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Photo by Ellen Delis, Lagunas Ojos del Campo, Antofalla, Catamarca

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Ellen Delis,
Lagunas Ojos del Campo,
Antofalla, Catamarca



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  #16  
Old 10 Jun 2016
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Motorcycle Wanderings - Visit to Vimy, France

I am now in Belgium. I left the Normandy coast of France and headed north west for Vimy France. What brings me up to this part of the country is my interest in visiting the Canadian National War memorial in Vimy. This is a popular landmark visited by many Canadians who visit in France. Its almost like a required pilgrimage for Canadian tourists to visit this site. To those not familiar with the Vimy Memorial, it is probably instantly recognizable to anyone who has seen any images of the Vimy Ridge site.


Canadian National Memorial at Vimy France

It was about an hour into my ride from Saint-Aubin in Normandy to Vimy that I decided that there was a change up needed in my travel routine. Since the time that I arrived in Ireland, I have been travelling 2 to 3 days in a row with a planned rest day on the 3rd or 4th day. I was beginning to find this travel schedule taxing on both myself and the bike and was finding that I was spending more time riding than exploring the regions I was travelling to. I also decided that instead of avoiding toll highways I would allow my Garmin GPS to select routes that included toll roads. I was finding that trying to navigate around Europe and at the same time avoid toll roads was turning into an impossible tasked. In the first hour after leaving Saint-Aubin I had ridden exactly 20 kms. I was making no headway along these country backroads, my progress was being slowed by numerous stoppages for work crews, 30 km speed limits when riding through villages and towns which are spaced 2 - 3 kms apart. This backcountry road adventure was beginning to get monotonous. I was longing for the sensation of speed, the feeling of air rushing across my helmet, bugs splattering their innards over my face shield at 120 kph.

The only place I could find accommodations near Vimy was in the town of Mazingarbe , which is west of Lens and North of Arras France. This choice turned out to be a mistake in selecting this town. There is no reason why any tourist would ever want to come and stay over in this place. On a rating of 1 to 10 on the tourist attraction scale, this place would not even rate a 1. There was nothing unacceptable about the B&B I chose to stay at, its just that Mazingarbe is about as lively as a morgue.

I arrived on Monday only to find out that in many of these little back water provincial towns and villages across France, nobody works on Mondays, all businesses are shuttered. Same thing with Sundays, most all businesses are closed for the weekend. The only place I was told that I could find a restaurant was 16 kms away. I stayed in Mazingarbe for two days, needing a day to spend visiting Vimy. Google Maps had indicated that there were at least 4 - 5 cafes and restaurants in Mazingarge so I should not expect to have an issue finding a place to eat. The following day when out looking for a restaurant I find 3 of the 4 places mentioned in Google were now closed down and the only other place only opened at noon and shuts down after that for the day. The owner of the B&B that I was staying at freely admitted that Mazingarbe was a boring little place to live in.

Half starved and weak from hunger I did manage to make my up to Vimy to tour the national monument. The National Memorial is located out in the countryside near Vimy Ridge, the site of an important WWI battle. The twin towers of the monument dominates the surrounding landscape and can be seen for miles when first approaching the site.

The landmark sits on a 250 acres plot of land which was donated by France to Canada in order to construct the WWI memorial.


View from the base of the memorial

A tribute video I made to show off the Vimy memorial




Aside from spending time walking around viewing the memorial there is an interpretation centre on the ground, they give guided tours of some of the underground tunnels that were built during the battle for Vimy Ridge and have preserved some of the trenches that the soldiers took refuge in. The grounds all around Vimy have been left undisturbed since the end of the WWI conflict. You can see the remains of bomb craters, old trench lines. Much of the area is off limits as the grounds around here are still littered with unexploded ordinances.


An effective "Keep off the Grass Sign"


Land around Vimy is pockmarked with bomb shell craters.


This huge crater was created by underground explosion. Battle lines were only couple hundred yards apart. Each side would tunnel under each other's trenches and blow the crap out of each other.





Touring one of the many underground tunnels



Replica of the trenches used during battle at Vimy Ridge



Another view of the trenches



Bike and monument in background.

Yesterday turned into a bit of a travel day, no photos or videos, just a layer of rubber off my tires from Vimy to Florenville Belgium.

I have been resting up in Florenville, niece little quit town on French-Belgium border. Located on the Semoise river. Small peaceful little place, lots of restaurants and bars and outside cafes.



Scene near my hotel. Old train bridge over Semoise river



Old building



Old church constructed 12-13th century



View from Florenville looking down into river valley below



Looking down into valley, old train bridge in background



Street scene from around town of Florenville Belgium
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  #17  
Old 15 Jun 2016
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Motorcycle Wanderings - Ludwigsburg Germany - Salzburg Austria

I do not even remember the events of my ride down from Florenville Belgium to Ludwigsburg Germany, that is how eventful my day was. I spent 5 hours on the motorway stopping at the occasional gas station for fuel and food. During my entire ride down I was followed by a massive storm system that threaten to overtake me at any time.

I arrived in Ludwigsburg Germany latter that afternoon just before a storm system swept in. Germany as well as most parts of Europe have been under a deluge of rain and thunder storms this past week. So far I have managed to avoid the worst of the rains.

One of my reasons for coming to Ludwigsburg is because there is a BMW motorcycle dealer in town and I need drop bring the bike in for an oil changed. Ludwigsburg is a small city of 88,000 people about 12 kms north of Stuttgart. My plans are to stay here for two days, get the bike serviced and do some sightseeing.

Next morning, I awoke to the sound of rain beating on the steel roof of my Hotel.
The BMW dealer I needed to find was only a couple of blocks from where my Hotel was located. My visit to the BMW dealer did not end well, its a Saturday morning and although the dealership was opened, they had no mechanics on duty. So I will have to look to getting the bike serviced elsewhere along my route.

