In the Balkans

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The Bulgarian border was much better than its reputation. Leaving Turkey actually took more time. No road tax for motorcycles. (2004-08-02 14:38 - Bergie)

Plovdiv. Checked into Hotel Elite in the old town and managed to talk a 60% discount. Parking is an issue, though. (2004-08-02 17:41 - Bergie)

Plovdiv has a quite charming old town. After walking a bit the first cold beer of the day tastes very good. Dining in restaurant Kambanata. (2004-08-02 18:36 - Bergie)

Another beer in the old Roman theatre, watching the sun set over Plovdiv and the hills of south Bulgaria. (2004-08-02 19:46 - Bergie)

Found a stoyanka (or, in Bulgarian, maritsa). Now my bike sleeps under the bridge. A quick cafe visit and I'll turn in to prepare for tomorrow. (2004-08-02 21:13 - Bergie)

Juice break in Kostenec. Headed west over the hills to Macedonia. (2004-08-03 10:48 - Bergie)

Blagoevgrad, filling up before the border. Bulgarian road signs are bad for my 1:4,500,000 map. Now I've been on the road for exactly one month. (2004-08-03 12:44 - Bergie)

I'm now in the Republic of Macedonia without any hassles. Beautiful mountain roads. (2004-08-03 13:30 - Bergie)

Veles. Stopped to withdraw enough Macedonian dinars to buy something to drink. Road has been in very good condition but it is hot to ride. (2004-08-03 15:14 - Bergie)

Skopje. It is good that I got some cash as this has been a toll road, setting me back with 100 dinars. (2004-08-03 16:00 - Bergie)

The UNMIK border was easy and manned by Indian peacekeepers. Only downside was having to buy 15 day insurance for 30 eur. Euro is the currency here. (2004-08-03 17:14 - Bergie)

Arrived to Pristina. Waiting for Timo near the Grand Hotel. Traffic culture is surprisingly good, with UN cops and KFOR vehicles everywhere. (2004-08-03 17:52 - Bergie)

We're having a tex-mex lunch over Kosovar beer with Ridvan and discussing the local politics. (2004-08-04 16:46 - Bergie)

Sightseeing tour of Pristina and its bazaars with Ridvan ended at the statue of Skenderbeg, Albania's 15th century national hero. (2004-08-04 19:06 - Bergie)

Dinner stretched into a long one as Timo shares tales of central Asian adventures and we discuss different customs and working cultures. (2004-08-04 23:16 - Bergie)

Withdrew some money, oiled the chain and started engines. It's time to leave Pristina and start the business trip to Z├╝rich. Holiday is now over (2004-08-05 10:48 - Bergie)

Lunch break in Peja. Coming from the lowlands of Kosovo the Montenegroan mountains suddenly tower before me. (2004-08-05 12:10 - Bergie)

The border crossing to Crna Gora was very easy, with a good twisty mountain road and amazing scenery. Lots of Swiss NGO vehicles. (2004-08-05 13:38 - Bergie)

Rosaje. First impression of Montenegro: poorer Switzerland with minarets. Very beautiful. (2004-08-05 14:02 - Bergie)

The Peja - Podgorica road has been biker's wet dream; mountain passes, canyons, constant curves, good tarmac and very few police. (2004-08-05 16:46 - Bergie)

Viewpoint over the Kotor bay on Cetinje road. This has been the most scenic ride ever. Discussion in my limited Serbian with the drinks seller, and he shared his smoked ham and cottage cheese. (2004-08-05 18:20 - Bergie)

Kotor. I'm standing on the Adriatic shore with palm trees and an old castle around me. Odometer says 64365km. (2004-08-05 18:52 - Bergie)

Long queue on the Croatian border. The Montenegroan border guards were very suspicious because I had entered through Kosovo. (2004-08-05 20:02 - Bergie)

Arrived to Dubrovnik when the last rays of a setting sun were shining on the walls of the old city. (2004-08-05 20:56 - Bergie)

It is the height of tourist season in Dalmatia, and all hotels are full. Managed to get a room in private apartment overlooking the old harbour. (2004-08-05 21:40 - Bergie)

Sitting at beer under palm leaves on Dubrovnik's city walls. The old city is attractive but filled with tourists and christmas lights. (2004-08-05 22:22 - Bergie)

The day has been long and it is time to rest. Outside hundreds of big crickets clinging to the ancient walls hold their own concert. (2004-08-06 00:26 - Bergie)

Grey morning in Dalmatia with forecasted rains. Last night I had territorial fights with big locusts over who would inhabit the bed. (2004-08-06 10:48 - Bergie)

Komin. There had been a car crash on a bridge, forming 5km queues both ways. Surprisingly few riders lane split. (2004-08-06 13:56 - Bergie)

Split. Last 200km took nearly five hours. Really slow going! Car queues simply didn't move for over hundred kilometers so I had to ride between the lanes. It is the tourist season, and there are at least five times more cars than the road can take. With car this trip would've probably taken over one day. (2004-08-06 16:24 - Bergie)

Since the road has been very slow I'll take a night ferry from here to Ancona, Italy and ride from there to Zurich tomorrow. The Blue Line ferry should take about 8 hours. And It'll even pass the island of Vis.

After I had bought the ferry tickets I heard that from here to Zagreb would be highway. But maybe the ferry option is still better, as it enables me to rest the night and spend some time here in Split.

I ate a dinner of pljeskavica and green peas in a restaurant familiar from last September's trip. The place is in the old Roman Riva palace, with a nice view of the Split harbour. A guy from the Port Authority promised to watch my bike and stuff while I'm away. (2004-08-06 18:20 - Bergie)