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  #1  
Old 13 Nov 2008
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Trip from Patras, Greece North

Just wanted some advice, opinions etc. My latest escapade has tentative plans to arrive in Greece via ferry in Patras, and then head north with the trip culminating in the italian alps. Time span is approx 2 weeks.

I have 2 major burning questions though

1) Ideal route through Greece. Just looking for any must-see's, great rides / scenery etc. that people have experienced. I really wanted to go to Meteora, but some people say east coast, some say west, some say something else. Just ideas really, we don't really have time to do a lot of backtracking so trying to figure out a route we could include a lot of sights.

2) Thoughts on route through to croatia? Basically i've got two options, loop around via bulgaria / romania and come back across, or some combination of albania/macedonia up through montenegro. I've been through both romania and montenegro before. What are thoughs on albania / macedonia? I'll be honest by knowledge of that region isn't fantastic! I loved romania so wouldn't mind going back, but it's always fun to go somewhere new!

Anyway, i've read quite a few threads that touch on various parts of this trip, but some are at least a couple years old so thought i would reach out again for some valuable input.

Graham

PS - off the biking topic, but anybody ever heard re: renting a car for a trip through eastern europe? Have a couple friends who may want to come along in a metal box, but I fear that finding a car rental company that would actually let you cross these borders may be very difficult! In their mind it's a road trip, but in my mind i've just procured my very first support vehicle for a trip!
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  #2  
Old 13 Nov 2008
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I'm not really in a position to suggest an "ideal route," but I'd say don't miss Meteora; it's one of the few truly unique sights, available nowhere else in the world. Judging by my transit through there less than a month ago (late October), it's probably very crowded during the season.

You already know Montenegro and Romania, two of my favorites, so I suggest going for Albania; it's much more rough around the edges, which I take as a good thing, and in places fairly rugged. While there, stop into Kosovo just for the geopolitical glimpses (and friendly people, often-stunning mountain scenery, relatively untouched monasteries, etc.).

You don't say what time of year you're looking at, but I'm assuming if you're riding the Italian Alps you probably mean summer or early fall. Albania in November can get pretty gloomy, as I discovered last year. Early October would probably be just about right; three weeks ago there was snow in the air everywhere, and the winter storms were moving into Italy in particular.

Hope that helps.

Mark
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  #3  
Old 14 Nov 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markharf View Post

You already know Montenegro and Romania, two of my favorites, so I suggest going for Albania; it's much more rough around the edges, which I take as a good thing, and in places fairly rugged. While there, stop into Kosovo just for the geopolitical glimpses (and friendly people, often-stunning mountain scenery, relatively untouched monasteries, etc.).

You don't say what time of year you're looking at, but I'm assuming if you're riding the Italian Alps you probably mean summer or early fall. Albania in November can get pretty gloomy, as I discovered last year. Early October would probably be just about right; three weeks ago there was snow in the air everywhere, and the winter storms were moving into Italy in particular.

Mark
Thanks for advice. You know I do have a strange liking to places that are a little rough, so maybe albania it is. I shall have to look at a map and do some reading, it's just one of those places I know very little about for some reason. We are thinking either june or september time of year, so as to miss the july / august peak through croatia etc. but it will probably still be quite busy.
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  #4  
Old 18 Nov 2008
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2 weeks is, I believe, too small a period of time to go all the way from Patra to Romania/Bulgaria and reach the Italian Alps (that is if you want to do something else besides riding).

A feasible, and interesting, scenario would be to do Greece, a bit of FYROM, and then ride the Dalmatian coast north towards Italy.

If you choose to do that, you have plenty of interesting sites to choose from, and great routes to enjoy your trip. What do you prefer? Ancient ruins, Byzantine ruins, monasteries, lakes, mountains, citadels, national parks? What about roads? Highways, national roads, regional small roads (my favorite), mud tracks?