Fortunately, the morning rains dissipated and the sun finally came out. According to the Wikitravel, the only thing of note in Ludwigsburg is the Ludwigsburg Palace, so with nothing else better to do, I found my way into the city centre to view this historical site. This is one of the main tourist attractions in Ludwigsburg.

The Ludwigsburg palace is one of the best preserved Baroque palaces in Germany. The building was constructed back at the turn of the 1700's by Duke Ludwig of Wuttemberg. The building was first constructed to serve as a hunting lodge, than things got out of hand as the Duky kept adding on to the palace over a 30 year period,to where eventually he had built a palace with over 442 rooms, requiring a staff of over a 1000 to maintain the place. He hired the best tradesmen and artisans from around Europe to come and work on the palace. At this period in history all these Dukes and other aristocrats across Europe were competing amongst themselves to see who could build the biggest baddest palace.

The scale of this place is enormous. The territory of Wuttemberg that this fellow Ludwig lorded over, only had a population of 325,000 people. How could he afford to build such a palace and maintain it? He must of maxed out his credit cards on this one.


Ludwigsburg Palace


Ludwigsburg Palace



Recreation of gardens that existed around the Ludwigsburg Palace during its heyday



Gardens on grounds of Ludwigsburg palace.

There were a number of museums setup in the palace. Part of my ticket admission was to some of these museums. This was the highlight of my tour to the palace (not) hundreds of display cases showcasing ceramic vases and dinner ware used back then. I spent 7 Euros to view old vases and gaudy ceramic figurines. You notice that there is not a single other person in the museum.









Scene inside the palace



Inside one of the Duke's private rooms

I was hoping to start my next day's ride down to Salzburg Austria under clear skies but that was not to be. Next morning I awoke to the persistent sound of rain, interspersed with claps of thunder. I had already booked and paid for my hotel in Salzburg so I was committed to getting down to Salzburg today.

If there is one thing that motorcyclists do not like, it is riding in the rain. But when you are on a long motorcycle tour like I am, you just need to accept that there will be some days when you are forced to ride through bad weather.

I was not on the main highway more than 10 minutes when I was forced to exit off the freeway and seek shelter, the rain was coming down with such force that I could not see the road ahead of me and parts of the road surface was flooding over.

I waited out the worst of the storm before attempting to go back out on the Hwy. About an hour into my ride I was forced again for a second time to exit and find shelter. I exited out at a gas station along the Hwy. It was a peculiar site, as there were at least 40 - 50 other bikers huddling in from the rains. Most of the bikers appeared to be soaked to the bone as most were riding without rain gear. Myself, I put on my rain gear as soon as I stepped out the door this morning. It was another half hour before the rain subsided and I headed back on the road. By mid afternoon the skies began to clear up.

Whenever you mention Germany, one of the first things that come to mind for most North Americans are big luxury sedan cars and the autobahn. The autobahn is the German federated highway system. For many parts of the autobahn there is no set speed limit although there is a posted advised speed limit of 130 kph. Some sections because of high traffic density, unsafe roads or construction will have lower posted mandated speeds.

About half the roads along the German Autobahn have unrestricted speed, which in theory means that you can drive as fast as you want. I have ridden on the autobahn before so I am familiar with rules of the road. The main sections of the autobahn have three lanes, right lane for slower traffic, other two lanes for passing, with the most left lane for high speed passing. Since I am one of those staid North American riders, use to our slower pace of travel this day I was keeping to the slow lane, doing 130 - 140 kph, yes that the speed of the slow lane on the Autobahn ! Occasionally I would get behind a slower moving truck or RV and pull out to pass, well this day, I pull out into the middle lane along with another vehicle that was probably 200 feet in front of me to passing a RV, I checked my left side mirror, not a car in sight behind me on the middle lane, as soon as I changed lanes this blur of a black colored Porsche Carrera comes screaming past me not more than a foot away from me, and alongside him on the further left hand lane is another sports car speeding away, the Porsche narrowly misses me than somehow avoids hitting the car in front of him in the middle lane by severing into the right almost hitting another vehicle.

It becomes quit apparent that there were two idiots racing each other down the autobahn. By my estimate they must of being doing over 160 mph or more, I was making my pass at about 100 mph and still he passed me like I was standing still. Well !! there's more to this story, about a half hour later, the traffic came to a near stand still, as the traffic inched along, I could see a police car and a recovery vehicle on the side of the road. In a farm field adjacent to the Hwy I could see two parallel tracks from where a vehicle had obviously plowed through a farmer's crops. As I got closer to the scene of the accident, what do I see but that same black Porsche that nearly took me out. Ain't karma a bitch!! Outside the vehicle I see some kid who can't be more that 17-18 years old, looking pretty stressed out as he stood there talking to the police officer. Whatever happens to him, he probably deserves worst.

I have been in Salzburg now for two days, today I was able to locate a BMW motorcycle dealer and get someone to perform an oil change. At first the service manager told me that they were booked solid for the week and there was just no way for them to service my bike. So I had to resort to shame tactics to get him to help me out. I told him its been the code of the road for decades for dealers to give priority to touring motorcyclists passing through an area. At least that is what we do over in Canada and the US. That must of struck a chord with him as he disappeared for a few minutes and then came back saying that one of his mechanics would be able to work on my bike right away.

I was happy to get my bike service but I was in for a shock when I received my bill for the oil change... $288.00 CDN. Because the mechanic had to remove my crash bars to access the oil filter, I got charged for an hour of labor. At this shop they charge $160.00 CDN per hour. Tax over here is 20 %. I got to talking that evening with someone from my hotel, he was touring Europe in his BMW car. He said that some BMW dealerships where he lived in England, charge upwards of 200 British Pounds or $365 per hour to work on a vehicle.

