Go Back   Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB > Ride Tales, Trip Reports and Stories > Ride Tales
Ride Tales Post your ride reports for a weekend ride or around the world. Please make the first words of the title WHERE the ride is. Please do NOT just post a link to your site. For a link, see Get a Link.
Photo by Josephine Flohr, Elephant at Camp, Namibia

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

Photo by Josephine Flohr,
Elephant at Camp, Namibia

Like Tree9Likes

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 29 Aug 2017
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: france
Posts: 36
Round the World in 80 Years

2up2wheels, 15,000kms and 57 campsites around Eastern Europe: Italy

The ride to Anzio, where we stopped for a picnic break, was pleasant. We asked at a restaurant for coffee, and found out that mid-morning coffee is provided by a bar not a restaurant. So we settled for a delicious Italian ice cream instead. After the hectic ride through Rome city centre it was really good to just sit in the sun, look at the waves and watch a mum with her little boy having great fun and success with a kite. Perfect windy conditions. In fact, almost a little too windy. We really need to hang on to keep upright and after 250kms of urbanisations and highways and sand dunes we called it a day. Normally we start looking for a campsite at about 4-5pm, but the wind today caused us to start searching by 2pm. We probably pulled in at about 5 different sites. Sorry, only opening June 1st. That’s a pity ‘cos its only May 19th. We passed huge plantations of apricots, fields of corn and polytunnels of tomatoes. The flat agricultural lands went on forever, occasionally interrupted by round-abouts. To break the tedium we branched off randomly left at one round-about and there in front of us was a gigantic Roman columned colossus. It was startling in its size and completeness and took us quite by surprise. I had studied Latin at school and our Latin teacher was as bored as we were doing all the grammar and conjugations. Whenever we got the chance we would ask him about Roman life and culture and then his eyes would light up and he would tell us great tales of wars and architecture and road-building. This is what we saw in front of us, a fantastic relic. I was thrilled. Its almost 4 pm and we have been searching for a campsite for 2 hours, travelling ever South, being bombarded by the buffeting wind.
Are we ever going to find a place to pitch and rest? On the 6th attempt, following the GPS ‘places to camp’ category, we turned into an arched gateway down a narrow road into a vast courtyard. Oops, this looks like a private house. But no, a very enthusiastic Guiseppe rushed to meet and greet and welcome us to his family owned campsite. How could we resist? “Please, Go anywhere, Camp anywhere, Hot showers, Moonlight walk, Bread and Coffee at the café, spare tables to use, Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy. “ And we did. After setting up camp, (no tarpaulin tonight), and cooking up a batch of spaghetti and pesto, we took Guiseppe’s advice. We had a sunset stroll around the well-lit paths of Volcano Sulfata, peering into bubbling steam-filled holes and smelling wafting sulphur. It soon got dark and as we crept into our homely little red tent we cosied up in the warmth. Warmth! Soon we were shedding sleeping bags and opening up the vents. Why are we so hot? For under floor heating in a tent we can seriously recommend camping in a volcano.
Reply With Quote
Old 30 Aug 2017
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: france
Posts: 36
That's Amore

A cool morning breeze welcomed us as we packed up and set off South after a fabulously cosy warm night in our super-heated tent. With no particular route in mind, except to hug the coast and ride South, we breezed through Naples and stopped 44 kms later in Pompei. What a lovely town, coffee bars everywhere. The tourist shop at the station gave us maps and instructions and we ignored them all, waved to the ruins and the queue outside and carried on. The sun is shining, bike perfectly balanced, B enjoying the roads and we’re singing my favourite song: “oh, what a beautiful morning ….“ as loud as we can inside our helmets. We really can belt it out within our own echo chambers.
We take the inland back road around Mount Vesuvius viewing it from all angles until we are back on the coast road. 71 kms from our start we are at Sorrento which is a bit tricky with tourist buses, but B gets past them all with calculated ease. The roads are twisty, jam-packed with just about every vehicle imaginable, luxury sports cars, silly little 3-wheeled pickups, ridiculous Ferrarris stuck in first gear, bicycles and buses. It’s manic but exhilarating. I lean back against the bedding pack and snap away. We ride beyond the tourist route almost to the end of the peninsula and wave to the ships sailing to the island of Capri. The sea and sky are glistening blue, eye-burning beautiful blue. There is no discernible horizon, the view is all a big blur of blue. I think I’ll paint a big canvas of blue when I get home. We find a little triangle of green grass in one of the villages and have a picnic. The houses are perched scarily on the side of the cliffs ready to fall into the sea. And then we get back on the road to Amalfi. At least 10 movies have had the Amalfi coast as their background* and it is easy to see why.
The Drama is in the domineering mountains and plunging cliffs. The Plots follow the twists and turns of the road, disappearing into tunnels and taking your breath away with the beauty when you emerge the other side. The traffic squeezes everybody like a toothpaste tube along this sinuous road, with dare-devil boy racers testing their nerve as they overtake into oncoming traffic around blind corners. It’s terrifying to watch. We hang back and try to take a rest in Ravello. Only for a second though as parking is at a premium and we are ushered to move on just as I’ve climbed off the bike. B really needs to take a break, but on we go through this crazy gorgeous funnel lined on the left by lemon groves and sheer drops on the right. We are in Limoncello Land. And then the fuel gauge flashes. At a stretch our limit is 300kms and we calculated we were at 289kms. Oops, according to the GPS the next big town, Salerno, is 30kms away. Not going to make it! Typing in ‘petrol’ on the GPS (leaning over B’s shoulder and on the move) we hairpin up left into these monstrous rocks along a very narrow road. The road repair taffic lights take forever, using our precious fuel as we wait and wait. Another bike pulls up and ignores the lights, so we follow suite. At the top of the climb there a convergence of roads, help, we don’t know which one to take. We ask a chap in a car, nonchalantly parked in the shade, such a contrast to our near panic in the sun. No petrol = panic. He shrugs, and points hesitantly “that way, I think”. We are riding on fumes as we spot a lonely pump in a layby. Oh dear, it doesn’t take credit cards, CASH ONLY. We haven’t been to an ATM since visiting Rome 4 days ago and Lidl’s and coffee bars had consumed most of it. We have just one 5 euro note left. We feed the note into the mouth of the machine, and it promptly spits it out. Again and again , we try turning the note over, turning it around. Nope, not going to take it! And then a very nice Italian pulls up in his van. Luckily, he can't put fuel in his van until we move on. We did a bit of 5euro note swopping until eventually one of his worked. Many ‘Grazias’ later we took another hazardous road back to the coast. With 10kms of fuel left we had ridden from Ravello to petrol stop in Pietre (11kms). Pietre down to Maiori was a spectacularly stunning and dangerous 9.5kms. I say dangerous because we had a close one. I had been taking photos with my right hand but decided that the steep S-bends required more than just a balancing act. I really should be holding on to B. In one simultaneous moment as I leant left to tuck the camera away, B swung around a right bend, I straightened up and we over balanced skimming into a retaining wall, bouncing on the right-side pannier which threw us sharply left again. The next S-bend was immediately upon us but fortunately a small pull-off area allowed us to right ourselves and stop, next to a low wall below with a heavenly view of thousands of dangling lemons. Without thinking too much that we could have been dangling amongst them we unpacked the lunch bag and munched on last night’s left-over spaghetti pesto. Time and space for a break, indeed. B was puzzled as to why the bike had veered into the wall for no apparent reason. I then realised the critical part that the pillion plays in the whole riding and cornering pattern and confessed that I'd been fiddling around at the back putting my camera away, which changed the balance of the bike. Not so good on a hairpin bend on a cliff face.
The coastal ride from Maiori to Salerno was 31 kms, where we filled the tank to the top and more. Including the miracle 5 euro pump’s input; we calculated we had done 326 kms on a 300km tank!
The ferocious wind and sand flying around down the coast after Amalfi drove us inland to Pontecagna, where we found a lovely sheltered empty grassy campsite. We tied the tarpaulin to 3 trees, scrounged a rickety table and looked forward to a peaceful recuperative night. The disco next door started up at 11pm, the dogs joined in with the party, yowling and barking, the rain came down in a big whoosh, the firecrakers went off until 5 am together with the disco and the pine trees left a sticky residue all over the tarpaulin.

But the best thing was the sweet smell of Star Jasmine as night fell. "That’s Amore."

* movies
· 1950’s La Macchino Ammazzacattivi, Beat the Devil
· 1990’s Only You
· 2000’s Under the Tuscan Sun, A Good Woman, Scandal in Sorrento,
Talented Mr Ripley
2010’s Love is all you Need

more stories and photos on 2up2wheels.blogspot.com
Reply With Quote
Old 4 Oct 2017
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: france
Posts: 36
Post Oleanders, Olives and Alexander the Great

We are going to Greece 'cos that's where the blue skies are. The ferry leaves tonight and we have about 200kms to go today. The Italian family persuaded us to go via Matera. Why? "because it has HISTORY" they gesticulated dramatically . The wind and the straight roads blew us there fairly quickly with the most wonderful collection of meadow flowers lining the road like a horizontal rainbow. So what is this History of Matera? It is known as Italy's shame. a place left abandoned, impoverished, diseased, and neglected until the 1950's .


