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  #1  
Old 20 Nov 2008
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3 month Europe Travel Advise

This may sound like a silly question to ask but here goes...

The misses and I are planning a trip around Europe. We want to head off mid to late May 09 from the UK, north into Scandinavia then back down eastern Europe in a kinda zig zag clockwise direction around central and western Europe ending up back in the UK no later than mid sept.

My question: is this a realistic time period ? We don't want to stop and see everything but want to see some of each country, we are not even 100% sure we wish to stop in every country, but also don't want to spend all the time riding the bike either. More often than not capital cities will be avoided.

I understand that my question is kinda like "how long is a piece of string" but I am looking for some guidance from people who have travel these parts on a similar timeline/ know what travelling times are like.

Help
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Old 20 Nov 2008
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Gixxer

You will find most travel times in Europe don't differ too much from UK times except that UK roads tend to be more crowded. I found Swedish roads to be long , boring and you soon get fed up with trees and lakes but the move westwards into Norway is more rewarding. The Baltic States are OK - the only real delays being road works - we once road over 40kms on rubble on a road that was being 'updated'. (Incidentally, if you want to avoid Tallin-capital of Estonia-try Tartu which is 100 or so miles south eastish, found this to be much nicer than Tallin. Stayed in the Barclay Hotel which was HQ of local Red Army until early 1990's (wondered why my mobile wouldn't work).

Other travel times can be reduced drastically in mountainous areas such as the alps as roads are obviously twisty and narrow and a 50 mile journey can easily take two to three times longer if the road is busy.

Countries like France and Spain have acres of empty roads and are dead easy.

I could on forever but I'm sure others have got their own advice to give so I'll move over and let them have their say.
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Old 20 Nov 2008
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I'd be inclined to do it in the opposite direction, go South first, then head North - reason; if you end up down South July to mid September you'll hit peak holiday period which is unpleasant at best. Accomodation will be a lot more expensive and difficult to find, even camping can be hard at peak times on the Cotes and Costas. The roads are packed.

The weather will be better for riding as well, it wont be as hot if you intend going to Spain/Portugal/Southern France. Plus Scandanavia in Aug-Sept is usually great.

Distances, its a lot in 3 months, we spent 7 months last year doing a very similar trip and did 40,000kms in a campervan, but avoided main highways and wild camped almost everywhere.

Will you camp or stay in hotels/hostels?
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Old 20 Nov 2008
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I think about going the other way round but I had heard that black ice could be a problem in Scandinavia. I don't know how true this is (part of the reason for posting here) any comments/ideas ? If its' not true then going the other way would be better all round from the sound of things.

Camping: the theory was camp in western Europe and stay in hotels in eastern Europe. If we went the other way round then Scandinavian weather would be better and we could camp there too ?

Distance: I would like to avoid the motorways as well to see more of the country. But I can see how motorways would get us quickly across..
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Old 20 Nov 2008
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Brief, but definite opinions (which you may or may not find applicable):

Early September is a good time to be in northern Scandanavia. I saw no ice on the roads (and mostly wonderful weather) through the middle of the month. Watch out for the sea smoke to and from Norkapp...and the fog-and-rock-colored reindeer. Other relevant factors this time of year: little traffic in most areas, no reservations necessary anywhere, most places still open. I camped quite a bit, down to just above freezing temps in the far north mid-september. Saw the aurora a couple of times, which you'd miss in early summer. Oh yeah, and there are nice fall colors in the north as well.

Late August is a bad time to be in southern Europe, whether west, central or east. It's hot: too hot to stop, too hot to think straight when stopped, too hot for wearing full gear. At least, that's what I found. And there are mosquitoes. I'd rather do this leg in May or early June.

I just finished a similar route. If I deduct time spent in North Africa, I spent almost 4 months and I was moving most of the time. Most people would consider this a pretty brisk clip unless they favor the motorways and/or long, long days. I rode about 20k miles, 35k km, during that time, and although most was later in the year, therefore shorter days, I generally rode steadily for 6-8 hours per day. This might be just your style....but it's worth thinking about.

Hope that helps.

Mark
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Old 21 Nov 2008
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Hi, what insurance company are you using?
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Old 21 Nov 2008
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Why tie yourself down to an itinery. If I were you I would go in reverse direction, and enjoy it. when the time seems to be running out return, but do not short change yourself when you find something of interest. If you dont get all the way round, then at least you will have enjoyed ALL that you did see. It is no fun rushing and spending too long in the saddle whilst missing out on the scenery etc. Perhaps you could pick up where you leave off later, or revisit somewhere you liked especially.
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Old 22 Nov 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bikerz View Post
Hi, what insurance company are you using?
Hello, Motorcycle direct is who I am with currently. I do seem to have cover outside the UK but I do have to ring them to clarify everything.

Do you think there may be problems with my or finding a company to cover me through all these countries ?
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Old 22 Nov 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gixxer.rob View Post
I think about going the other way round but I had heard that black ice could be a problem in Scandinavia. I don't know how true this is (part of the reason for posting here) any comments/ideas ? If its' not true then going the other way would be better all round from the sound of things.

Camping: the theory was camp in western Europe and stay in hotels in eastern Europe. If we went the other way round then Scandinavian weather would be better and we could camp there too ?

Distance: I would like to avoid the motorways as well to see more of the country. But I can see how motorways would get us quickly across..
Black ice MAY be a problem in the hours just before dawn in the very high and Northernmost parts of Norway - but will you be on the road then? Forget about ice.

Maybe try Youth Hostels as well - quicker and easier than camping, although high season is always a problem. In Norway there are "Hyttes" sort of self contained "chalets" which are just about everywhere and cheapish. Dont forget that you need access to things like washing machines every few days which staying in a hostel can give you.

Wild camping in a tent is possible but I'd take any advice from other travellers about your security. We were warned off (by other travellers) from wild camping on the Med Coast of Spain, the Baltic States, Poland, French motorways and the Malmo to Oslo road in Sweden. After ignoring the advice about Spain and getting broken into we then took the advice seriously!! Dont camp on motorway aire de service in France, its asking for trouble as well.
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Old 22 Nov 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerM View Post
Black ice MAY be a problem in the hours just before dawn in the very high and Northernmost parts of Norway - but will you be on the road then? Forget about ice.

Wild camping in a tent is possible but I'd take any advice from other travellers about your security........
No we won't be on the road that early.

I meant to mention Hostels along with hotels in eastern Europe.

The idea with camping was to be a mix of camp sites and wild but mostly sites. Boring I know. Even then for security, panniers would come in the tent with us. If leaving the site on foot, the panniers would go onto the bike, s/steel cabled together then cover the bike.
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Old 26 Nov 2008
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Well it looks like that is final, we are going the other way round. Unless anyone has any last words.

Thanks to everybody for their advice.
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