I spent the rest of the remaining day roaming around Salzburg. According to a tourist flyer I found in my hotel room, Salzburg is famous for 3 things, its the home of Mozart, Old Town, which is one of the best preserved sites for Baroque architecture in Northern Europe and is listed as an UNESCO World heritage site. Lastly, Julie Andrews and the movie The Sound of Music was filmed here. The latter fact is probably only know by the tourists who come here.

Here are some photos I took on a walk around the old historical section of Salzburg, across the Salzack River. Old Town as it is called, is where all the tourist come to when they visit Salzburg. Old Town is the historic centre of Salzburg. It is a mix of Medieval and Baroque buildings, replete with dozens of Church spires and cupolas. Its a warren of narrow streets, connected alleyways and archways, all lined with restaurants, cafes and small shops selling their wares to the hordes of passing tourists.

















Hohensalzburg Castle



Hohensalzburg Castle





Bridge across the Salzach River in Salzburg Austria

Last edited by Ride4Adventure; 15 Jun 2016 at 22:12.
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  #18  
Old 20 Jun 2016
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Nice RR and pics. I also plan on sending my bike to Dublin only it will be next year via Air Canada. I appreciate your telling me what I can expect both on the sending and receiving end of things.

Buen viaje.
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  #19  
Old 21 Jun 2016
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Originally Posted by slowriding View Post
Nice RR and pics. I also plan on sending my bike to Dublin only it will be next year via Air Canada. I appreciate your telling me what I can expect both on the sending and receiving end of things.

Buen viaje.
Air Canada's "Fly Your Ride" program is still very much a prototype program for AC. Not sure if they will continue offering these low air freight rates for next year.
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  #20  
Old 21 Jun 2016
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I understand it is a crap shoot with AC next year but this year is already full.

Be safe, have fun, keep posting.
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  #21  
Old 22 Jun 2016
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Motorcycle Wanderings - Touring Croatia

Today I am headed down to Rijeka Croatia and the start of my exploration of the Dalmatian Coast. My route today will take me across Austria, through Slovenia, Trieste and down into Croatia.

The weather forecast calls for clearing skies and better weather for the rest of the week. The weather this past week has been pretty miserable so I am looking forward to sunnier skies and better riding conditions.

I have decided to continue staying on the main roadways. I will say this much about the Austrians, they seem to be masters of tunnel construction. I have never ridden through so many tunnels in one day. In Austria they do not have road tolls but instead require that that all users accessing the main highways buy a vignette. This is a road tax. Depending on how long you plan to be in Austria you buy one of these vignette stickers which you then affix to your car or motorcycle's windshield. The minimum time for a vignette is 10 days. It costs me like $7- $8 for the vignette. You can buy the vignette at any gas station near the border with Austria or at the border cross between Germany and Austria. I also had to purchase a vignette for Slovenia, although I was not in the country for more than 2- 3 hours on my way down to Croatia. Although they do not charge road tolls they do charge tolls for entering some of the larger tunnels.



The ride across Austria, even alone the main highway was still quit scenic, lots of pretty alpine vistas, unfortunately there are no pullouts for you to stop and admire the view.

I got as far as the border with Slovenia before I got overtaken by a violent thunder storm. The storm just seemed to come out of no where. It was a pretty nasty looking storm. I stopped and put on my rain gear and prepared to ride through it. On hindsight, I should have stayed at the gas station where I was, and waited for the storm to past by. I landed up riding through the very heart of the storm, through intense rain, pelting hail and bolts of lightning flashing all around me.





Overtaken by mother of all thunder storms

I did not see much of the country of Slovenia, except for a stop at a gas station for food and fuel. Those parts of the country that I did traversed through on the highway to Croatia, looked very much like Austria, lots of mountains and alpine valleys. My route took me to Ljubljana the country's capital city and then south through Trieste. Trieste is a autonomous independent territory at the northern most part of the Adriatic Sea between the borders of Italy and Croatia. The territory was setup after the WW2 as both Italy and the old Yugoslavia where contesting claims to the lands in this region.

It only took a couple of hours to transit across Slovenia. Although Croatia is a member of the EU, they are not part of the Schengen agreement, so foreign nationals must go through an immigration/passport check at the border. Also Croatia has not yet adopted the Euro they have their own currency the Kuna. I had exited off the main highway some ways before crossing the border and was following a little used mountain road down into Croatia. At one time I became concerned because according to my Garmin GPS it looked like I had already crossed over into Croatia, even though I had not gone through any official border controls. I had stop and ask a local if I was in Croatia or not, I was told that I was still 3-4 kms away from the border.

You know that you are getting near to the border because you start seeing signs for money exchangers and little kiosks setup on the side of the road. Don't do what I did and stop at the very first kiosk that you see, the official exchange rate that day was 7.5 Kunas to a Euro. The exchange rate I received was only 7.1. A few kilometers down the road another place was advertising 7.3 Kunas to a Euro.

I have been using Booking.com to source out accommodations for my stays along my route, and this has been working out very well. In Europe Booking.com is the largest online website for booking hotels, guest homes etc. The reviews have been fairly factual and accurate in helping determine if a listed place is any good.

My first stop in Croatia is in the city of Rijeka which is a principle sea port and one of the largest cities in Croatia. Instead of staying at a typical guest room or hotel as I have been doing so far on this trip, I have instead rented a one bedroom apartment, or as they are called down here Appartman. For the equivalent of $40.00 CDN per night I have access to a full size apartment, that includes a balcony with a view of the Adriatic Sea. I plan on staying here for a couple of days. I am taking a couple of ME! days, no riding, no sightseeing, just hanging around the apartment doing nothing.