Now, there is a picturesque upper modern town walking and cycling paths, churches and cafes. There are craft shops and restaurants. We stopped briefly for a water-break and a photo session before riding through the industrial heel of the Boot to Brindisi.
I had visited Brindisi Port in the 1960's as a 10year old en route from Trieste to Beira ( now Maputo) on a the 'SS Africa' when travel by ocean liners was in its prime. and here I was nearly 50 years later arriving by motorbike. We weave our way through narrow streets into the old town, always most interesting, bought some 'padkos' ( food for the road) and arrive at the port well ahead of time as the office only opens at 6pm. Some rider-bloke commented that our bike was a bit overloaded," "yes, we know, but the bike doesn't , yet" I joked. He didn't get it. When we arrive in Igumenitsa we have a choice to go north to Albania or South to the most southern tip of Kalamata. Looking up at the sky the choice is made: its Kalamata. The 5 am landing greets us with a misty dawn which clears to a majestic vista over the bay and roads lined with oleanders and olives. Its so different to the week we have had in the industrialised southern Italian coast that we are enchanted and revitalised. By 8am we are starving for the few remains of our food and a drink of hot coffee. The sun hasn't quite warmed us through but we find a deserted beach with convenient benches and thaw out quite quickly. the little petrol stove flares up and 2 minutes later the instant coffee does the job. Its the middle of May, so too early for any holiday makers and as we find during our week in Greece we are usually the only campers.
On the plus side we can negotiate our camping fees, but on the downside a lot of places are closed. We ride on and on along fabulous coastroads, up and down and around. It's beautiful. The sun is warm and the scenery is delightful. We cross the bridge onto the Peloponnese before midday and 500kms later we are in Kalamata by mid afternoon. What a glorious ride. We see a tortoise on the road and wish him luck in getting to the other side, There a canyons on either side and sheep grazing on yummy thistle bushes. It's so nice here in Kalamata we give ourselves a rest day, enjoying a swim on the pebble beach and a visit to a museum, just like real tourists. The museum turns out to be a military one, not really what we had in mind, but the three soldiers are so keen to show us around we cannot be rude. The younger one is doing all the translating and after a long monologue we pick out his South African accent. He's from Johannesburg, returned to his homeland and fulfilling his nine-month compulsory conscription duties. The military museum suddenly becomes much more interesting with little interjections about SA politics thrown in and we learn a lot about Alexander the Great. He certainly made a very big impact on the middle bit of Europe here, where West meets East. And there I thought The Great Trek was the most important historical event ever! The first campsite we visited was closed, next one had a fierce barking dog, chained up and scary-looking place. We settled for a family run campsite with one camping car. A lovely couple from Romania. Mmmm, we hadn't thought of going there, but after a and I pleasant coffee and map-sharing session, it's on the list. We do a bit of coastal road exploring buy a cute insy-winsy witches broom to sweep out the tent. The map of Greece is showing up enticing names like Sparta and Korinthos and Athens. We want to see them all. We type in a mountain route to Sparta. It's enthralling and wonderous and pretty damn terrifying. No barriers, some broken walls where the turns were too sharp for some, and I think B and the bike are feeling the load.
It's baking hot when we get to Sparta, so with waning enthusiasm I plod up a hill to view a 'dig-site'. More Oleanders an Olives along the way to provide a bit of shade. It's a strange coincidence that at the same time our niece (living and working in Japan) has just completed a gruelling Spartan Run there in a team event with her boyfriend and others. The legacy of the Spartans lives on all around the world. The mountain passes to Sparta and Korinthos have taken the edge of the back brake discs, so the hunt is on for a BMW dealership. Postcodes and highways get all muddled up and we always seem to be on the wrong side of the road, eventually stopping to ask at a chemist where the address is. We are a bit surprised to find that English is not spoken very much, and also that we have the wrong postcode. however at BMW Motorrad, the English and service is impeccable. Coffee, iced water, brake discs fitted and once again we are on our way.
Athens is packed. we sort of ride/walk with a bike between our legs, to get anywhere, scooters zig-zagging everywhere, even coming towards us in the opposite direction on our side of the road. Bangkok is a breeze after this. We ride nearly all the way to the Acropolis, then give up. Too many buses, taxis, scooters, people. Interestingly there is a report and a protest in Venice and Madrid the same week about the destructive actions that mass tourism is creating on the environment, local housing, local markets and infrastructure. We too feel the squeeze-out effect from the organised group tours. No wonder the locals get mad. It's a stressful ride through and out of Athens, then up the highway as quick as we can. Those menacing dark clouds are over us again. We had stop under a toll bridge to escape a passing hailstorm, and having kept our rainsuits on are indulging in a self-made sauna.
A conveniently placed garage sheltered us later for another hour while we eat a picnic roll and fill up with petrol slowly to waste some time. Its day 16 and our petrol costs have added up to 200 euros for a total of 3500kms, that's about 5p/km. I'm sure that there is a fancy miles/gallon equation in there somewhere, but this is a chick doing the sums here. By the time we get home, even though we don't know it yet we would have done 15,000 kms ( costing a total of just under 750 euros. ) Lunch is interesting. It's all Greek to me. So we point to the dishes on display and treat ourselves to something other than another picnic ham roll. The rain comes and goes and then comes again. It's 7pm, we're getting cold and we're tired. All the campsites in the towns are closed so we head out for the beach areas. At last we spot a sign and a red and white stripped boom-type barrier. We call, we shout, we knock on the reception door. Nothing. No response. We try the boom and it lifts up easily. This 'resort' is laid out in a grid pattern with each site occupied by a campervan/caravan arrangement and side patio, under a sun shade canopy. We call again. There's definitely no-one around. (Maybe not even been around since 2008) .We take a chance and pitch our tent on somebody's lovely patio under cover, just as the rain comes down. Whew. By 11pm we are fast asleep, cosy and warm. Half an hour later, in perfect English we hear a deep roar "Come out, Come out" accompanied by a bright light piercing through the tent. "OK, one minute" I call out in my sweetest most feeble female voice. He can see the bike and two helmets and waits patiently while we faff around inside putting on some clothes. Stumbling out we apologise profusely for entering his unguarded campsite, explaining we were desperate to get out of the storm. He then realises the night reception/watchman had not been at his post and is going to be in a lot of trouble in the morning. We come to an arrangement with him now apologising to us and we are welcome to stay on another site, as this one is private and the owners might arrive early next morning, being the start of the weekend. We move the bike and drag the tent, fully laden with bedding and gear to the other end of the road. An hour later we are back cosy and warm with an invitation to join the manager for morning coffee. It's Day 18, and after a delicious coffee and and a 5 euro campsite fee at 'Salty Beach' we take a mountain road and then a toll to get to 'Scala Beach' . The Greeks here are very handsome in an ancient classical way, with big black beards, short curly black hair and deep voices. must be something to do with Alexander the Great. We spot a sign for a place called Drama, 39kms away. No thank you, we've had enough of that. Toll roads are a bit boring for a pillion, so I amuse myself by trying to decode the Greek alphabet. School science lessons help me recall Alpha, Beta and Delta along with Pi and Theta. It doesn't take long to work most of it out. We notice a bit of a time-warp where the modern civilisation is along the coast side of the road and the pastoral corrugated iron circular 'kraals' line the rocky inland landscape. Sheep and goats abound, guided by herders, and the storks and cranes are making their appearance for the summer visits. Mount Olympus has disappeared under rain clouds and we stop in an open campsite where the very kind grandpa owner escorts us under his umbrella to a caravan pitch with an awning under which to pitch our tent. This rain is a huge pain! we don't mind wet riding but wet camping is not nice. We consult the Radar on the weather map. Go east. That's the way to go. Istanbul tomorrow! but first the sound of Alexandropoulis catches our attention. The municipal campsite is tatty and expensive. There's a hotel with a 'tent' sign displayed under its name. kindly rent us a piece of lawn for cash complete with washing line for our wet clothes. Perfect way to end the day. A curious occurence attracted our attention as we stared gazing out to sea, marvelling at the adventures we are having. Something very bright was zipping along the in the dark in a extremely fast vertical and horizontal manouvre. Not a plane. It sped up, then across, then down , then along like a mad giant glow worm. My Superzoom camera captured an image, but we still don't know what it is. Alexandropoulis has a dog problem. There was a pack of 21 on the beach front, guarding their patch from evening strollers, joggers and dogwalkers. Lovely big farm dogs, abandoned and managing to survive in a newly created pack. Shame. We buy a new back tyre and wander around the buzzing cafe-society of 'bankrupt' Greece whilst it gets fitted. Our tight budget prevents us from joining in and makes us wonder where our EU payments are going? This journey is partly to discover Europe and partly to understand the EU. We still don't. We're packed, dried out and ready to go to Turkey. It's only 50kms away. Should be in Istanbul for morning coffee. See you there.
Reply With Quote
Old 13 Oct 2017
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: france
Posts: 36
Turkey Take Two

Turkey Take Two
Day 21: Leaving Greece
We’ve admired the majesty of Mount Olympus and the ruins of Dion*. We’ve been introduced to the exploits of Alexander the Great and have camped in the grounds of a hotel in Alexandropoulis. Our Sertao is packed and resplendent with new Back tyre and new Brake pads. We are at the Eastern border of Greece. “Where to now? North or East?” One look at our little map shows us that Istanbul is 380 kms away. Let’s go there.”
But first we telephone our nice insurance lady in Nice and ask if we are covered because Turkey is not part of the EU. She kindly explains that if we look on our ‘Green Paper’ that came with the little sticker on our windscreen we could see all the countries that are included in the bike cover. “Oops, we forgot that at home. Sorry”. “Never mind,” she says. “I will email you a copy. BUT ALWAYS CARRY IT WITH YOU” she commands assertively. “Oh, Yes, Definitely, Thank you” we respond sheepishly. The ‘green paper’ pops up on the screen and there it is. We can go to Turkey, insurance on the bike covered. √
We had discussed with our personal insurance broker before we left about Medical cover and that had been confirmed. √
A Sunny 52 kms ride later and the Turkish border appears. We get to the first kiosk on the Greek side and are asked to present our visa. No visa? We park the bike and are directed to a square dirty building where a hajibbed lady is cleaning the windows. Inside we follow a tatty hand written sign ‘buy visa here’ . Really? The bored man behind the glass window barely looks up as he asks for 25 euros. Well, we had finished all our euros filling up with fuel in Greece. The Turkish currency is Lira and we plan to withdraw some at the nearest ATM. “No, he does not want Lira. Yes, there is an ATM behind the first kiosk on the Turkish side. He needs euros.” We wander out of the back of the building along the Turkish side into the same building behind the first kiosk, hunting for the ATM. Confused , certainly. Unfortunately, the ATM was not issuing Euros that day. We walk back to the guy, who now said he could take Dollars. Oh, lucky day. We always carry US dollars, these particular ones left over from a trip to Cambodia a few months ago. Smugly we hand over the right amount, get the stamp and the visa and skip back to the bike. All confident now we ride up to the second kiosk, where we present the Visa to a swarthy Turk. This is good. And he needs the Insurance for the bike please. We point out the little sticker on the windscreen. And the ‘Green Paper, please. We explain we left it at home. It’s a Digital World, so proudly show it to him on our smartphone. Not so smart. Nope. That’s not good enough. The swarthy Turkman wants the original. But you can buy Turkish insurance for 104 euros. It’s another walk back to the ATM building, a path well trodden no doubt by countless other foreigners, to find a man selling insurance . Oh,dear, we really, really haven’t got the budget for that! and end up chatting to a South African guy travelling in his campervan with wife and four kids on a year’s home schooling/life adventure. What fun.
We decide that we just cannot afford the 104 euros insurance. Back to the swarthy Turkman. “ Are you sure you cannot accept this, please? “ We show the email on the phone again. Nope, still not good enough. Disappointed, but not yet defeated, we ride the 52kms back to Greece. The lovely lady at the hotel reception, where we camped in the garden, listens to our predicament. “No problem, forward the email to me, and I will print it.” How kind. A quick coffee break and 52kms later in the sunshine we are back at the Turkish border. Hello, yes, here is our visa. Yes, here is a black and white print of our ‘Green Paper’, please? Another swarthy Turk looked at it, nodded and scanned the passports and let us through. It was 3pm and we’d been to Greece/Turkey and back twice.
We search for the nearest campsite on the Turkish side and after 55 kms, pull into a rather strange place in Tekirdag. I say strange because as we arrived two guys leapt up from a table/bench, guided us in, took eight lira off us and disappeared.” Anywhere” they waved as they departed. We looked around at the higgledy-piggeldy assortment of plastic domes and discarded furniture and burst out laughing. Time for a fag and glass of wine. One curious onlooker passed by, then another and another. Soon we were offered a hammer( note to self: really got to buy one) and shown the loos/showers and where to fetch water.

