Dec. 18. 2012 Split Croatia
I got off the ferry in the morning and found a cash machine and internet. I needed to find the address my friend Sheldon sent me for the apartment he was staying in. He has been on the road for since May 2011 and has done Most of Africa and Europe on a F800GS. We walked around the town that day and that night. I didn't really want to leave Split. It was so beautiful. The town and the woman. I think there were at least 5 females for every guy. I was considering buying a house there. I guess I have to go back sometime. I say that a lot it seems!
|A nice dinner from a nice Croation girl|
|Seemed appropriate at the time|
Dec. 19 Split to Makarska Croatia. 73 km
I knew there was a KTM dealer in Makarska and I needed to change my oil. I was hoping they would be as cool as the other KTM shops I have been to. In Germany they let me us a lift and do all the work my self. In Spain they gave me an oil pan and let me change it outside the shop. This guy insisted on doing the work so we just talked to him. I wanted to check the valves but I didn't want to pay him to take apart my bike.. something I can probably do in half the time since I've done it before.. many times. So he finished up and then changed the oil on Sheldon's F800GS. It was interesting getting a close up look at that bike. The wind that day was horrible. It was blowing off the mountains into the Adriatic Sea. I started the day with the snowboard mounted sideways but after the oil change I figured out a new way to mount it. Strapped to my tank and giant loop. There is enough room to put my leg in between the board bike comfortably. That night we stayed in a pretty nice hotel. We ate at a pretty nice restaurant and I had some sort of fish from the sea. It was a whitefish with both eyes on the same side of its head. It was great! We walked around the town for a few drinks then slept.
|We tried to go through that tunnel but it was closed due to construction|
|Sheldon all bundled up.|
|Cool wooden boats|
|The Croatian KTM dude. I thought letting him sign Croatia on the bike would help him crack a smile :)|
|He had a sweet LC4 660 motard though.|
|Look at that wind!|
Dec. 20 Makarska Croatia to Neum Bosnia and Herzegovina . 147 km
Beautiful morning in Makarska. It was hard to leave. This place is like a paradise. Snow covered martians over looking a historic village/harbor on the sea. We started to ride south and after about a half hour noticed some twisty roads up into the mountains and wet exploring. We got up to around 1200 meters before the snow was to slick to continue. We got to ride some dirt in the mountains then we continued south toward Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was getting dark before we got to Neum and we found a hotel. The sunset was amazing though.
|Beautiful morning in the harbor|
|Maybe they should take it out of the water more often?|
|Getting up by the snow level|
|Sheldon tiptoeing through the snow|
|An old bunker|
|Some sort of agricultural field. Rice maybe?|
|View from the Hotel.|
Sheldon and I split ways in once we were back in Coratia. He stayed in Dubrovnic and it sounds like he met some nice ladies there. I continued into Montenegro. The border police were great. They wanted me to drink beer and whiskey with them. A couple hours later I got pulled over for speeding apparently I was going 65km/h in a 60? Its a good thing he didn't see me before I slowed down for the corner. So I paid the fine and kept going. After talking with the cop for a while I almost got him to let me go but his boss was on the other side of the street so he said he had to. Oh well. Ticket number 2 for the trip. Way cheaper then the one I got in Alaska. My plan was to stay in Budva but when I got there, it didn't feel right so I kept riding. When I got to Petrovac, I found a great Apartment for 30 euro. I wanted to see what the town was like so I found some dinner and drinks. For dinner I had pesto pasta.. only they added cream to the sauce. It was the most epic pesto I have had in a very long time. My bar tender at one place grew up in Sarajevo and she was there during the war. It is so unreal talking to people with these experiences.
