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Balkan 2020

Another trip to Balkan. Some familiar places that I have come to enjoy a lot, and a lot of new roads and sights to see.

I’m not going to go in too much details with a day-to-day plan as it changes too much once we’re riding, but these are the highlights. If you want to see a detailed trip plan (that is dynamic changing plan), check this link: detailed plan.

Estimated trip length:7,000 km
Days:21
When:August 24 2020
Estimated trip cost:€2,000

Concentration camps

We’ll start on August 24th, riding to Germany. It will be highways mostly, but we do plan to visit the Ravensbrück concentration camp. It was a women only camp. Near to the Ravensbück camp is the Uckermark concentration camp, which was a camp for girls aged 16 to 21.

The infamous words at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

West Czech Republic

Riding from Berling towards the west part of the Czech Republic, Karlovy Vary (or Carlsbad, as they call it in German), a popular spa town with lots of good offers if you’re looking for a nice spa retreat. We aren’t – although a good massage never hurt, but I’m not sure we’ll get there at a time that is convenient for an overnight.

Then along the border with Germany – on the Czech side towards the south and the border with Austria – through the Böhmerwald Forest.

The Alps

Once in Austria, we’ll stay off the toll roads, riding towards Großglöckner. We’ve all been there a dozen times, but it is on the route, so we’ll most likely pat the €27 toll for the scenery.

We will continue towards the Italian border, cross it through what is know to some as the “Smuggler’s rute”, or Straniger All / Passo Polentin, know to more. It’s a gravel route that takes us from Austria to Italy. I rode this route with Peter Riber in 2015.

At the end (Italy side) of the Passo Polentin

From there, we will ride small backroads to Slovenia, where we will ride on the border next to Trieste. We might actually cross the border with Italy a couple of times, but as it is Schengen I wouldn’t expect anything more than a sign.

Adriatic Sea

We will take a small border crossing to Croatia, where we will ride in to the Istria peninsula to check that out.

Then along the coast with the Adriatic Sea for a while before riding a little more in-land to the Velebit National Park, which offers great scenic roads, some of it gravel. Thonny and I rode this route in 2018.

Scenic gravel road in Velebit National Park, Croatia

Bosnia & Herzegovina

Then across Croatia, east towards Bosnia & Herzegovina. There aren’t too many border crossings, so we will need to ride a little up and down, but it is hopefully a great route through forest (gravel) and along the Una River in the Una National Park, once we get to Bosnia & Herzegovina. This crossing takes us outside the EU, so this is where we need to present the green insurance card for the first time.

We will swing by Martin Brod, which is a nice place with a close up view of the one of the many waterfalls of the Una River.

Mostar

Before we reach Mostar, we will be riding on the plans of Bosnia & Herzegovina, both paved and easy gravel. We will stop by the bridge over Neretva River, that was built and destroyed a couple of times in the making of the movie Battle of Neretva.

Old bridge of Mostar

In Mostar, we’ll try to get accommodation at Villa Anri, where we have been welcomed a couple of times before.

Montenegro

We will continue south towards one of the border crossings with Montenegro, where we will continue riding to the historic old town of Kotor.

Once we have checked that out, we we ride to higher altitude to visit the Mausoleum of Njegoš. It sits at approx 1600 m above sea level.

Albania

We will ride a bit of a detour north, to cross the border with Albania at the north side of Albanian route SH20. I rode this route with Peter Riber back in 2015. Back then it was gravel, but today it appear to be paved (Google Earth). It is a nice scenic route that is worth the detour.

If we have time and in the mood for it, there is a famous route, called Theth Valley Route (SH21). It is very scenic, but it is also medium technical gravel (for a GS) and it takes us pretty much back to where we started. I’m not sure how much is paved these days, but I will expect it to take a day.

Whichever we decide, we will visit Rozafa Castle before continue along the mountain routes towards the border crossing with North Macedonia at Debar.

North Macedonia

Into North Macedonia, we will ride into the Mavrovo National Park. As we head east towards Bulgaria, we will stop by something called the “Ilinden Memorial“, as it looks kinda cool. Maybe it isn’t, maybe it is.

Ivan’s Bulgaria

Once we get to Bulgaria, we are hoping to meet with Ivan, a Bulgarian GS rider who will show some of the good routes of Bulgaria. Included in the route, he has promised os to take us to a couple of monuments, including the almost mandatory must-see Buzludzha monument.

We hope to get to have a few good rides, laughs, and beers with Ivan (and maybe some of his friends/family).

After staying in Bulgaria for a couple of days, we’re pretty much as south as we are going to get. From here, it is northwards. First, in to Romania.

Romania, the beaten track

I’ve been to Romania on all my trips to Balkan. It is a nice country, friendly people, good roads, both paved and gravel. There’s culture, mountains, they have it all. No wonder thousands of riders have Romania as the destination.

Within motorcycle communities, Romania is particular known for Transfagarasan, and Transalpina. Both offer spectacular scenery. This time we will see if we can get to go to Peles Castle, and the Bears’ Cave. Depending on the mood of the group, we will ride Transfagarasan and/or Transalpina. There are quite a lot of cool routes to ride in Romania.

Transfagarasan

Hungary for some wine?

Hungary is quite flat, and mostly farmland. At least on the eastern side. As we travel north towards Slovakia, we do ride in to wine districts that could be interesting to explore. Nothing is set in stone. There are also some interesting caves and mountain areas in this part.

Cave in Hungary

Czech again

We cross the Slovakia quite fast, riding on the south side of the Tatra Mountains before we enter the Czech Republic again. We will check out the Helfstyn Castle before riding northwest along the border with Poland. We will be visiting the Biker’s Cave before entering Germania along the River Elbe next to Saxon Switzerland National Park.

From here’s it is back home on highway.

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