We secretly ate our Salami sandwiches (made in Greece) for supper and went off to explore this camp, sea on the right and highway on the left. A couple in a car were watching the view (Not) for a long time and our circle of new friends invited us to join them. Average age 60+, combination of German, Turkish and broken English, mostly female, they escape the city for the summer months and come to the beach. A married couple seemed to be the leaders and were getting ready for the summer rush by fixing umbrellas and chairs and doing a general tidy-up. Charming and gracious. We said goodnight in as many languages and hid ourselves and the bike under the tarpaulin/tent for the night.
Excited to get to Istanbul (180kms) we pack up early. Actually, a bit too early, because an unknown padlocked metal barrier has blocked our exit. We surmise that it must be to stop other sea-viewers in their cars at night. However, there is a neat little motorbike sized gap on the side, if you can avoid the ditch. I dismount and push B around the side gap, the panniers hook up and over he goes, not quite avoiding the ditch. Well, there is no way we can pick up this overloaded overinverted bike. The elderly leader man from the night before comes running over and the three of us complete the task of righting the bike when a cop car pulls up to help. We wave our thanks, we’re OK.

We choose the main road and then branch off onto the Toll. I know we have a rule: No Tolls, but the main road is boring. Houses, tower blocks, houses, towerblocks, on and on. When we enter the Toll there is no booth to collect a ticket or pay or anything, just a metal post to signify the ‘start’. We are astounded by the enormity of Istanbul . The city begins at least 40 kms from the old town centre destination point. There are 6 lane highways, congestion at 100kms/hr, grid lock and reversing and even turning around and driving backwards. Trucks, containers, lowbeds, cars, and bright yellow taxis. The most astounding sights are the millions of trees, most newly planted, that line the grassy banks and the ‘vertical gardens’ growing up the concrete retaining walls. And Rose bushes. Thousands of them. It’s astonishing. We duck off the Toll road, via the metalposts, to re-fuel. While B is paying, a chap on a V-Strom cruises up to re-fuel. We get chatting. He’s a travel Agent. Where would we like to go? What would we like to see? “The best and most important”, I reply. “That’s got to be the Blue Mosque” he says and off he goes. Punch ‘BlueMosque’ into Garmin Zumo 590 and 7 kms later there we are.
IIstanbul truly is the place where West meets East and Old meets New. It appears to be a mad mix of ancientness andmodern’ess.
We treat ourselves to a delicious lunch of authentic Turkish delights ( yoghurty salads, aubergines and peppers,spices and skewers, stuffed vine leaves and water) . I wander off around the tourist places before heading upto the ‘Blue Mosque’ . It’s large, multipledomes and surrounded by camera bearing groups. A few photos later of the outside, I return to B without buying any carpets or baubles. I do try and find a sticker for the bike, but no luck. It’s time to go.

We ride along the shoreline, and then get back onto the Tollroad direction north west to the Triangle where Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria meet at Edirne ( 234kms). That is the nearest campsite, according to Zumo 590. Camping is not on the Turkish ‘things to do’ leisure list. As we ride away from the city centre we pass thru the metal posts again, signifying we are exiting the Toll. A big question mark goes off in our heads: We haven’t paid? At about the same time as an siren goes off on the overhead LED screen and a figure of 190 Euros flashes up. Too late, B’s already upped the gears. I shout Go,Go,Go and that’s it. We can’t reverse. We find the campsite as dusk falls and so does the rain. Run by a very German lady we are shown to marble-floored ablutions and an undercoverpatio complete with kitchen counterand BBQ area. Starting the day by falling over into a ditch, and ending with a braai (BBQ,) we have had a memorable 426 kms ride.

The night’s rest wasn’t very, as we were a bit nervous about getting out of Turkey because of the Toll incident. No problem. Nothing flashed up on the border control screen. We smiled and went on our way. Oh, well perhaps there’ll be a fine/letter in the post when we get home. As I write this 5 months later, nothing yet. We’llpay if you want, honest. The weather is glorious and we pass many storks settling in for the breeding season. See you in Bulgaria.

for photos, go to: 2up2wheels.blogspot.com
Reply With Quote
Old 19 Oct 2017
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: france
Posts: 36
Bulgaria, the Worst and the Best

Bulgaria, The Worst and the Best

Day 23

Turkey is not part of the EU, but has applied to be part of the EU. The currency in Turkey is Lira, with an exchange rate of one Euro equal 4 Turkish Lira, and they take Euros, sometimes. Turkey has applied to be part of the EU and has been refused entry. Britain is part of the EU, doesn’t use Euros and doesn’t want to be part of the EU anymore. Bulgaria has been part of the EU, since 2007. One euro is equal to 2 Bulgarian Leva and they do not take Euros, ever.
We cross the border from Turkey into Bulgaria and the change in scenery is immediate. At the border post there is a queue for 20kms of trucks wanting to enter Turkey. Bulgaria seems to be the through-route from west to East. Our satnav keeps insisting we have to buy a toll sticker and cannot go off Toll. We cannot even select ‘avoid Toll’. We ask at the border about a sticker and with raised eyebrows are told to go to the garage. We cannot have a repeat of the Turkish Toll thingy. We type in ‘petrol station’ and ignoring our stubborn GPS go off Toll down a very neglected, abandoned road. At a T-junction, turn left and get stopped by some Army chaps who understandably don’t speak English. Hand signalling about a sticker/fuel we get waved on to the old original disused border post where there is a service station. On the door is a big sign and inside a big man. He nods “Ne”. Does that means yes or no? He points to the sign outside and says “Ne”. That means No. We now understand that motorbikes are excluded from the Toll vignette system, but the GPS doesn’t.
It’s a very frustrating ride as we really want to go on the rural roads but cannot seem to get off the Toll. I type in Haskovo in an attempt to see more of the south of Bulgaria. Once we are off the Toll, which is a super-highway, super tarmac, super speed limit 140kms/hr, we realize why we need to stay on it. The roads are appalling. Properly shaken up we get to Haskovo and find a shady place to park up the bike and eat some lunch. It is a whopping 38degrees and windless. A charming stone sculpture commemorates the inhabitants of Haskovo and the museum offers excursions to the 4th C Thracian period Alexandrovo tomb where well preserved frescoes of hunting boars are to be seen. We decline but read up on the population and religious mixtures (approximately Bulgarians 79%, Turks 20% and about 1% Roma with 80% Orthodox Christians and 20% Muslim).
This small town is probably a good indicator of the long and war-filled history of Bulgaria. From being invaded by Alexander the Great from Macedonia, Persians, then the Greeks, Celts, Romans, Goths, Huns, Crusaders and Turks, until their ‘liberation’ from the Ottoman Empire in the 19th Century by the Russian Army. Then the Balkan Wars, both World Wars, Russian rule and now a member of the European Union. May their future be more peaceful than their past.
We notice the storks settling in on specially built platforms, and young chicks peeping out of their nests. There’s a whole eco system up there as other birds and bugs fly around and share the nests.
We criss-cross the super highway, up to Stara Zagrov, down to Chirpan, ignoring the GPS and just using our tiny little map and picking out place names. Chirpan was interesting. The houses are built of a rough red-brick (like fire-bricks) piled on top of each other with almost no mortar between, then painted with a white wash. The outskirts of the town was surrounded by these buildings and also hay bales and horses and carts.
We ventured down a narrow lane to another town looking for a café and came to an abrupt halt at a barrier which enclosed a children’s play park. As we were turning around a few people came out of a door carrying bread and other shopping. I left B at the bike and ventured into this burglar-barred shop to ask about a cup of coffee. “Ne” , no coffee, “ne”, no euros, “Ne” no ATM. When I returned B was surrounded by a bunch of shy/curious/enthusiastic 12-13year old school children with their teacher. A complicated conversation ensued about ages and origins and destinations, with the teacher translating and the youngsters trying to speak English. No coffee so back on the highway to Plovdiv, selected to be European Capital of Culture in 2019. By now the long boring highway had changed to green rolling hilsides and we spotted that the capital, Sofia, was not far away. So 408kms from our start point in Turkey at Edirne we landed up in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria, by teatime, ready to look for a campsite.Tired, hungry and thirsty the Garmin tells us that the nearest campsite is 10kms on the other side of town. Oh dear, we sigh. This is not going well. As we pull up at a set of traffic lights to stop, we nod at a fellow rider on a Honda in full bike gear. He nods back. Lifting up my visor ”Hi, “ I call “we’re looking for a campsite”. Pulling out his music earphones, he indicates one about 10 kms away on the other side of the city. Talking through a full face helmet is never easy, but we nod to each other and we get a head start as he is still fiddling with his earphones. At the next traffic light we stop again and this time our biker friend pulls up behind us. How did he get there? The traffic light turns green, we go, he overtakes and indicates for us to pullover. He spotted our ‘HORIZONS UNLIMITED ‘sticker on the back box and invites us to couch-surf. How amazing this dreadful day is turning out to be. It’s a very quick whizzy ride through the strrets of Sofia, us lumbering on our laden Sertao, following speedy Honda man. We get to the apartment, take off our helmets, introduce ourselves and are immediately welcomed into the wonderful world of Mitko and his fun-loving fabulous friends. The next four hours are a magical tour of Sofia and the parks and the history and the bar and the buildings. We greet the Eagle statues where revolutions and protests take place, easy now to call up your mates on Whatsapp. We meet and greet the great statues of heroes and villians that abound in the huge central park. We stop and stroke the beautiful sculpture of a stone elephant, rubbed smooth by more than 60 years of sliding. We walk down the Original ‘Yellow Brick Road’ and admire the Yello Brick Palace built for the King. We land up at ‘The Wrong Bar’ for a mixed grill to beat all mixed grills and tumble onto Mitko’s couch at pumpkin hour.
Exhausted and delighted. Bulgaria, the worst and the best of days all rolled into one. And how has being part of the EU changed Bulgaria? AWESOME, says Mitko. A whole new world awaits this generation and they’re keen to grab it with both hands. GOOD LUCK, we say. If being part of the EU keeps the Peace, then it’s the right way to go.
Reply With Quote
Old 26 Oct 2017
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: france
Posts: 36
Macedonia - Almost