View out my balcony at my apartment in Rijeka Croatia

From Rijeka I continued following the Dalmatian coastal roads to Zadar which is one of the oldest historical important cities in Croatia. Its a 3.5 hour drive down to Zadar, I did part of the ride following the main coastal roads and some time on the tolled expressed route. I am going to tell a little antidote as to way motorcyclists should never set their motorcycle helmets on the ground. I had just left a roadside cafe, where I had stopped for lunch and quickly found my way back onto the main highway. As I am riding alone, I feel something along the side of my neck, at first I thought a was a loose thread moving around with the air currents, then I felt something walking across my cheek and then I I saw it, as it began to walk up on the inside of my helmet visor, a great big spider. I really do not how large it was, but when the thing is an inch away from your eyeball, it looked like the size of a Tarantula. I do not have a fear of spiders, but when they are sitting an inch away from my face, its unnerving especially when you are trying to ride a bike at 70 mph in heavy traffic. I carefully opened my visor hoping that the wind would blow the spider out of my helmet, wrong! instead I just managed to blow the spider back onto my face and could now feel it crawling along the side of my eyebrow , and then nothing. I pulled off the highway into an emergency lane and quickly pulled off my helmet searching for the little Arthropod. I wasn't sure if the bug was gone or just hiding out again. At my last stop, I had momentarily laid my helmet on a grassing spot near where I was parked. I must of picked up the little hitchhiker at that time.

Video of ride down from Rijeka to Zadar



I arrived into Zadar late in the afternoon as planned, I was at a stop light not more than a few blocks away from my accommodation in Zadar, when suddenly both myself and the bike were violently impacted from behind. When I came to my senses, the bike was laying unceremoniously on its side with me standing over it. A car had just struck me from behind. Before the impact I was waiting at a stop light 5 - 7 feet in back of a another vehicle, the collision had pushed the bike another 3-4 feet ahead, fortunately not striking the car in front of me. For some reason, the first thought that came into my mind at the moment of impact was, " Ah shit my aluminum panniers have been crushed". As it turns out neither the bike nor the rider was hurt or damaged. The car that struck me was one of those little micro cars. The front bumper of the car, which sits about 8 inches off the ground had impacted my rear tire, sending my bike flying forward. I did a quick inspection of the bike, a passerby helped me to right the bike. I was feeling pretty incensed at this moment, this is the second time in 3 weeks that some errant driver has driven into my motorcycle. The driver of the other vehicle, I will call her Older Gypsy Lady, (that's what she looked like) came out of her car looking a bit bewildered and clutching a cell phone, which made me immediately think that she was on her cell phone just before crashing into me. She spoke no English, but I managed to communicate to her to follow me to a location nearby so I could further assess the situation. I could find no damage to the bike, except for a few more added scratches to my crash bars. Again I should have taken some photos of the scene and taken down plate number of the other vehicle, but I just told her things were ok and let her depart. Next time anyone hits me, its an automatic minimum 100 Euro fine!!

I had booked another appartman studio in the centre of Zadar. The problem with booking these studio apartment units is that there is usually no reception at the building that you are renting out. The place I booked in Zadar, was a normal apartment building in which some of the units were rented out to tourists. When I made the booking, I was given a phone number that I was suppose to contact when I arrived into Zadar. But as I tried to explain when I made the booking on Booking.com, I don't have a cell phone. I had a hell of a time trying to locate the address of my apartment building, the building was actually located along a narrow alleyway off the main street. I stopped a passerby on the street and asked if I could use their cell phone to contact the owner of the apartment. Croatians I am finding are very warm and receptive people to foreigners, especially to Canadians, it seems every Croatian I have talked to, has a relative or close friend living in Canada. I was finally able to meet up with owner and he led me to wjere the apartment was. My initial impression of the building was less than overwhelming. The outside walls of the building were just bare concrete, ornated in patches of mold and graffiti. The inside apartment was actually in pretty good shape, having just been renovated.


Hmmm. this place looks pretty sketchy

As it turns out although the apartment building I choose was pretty ratty looking, I was situated in a prime location, a block away from the main marina and a 5 minute walk to the OLD historical section of Zadar. I like Zadar, off all the places I have been to so far on my trip, this place impresses me the most. Lots of outdoor cafes and bars, boats in the marina, some of the best roman ruins in Croatia. The place just gives off a good vibe.

Some photos from around Zadar Croatia


Along main marina in Zadar


One of those super yachts berthed in marina in Zadar


Main entrance to old city in Zadar



Old historical section of Zadar Croatia


Old historical section of Zadar


Old historical section of Zadar


Church of St. Donat, Zadar, Croatia




Visiting an excellent archeological museum in Zadar



Displays of early cultures who settle in Zadar




This statue got my attention, when I first came upon, it a statue supposedly of Augustus Caesar. The more I looked at it, the more I could seem the resemblance between the statue and a now former prime minister of Canada.




No wonder Stephen Harper acted like such an imperious leader, he was actually Augustus Caesar reincarnated.












Last edited by Ride4Adventure; 3 Jul 2016 at 14:27.
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  #22  
Old 23 Jun 2016
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Hello there,

Nice photos and first of all nice decisions. Keep riding and if the road bring you in Athens you are welcome
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  #23  
Old 24 Jun 2016
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Originally Posted by Ride4Adventure View Post

Bars.. they are everywhere in Ireland
My dyslexia gives me constant entertainment. It really isn't a disability.

I read:
"Bras.. they are everywhere in Ireland"


When are you visiting Scotland?
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  #24  
Old 26 Jun 2016
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Motorcycle Wanderings - Split and Dubrovnik Croatia

My exploration of Croatia and the Dalmatian coast continue as I made my way down to Split. Split is the second largest city in Croatia. The city is built along a peninsula. The city was first founded as a Greek colony and then was taken over by the Romans. The city of Split has been around for over 2400 years.