|My friend Djordje signed Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|Back in Croatia|
|I thought this was funny so I took a pic. It doesn't translate as well though.|
|Making friends with the Montenegro border guards.|
|His and Hers churches on Islands.|
|Only my 2nd ticket in the past 9 months. Way cheaper then Alaska.|
In the morning I went back the same restaurant that I ate at the night before. It was called Cafe Azur and I highly recommend it. On the way out of town I was going into a grocery store to buy some water and an old lady was begging for money for food. So when I was inside I bought her a loaf of bread. When I gave it to her she said "no money money". Next I met this huge guy who was said "my friend my friend, how much would you have to pay for this in America". He opened his trunk to show me about 30 different Adidas track suits. I had to explain that I really didn't know because I don't wear Adidas track suits. Maybe I should? I might fit in better? He was funny. Apparently he gets them from a friend who works in an Adidas factory in Montenegro then sells them for about 1/3 the price. If he would have been selling Klim out of the back of his car I might have been interested. He told me I should go over the mountains to the town of Virpazar because there is a festival that is going on there. All sorts of local wine, veggies, meats, fish etc. My plan was to ride along Scutari lake on the way south into Albania. But once I got to Virpazar, it was a mad house! There were probably 10k people trying to park their cars along the road. There is only 1 bridge across the river and it was closed for the festival. Only foot traffic. So I was not able to go along the lake. So I headed back to the coast and rode south some more. Almost in Albania I went past a cafe and a guy waved so I decided to stop for some coffee. They convinced me to try the soup which was a bean and vegetable soup. Just what I needed. At the border the line of cars was about 2 km long so I went to the front and the police waved me into a different line. They had me go on the sidewalk between the main building and the booths. I handed them my passport and the stamped it and I was on my way. Going into Albania reminded me a lot of Morocco. It was a bit of a reality check. In the first main town I saw an electrical shop and I thought they might have a toggle for my heated jacket. I lost the inline switch so I had not been able to use it. The owner had me follow him to 4 different shops and we couldn't find a toggle. So he gave me a lamp switch and I wired it inline. Then we drank some Albanian moonshine from a clear bottle with no label. They found a hotel for me and said I would have a secure place for the moto in a gas station/garage next door. I had some sea bass that night and it was very very good.
|Best home made soup I have had in a long time. Somewhere very close to the Albanian border.|
|I waited about 5 minutes then went to the front.|
|Lots of nice A2 VWs|
|Looking over the bike.|
|No toggle switch anywhere in there?|
|No label? No problem.|
Dec. 23 Shkodra Albania to Ohrid Macedonia. 259 km
I left Shkodra after some coffee and sweet pastry things. I had to make it to Ohrid Macedonia that night because I had a free hotel room. My friend Sanja from Skokje had called in a favor to one of her friends. The day was going good and I decided to get off the motorway and go through some small towns. I felt the familiar release of air from my rear and pulled over on the side of the road. Sure enough I had a flat. It doesn't take long to draw attention so I pushed the bike into a parking of a wood shop and asked them if I could fix my flat. They offered an air compressor and everything. I had picked up a nail and it ripped the tube so it was not fixable. After the spare tube was in and aired up, the guys made me have coffee with them. Good bunch of people. I continued on and got a bit lost in the capitol city of Tirana. Traffic is crazy. Once again I was having flashbacks to Marrakech. It was dark by the time I was climbing the pass to the Macadonian border. Heated jacket was a life saver. The border guards didn't keep me long and an hour later I was in a nice warm hotel room in Ohrid. I wanted to go explore the city but the owners of the hotel insisted I eat and drink in their bar. Since I was a guest I didn't argue. I am sad I did not get to meet many people from Macedonia.
|Abandoned factory of some sort.|
|When the nail went through the tube.. it ripped the tire.|
|These guys were happy to help.|
|Fixing the flat|
|After some coffee.|
|Turkeys everywhere. In Morocco, this would be goats.. and they would be on the roof.|
|Traffic in Tiranna|
|3 wheeler or 5 wheeler?|
Dec. 24 Ohrid Macedonia to Larissa Greece. 314 km
It was a sunny cold day when I started. They cooked me a great cheese omelet and a few cups of coffee. I rode from Ohrid to Bitola then south into Greece. I was a little bit worried about getting back into the Euro union because I arrived in Europe in August and you are technically supposed to have 3 months in the Schengen area. When I took the tunnel into France, I never got a stamp on my passport. All my worries were for nothing and let me through with no troubles. In the first main town I met a great dude from Belgium who is biking to Mongolia. Raf plans to go through Iran this winter and get to Mongolia some time next summer. He has until September before he has to go back to work. I predict he will get to Mongolia and continue to China. He said the dogs had been messing with him so he made a spear out of wood just in case. Here is his Raf's Blog
After drinking coffee with Raf and continuing on, I was running out of daylight. I rode motorway for most of the way down through Greece. The thing I noticed in Greece was I never had long visibility. Sometimes it was fog. Sometimes it was smog. But it reminded me of LA. I made it to Larissa after dark and met up with my couch surfing host. I was taken in by an amazing family for Christmas.
|Interesting home-made driving saw.|
|At least the road is dry.|
|Good Macedonian beer.|
|Notice the wooden spear. This is for the wild dogs.|
|Seems slightly dirty.|
I really wish I could have spent more time in these countries. I suggested that my brother meet me in Croatia instead of Italy but he wanted to go to Florence. I would have much rather spent a week in Split Croatia the Florence Italy. Such is life.