DAY 24

A delicious traditional breakfast of Bulgarian soft-cheese-filled-pastry saw us out of Sofia. With Mitko’s advice and plotting on the map, we decided to go south down the hilly highway to a small turn-off which would take us West to the mountains bordering Macedonia. We are going to follow the trail of Alexander the Great (also Evil and Cruel). Macedonia (FYROM= Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia) is not part of the EU. Their currency is the denar. We now have a money collection of Euro, Leva, Lira, and Dollar. We were told to follow the train line. It is unique in that the train line is narrow-gauge and climbs uphill to Bansko at 927m above sea level. Bansko is internationally known for its ski slopes, hosting the World Cup Alpine Ski races and Summer Biathlons. We ride the 174kms following the train track, as it disappears into a tunnel through the mountain , we ride around and meet up again. Higher and higher. There are random wanderers on the road, small bent people dressed in black, wearing headscarves. Where are they going? Everynow and then there would be a roadside stall selling honey and Bulgarian cheese. Where did they come from? We spot some old people sitting on a bench outside their garden walls resting their heads on forked walking sticks. Bulgaria is a land of contrasts in its people and geography. The four generations from great-grandparents to toddlers have all grown up in completely different political situations. Oldest people born into communism, youngest into the open market. The ones in the middle crossing between the two. Multiple generation gaps. We had arranged to stay in a ‘homestay’ and made it just before the rain came down. We treated ourselves to a Bulgarian dinner, complete with violinists and concertina, in a museum-like restaurant.
I’m known for re-arranging furniture and true to form, re-arranged the guest room by pushing the twin beds together. After a good night’s sleep we went to the burglar-barred shop that the owners’ run to buy our picnic lunch. We noticed that a lot of passers-by were carrying baskets of food and heading down the steep hill. We ask why and the English speaking grandson translates for his Bulgarian parents by explaining that it is Remembrance Day. Every door in the village has a photocopy A4 paper with photos of family members, died but not forgotten.
We meet the 84 year- old great grandma and again lots of translating goes on. Just as we are about leave the old lady hands us a packet of doughnuts. It is her Remembrance Day Gift. We pose for photos with this delightful 3-generation family. What a pleasure to have been part of their lives for 24 hours, chatting and sharing. En route out of Bansko, we buy a packet of 100 little bank bags and with a felt tip pen sort out and mark all the different currencies into their own bags. The border post of Delchevo is 92 kms away through magnificent mountain passes, curving roads that bank and swing us from one glorious view to another. We stop at the top, eat our doughnuts and throw the crumbs into the wind, remembering our friends and family, died but not forgotten.

We get to the Macedonian border. Eezy, peezy, out of Bulgaria. We ride the bike through a hollow of muddy water (just like a sheep-dip) splayed legs held high and landed up at the border post.
Passports presented, white ‘green paper’ presented. A big nod of the head, No! We show the gmail. Another nod of the head, No!. A bit of a discussion with the chief and we are told that we can buy insurance for 55 euros. Not part of the EU, but they take Euros. We shake our heads, No! Bulgarians nod for No, we shake.
Back through the muddy sheep dip, passports scanned again into Bulgaria. This white ’green paper’ business is a bit of a problem. We find another route to Sofia, 155kms on the fast highway. The aim is to find a print shop that has green ink. We stop for coffee and spot a print shop. They don’t understand what we want and look at our smartphone/gmail request with horror. A very big head nod, No!
On the outskirts of Sofia, we find a Big Mac, pay for coffee in order to charge our phone’s flat battery and use their wi-fi. We phone Mitko who directs us to the nearest professional print shop. For 4 euros we get a very pale green paper print out. Oh, forget this, we can’t be bothered anymore. It’s getting late so we head for the original campsite that we found on the GARMIN on Day 22 , only 10 kms away on the other side of Sofia. It’s a big circular route around ¾ ‘s of Sofia and up north to the campsite. Sorry, closed. What now? The next nearest campsite is another 57kms across the border in Serbia. We go.
Serbia is not part of the EU, but has been a candidate since 2012. At the border, our passports are scanned, the white ‘green paper’ is barely glanced at. “Welcome”. They take euros. We arrive at the campsite as night falls, pitch tent and are surrounded by a gaggle of very inquisitive turkeys, peacocks and peahens and a goat. Supper was left over spaghetti dinner out of a glass jar. We sleep well.

We toured Macedonia- Almost!
What will Day 25 bring?
Reply With Quote
Old 21 Dec 2017
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: france
Posts: 36
A dinner Date in Serbia : day 26

Thu, 21/12/2017 - 12:00
Open A Dinner Date in Serbia: Day 26 Country configuration options
We really do have too much stuff! The morning was spent repacking the bike, accompanied by curious peckings from peacocks and peahens. The notes in my tiny blackbook say “lose some stuff”. It was obviously so irrelevant that we cannot even remember what we turfed into the bin. This just goes to show how little we can survive on. With our bike now a bit lighter, more balanced and a bright blue sky overhead, we venture into Scary Serbia. We’ve read the news, watched TV and heard the stories. We’ve been warned off venturing south towards Kosovo *as there is still trouble there.

Serbia is an official candidate to join the European Union and has its own currency, the Serbian Dinar. The exchange rate means we need to divide any charges by 122 to work out the cost in euros. But they take Euros anyway.

This is a very lazy day, a bit of repacking, followed by chucking stuff away, then a sprint along the highway North towards Nis. We are in Serbia because we didn’t want to pay the 55euros demanded at the Macedonian border as our ‘white’ green paper was unacceptable. We are re-routing ourselves by cutting across the east corner of Serbia to get to Romania. Highways are useful for gaining distance, but ever so boring after a while. After 100kms from Leskovac to Aleksinac we are beckoned by the mountain range to the right. A quick glance at our tiny mapshows us there is a border post over the Danube River at Drobeta-Turnu-Severin which will be perfect access to the Transalpina Way* (Transalpina Road. ) Big roads and wide curves in a stunning mountain pass add to that lazy day carefree feeling. Our late start meant we had only left the campsite just before noon, and now mid-afternoon tummies are rumbling for that lunchtime jar of cold left over spaghetti supper. We spot a simple block building with a pepsi-cola flag waving in the breeze and thinking it may be a café of sorts, pull in for some coffee to have with our left-overs. There’s a lovely grassy bank overlooking the bluest of lakes, with boats and fisherman way down in the valley. It’s not a restaurant, just a group of men and a young lad sitting around a table socialising with a grill and fire nearby. We park up, dismount and stroll over, but after a bit of smiling and handwaving and recognising ‘privat, privat’, we conclude it is a private party. Never mind. We unpack our camp chairs on the grassy bank to enjoy the view even more and sit and relax in the sun. The warm sun and beautiful view helped the cold left-over spaghetti and bread rolls go down, accompanied by the delicious BBQ smells from our neighbours’ fire wafting over us.

The sociable chef of the BBQ strolled over to us bearing some of the delicious smelling sausage look-alikes, all crispy and crunchy and a bit like porkcrackling. They are ‘vet derms’ ( pronounced fet derrems in Afrikaans), which are the cleaned and edible large intestine of sheep or goat. We enjoyed the crispy, hot crunchy texture and juicy taste, even though they were rather fatty. We thanked our new friend and showed our appreciation for his generous offering by guzzling the lot. He was clearly enjoying this interaction with foreigners and strolled over again with a green bottle of clear liquid. “Rakija, Rakija, drink, drink.” We thrust our tumblers forward and he splashed a generous amount in. With an alcohol percentage of 45%-60% we graciously declined seconds. It was good! Mellowed even more by the hot sun, hot throats and very warm glow inside, we reluctantly packed up and set off on the bike to find a campsite. The combination of sun and ‘witblitz’ had done its best to lower our already lazy energy levels and concentration, so when we saw the Grand Hotel in Sokobanja we decided to call it a day.

The duty manager spoke excellent English and was really keen to have us stay in his hotel. Ever mindful that our bike is the most precious thing we have, before we agreed to stay, we asked about off-street parking. “No problem, you can park the bike in the lounge. And you can have a special price tonight, with Dinner, Bed and Breakfast for 34 euros”. Our budget is 50 Euros per day so we reckoned that this was an OK price. A room on the top floor with fabulous mountain views helped our pre-dinner snooze. How can a mere 220 kms be so exhausting?

It’s so nice to get out of bike gear, put on make-up and wear pretty clothes. B even got smarted up. We’re going on a dinner date in Serbia. How exciting.

The large foyer was empty, except for our bike, and the large banquet hall was empty, save for a few tables. We eventually find the dining room on the second floor, which is filled with long, long tables laid with tin plates and tin mugs. We are guided past these to a vast outside terrace, equally sparsely decorated with five tables and some geraniums potplants, with a backdrop of pine trees, mountain peaks and more than 300 children organised into groups, singing and dancing. Had we gate-crashed a children’s camp? The children duly filed in to their places alongside the tin plates and mugs, the terrace doors were closed and we heard not-a-peep. Alone on the terrace, we waited for something to happen. A waiter, perhaps? And then the friendly manager arrived. He is the waiter. “We’ll have two s, and make it three if you come and join us, please”

He did.

We asked him about the children? city kids on a compulsory country camp for one week.

We asked him about the changes since the war? very difficult, business , trading , marketing and service industry a new concept.

We asked him about his grown-up children? living in the cities, all leaving the country to find jobs and go to university.

We asked him about the European Union? to join would be good.

We asked him about life in Serbia in general? hard and poor.

It was an insightful conversation, adding to our knowledge and our curiosity about Eastern Europe, and in the light of Brexit, the purpose of our trip. Hopefully it costs less to pay for peace than war and with peace comes development and growth.

