at the end of trip.
3. No problem at borders, especiallay Turkey. You will need a green card. Not sure about Carnet De Passage: Better to check.
Well The speed limits over here in Turkiye are improved a bit.
Our lobbying efforts have worked and the result is as below;
The inner city, 50kms/hr same as cars
The intercity 2 lane (undivided roads) 70km/h (Cars 90 this is dumb)
The intercity divided highway 90km/h (Cars 110 even dumber)
Highway (paid roads) 100km Cars 120 (well as I said)
The most busy roads will have several speed checks. So watch for that unmarked car parked by the shadow of a tree. And beware the laser detectors are highly illegal.
But if you are preferig the secondary roads and off the beatem tracks there will be less trafiic less police and more of the sight seeings.
Overall, I would not speed and push my luck. (You want to go fast go to Germany or Italy). Enjoy the scenary.
And about Istanbul. Now this is a city of 12million+. But you gotta see it. It will take some planning in advance. However a simple tea by the Bosphorus will be your reward. There are many travel books about Turkiye and Istanbul. Get one, lonely planet or rough guides are my favourites.
Back in the 90s I used to encounter a lot of dodgy police and border guards in Hungary and Romania. Sometimes they wanted some "backsheesh" (cash) but a cheaper option was to come prepared with a bottle of something or even a package of coffee (really - you used to be able to give civil servants a package of coffee as well to reduce the amount of bureaucracy you normally had to deal with). I remember that the lorry and mini-bus drivers used to just pull out a package of coffee and hand it to the border guards and then drive off.
In Romania, there's still a lot of corruption but it doesn't seem to be as bad as it once was. I think that with the recent push to eliminate corruption (at least among civil servants) and the large number of foreigners who are now living and travelling in this region, fewer cops are so blatant about asking for a bribe. But maybe it's just that now I can speak Romanian so they don't see me as an easy mark.
I haven't had any hassles in Hungary for a long time.
I travelled Europe last year, got stopped by the police 4 times, once in Romania where I genuinely was speeding - actually keeping up with the traffic, there aren't really any motorways in Romania so all the Turkish & Hungarian truckers use the same roads as you will, and if you're in the way they'll happily try to force you off the road. The cop just gave me a warning though.
In Ukraine they just wanted money, but I think there is a tendancy for people to know that's what they expect and just give it to them. I was prepared to do that, but tried just saying "I don't understand" a few times. Not only do they not have very good English, the ones that stopped me seemed to be very reluctant to actually ask for money - they seemed to rely on the fact that you would understand the subtext and play your part, but if you just didn't follow the script (not getting angry or anything) they gave up. It may have helped being a girl on my own, I heard stories from guys travelling who found the cops to be more agressive.
Re time I would say that's a long way to go in 3 weeks, not saying you won't make it but make sure you don't fix in your head "I have to get here", if you don't get to Asia it will hopefully be because you've had lots of interesting experiences on the way.
Re budget my 4 months cost me about £5000 so you should be fine!
Hi Fatbot, regards police and made up charges.....In Montenegro's capital, around 11pm I followed the Montenegran car infront as the green filter light came on. Just round the corner were too police and a parked police car. "You just rode through a red light". Well what can you say to that? My documents were to be held until I returned with cash from a post office...next day. I dumbly asked if there was more than one post office in town. They gave up, handed back my documents and wished me a good visit. The woman from the car was meantime really livid. A definite case of a stitch up. I'd expect that not driving after about 9pm would reduce the chances of this one. It pays to appear not be "well travelled and experienced" sometimes. Montenegro is magnificent and faultless for travel with only some dodgy police tactics to criticise. Absolutely do not be put off by this. Just try to act stupid, if fleeced try to be phylosophical about it. Don't hand over cash, play it out. Lindsay.
In Romania I can say that the amount of crocked cops just stopping you and inventing charges has decreased close to 0. On the other hand they bought more speed traps and are using them to give fines instead of increase the traffic safety.