An interesting route would be:

Patra
Lefkada (you get to see an Ionian Island, it is connected by bridge to the mainland)
Ioannina
Meteora
Prespes Lakes
Cross into FYROM by NIKI border station
Visit Ochrid
Then head for Budva (Montenegro) through Tirane (Albania)
Dubrovnik (Croatia)
Split
Plitvice Lakes
Ljubljana
Italian Alps

This is just a suggestion, you have infinite choices, if you can be more specific I could give you a lot more ideas...

As for the when, late September and early October are the best for a bike trip in the region, before that it's too hot, and after you'll get lots of showers.. June is not bad either...

I doubt you can rent a car from an EU country, and then cross into non-EU countries (especially Albania, the only country that us Greeks get to pay extra insurance to visit with our own vehicles). If you stick to EU countries you could circulate freely, but not through the Balkans (not yet at least!).
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  #5  
Old 19 Nov 2008
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Originally Posted by tserts View Post
An interesting route would be:

Patra
Lefkada (you get to see an Ionian Island, it is connected by bridge to the mainland)
Ioannina
Meteora
Prespes Lakes
Cross into FYROM by NIKI border station
Visit Ochrid
Then head for Budva (Montenegro) through Tirane (Albania)
Dubrovnik (Croatia)
Split
Plitvice Lakes
Ljubljana
Italian Alps
Excellent! This is just what I was after. It's so hard to just look at a map and decide on anything as, like you said. The options are endless. I did also think the route via romania would be a stretch time wise, so the logical answer is to stay on a more northerly track. The second half of the trip i've pretty much done before (albeit in the reverse direction), so i suspect we'll spend more time in greece/macedonia/albania than the montenegro and north section.

Thanks again.
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  #6  
Old 19 Nov 2008
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I did Meteora (fantastic!), then Ohrid (nice but i expected more?), South and West Serbia (no tourists but very friendly), Bosnia (superfantastic...), Dalmatian coast (superlative!), Plitvice Lakes (oh yes!), Bled and the Soca Pass (do not miss this Beauty!!), then the Amazing Dolomites. Any q's , just ask...
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  #7  
Old 20 Nov 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tserts View Post

An interesting route would be:

Patra
Lefkada (you get to see an Ionian Island, it is connected by bridge to the mainland)
Ioannina
Meteora
Prespes Lakes
Cross into FYROM by NIKI border station
Visit Ochrid
Then head for Budva (Montenegro) through Tirane (Albania)
Dubrovnik (Croatia)
Split
Plitvice Lakes
Ljubljana
Italian Alps
Interesting suggestion. In fact Lake Ohrid is more beautiful on the Macedonian side.
But when crossing to Albania it depends whether you prefer rough roads in beautiful landscape - then I'd skip Tirane and rather travel north from Lake Ohrid, turn off onto the dirtroad at Librazhd and either ride via Bulquize towards Skoder or carry on north via Peshkopi to Kukes. The mountain pistes are absolutely stunning, albeit a bit rough

Budva I don't know yet, but carrying on to Dubrovnik you'll pass the Bay of Kotor. Kotor itself is nice to see.

Hans
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  #8  
Old 20 Nov 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pottsy View Post
I did Meteora (fantastic!), then Ohrid (nice but i expected more?), South and West Serbia (no tourists but very friendly), Bosnia (superfantastic...), Dalmatian coast (superlative!), Plitvice Lakes (oh yes!), Bled and the Soca Pass (do not miss this Beauty!!), then the Amazing Dolomites. Any q's , just ask...
By SW Serbia you mean Kosovo area, or did you scoot around that? I keep changing my mind about making that part of the trip. A few people have mentioned similar destinations. So I am thinking making Meteora, Ohrid the main waypoints along. Still deciding route to Meteora, there are quite a few options and things along the way it seems whichever way you go.

Once I get to Montenegro i'm retracing steps from the past, so may stay different places but I aint going to miss that coastal ride up the coast through croatia, there's no option 2 for me on that one!