Our dinner date was enhanced by a single plate of hot spaghetti, topped with tomato sauce and a bread roll.

for photos please see 2up2wheels.blogspot.com

*Various excerpts from Wikipaedia

The Kosovo War lasted just over one year in 1998-1999, aided by NATO (air support) and the Albanian army on the ground. The Yugoslav and Serb forces caused the displacement of more than one million Kosovo Albanians. In 2008, the republic of Kosovo declared their independence from Serbia, a move which Serbia rejects. International intermediaries dealt with any communications between Serbia and Kosovo and since 2011, an EU team have encouraged meetings of the presidents of Kosovo and Serbia. Agreements and deals on various areas such as freedom of movement, regional representation and so forth have been reached culminating in the two presidents sitting at the same table at an historic meeting in 2013. More agreements were reached in 2015, ensuring representation for ethnic-Serbs in Kosovo, but not necessarily recognising the independence of Kosovo and the chance to join UN agencies. In 2017, both Serbia and Kosovo mobilized their military forces along the K-S border
Reply With Quote
Old 24 Dec 2017
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: france
Posts: 36
Serbia, A Day of Surprises (Day 27-5th June 2017)

Serbia: A Day of Surprises. (Day 27 - June 5th 2017)
Our very dated 60’s room-en-suite was situated on the 4th floor in the top left corner of this vast empty hotel, apart from the 300 children whose presence we never heard. It took ages to pack up and get our luggage into the intriguing lift that had 3 metal panels and an open grilled front, jamming doors with feet and taking two trips to reach the bike. Breakfast was a dreary affair on the empty terrace, only this time there were two waiters and a big trolley carrying metal urns. We were offered tea or coffee. B asked for black coffee. Big mistake. The coffee urn was already pre-filled with milky sugary mixture. It took a long time to get a tiny cup of black sludge and surprise, surprise; it came with a separate till slip for about 50 cents. Obviously not part of the set breakfast menu, which consisted of egg and sausage. Well, the sausage was another surprise. We couldn’t cut them! Our knives kept sliding off the skin which actually was a soft plastic tube. Once we’d pierced it with our forks and peeled the front bit off we squeezed the sausage out like toothpaste. Filling up on lots of bread and jam seemed a good option before we headed off to the reception and our bike. At reception the message of the deal offered by the manager the night before hadn’t been passed on, so we were presented with a bill for 60.50 euros. Now that’s a surprise! B showed the receptionist the piece of paper with the all-inclusive quote (except for 3 s) and insisted that the manager be contacted. Communication became a bit complicated as neither side spoke each other’s language. Eventually the English speaking manager/waiter from yesterday was traced and the computer system almost crashed with all the tut-tutting and button pushing to change the bill. With full tummies and empty pockets B rode out of the foyer much to the surprise of the parents coming to fetch their kids.
We’re on our way to the Romanian border, 197kms away. We spot an interesting sign and follow the country road to the “Roman Palace of Galerius”, UNESCO Heritage site. The 3 euro entrance fee was well worth it as we wandered around in the sun admiring the 2000 year old construction and mosaics. The entrance ticket extended to the museum in Zajecar, which was again a different and surprising experience. Zajecar is a bustling modern market town and we enjoyed people watching as we took it in turns to stay with the bike/ go into the museum. There was a mix of some rough down-and-out looking people and also some very elegant ladies in long dresses. The museum itself was actually a building with a long central passage and lots of brown closed doors. Peering into the one and only open door, I waved my ticket at the lady behind the computer. Pleasantly enough, she came out and proceeded to escort me in and out of all the doors showing me what was in each one and waiting while I photographed and admired and appreciated the artefacts. This took rather a long time so I declined to go upstairs and instead went to relieve B from his motorcycle watchpost. He went through the same process and went upstairs. I had a very long time to bike and people watch, standing next to the bike in the rising heat of the day. It was very interesting to wander a short way from the bike, rest in the shade and watch the passers’ by and their curiosity. Fortunately no-one got close enough to put my hollering skills to the test. It was a lovely warm afternoon’s ride to the border post and we were thankfully waved on past the rows and rows of cars and buses and huge trucks. The Danube River separates Serbia from Romania, although in Galerius’s day it was all one big Roman Route for the Emperors and wine production.
We are now in Romania and it’s a short beautiful ride through the mountains to Camping Hercules in Mehadia. We arrive at 5pm to be met by a lovely German proprietor and his wife, where we are shown to a patch of lawn next to a sparkling clean 3 metre square swimming pool. Quick as a flash the tent was pitched and cozzie was on and I was in. Within 30 minutes 5 campervans and a couple on bicycles had pulled in and set up camp. Popular place, this. To offset the rather meagre breakfast and lack of lunch we treated ourselves to dinner with wine and the biggest tastiest most delicious Goulash ever. What a surprise.
For Photos please go to HU TravelStories or 2up2wheels.blogspot.com
Reply With Quote
Old 24 Dec 2017
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: france
Posts: 36
Romania, S-bends and Bears. (Day 28, June 6th 2017)

A hot and sunny 7am saw us refreshed and revigorated after a swim, supper and a good sleep. Our sociable campervan neighbours brought us boiling water for coffee and in return we entertained them by squashing, rolling, shoving and strapping all our stuff back on the bike. By 9am we were ready to go. Our neighbours just closed their doors, turned the key and the campsite was cleared. We continue up and up into the hills, riding past rows of parked cars and people wandering along the pass in their swimming costumes and draped in towels. Picnic tables were laid out with breakfast breads and coffee, and some card playing activities, tucked in between the parked cars. It was all a bit strange until we noticed the steam coming from the bubbling brook. How lovely, these early morning risers were enjoying natural thermal swimming. That explains the popularity and multitude of campervans.
The back road (7D) to Targu-Jiu got increasingly bumpy, quick reflexes on the part of a large billy goat avoided a collision as he leapt out of our way up onto a rocky outcrop. That’s a reminder to go wide and slow on tight right blind corners. No mirrors here.
We took the 67 out of town and approached the 67C with excitement. Known as the TransAlpina Way, it is listed as a dangerous road, with its companion road the TransFageren(7C). We were advised to go UP the 67C and DOWN the 7C. News on the motorcycle grapevine came to us that the 7C was closed to motorbikes because of snow - in mid June! And so we started this incredible climb, sharp S-bends that went up and down and back on themselves still ever going UP. It was both sunny and misty and we were followed and overtaken by motorbikes in all directions. A bikers’ dream ride.
Transalpina Road
Through the tight hairpin bends, the front end of the Sertao felt as if the stantion clamp bolts were loose, causing some flexing. We checked the bolts, but they were tight. The problem appeared to be a combination of :
• the steepness and tightness of the bends.
• the 21” front wheel
• a normal standard outdated trailbike front end, which BMW stupidly fitted to the Sertao, a road-touring bike.
Previously, we owned an HP2, that came with two sets of wheels: 19” for road use and 21” for dirt riding. B realized that he had experienced similar road holding problems on the HP2, with the 21” wheels, on slow corners on tight mountain passes. This triggered an idea for a modification when we return home. We have since swopped the front ends of our BMW X-country and the Sertao. The result is that the Sertao has now got a set of upside-down forks, 19” front wheel, curing the roadholding problem. Considering that we had an HP2 for 3 years, B found the handling of the Sertao to be a big disappointment on these tight passes. Now the Sertao handles just like the HP2. Strangely enough the X-country with its new 21” front wheel has become more fun off-road.
We met donkeys and cows and a friendly sheep dog joined us for lunch . By mid afternoon we found an abandoned campsite, opposite a rustic restaurant serving Borsch . “No problem, you can camp in our meadow by the river.” For a nominal charge of 5 euros we set up camp by the river, tied our tarp onto a handy concrete culvert, tucking the tent and bike underneath. “ Lookout for bears and wolves”, the friendly owner called as we settled down for the night. Our midnight pee-stops must have helped because we didn’t see any. Or perhaps it was the torrential rain and howling winds that kept them away.

For images please go to HU travelstories or 2up2wheels.blogspot.com
Reply With Quote
Old 24 Dec 2017
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: france
Posts: 36
Romania, Vampires and Red Roses. Day 29 – 33