Aside from Split being the second largest cities in Croatia it is also one of the most popular destinations for tourists travelling to Croatia. Many of the cruise ship companies that ply the Adriatic Sea, stop over in Split.

Finding affordable accommodations close to the old historical part of Split can be a challenge especially during the summer season, I lucked out and was able to find a place not more than 15 minute walk from the central part of Split. The place also has the benefit of secure on site parking which is something I always look out for when booking accommodations.

My main interest in coming to Split is to view some of their historical archeological sites, both Roman and medieval.



This is from a stop I made on ride down between Zadar and Split



They go to extreme lengths to keep Old Town scrubbed and tidy for the tourists



Street scene from inside Old Town of Split





A lot of the cruise line companies make port calls in Split



Scene from within Old Town in Split Croatia





Section of wall fortification surrounding Old Town in Split




After a few days spent visiting Split I was set on getting an early departure and heading down to Dubrovnik which according to the owner of the apartment building I was staying at, was a 3-4 hour ride depending on whether I choose to take the tolled Hwy or follow the coast road. The coastal road I was told was very scenic but was very slow, since the route passed through dozens of little coastal villages and the road was very curvy.

I went outside to move my bike around in preparation for packing my gear on to it when I noticed that my rear tire looked very flat. My initial thoughts were that the woman who had struck me the other day may have damaged the tire or the rim of the bike, causing the tire to deflate. I used my portable air compressor that I carry with me to pump up the tire. Every thing looked ok after filling it up with air. I could hear no leaks and the tire seemed to be holding pressure. I checked the tire to ensure that I had not picked up a nail and shit!! I found a large 3 inch screw embedded right in the middle of the tire. There did not seem to be any air escaping around the screw, but there was no way I was going to continue riding with a screw in my tire. Out came my puncture kit and 10 minutes later I had the hole plugged, unfortunately while filling up my tire the pressure fill line on my air compressor exploded. While all this was going on the owner of the apartment was standing by offering to help out if he could. He had a compressor pump of his own which he loaned me to get the tire filled up. My motorcycle has tubeless tires and when you get a flat and plug the puncture from the outside, the way I did, the fix is only meant as a short term solution until you can get to a tire shop and either have it repaired properly or change out the tire. In Canada, motorcycle shops are not allowed to repair punctured motorcycle tires, the only recourse you have is to replace the tire. The owner's son came by, he rides a motorcycle and told me that there was a motorcycle tire shop close by where I could get the tire repaired or replaced.

To make a long short, I rode down to the shop which was only a few kilometers away, they could have repaired the tire with an inside patch, but I would have to wait at least 8 hours for the patch to properly set before riding again, or they could sell me a new tire. My rear tire had about 6000 km on it, I normally get 10,000 km out of a rear Metzler Tourance tire.. I was hoping to ride the bike to Athens before having to replace the rear tire, but since I was here and the shop had the right tire for my bike, I opted to buy a new tire and be done with it. I still do not understand how a 3 inch long screw got perfectly embedded in the center of my tire. This is the 3rd puncture I have now experienced over the last 3 years.

I did not get out of Split until sometime after 12:00. With the lost time this morning getting the tire looked after, I opted for taking the toll road from Split to Dubrovnik. I have been very impressed with the quality of the main highways here in Croatia, main roads are as good as anything you will find in other parts of Europe.

I was not aware of it until I rode down from Split to Dubrovnik but in order to get to Dubrovnik you need to pass through Bosnia. Croatia is broken into two non-contiguous parts. There is a section of land called the Bosnia Neum Corridor which separates the two regions of Croatia. Bosnia has a 20 km section of the Adriatic coast that belongs to them. There is an unofficial treaty allowing EU and other foreigners to pass freely through this zone. They have a customs port for truckers and buses but cars and bikes are allowed to pass on through.

Here is an article from Wikipedia explaining how this strange fact of geography came to be

The Neum corridor dates back to the Treaty of Sremski Karlovci of 1699, whereby the Republic of Ragusa was separated from the Dalmatian possessions of its rival Venice by two buffer strips ceded by Venice to the Ottoman empire: north of its territory Neum and the bay of Klek, and south of its territory Sutorina with the port of Herceg-Novi on the Bay of Kotor, now part of Montenegro since 1947.

The Karlovci borders were reaffirmed in 1718 by the Treaty of Požarevac, but then the Ottomans, tired of negotiating in vain with Venice for a widening of their maritime access, simply usurped from the Republic of Ragusa the territory of Gornji Klek and most of the Klek peninsula, which it had bought from King Stjepan of Bosnia at the end of the 14th century. After the fall of the Venetian Republic in 1797 and the Vienna Congress in 1815, the Austrian Empire, which had annexed both the Dalmatian possessions of Venice and the territory of Dubrovnik, tried to buy back the Neum and Sutorina enclaves from the Ottomans, but in vain; instead, it stationed a warship to block access to the port of Neum until the Treaty of Berlin, which gave Vienna the whole of Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1878; Neum had been under Ottoman control for 179 years.

In 1918, as a consequence of Vienna's defeat, Neum joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes which would start being called "Yugoslavia" in 1929. Under the Karadordevices, the Yugoslav Government ignored the borders inherited from history twice: in 1929, when the Neum Region was included in a Banovina of the Coast, and in 1939 when, following the Serbian-Croatian Sporazum, it was included in the Banovina of Croatia. Tito's federal Yugoslavia was founded on the principle, declared at the 1943 AVNOJ in Jajce and comparatively well-respected by the Ðilas commission in 1945, of establishing the federated Republics in their borders of 1878 which is why the Neum enclave is now part of the independent Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, including most of the Klek peninsula (Ponta Kleka, Rep Kleka), the two islets Veliki i Mali Školj and the rock of Lopata in the Bay of Klek.

