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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 20 Dec 2007
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Around or Through Albania?

Greetings,

My wife and I will be touring with our ST1300 for summer of 08. Starting in Amsterdam making our way to Spain, up the southern coast of France to Italy, Greece the Western Balkan and back to Amsterdam via Prague and Vienna. We have plan most of route, where I need a bit of help is for the ride from Nothern Greece to the Adriatic Coast of Croatia.

I have read several posts here and on other forums on this route, and I still do not have a clear idea of what to really expect. Currently our plan is to enter Macedonia at the Florina border to Bitola and Ohrid to eventually make our way to Petrovac, Budva in Serbia & Montenegro, then west along the coast of Croatia back towards central Europe.

Since ultimately our goal is to do the Adriatic coast of Croatia it seems that choices to get to Dubrovnik are limited when you are coming in from northern Greece.

From research I have done, the best way to do this seems to be north to Tetovo then east to Skopje north to Prishtina all around Albania on E65-E80 north to Podgorica. We wanted to avoid Albania. We will be travelling with both our Canadian and French passports (shipping the ST from Winnipeg Canada to Amsterdam) so entry requirements and documentation for the bike looks pretty straight forward (insurrance will be purchased from "motorcyclexpress", but I would be really curious to find out if someone has done this ride how are the roads and can we realistically aim for 1 day of travel to do the 500 km or so between Skopje and Budva? or at least to Podgorica.

Or should we altogether review this route and go through Albania instead taking the E852 east of Ohrid to Elbasan, Tirana and Durres then the E762 south to Croatia via Shkoder and Podgorica which appear more direct and attractive.

Our aversion to Albania is based on the info we have gathered about the poor quality of the roads, we are absolutely not opposed to go there for any other reasons, but I honestly do not want to deal with really poor or dangerous road conditions with 2 up on a heavy bike that is not design for gravel or dirt road.

Or does someone have a better suggestion altogether to get from Northern Greece to the Croatian Coast?

Thanks

Last edited by ac_elite; 20 Dec 2007 at 14:25. Reason: typos
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  #2  
Old 20 Dec 2007
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Maybe a ferry from Greece to somewhere like Dubrovnik, although I understand if you do not want to go by that means when you can ride.

Kosovo could be a problem in the near future, depending on what happens there about the intention to declare independence from Serbia.
(have a look at the news on the BBC webpages, international version, if you are not aware of this situation).
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  #3  
Old 20 Dec 2007
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I certainly would promote Albania. The roads are good and they are improving them all the time. You may have some road construction to negotiate but apart from that they are fine. It is possible to travel through Albania via the coastal route border to boarder in 12 hours or so, I have done it and from memory it is about 250 miles but a stop over is recommended.

As Dave mentioned you need to keep abreast of the news there are still some tensions in the region, The British foreign office web site gives up to date info.
Travel Advice by Country*Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Northern Greece is one of the best kept motorcycling secrets. Be very careful when the roads are wet as some of the old surfaces are incredibly slippery.

There have been other threads about this route in the last 3 or 4 months so check back.

Another thing to consider is some Health / Travel insurances can become void if you travel to an area against FO advice it could apply to you as well.

Steve
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  #4  
Old 20 Dec 2007
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Skopje - Budva

I doubt whether you will manage to make it from Skopje to Budva in one day. The roads are partly winding along the mountains, you've got to cross two borders (Macedonia - Kosovo and Kosovo - Montenegro). I'm not sure whether the E80 doesn't take you into Serbia for a short stretch. This would mean another border-crossing.

It sounds crazy, but Kosovo is on the verge of declaring its independency from Serbia and Motenegro tries to gain its independency from Serbia for years already.

I'd plan to stay in a hotel in Priština overnight. I don't know the road conditions in Kosovo & Macedonia, but the road #2 in Montenegro is fairly good. Just make sure you stick to the speed limits. Lots of traffic cops in summer ;-) This also applies to Croatia.

The Croatian coastal road is very nice indeed. Dubrovnik is well worth a visit, but make sure you don't miss Trogir just north of Split. Trogir is at least as picturesque as Dubrovnik but not nearly as touristic.

Hans
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  #5  
Old 20 Dec 2007
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Hi Hans,
I am sure Montenegro gained independence in 2006.

I have seen reports of boarder problems crossing from Kosovo into Serbia. But OK the other way.

The best route IMHO would be crossing from Greece into Albania from the most westerly boarder follow the coast road. There is accommodation along the route but loads of hotels in Durres.

Steve
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  #6  
Old 20 Dec 2007
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From Tirana I got lost and went up to Lake Orchis, then followed that round to a tiny town near the Greek border, rode a fantastic set of switchbacks through the mountains into Greece. Best bit of riding I've done in Europe (missing a fair bit of tarmac though...).

Unfortunately I cant tell you how to get there as I had to stop at every crossroads in Albania and ask which way to Greece, was very lost at the time. I've since seen lake Orchis on a map, very very very big lake, you cant miss it!