Romania, Vampires and Red Roses. Day 29 – 33
The rain kept us in our sleeping bags till 10am. When the sun emerged we gave it an hour to dry our tarp and tent, chatted to a bike one-week-tour group from Israel, before setting off along the valley road.
In the slightly run down town of Bresoi we bought coffee and cake. The apartment blocks were tall, dull and scruffy, in contrast to the brightly coloured swirling skirts and tight red belts of the smartly dressed young mums pushing prams. We let some kids sit on the bike for fun and even though we were a bit anxious about getting swamped and feeling the effects of many light-fingers, everything was in its place when we left. The very bumpy road took us passed farmlands, and villages before popping out on a congested main road with bumper-to-bumper trucks. At the fuel stop we somehow got caught up in a group of 17 big-bike bikers. The congestion was caused by road works and unmanned traffic lights, and preparation for the laying down of new tarmac, which the bikers ignored. They charged down the wrong side of the road, overtaking the queues and down the no entry side. We followed.
The rainclouds were continually threatening to drop their load and we found the aptly named ‘Vampire Camping’ near to Dracula’s Castle in Bran. Thor danced and partied all night and in between the raindrops we packed up , having looked at the radar map and thought we could chance it to go further East. We rode past Dracula’s castle, took some wet blurry photos and 20kms later we gave up and settled in a guest room in Brasov. Wet bike gear can fill a room very quickly and we used every available hanger, chair, door and knob to drape the soggy bits on. In civvies, we wandered around the rather charming town looking for a sticker to adorn the aluminium panniers. The buildings are from a bygone era, all twirls and decorated, in varying shades of pastels. We bought a sticker, some delicious sweet cinnamon cookies, visited an art gallery and concluded that we had really enjoyed our ‘tourist’ day. The room set us back 26 euros and as our kit was all dry in the morning, it was only a one night stay.
Accuweather radar was still showing rain in the east which is where we wanted to go to the Danube Delta. It seemed as if the rain clouds had got trapped in the crescent shape of the Carpathian Range. Our plans cannot really be fixed on a bike riding tour, so we carried on riding north where the clearer weather was. Brasov to Sighisoara to Targu Mures, where we came upon huge open cast mines and trucks bearing loads and loads of grassy topsoil. The back roads are the best and we passed sheep, castles and an enticing short-cut narrow wooden bridge, which B just had to ride over. Unfortunately the ramp up one side only led to steps down the other side. Turning was impossible on the narrow tow path alongside the canal without unloading first. I left him to it and wandered into a Romanian Gypsy village to look for lunch at the local market that was taking place. A stand playing rather jolly ‘squash-box’ music from a tape recorder in the back of the van, had a fire grill going with some of the traditional mincemeat sausages. They looked a bit too raw for me , so I demonstrated that if he cooked them some more I would be back in 5 minutes. I did get strange looks, a girl on her own, walking around town in bike gear with helmet but no bike. By the time I found B he had turned the bike around and together we re-loaded , rode back over the bridge and found the proper road into town. Our sausages were ready and were perfectly cooked.
By mid-afternoon it was so hot we needed to strip off our raingear. The road to Faget Camping near Cluj-Napoca was pot-holed and busy with overtaking over solid white lines. We arrived at Faget Camping and were not the only ones who had stripped. The campsite was bare, neglected and overgrown. Riding casually around the site, we came across the naked drunk caretaker, who scurried inside his cabin, emerging a few minutes later pulling up his pants. Half-naked, he directed us to Vila Gaby, a ‘pensione’ down the road. Somehow when we arrived she was on the phone taking a call from him and was expecting us. Vila Gaby usually took guests in camping cars or ones who preferred to stay in their ‘pensione’. The lovely lady apologetically offered us a patch of lawn between driveway and summer cabin. We were delighted to camp there for 5 euros, free laundry and use of the kitchen and a chance to service the bike. In fact it was so good we stayed for 2 nights. The bike got its chain adjusted, the front tyre balanced and the oil checked. This delightful husband and wife team have a beautiful garden filled with roses and gnomes and a little bridge for their husky dog to play in.
We took the next day off from touring, catching a taxi into the large super modern city of Cluj-Napoca where we had a soup lunch in a restaurant called ‘Souper’.There was a restricted clever menu of three different soups at a reasonable price, standing or sitting, and cool music. It was fabulous. A quick trip in the afternoon by bike to an out-of-town centre to Lidl and Decathlon completed a very restful day.
We turfed out more shorts, T-shirts and socks before loading up and setting off East, the next day. Weather clearing made all the difference as we rode through gypsy villages enjoying the sunshine and warmth. We have reloaded the bike with more weight distribution towards the front and extra stuff binned. It is Sunday and we noticed rather a lot of wedding parties taking place in these villages. This rural setting is glorious, passing brightly painted gypsy wagons parked in lay-bys and fields of meadows mix flowers. Old buses and trucks, having been converted, served as mobile bee-keeping colonies and the sweet fragrance of the Narcissus fields fills the air. That’s the great thing about being on a bike. You are in the air, the smells, the weather, and the sounds as you ride by and they are in you. We love it.
A very pretty town with a public park festooned with red roses everywhere enticed us to stop for a coffee break. Somehow we had landed up at a wedding celebration in this park. The beautiful bride and her handsome steed asked if they could pose on our bike for their photo album. We obliged. So somewhere in Romania, there is a wedding album with these photos. I wonder what their grandchildren will think? It’s a short ride along stunning scenery and shoddy roads to Comanesti where we find a campsite with a huge lawn, under a huge tree, accompanied by a huge table. Just the spot. In exchange for showing our passports we are offered a huge tumbler of ‘Balinka’ ( witblitz 40-60% alco) out of a JP Cheney bottle. We were lulled to sleep by the sounds of the traditional folk music beating out of the hall next door. Another wedding?
We get to the Danube Delta, catch the ferry which takes us along the Ukraine border, hop off on the Romanian side and ride to Murghiol to find Camping Dan Pescarul (Fisherman Dan) where we book in and set up camp before going for a lovely walk down to the wetlands. The mosquitoes in the long wet grass got hold of us and nearly stripped us bare so we dashed back to the sanctuary of the campsite and the dry, mowed lawn.
Its early to bed as we have booked a 6am sunrise boat ride with Fisherman Dan through the Delta. How exciting. See you tomorrow.
Images on HU Travel Stories and 2up2wheels.blogspot.com
Reply With Quote
Old 2 Jan 2018
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: france
Posts: 36
Romania, Bulgaria, Romania, Bulgaria and Romania: “When I’m 64” days 34 -39

With the sweet cakes we purchased in Brasov through a glass window cubby-hole , we were safe in the knowledge we had a bit of padkos (road food). An early start led us away in glorious sunshine down a 2 lane highway with hard shoulders, where alarmingly all 4 lanes were used. This highway soon gave way to a ‘bucking-bronco’ back road, which is not so comfortable but far more interesting. The ladies in the towns wore full length traditional swishy-swirling skirts and scarves, not for the tourist, just their normal day wear. It was like riding backwards through 100years. The fields are full of labourers wielding their scythes, and horses and carts carrying mountains of hay. Looking to the other side of the road we see a different timeline where there are fields and fields of oil derricks. The road takes us through villages and we note that the houses are fenced in with high corrugated iron fences, with beautifully carved wooden gates and arches. Outside each house there is a bench, mostly occupied by elderly people, watching the world go by. There is usually a working water well with chain and bucket alongside. We assume there is no water mains only well-water. We stop at a bus shelter for shade and lunch and chat to a waiting passenger. This delightful Romanian girl of about 25years spoke at least 6 languages and had come home to be with her new baby and parents, while her husband stayed in Paris to earn a living. It’s a poor part of Romania, despite the oil industry. The country side soon gives way to delicious smelling and stunningly bright purple lavender fields.
Romania is part of the EU, uses the Leu as their currency, with an exchange rate of 4.6 leu to 1 euro. We are averaging at this point about 250kms per day, with fuel costing 8-10 euros. The camping is about 10 euros and food about 10 euros, we are well within our budget, which we have set at max 50 euros per day. We can afford the 2 euro ferry across to the Danube Delta, and to our surprise and mild panic don’t land up in the Ukraine, but dock on the Romanian side. Ahead of our budget we agree to splash out on the 50 euro charge for a river ride in the morning.
We find Captain Dan and his charming family- run campsite, pitch tent and after a mosquito bitten evening stroll cuddle up and sleep early, because it’s a 5.30 am start. We creep out of our tent so as not to disturb the other campers of which the lovely French couple from Poitiers in their amazing Mercedes4x4 super-duper G-class all singing dancing, bells and whistles, with a custom body, Paris-Dakar dessert touring over lander mods, lent us their binoculars. We had been advised to dress very warmly and quite right too, it was chilly on the water as we watched the sun rise. We have a magical 3 hours on the Delta in a little boat with Dan, he speaks no English, and we speak no Romanian. It’s just a map, pointing, silence and the wildlife. Let the photos do the talking.
We return by 9am and creep back into the tent to carry on sleeping. “Was that a dream? Or did we just go on the Delta?” We ask ourselves when we emerge refreshed at noon. We have a jolly evening with our new French friends around a fire and sizzling sausages. That night brings huge rumblings, cracking thunder and blitzing lightening, but the rain passed over. We plan a route to Constanta along the western edge of the Black Sea, then inland again so that we can tick the capital Bucharest off our list. The sandy cliffs are full of holes and we watch multi-coloured Bee-Eaters dart in and out, impossible to capture on camera so there are a lot of photos of holes. We feel fulfilled with our wildlife stopover and use up the last of our Leu on a huge mixed grill for two, 11 euros.
Still in Romania, we get to the Black Sea, ride through Constanta and it is decidedly Soviet-era like. Grey. The harbour was littered with rusty horrible bits of iron, AKA Soviet war ships. The 1st campsite is so steep not even a 4 x 4 could make it , the grass was overgrown and brambling, and the old furniture around the reception was a bit- off-putting. No thanks. The 2nd campsite was also past its sell-by-date and greeting by a ferocious horse-sized dog barking and straining at the chain ready to gobble visitors up was a bit off-putting. No thanks. Riding South down the edge of the Black Sea we stop for fuel and ask about camping.
“Only in Bulgaria” is the reply. So we cross the border, ride on to Varna and another 50kms more to a place called Kamchia. An odd bygone era regulatory campsite on the Black Sea, with magnificent Leisure facilities for organised School trips but not sure about ‘Free-Lance’ campers. As the rain comes down we drive up into an abandoned site full of little turquoise cabins. A friendly man nods , closes the gate and, “yes, we can camp. Here is the key to one of the cabins to use the shower and toilet. 5 euros please”. We don’t see him again. We leave the key in the door when we ride off in the morning. We get badly bitten around our ankles by invisible sand fleas and the storm crescendo’d with the tarp poles falling down in the middle of the night. As we are the only campers it didn’t matter that B lashed the ropes down to the ground and made us safe again in his birthday suit. At least there were no wet clothes to dry. It was our most dramatic, ghostly weird sort of camping place.
We take the highway North West up to Bucharest, still on the Bulgarian side until we get toTatakran where the border ferry is no longer running and ride along the Danube River/border to Ruse.
Crossing back into Romania, it’s a short ride into the Capital Bucharest, where very conveniently there is a city-centre luxurious campsite and we catch up with Dutch friends we met at Captain Dan. They had all driven directly to Bucharest in their campervans; we took the Round Way round. There was a lovely assortment of travellers and we included a chap from Korea, on his way home from London on a Honda XR 250 cc , a UK couple from Whitby on a BMW 1200, and a flamboyant Italian with a Colombian gap-year student in their campervan. What a jolly bunch.
Our next destination is Belgrade, Capital of Serbia. We set the GPS and after riding around Bucharest, stopping for lunch at a café, where the bike gets photographed by a passing journalist, we seek out the infamous palace of a thousand rooms. And there the bike stops. No go. I try and push the bike. Because the bike is a big single cylinder bike, it is not easy to push start, in fact almost impossible for a nearly 64yrs, 64kgs girl! Normal push- starting can be successful in 2nd gear, downhill, but as we are on the level, B chose 3rd , which means the engine can turn over without locking the back wheel, needing more speed. Help arrived in the form of a hefty young chap and it got fired up after a few metres. With engine running we searched for the nearest BMW dealer, fortunately only 4 kms away down the highway, back past the campsite! We keep missing the off ramp due to roadworks and crossroads, etc and 21kms later we park up outside BMW Service centre. They took the bike in for a Diagnostics Test, even though we told them it was the battery. After two hours and a bit of nagging at reception they told us that it was the battery and we need to buy a new one. But they did not have one in stock; it would take a week to arrive. B threw a wobbly, explaining that this was not the service he expected from BMW and he expected them to do something better, “Even if they had to take a battery out of a bike in the showroom”. They suddenly found a battery, but when he removed the old battery, he discovered that it was dry, devoid of liquid. The situation then developed that B asked for distilled water, of which they had none. Another wobbly was thrown. Somebody leapt on a spare bike and rushed off to buy one from somewhere. B filled the old battery with distilled water, re-connected all the bits and pieces and bingo, the bike fired up first time. At the Friday afternoon end- of-week-coffee-bar-smoke-filled –counter-team-brief, B had a few strong words to say to the BMW Bucharest Manager before we waved ourselves away with a cheery good-bye. Its 18h30 and we are 4 kms from the previous night’s campsite. A straight road south to another town named after Alexandra the Great, Alexandria, seems more appealing, so even in the face of very dark clouds we chance the 100kms and head off south west. Fortunately being almost mid-summer, 16th June, the days are just about at their longest and the light is good until beyond 22h30. We find a dodgy hotel in town, which we reject as there is only outside bike parking and then find a charming country hotel where the bike is securely locked in the maintenance man/security guard storeroom, up a ramp and under lock and key. B can sleep easy now. We had used up our last remaining leu for lunch on the Black Sea mixed grill, but handy Credit Card saved the day.
The radar shows a big purple band of destruction moving from west to east right where we are, but luckily the morning started clear and sunny until 11 am. We rode past a dry sandy ploughed field, where a large black piggy was clearly enjoying the warmth and was leaping and running with gay abandon. Perhaps he had just escaped the butcher? We cross out of Bulgaria, over the bridge into Romania, again, and find a hotel in Vidin as the rain comes down.
Tomorrow is my 64th birthday.

for photos please go to : H U Travel Stories or 2up2wheels.blogspot.com
Reply With Quote
Old 6 Jan 2018
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: france
Posts: 36
Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia.