Too many times I've noticed cops hidden in the bushes or just after a corner after a long stretch of straight road just waiting just to catch you. So you should be careful on speeding.
Also, one of the most scenic roads in Romania ( Transfagarasan - link) will probably still be closed during April so yes, maybe it is better to revers your route.
If by any change you need any information, help or advice regarding to the Romanian leg of the trip please do not hesitate to contact me.
Go for this!
It's a good tour schedule, enough money, good timing, all replies you've got are right, I mean really helpful and correct info. You can believe me, I've done the Budapest to Istanbul, as tour guide several times, it's an amazing area.
Need more info or ideas? Mail me.
I did a route very similar to yours in 1997, taking 3 weeks (don't remember total mileage) and it was a bit of a rush. So maybe keep your route and timings flexible.
I did another trip around E. Europe in 1999 with more time, and went again to Istanbul in Oct 2009 (again open-ended timescale en route to Africa).
Never any trouble with police, but I always practice (once outside of western Europe) having a big smile when being stopped, and as quickly as possible extending my hand for a handshake. The further east you go the better that's received. Nearly always they just want to chat about your journey and your bike.
But, if you're caught in one of the numerous radar checks there's usually no way out. And as has been said here, the fines in Turkey are expensive, a steep sliding scale depending on your speed.
Glad to hear from nomadb that the limits are a little more reasonable now!
Are you still planning to go along the Black Sea coast, presumably in Bulgaria?
I did that in 1997 and there was plenty of camping and cheap hostals, with the road mainly right next to the beach.
In 2009, what a change! The whole coast is now a continuous ribbon of package-holiday type hotels, no camping anywhere, despite our recent maps showing camping sites still existing. There were concrete hotels where every campsite once was. And worse, in October it was right out of season with nearly all the hotels closed. Lots had "For Sale" signs strung across them so I think they had built far too many and business had been bad.
Maybe wild-camping is possible right away from the main roads but we didn't check.
If there are scenic inland routes away from the Black Sea coast I think they might be better.
Istanbul's a great place, and Turkey in general - hope you like tea, you'll be offered plenty of it!
Have a good trip.
In gerenal about riding in Poland:
It is much better to go in May. April is usually quite cold, even it snows sometimes.
Quality of the roads might be a problem, but if you stick to the mayor (red on map) roads, you should be fine.
Police should not be a problem neighter. Just do not ride too fast (over 120 km/h outside of the cities, 70-80km/h within cities) and they shouln't be bothering you. Police is motorcycle friendly in most cases. They will check your papers, sometimes check if you haven't drink too much yesterday (limit is 0,2‰), I've talk to them many times and never get a ticket.
If you would have any other questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
Be careful in Slovakia as there are numerous radar traps - basically dont speed as the fine s will make your eyes water .
The motorway from Bratislava to Prague is appalling - my Blackbird and my Gtr basically bounced along it
Olumouc in E Czech is worth a stop if you are passing by . I travel to Slovakia a couple of times a year to visit friends near Nitra , so post me if you want to ask anything about the country as have just about covered all of it . Same goes for Czech rep - except Prague
I've done a fair amount of Eastern Europe in the past few years.
I really enjoyed Romania - zero corruption and very friendly customs people. Drivers there can be a little wild, though, so keep your wits about you. I've done Poland several times and enjoyed it as well. Rural Slovakia is delightful, so is Slovenia.
The only country I absolutely would not go back to is Ukraine. I had the same experience as Laura (a few posts above), except in my case the crooked cops were very forthright about asking for money. They didn't even accuse me of speeding, they just wanted to collect their toll. Plus, the roads were wretched (massive pothole suddenly appears in an otherwise smooth looking road), and I got tired of seeing 12 year olds that were knee-walking, floor-licking drunk at 11:00 AM in the morning.
So, I suggest you route around Ukraine if you can.
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