The accommodation I found in Dubrovnik was right near the center of town, the street the place was not found in my Garmin nor did it appear in Google maps, I had a heck of a time trying to find the place even after stopping and asking some of the locals where the street was.

Dubrovnik is the crown jewel in Croatia's tourist destinations and is the place that all the major cruise ship lines stop at. The city only has a population of 46,000 inhabitants but they get 2 - 3 times that number of tourists each day. Dubrovnik like many of its sister cities up the coast Split , Zadar is a mix of baroque and medieval buildings, marbled streets and red tiled roofs. But Dubrovnik is on a scale of its own. The fortress walls, ramparts and castle spires are enormous in scale. I was here 35 years and was impressed then and was looking forward to my return trip. But sadly, things have changed. At anyone time now there seems to be 3 or 4 giant cruise ships in the harbour flooding the Old Town with tourists. Everything about Dubrovnik now looks like it was designed by the Disney corporation. Everything looks too perfect, sanitised, not a speck of litter anywhere. Its been turned into a giant tourist trap. Every single space within the city has been allocated to a restaurant, outdoor cafe or trinket shop. I wanted to take a walk around the top of the ramparts for better view of the city, you can do that except they now charge you $23.00 to get access to the top of the fortification walls. Sit down for a coke, that will cost you $5.00. There were so many tourists packed into the narrow streets of the Old Town that you could hardly move freely about. This what happens to these seaside resorts when 2 -3 ships come into port, with each carrying 4,000 to 5,000 passengers. They overwhelm the city.



City of Dubrovnik in Croatia







Main entrance into Old Town of Dubrovnik



Some of the wall fortifications around the city



Want to take a stroll on top of walls? that will cost you $23.00 - 130 Kuna



Too many tourists



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  #25  
Old 26 Jun 2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drumbrakes View Post
My dyslexia gives me constant entertainment. It really isn't a disability.

I read:
"Bras.. they are everywhere in Ireland"


When are you visiting Scotland?
No plans for a visit to Scotland this time round.

I spent a few weeks motorcycling around Scotland a few weeks years. Had a great time, at top of my list of favorite countries I have motorcycled through

Link to old ride report on my Scotland ride.

Trip Scotland 1

Cheers

Brian
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  #26  
Old 26 Jun 2016
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Hello there,

Nice photos and first of all nice decisions. Keep riding and if the road bring you in Athens you are welcome
Not sure if my path will lead me to Athens or not, but I plan on spending a month just touring around Greece and the islands. In Albania right, crossing over to Greece in a few days time

Cheers

Brian
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  #27  
Old 29 Jun 2016
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Motorcycle Wanderings - Kotor Montenegro

I was told by a number of people before I started my visit to the Balkans that if there was one place I should plan on visiting, that would be Kotor in Montenegro. Kotor is just a short ride down the coastal road from Dubrovnik. The scenery along this route is spectacular.

While I was stopped at a pullout above Dubrovnik I crossed paths with some fellow Canadians out touring the world on their motorcycles. Sara and Daniel Pedersen have been on the road since 2012 motorcycling around the world. When I first meet them and they told me that they were from Vancouver I instantly recognized them from their ride reports posted on Horizons Unlimited. I have been actively posting my own reports on my trip to HUBB. I have actually been following their trip since they first started posting on Horizons some years ago. They have been on one amazing trip.

You can check out their blog at

World Wide Ride


Sara and Daniel Pedersen WorldWideRide.ca


Picture of myself outside of Dubrovnik

I had a difficult time trying to locate my apartment suite that I had rented in Kotor. Many of the buildings and homes in Kotor are built into the side of the rocky cliffs that surround Kotor Bay. So as you can imagine the roads accessing these places are very narrow and steep. To reach my apartment suite you practically needed the services of a Himalayan Sherpa guide. The main road to my accommodation was up a road with a grade of 40% followed by two branching roads each one steeper than the previous one. The final road was a spiralling ramp with an incline grade of over 60%. I felt like I was having to complete in a GS Trophy event just to get to my apartment. After I rode my motorcycle to the top of the ramp, all I could think of was " I have ride back down this damn ramp once I leave".

Kotor is a small coastal community of only a thirteen thousand people. The city is surround by medieval fortifications built by the Venetians who ruled over Kotor from 1400-1800. In recent years cruise ships have discovered Kotor and make Kotor a port of call for many of their cruise excursions.

The first morning after my arrival in Kotor, I got up looked out from my balcony and could not make sense of what I was looking at. I remember on my arrival here, that I had a clear view the Bay of Kotor below. Now when I looked out from my balcony, all I could see was what appeared to be was a large apartment building now obscuring my view. It was not until I caught sight of the smoke stack that I at last realized that I was actually looking across at the side of a cruise ship that was now berthed in the tiny harbor in Kotor. The cruise ship filled my entire view of the bay. From the sealine the ship was as tall as a 12 storey building.



Ship looks like its docked in the parking lot

My first thought when I saw the ship at anchor in the tiny Kotor Bay was how do you even get a ship of that size into such a small bay. These mighty ships weight over 85,000 tons but only have a hull draft of 28 feet. So the ships need to operate in a water depth at least greater than that. Geologically the bay around Kotor is very unique. The average water depths around the Bay of Kotor is any where from 85 to 180 feet. I was at a restaurant for breakfast that morning and in talking to some of the passengers off the boat, I had to correct one of them when they claimed that the Bay of Kotor was a deep fjord and that was why the ships were able to sail into the bay.
The Bay of Kotor is what is referred to as a Ria, which is a submerged river canyon system created by tectonic activity and Karstification. Once upon a time there was a valley river that coursed its way over the soft limestone of the valley floor, carving out the deep river canyons that we see today, eventually the coastal area around this part of Montenegro was flooded by the rising waters of the Adriatic sea. I knew some day those geology lectures I took many years ago in Geomorphology would one day be of some use.