Linking up with Croatia is easy, took me one day from Dubrovnik to just outside Tirana, then one day to get to 15 miles from the greek border. Good cheap hotel with secure parking and good food, then over into greece the next day. Albania rocks, but Tirana can be hell on earth.
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  #7  
Old 20 Dec 2007
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Howdy.

We did tour Albania 4 years ago on KTMs and at that time an enduro was the tool for the job. Mind you, we did had great time but the roads had been just awful for anything but an single cylinder machine. Although the roads have been poor, we've managed to get in one day from Dubrovnik to Ioanina.

Meanwhile, as i read, the road quality has improoved a lot so many croatian bikers with street bikes do visit Albania. One of the favourite roads is to enter from Montenegro, ride down to Tirana and then head to Ohrid for great macedonian cousine. This route is completely doable in one day. I would suggest you to take this route as Ohrid is a very nice place for sightseeing (also very cheap!).

Kosovo isn't worth the hassle at the border. Being under UN protection, you'll have to buy a separate insurance for this region. Also, as serbian forces aren't on all border crossings, you could face the situation that you're not allowed to exit Kosovo as you'll be treated as an illegal immigrant! Not to mention the current tense situation...

So, have a great trip and don't hesitate to ask more questions.
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  #8  
Old 21 Dec 2007
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Well although not cast in stones, further research and your comments are gearing us to do the Albanian route. Still more research will be required but if the road are not has bad as that, I would rather we use the more direct route with the least border crossings.

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions everyone
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Old 21 Dec 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SixDays02 View Post
Meanwhile, as i read, the road quality has improoved a lot so many croatian bikers with street bikes do visit Albania. One of the favourite roads is to enter from Montenegro, ride down to Tirana and then head to Ohrid for great macedonian cousine. This route is completely doable in one day. I would suggest you to take this route as Ohrid is a very nice place for sightseeing (also very cheap!).
I can confirm that this route was 90% tarmac last February, and the bits that weren't were short and seemed to be under construction. I managed to do it OK with an overloaded big traillie and bugger all experience so reckon it must be fairly easy.

I really haven't come across anything in Europe to equal Orhid(/Orchis??), don't miss out!
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Old 21 Dec 2007
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Ohrid actually

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  #11  
Old 21 Dec 2007
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Briefly: Albanian coastal route is fine all the way, with a few construction zones and ten or twent miles of muddy gravel at the southern end just before the Greek border. Nothing serious, nothing worrisome. Wonderful people and great scenery.

Side trips on smaller roads tend to be 4 wheel drive roads, i.e., not suited for road bikes.

Insurance can be purchased in Albania for about 50 euros covering (they claim) Albania and Kosovo. Don't think I'd like to rely on this....but then, I didn't buy any insurance at all and had few real worries.

Development is coming fast along the coast: I'd call it a clear case of "get it while you can."

Hope that helps.

Mark
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  #12  
Old 22 Dec 2007
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Red face Montenegro

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveAttwood View Post
Hi Hans,
I am sure Montenegro gained independence in 2006.

Steve


Steve

gosh, things do happen while you're away ;-) I was on the road for the whole of 2006, so I got none of those news - Africa's newspapers aren't interested in what happens in the rest of the world....

Thx for the info.
Hans
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  #13  
Old 23 Dec 2007
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We travelled from Montenegro (go round the ??? fjord and stop at Kotor (deepest in Europe: STUNNING) and down to Tirana and then East out to Struga in Macedonia in one day. In hindsight we regret that decision and should have stayed much longer in Albania. The scenery is absolutely stunning. The tar road from the border to Shroder is in a very bad condition but still ridable. The rest of the road is pretty much brand new tar. People are very friendly and there are small little hotels going up everywhere.
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  #14  
Old 23 Dec 2007
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I would just like to echo the comments about Albania so far. Do not miss it!! I was there this year, came in at Orhid before going to Durres, Kluj then up into Montenegro through Schroader .

The main road from Orhid is very good. It was rough from Shkoder North as pointed out previously but if you keep your speed down it is no problem. I was riding a Triumph Sprint ST. The people were just great where ever I went. At Elbasan I was there for nearly 4 hours at a roadside cafe whilst being fed and watered by locals free of charge. They were so glad to see tourists and find out what you thought of their country. Just Fantastic!!

During my 6 month trip Albania was a real surprise and maybe the highlight after being told by numerous folk not to go.

One other point make sure you keep your receipts for insurance and tax as you enter or you will have to pay again for the tax on leaving .

On looking at your route finding rooms in Budva in peak season is hard as it felt like all of Serbia and Montenegro go there for their hols. I would go to Kotor instead. Much more picturesque and rooms from 18 Euroes.

There is also a superb road from Kotor to Cetinje. 29 hairpin bends and great views of the Fijord.
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  #15  
Old 23 Dec 2007
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Ok we're sold,

The plan now looks like this from Greece; cross the border in Bitola into Macedonia, to Ohrid and across to Albania head for the coast via Tirana, stop in Durres then through Shkoder - Podgorica and south to the coast on the E80 to kotor and Dubrovnik.

Thanks again for the help
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