We left Bucharest, capital of Romania, on Day 38 of our Travels. It has rained constantly, forcing us to give up on camping and stay in hotels. We’re on our way to Belgrade, capital of Serbia, dodging raindrops and thunderous black clouds. We get to Vidin, a town on the border where a slither of Bulgaria juts into Romania and Serbia. We’ve crossed the Danube 3 times to get here in this windswept, forgotten corner. Romania and Bulgaria are both countries of so many contrasts. There are beautiful mountains, delicious pastries and grills, friendly people, cosmopolitan vibrant cities and stunning roads, mixed in with desolation, poverty and pre-mechanisation farm labour practices. We travelled through 100 years in as many kilometres. And we’ll go back again someday because both countries are fascinating and enchanting.
We find a guest house that is willing to let us park the bike in their locked and gated driveway, giving us a chance to clean up, dry out and wander into town for a bite to eat. 6 euros gets us a delicious dinner and again in the morning 10euros buys us a delicious breakfast. We are 100kms away from the Serbian border, southwest of the Danube at Negotin, where we stop for coffee and croissants and a Sunday morning gathering of the locals, after a wet morning’s ride. It was so warm and cosy, that it was only a glimpse of a blue hole in the clouds that enticed us back onto the bike. The blue sky was just an illusion as the weather closed down even more into a misty blanket of gloom. The twisting deep valley road got more and more oppressive and by 4pm we weren’t happy bunnies, anymore. Our Navigator directs us to a no longer functioning guesthouse where the nice man over the garden wall directs us back 8kms to the small town of Kucevo, where we find a rather large expensive looking hotel, with blokes lounging around smoking, relaxing, drinking . A holiday mood abounds. Decidedly bedraggled and weary we trudge up the grand steps to be greeted by a cheerful chappie. “Do you have a room for the night and how much, please? ” we ask. “ Affirmative and 60 euros” he replies in perfect English. “Oh dear” we lament, “that’s too expensive for us, we are on a camping trip but the rain is a bit hard, too bad”. We hang around a bit keeping dry on their undercover patio, thinking about Plan B when Cheery Chap bounds up again. “We have a room for 20 euros in the old part of the hotel. Would that be alright? There is no bathroom, but you can use the facilities at the swimming pool.” “Perfect, thank you” while B is unloading and I am doing the paperwork , the cheerful guy notices my first name and bursts into song from the musical Hair*. He is so funny and fresh and enthusiastic it lifts our mood immediately, plus the mention of a pool. And what a pool! Olympic size! Heated! And all to ourselves! We park the bike in the secure area at the back of the hotel, find our way in again through the non-functioning kitchen, go for a swim and a splash and have a lovely time. Our friend recommends a grill in the best bar in town, underground in a cellar where there is more of the holiday and festive spirit and a delicious meal for 11euros. We’re beginning to like this place and this gem of a town in a deep gloomy valley.
We awake to blazing sunshine and it stays that way for the next 20 days. What a relief. This deep dark wet valley is now gorgeous. The greens are greener, the blues are bluer and all is well. Doom and gloom gives way to sunshine and smiles. What a turn around after 5 damp days. We thoroughly enjoy the next 140kms to Belgrade, stopping there for a delicious brunch as recommended by a chatty Austrian girl and her Serbian boyfriend. We watch busloads of silver-surfers emerge and play follow-my-leader as they scurry after the flag bearing guide. I leave B to go in search of a sticker, no luck, but am overwhelmed by the cosmopolitan air in this very modern European city. With leftovers from the Serbian grill the night before and some more padkos from the huge Belgrade breakfast ( these platefuls are massive) we complete the 300 kms from Belgrade into Hungary to a campsite site in Kiskoros in no time at all. We presume we are in Hungary, because that’s what it says on the map and the border posts, but our confusion is justified by all the Lidls, Aldis and Tescos at every crossroad. To make room for our shopping I hand our two oversize enamel tea/soup cups to a familiar looking beggar (just like the one outside Lidl here in our village in France) The campsite is not far away and a particularly buxom, blonde lady bounced over and poured us a welcome glass of home made red wine, exclaiming its virtues in mix of Italian, German and Spanish. We understood her perfectly and enjoyed the wine.
We start the next day with the rest of the German and Hungarian Campers by entering at ‘our own risk’ the muddy waters of the Thermal pool. We are allowed in for 20 minutes, on condition we are not pregnant and are over 14years of age. It is 38 degrees and every now and then farty-sulphur bubbles blow up from the murky depths. We feel like hippos wallowing at the waterhole and drift around slowly for about 12 minutes, and that’s enough. We put our bike gear on over our wet costumes which now act as cooling radiators as the air rushes past. Hungary seems to be full of trucks and highways and we come to an 8-leaf clover intersection where all the vehicles converge, drive around in convoluted loops and then disappear to all 4 points of the compass. I frantically tap B’s left/right shoulder and we make it through the turmoil and head off to Budapest, now just 140kms away.
Budapest is stunning. Wide avenues. Decorative roofs. A very modern city jostling with its historical and cultural roots. We stop under a tree to park, rest and regroup ourselves. Water is freely available from a spout in the pavement and icecream is sold by the weight. We ride through the tunnel up to the Old Town and the nice guard lets us into the ‘buses only’ area. He must be a biker. It’s a magical fairytale world at the top with turrets and castles and everything Walt Disney could dream of, fit for a Princess. We park up and I wander around taking photos and looking for a sticker. An American couple have introduced themselves and are chatting about the bike they hired for their tour around the capital cities. Us girls swop tips on how to pack and what to wear while the men share bike stories. My one pair of shoes and two t-shirts/shorts don’t quite match up to her ball gowns that are being flown from hotel to hotel. “Are you listening? B”. Actually we love what we do and they love what they do, so we have a laugh and say farewell.
We find a campsite at Lake Balaton after two failed attempts. The first one was too expensive, the second one occupied by dozy teenager-receptionists with faces in their phones and and the third one just perfect. Full of the glories of nature and a herb garden at the entrance for the campers’ consumption to enjoy and sprinkle on their BBQ’s. Our Czech neighbours wandered over with some home made ‘Apple Palinka’ (50% proof), which we enjoyed before going for an evening stroll along the lake’s edge. A swan with beady black eyes watched us and we watched a very dramatic bird swoop and scoop on the lake, repeatedly taking off and landing. At sunset its headlights came on and the sea plane/bird was piloted to roost by a man in a deck chair.
With the lake on our right we ride through Hungary, past pretty, pristine and pleasant villages and countryside. The lawns are mowed, not a blade out of place. No rubbish. Have the Stepford wives been here?. The sun is still shining so its next stop Zagreb, capital of Croatia. Blue trams and shiny metaltracks criss-cross the road and we play dodgems with the taxis, cop cars and pedestrians. We are in and out of Zagreb in a flash. We find a shopping complex to replenish the foodstore pannier and there’s also a Decathlon. Ever since we left home we have struggled without a rubber mallet. Tent ropes need pegs. Pegs need to go in the ground. All sorts of gound. Soft. Hard. Rocky. Sandy. Muddy. Ropes stretch and pegs bend. There hasn’t always been a rock or brick to use and the boots are usually still on our feet. We’ve tried to get on without one, but realise it is an essential piece of kit. We just need to find a lightweight one that still does the job. Decathlon has it. And also some triangular hardened aluminium pegs that don’t fold over and bend after a few whacks. All sorted, we find a suitable campsite on the edge of Zagreb to test our new purchases. Its out of Croatia and into Slovenia as still riding with the sunshine we decide to go to Ljublana, capital of Slovenia, for lunch.
Slovenia has historically been the crossroads of West Slavic, South Slavic, Germanic, Romance, and Hungarian languages and culture. It is part of the European Union and its currency is the euro. We didn’t know this at the time which was rather fortunate when we got to the Highway toll booth. The nice lady let us through without paying as it is cash only. We explained we hadn’t been to the ATM yet and didn’t have any Slovenian money. “Never mind”, she said as the barrier lifted to let us through. Slovenia continued the theme of fairyland, with 85 kms of stunning scenery and pointy red roofed castles high up on the peaks. The whole point of going into the capital city was to find an ATM to withdraw Slovenian money. There was nowhere to park and all zones are allocated for pedestrians and bicycles. We pretended we were both. I dismounted and waked in front of B, still on the bike, as we tried to be invisible down the high street. It didn’t work. The Police Patrol in their Playmobile look-alike dinky cars waved an index finger at us and basically said “scoot, now”. We find a Lidl out of the city centre, go to the cash machine and to our surprise it spews out Euros. This is when we realize we could have paid the cash only toll fee as we always have a few of those. Oops.
Different currencies and differing time zones have made this trip both interesting and bizarre. There is no time difference between Romania and Bulgaria, but one hour less in Serbia. There is plus one hour between Bulgaria and Turkey. Slovenia, Serbia and Hungary are on the same time zone. Greece is the same time as Turkey, but not Italy, Croatia or Bulgaria.
We cross from Slovenia back into Croatia, where we find an expensive tourist lumpy, bumpy campsite right on the sea, full of Italians. Apart from not knowing the time, we are confused again about the country. Nobody is where they should be and everybody is everywhere else!
It’s Day 45, Camp 41; we stop for an evening swim in the Adriatic Sea before bed and dream about spotty dogs and tomorrow’s adventure ride down the Dalmation Coast.