Inside the Old Town of Kotor



Walking around the walls of the old fortifications in Kotor



Some of the homes within the old city. Old Kotor is a UNESCO heritage site.

What I found really interesting about the fortifications built around Kotor are the series of towers and walls built up the very side of the mountain. This picture does not show the full length of the walls or the extreme steepness of the terrain on which the walls were constructed. Its a feat of human ingenuity to be able to even attempt to construct fortifications along a near vertical cliff face.



The fortification walls were built from the se up the side of the mountain.













The Cathedral of Saint Tryphon built in 809 AD



In background is Serbian orthodox church of St. Nicolas

I noticed that many if not all of the buildings inside the Old part of Kotor have been heavily braced with supports on the exterior walls. Kotor is in an area prone to earthquakes. Kotor was severely struck by a massive earthquake back in 1979.

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Old 4 Jul 2016
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Motorcycle Wanderings - Albania

Albania .. Not a country on most people's list of "Must see places".
I had some reluctance about riding through Albania, but my choices were limited on how to get from Montenegro to Greece, its either I ride down the length of Albania and cross over into Greece or take a longer route through Kosovo and Macedonia, I decided on the first option.

I have to admit that my perception of Albania, rightly or wrongly is coloured
by news stories that I have read and watched over the years and what limited knowledge I had of the country was from my grade 8 world geography. I remember my geography teacher saying that Albania was run by a paranoid Communist dictator named Enver Hoxha. Hoxha led the Stalinist state for close to 40 years before he retired. He ruled over the country with an iron fist, anyone who opposed him found themselves in jail or worst, executed as an enemy agent of the state. Albania was one of those countries that did not allow foreigners into their country. Albania existed in virtual total isolation from the rest of the world much like North Korea of today.

After the collapse of Communism in the early 90's, Albania turned into a bit of the wild west show with different fractions vying for control of power. There were numerous criminal gangs including the Albanian Mafia, that expanded their activities during these chaotic years. The only times I ever heard anything mentioned about Albania in the local news was usually a report on the activities of some car theft ring from Albania caught shipping container loads of cars back over to Albania.

Albania is a much changed country, they are trying to clamp down on organized crime and corruption. They now have a freely elected democratically (well sort of!) government and are negotiating to become a member state of the EU.

Its a 4 hour ride down from Kotor Montenegro to Shkoder Albania where I would be stopping today. Its only a distance of 170 kms or so, but the road follows the coast line and goes in and out of every little village and town along the way.

My last couple of border crossings have been uneventful. I pulled into a lineup at the Albanian border. There were 2 lines of cars waiting to cross over. I get in one line, there are about 20 vehicles ahead of me. I figure its going to take a while before I get across. A young fellow in a car beside me, calls out to me in English saying that people on foot and scooters can enter in a special line. He directs me over to a place on the other side of the first office building. I follow another guy on a scooter who makes for this special entrance.

The biker lane is for passengers on foot crossing the border and for scooters, which many people over here use. I ride my bike into the little alleyway which is just a little bit wider than the width of my motorcycle. The guy in front of me is quickly processed and sent on his way. The Albanian immigration officers looks to be in a surly mood. He seems agitated because its takes me a bit of time to pull my passport and registration out of my jacket pockets. He throws my documents down on his desk and then for the next 15 minutes ignores me as he disappears into a back room. He finally comes back out and asks me for my vehicle registration for the bike, I keep pointing at the document I first gave him. Maybe Ontario registrations don't look official enough for the Albanians authorities. Eventually after another 5 minutes of back and forth he waves me away, telling me to proceed to the customs guy. I keep asking the customs official where I can buy insurance for bike. He shrug his shoulders, either they don't know or don't care about insurance on foreign vehicles coming into the country, or maybe there is a police guy up the road waiting to pull me over. I know you need liability insurance for Albania and was told that I could buy green card insurance at the border, but these fellows don't seem to care about it. I ride way from the border thinking "Great.. I going to be riding around Albania without any insurance! hope I don't get stopped by the Albanian police".

I arrived at my accommodation in Shkoder early that afternoon. As soon as I arrived at the Hotel a young man comes running out to greet me, "Mr. Brian from America". I quickly correct him, "No its Mr. Brian from Canada". I was not stopped at the Hotel more than 5 minutes before I was introduced to the owner of the Hotel. For the next hour I found myself seated at a table in the outdoor dinning area of the Hotel, as the father and son introduced me to everyone who worked at the hotel along with a host of cousins who seemed to keep passing by in the street. The father kept ordering and insisting that I try some of their skewered meats and cheeses from the hotel. They all seemed quit taken by the fact that a Canadian on a motorcycle would come all this way to visit their country.

There is not a whole lot to do or see in Shkoder. I did a check on the Wikitravel website and the only thing of interest that was noted about Shkoder, was that there was a large fortress near the city and a statue had been erected in the town to honor Mother Theresa, whom I guess was an Albanian and grew up in these parts.



Swanky resort I passed on ride down from Montenegro



Minarets of a Mosque in downtown Shkoder



Close-up shot of mosque



I have never seen a town with so many outside cafes



Hotel Blini with owner standing in front

I found for the most part that Albanians are a very gregarious and hospitable people. One of their traditions is custom is called "honor guest", if you accept a stranger into your home (Hotel ?) they become your responsibility to care for and protect them. At the same time the guest is suppose to respect the host. Disrespect the host and you are liable to start a blood-feud or somethings. I am told they take these old traditions quit seriously down here. So.. I will try and stay on good terms with the Hotel owner.