Tks
Graham
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  #9  
Old 21 Nov 2008
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Basically i skirted the Kosovo area, more a matter of where the roads went than anything else. But on going up to Kapaonik National Park (and running the gauntlet of many Police checkpoints, watch the low speed limits!) i realised at a much more serious Checkpoint that that was the Kosovo border and turned around. A good move, it turns out, as apparently i'd not have been allowed back into Serbia from Kosovo but had a lengthy detour via Macedonia or Albania to carry on through Serbia. But if you're planning Albania then that's ok, eh... I carried on up western Serbia to Tara National Park to cross into Bosnia. This was in mid-summer this year, but i reckon that as long as the frosty relations exist between these two areas then the Border will be a niggle.
As for the Dalmatian coast, it's a fantastic ride, my ride took me over to Korkula and the end of the island then the Split ferry.
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  #10  
Old 18 Feb 2009
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Greece to Dolomites

I suggest the Albanian Coast, especially in May or September. Enter Albania from Greece at Qafe Bota. Enjoy the tiny ferry across the Vivari Channel at Butrint. Tour the excellent ruins at Butrint. 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, Borshi, Qeparo, Himara, Vuno, Jale, Dhermi, Palasa. Up and over the Qafe Llogara pass. South back over the pass. North again over the pass. (Yes, it's that much fun!) Orikum, Radhime, Vlora. Inland to Berat, north to Rroghozhine, east to Elbasan, north to Tirana (unforgettable road). Then north to Shkoder and exit into Montenegro at the Muriqan crossing enroute to Ulcinj or Bar and up the coast to Budva and Kotor. Then up the Croatian coast.
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  #11  
Old 11 Mar 2009
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Originally Posted by Tirana Transplant View Post
I suggest the Albanian Coast, especially in May or September. Enter Albania from Greece at Qafe Bota. Enjoy the tiny ferry across the Vivari Channel at Butrint. Tour the excellent ruins at Butrint. 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, Borshi, Qeparo, Himara, Vuno, Jale, Dhermi, Palasa. Up and over the Qafe Llogara pass. South back over the pass. North again over the pass. (Yes, it's that much fun!) Orikum, Radhime, Vlora. Inland to Berat, north to Rroghozhine, east to Elbasan, north to Tirana (unforgettable road). Then north to Shkoder and exit into Montenegro at the Muriqan crossing enroute to Ulcinj or Bar and up the coast to Budva and Kotor. Then up the Croatian coast.
Thanks! So many ideas, still planning. There really is some good things to see no matter which way I go by the sound of it. Makes the decision harder, but at least better than people telling you it's boring!!!!
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  #12  
Old 11 Mar 2009
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Here's a trip report from Vienna via Triest/ferry to Durres/Albania and northwards: Blumenpflücker - Albanien/Montenegro/Bosnien/...
Unfortunately in German, but at least the names of places are in local lingo

None the less, the pics are stunning and in the beginning there is a map showing the route the guys took. Esp. the last leg when leaving Albania for Montenegro through the Vermosh valley is more than spectacular
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Old 9 Apr 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vaufi View Post
Here's a trip report from Vienna via Triest/ferry to Durres/Albania and northwards: Blumenpflücker - Albanien/Montenegro/Bosnien/...
Unfortunately in German, but at least the names of places are in local lingo

None the less, the pics are stunning and in the beginning there is a map showing the route the guys took. Esp. the last leg when leaving Albania for Montenegro through the Vermosh valley is more than spectacular
Oh, yeah! Vermosh is one of the most spectacular, remote parts of Albania. Way cool, if a little off the beaten path.... but that's the point, isn't it?
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  #14  
Old 23 Jul 2009
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Coastal route to Greece

Tirana Transplant, and all of you, thanks for this info.
It lacks one small bit of info for me: My wife and I intend doing the Croatia-Montenegro-Albania coastal run to Greece, taking the Vlore - Sandara route which sounds great, and the local crossing to Greece sounds good but; We are on a well-laden FJR1300, not a dirt bike, so am interested in Tarmac roads only. I understand that the roads have improved a lot lately, but what routes should I avoid?
Whitters
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