*Hair tells the story of the "tribe", a group of politically active, long-haired hippies of the "Age of Aquarius" living a bohemian life in New York City and fighting against conscription into the Vietnam War. Claude, his good friend Berger, their roommate Sheila and their friends struggle to balance their young lives, loves, and the sexual revolution with their rebellion against the war and their conservative parents and society.

photos on HU TravelStories and 2up2wheels.blogspot.com
Reply With Quote
Old 7 Jan 2018
Registered Users
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Des Moines
Posts: 429
Good writing. I want to go to this part of the world soon.
http://www.journeyrider.net Latin America blog (07-8)
Reply With Quote
Old 7 Jan 2018
Contributing Member
HUBB regular
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: france
Posts: 36
8 days in Croatia: Day 45 - 52

Are we in Italy? No, we are in Croatia, it just seems very Italian. We start the morning with an early swim in the Adriatic Sea, and put our bike gear over our wet cozzies to give us a cool ride on this hot, hot day. We’re riding the 534kms Dalmatian coast from the campsite at Rijeka in the north all the way South to Dubrovnik (https://goo.gl/maps/nV7ingfscYC2).
It’s amazing. Sheer drops into the bluest of seas on our right and steep rocky mountains spotted with scrubland on our left. The road winds and twists, up and down, sometimes near the water, sometimes inland. We saw people randomly bobbing around in the sea, virtually at each curve of the road, over the low stone wall that separated road from sea. We whizz by, keeping cool and start looking for our own camper’s swimming paradise. We also saw a big break in the water a good distance away. As it appeared to travel with us we reckoned it was either a whale or some dolphins. Other turbulences that we saw from high vantage points were left behind as we rode, so we reckoned these may be underwater rocks. The Italian waitress at the lunch restaurant in Senj assured us there were no whales or dolphins in the bay. A little bit of research on t’internet told us otherwise. The lunch was a very expensive Spaghetti Cabonara at 30euros, almost a 3 days food budget. We need to rein in a bit and get back to basics on the food store front. I keep a daily record of all costs and we really are trying to stick to the smallest spend possible over this 2month adventure. We’ve roughly estimated 15 euros fuel, 15 euros food and 15 euros accommodation, rounding it up to 50 euros a day. So far, so good. I wandered around Senj, searching for a sticker, and found the seaside town to be very interesting. New constructions added to old and clearly a place that had been severely damaged in WW2.
We found our camping/swimming paradise at camp Sibuljina, where the bright alert friendly receptionist locked the office and personally escorted us to ‘the best site in the camp’. It certainly was! We could fall out of the tent into the sea. We travel with two pairs of shoes each, boots for riding and our trusted Keen Sandals for everything else. They are great for swimming as they help us float and keep nasty things from stabbing our soles. The shallow waters of this pebbled seaside were cluttered with large black sea urchins. Hopping carefully from pebble to pebble, we cross the danger zone and flop into the perfectly temperatured water. Our site faced the sea and the promenade, which encourage friendly folk to stop and chat, discuss bikes and what to see and where to go.
The next day’s ride was just as glorious, stopping for a swim and picnic on the island of Rogoznica. The coastline is stunning, the roads fabulous and very little traffic. Speed limits are a bit restrictive, being 70kms most of the way, but occasionally 90kms/hour. At one point on a straight stretch, which was 70kms hr, we had a big flashy car ‘pushing’ us, so B drifted to the right and let him overtake on the dotted line, no problem. Unfortunately for him there was a copcar in the layby out of sight around the corner who captured him with his radar. We rode on by steadily at 70kms/hr, feeling a bit bad that we had waved him on making it easy to overtake (and speed). Feeling thankful it wasn’t us we started to look for campsites, the first one too steep, second not near the sea, third one too expensive and the fourth one at Sutikla, just right. We keep our cozzies on all day, so it’s easy to park, pitch and swim. We join the throngs of ‘promenaders’ along the beach front and restaurant area before settling in for another cosy camp.
There is a 9kms stretch of land dividing north and south Croatia. It is where Bosnia-Herzegovina owns a bit of coastline. Talk goes that if we cannot get across on our bike, with our white ‘green paper’ we then may need to catch a boat that transports vehicles across this little break in the boundary. We’ve heard the queues are long and the guards are a bit moody. Taking no chances, and because the border post is 150kms away, and we have a site already booked a bit beyond Dubrovnik, a further 50kms, we want to be there before 10 am. This means a very early pack up and push-off at 5.30 am. It normally takes us one and half hours to get going so by 7am we are ready tackle Bos-Herz. None of the stories were true, we got smiling border guard, who just waved us through and we had a fabulous breakfast in Bos-Herz for 3Euros. Yes, they take euros, but are not part of the EU.
Re-entering Croatia was just as easy and we got to camp Kate way ahead of schedule, with enough time for a ride around the city of Dubrovnik and a pre-lunch and chips, followed by an afternoon swim and snooze. 24 years ago, when I moved from South Africa to the UK, I teamed up with a work colleague. We are still in touch and with the help of social media we have arranged to meet up in Dubrovnik square. Their ship-cruise schedule and our bike-cruise schedule have coincided by about 3hours. We have a wonderful hour celebrating our 24 year friendship over another and plate of chips, before their tour guide waves her flag and we say farewell.
Windy gusts blew the tarpaulin and poles down in the night, even though we are tucked into a bank of bushes. Guy ropes seem to stretch when wet, flap in the wind and then the pegs work their way loose. B improvised with a couple of bungees, which did the job as they give more flexibility whilst at the same time keeping the tension when the wind blows. We’re having a four day break from touring as more friends are arriving by plane from the UK this afternoon. These are friends from 37 years ago and for the past 6 years we have spent some part of the June holidays with them somewhere around Europe. We do the WALL in Dubrovnik city, have a sunset supper beach picnic and get shaken up by an earthquake registering 3.5! We swim and swim and walk and walk and talk and talk and laugh and laugh.
Day 51 dawns with thunder and lightning, but nevertheless we need to pack and go. Its June 29th and we have 5 days to get back to France to fetch our grandchildren for their annual holiday with Ouma and Oupa. We know it’s at least 750 kms to Trieste in north Italy, so another early set off at 7am. We feel confident about the Bos-Herz crossing and stop again at the cheap and tasty breakfast café. When we were there 4 days ago, B had taken out his stylo-pen that he uses to type with on his android phone. He had written a few messages/mails at breakfast, but when we got to Dubrovnik he could not find his pen. A finger-pen, being not so easy, makes this e-pen rather valuable and it is NEW, because he’d lost one in Thailand earlier in the year. They are not cheap to replace. The lovely breakfast lady remembered us and produced the pen, along with the breakfast. Whew!! B is so lucky. We take the coastline/ mountain road as far as Senj, where we find a charming camp site on the beach. More swimming, splashing and a presentation of Slivovitz by a German neighbour and his South African son-in-law both on 650’s ended a very pleasant 474km ride that day. We branched off onto the highway the next day and rode in appalling cross winds the 429 kms from Senj to Bologna in one go. But that’s another story https://goo.gl/maps/grEWzuffBh42


photos on H U Travel stories and 2up2wheels.blogspot.com

Last edited by BRAUSCHNIEMANN; 7 Jan 2018 at 22:29. Reason: learnt how to put photos on:))
Reply With Quote
Old 7 Jan 2018
Grant Johnson's Avatar
HU Founder
Veteran HUBBer
Join Date: Dec 1997
Location: BC Canada
Posts: 7,252
Brausch, for photos see: Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB - FAQ: Reading and Posting Messages
Grant Johnson
Seek, and ye shall find.

Inspiring, Informing and Connecting travellers since 1997!
Reply With Quote


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 Registered Users and/or Members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Ugly, Bad, and Good: 20 Years RTW HU Sun Chaser The HUBB PUB 3 10 Feb 2019 20:08
Round the world harthel2011 Ride Tales 10 10 Oct 2014 15:08
RTW on 100cc underbones - Underboning the World Underboning Ride Tales 300 4 Jan 2013 08:24
UK guy in USA on a round the world trip geordie_e Travellers Seeking Travellers 6 31 Aug 2012 05:51
Update On Ian Coates From Hebden Bridge Uk - On His Journey Around The World Dee62 Ride Tales 4 26 Nov 2011 19:23



Thinking about traveling? Not sure about the whole thing? Watch the HU Achievable Dream Video Trailers and then get ALL the information you need to get inspired and learn how to travel anywhere in the world!

Have YOU ever wondered who has ridden around the world? We did too - and now here's the list of Circumnavigators!
Check it out now
, and add your information if we didn't find you.

Next HU Eventscalendar

HU Event and other updates on the HUBB Forum "Traveller's Advisories" thread.
ALL Dates subject to change.



  • Queensland is back! Date TBC - May?

Add yourself to the Updates List for each event!

Questions about an event? Ask here

HUBBUK: info

See all event details

World's most listened to Adventure Motorbike Show!
Check the RAW segments; Grant, your HU host is on every month!
Episodes below to listen to while you, err, pretend to do something or other...

2020 Edition of Chris Scott's Adventure Motorcycling Handbook.

2020 Edition of Chris Scott's Adventure Motorcycling Handbook.

"Ultimate global guide for red-blooded bikers planning overseas exploration. Covers choice & preparation of best bike, shipping overseas, baggage design, riding techniques, travel health, visas, documentation, safety and useful addresses." Recommended. (Grant)

Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance.

Ripcord Rescue Travel Insurance™ combines into a single integrated program the best evacuation and rescue with the premier travel insurance coverages designed for adventurers.

Led by special operations veterans, Stanford Medicine affiliated physicians, paramedics and other travel experts, Ripcord is perfect for adventure seekers, climbers, skiers, sports enthusiasts, hunters, international travelers, humanitarian efforts, expeditions and more.

Ripcord travel protection is now available for ALL nationalities, and travel is covered on motorcycles of all sizes!


What others say about HU...

"This site is the BIBLE for international bike travelers." Greg, Australia

"Thank you! The web site, The travels, The insight, The inspiration, Everything, just thanks." Colin, UK

"My friend and I are planning a trip from Singapore to England... We found (the HU) site invaluable as an aid to planning and have based a lot of our purchases (bikes, riding gear, etc.) on what we have learned from this site." Phil, Australia

"I for one always had an adventurous spirit, but you and Susan lit the fire for my trip and I'll be forever grateful for what you two do to inspire others to just do it." Brent, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the (video) series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring!" Jennifer, Canada

"Your worldwide organisation and events are the Go To places to for all serious touring and aspiring touring bikers." Trevor, South Africa

"This is the answer to all my questions." Haydn, Australia

"Keep going the excellent work you are doing for Horizons Unlimited - I love it!" Thomas, Germany

Lots more comments here!

Five books by Graham Field!

Diaries of a compulsive traveller
by Graham Field
Book, eBook, Audiobook

"A compelling, honest, inspiring and entertaining writing style with a built-in feel-good factor" Get them NOW from the authors' website and Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk.

Back Road Map Books and Backroad GPS Maps for all of Canada - a must have!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80G/S.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events all over the world with the help of volunteers; we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, or ask questions on the HUBB. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 10:50.