The Hotel I was staying at was ok I guess by Albanian standards. I was told when I arrived to expect the city power to go off now and then. The Hotel owner said they have a backup generator to handle these situations but today, their generator was out of service and they were trying to find spare parts for it.

While I was at the hotel I think I may of witnessed the first known case of a demonic possession of a toilet. The power on the hotel had just gone off. I went in to the bathroom to use the sink and noticed that as well as the power being off, I had no water. When I turned on the tapes I heard a sound of air hissing in the pipes. I closed the faucet and a few minutes later it began. The toilet began gurgling and bubbling, then the whole toilet tank began vibrating, you could hear a whistling noise, that first started fairly low, than the sound kept increasing in both volume and frequency. This went on for 5 or 6 minutes, the whole porcelain bowl was shaking , I was expecting something to explode out of the toilet any minute. Finally it all ended with a loud screaming gasp of air that escaped out of the toilet bowl.

I spent a total of 4 days in Albania all together. I left Shkoder and made my way down to the city of Fier. There was no particular reason why I choose to overnight in Fier it just happened to be a days travel from Shkoder along my route south to Greece. Fier is the centre of the oil, bitumen and chemical industries in Albania. I found lodging at a hotel 5 - 6 kilometers outside of town. The place I stayed at surprisingly was a very modern, upscale boutique Hotel. I stayed there for two days, did nothing but hang around the pool and watch English language programs on TV. It would have been a very relaxing two days, but as I soon discovered, the Hotels caters to weddings and parties. There were wedding on both nights that I was there. Albanians do like to party. On both nights the music was blaring until the wee hours in the morning. My room directly overlooked where all the festivities were taking place.

Here is a warning to all future travellers planning on coming to Albania with their own vehicle. Be very afraid of driving in this country!! There are no words strong enough in the English language to describe how horrendous Albanian drivers are. I like Albanians but they truly are the worst drivers in the world. Albanian is by far and away the most dangerous country I have ever ridden through.

I have been ridding motorcycles for a long time and usually when riding, I can leave my brain on autopilot to safely get around, but in Albania I had to switch off the autopilot and take manual control, either wise I would have not survived my first day on the roads of Albania.

I remember an arcade video game from back in the 70's call Death Race 2000. The idea of the game was to run over little gremlins with your car and score points, each time you did, a tombstone icon would appear in place of the gremlin that you just ran over. Albanians seem to be playing this game in real life. There just doesn't seem be any rules of the road. I was forced off the road multiple times by drivers trying to make a passes on blind curves, or guys refusing to allow another driver to pass them. Albanian is very much a machoism society and that certainly shows up in their driving behavior. The worst though is driving in the city and attempting to go through a traffic circle, or what I began calling them "Circles of Death", In Albania, drivers do not yield to oncoming traffic when entering a traffic circle, instead they force drivers already in the traffic circle to yield to those entering it.

Add to the frightful experience of driving in Albania, the state of their roads. I must admit I was surprised at how good some of their main highways were, especially the highways in the southern part of the country, but! .. the roads in some of their cities are pretty frigging awful to put it mildly. I took a tour around Fier, it was like navigating through a war zone. Streets all tore up. giant pot holes, missing manhole covers, trash everywhere. People everywhere double parking their vehicles, blocking traffic. And did I mention already, that Albanian are the worst jaywalkers in the world.

On my last day as I headed for the border of Greece, the police were out in force. I must have ridden through 10 or 12 police check points. Only twice did a officer make an attempt to wave me down, both times I just pretended to not understand and just waved back as I rode on past them.



Albanian Cops trying to pull me over, No way I am stopping

After 4 days in Albania I was feeling pretty stressed out. Albania does have a lot going for it, some great riding roads in the southern part of the country, fabulous mountains scenery and I really did like the Albanians that I got to meet, but until each and every Albanian takes a driver's Education course, I will not be coming back again.

Video Riding Albania



Rozafa Castle



Steep climb up pathway to fortress



View of Shkoder and surrounding area from fortress



Main entrance to castle. costs 200 Lek or $2.00 Cdn to enter



Entering the fortress


Views around the castle. Current construction dates back to Venetians circa 1400 AD



Imposing view of fortress walls and towers





View of one of two rivers in area. Town was severely flooded back in 2010.



Some interior views of castle. It s very large complex







I like this view of castle with mountains in background



Stop along highway in southern part of Albania.

Last edited by Ride4Adventure; 7 Jul 2016 at 12:50.
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  #29  
Old 5 Jul 2016
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Hi Brian,

Future Canadian traveler here as well. If you don't mind me asking, what insurance are you using while overseas?

Thanks
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Old 6 Jul 2016
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Motorcycle Wanderings - Motorcycle Insurance

Quote:
Originally Posted by hgwilliam View Post
Hi Brian,

Future Canadian traveler here as well. If you don't mind me asking, what insurance are you using while overseas?

Thanks
For my travels around Europe and Balkans I applied for a Green Card insurance.

I got my from MotoTouring in Italy.
I applied online for my Green Card before coming over. From their site they will issue you a policy and send you a copy of the Green Card as a PDF or else you can pay extra and have them send you a physical copy of the actual Green Card ( Which I did)

URL Link to their website
Mototouring - GreenCard insurance for non european vehicles

This policy (3rd party liability only) is for foreign motorcycle travellers.
Policy cover most parts of Europe. When crossing over into Montenegro I had to purchase a separate Green Card insurance for that country 10 Euros good for a month or something.

Not sure where you are planning on heading down to . When passing through Mexico and Central America I just bought insurance at the border crossings.

Brian
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