5000 MILES +
The travels continue from Bologna to Florence the ride goes on. Italy what can you say that has not already been said, the scenery, the buildings the history add to that lunatic drivers, scooters that overtake and undertake you at the same time and so many speed camera and speed traps, never mind that the state of Italys roads; best be described as poor.
30KMH/50KMH limits all over the place and 2 types of locals those that stick rigidly to the limits and those that roundly ignore them.
We are glad that we went but a little disappointed with the costs and that the country seems to be in decline we may be wrong. There were lots of run down buildings, half finished projects and lots of rubbish about.
Italy when its good its fantastic when it's bad, well its just not very nice, there was also a large amount of working girls at the side of the road, never a good sign.
We took an overnight ferry from Ancona in Italy to Split in Croatia. This was booked all on line and was fairly easy to do.
A long traffic filled ride down to the coast was completed and in typical Italian fashion the ticket collection point was some distance from where you embarked on the ferry, the ques for passport control was on a roundabout which was fun, but some happy (!!!) Italian chap shouted at us to take our bikes near the front of the queue lucky that we could fit through the bollards.
The ferry was unremarkable apart from the couple that put their blow up bed on the dance floor and proceed to fit sheets and a quilt for the full sleeping experience!
Most people just laid down to sleep where ever they could and this all seemed normal to save 50 euros for a cabin, top tip bring your own air bed, water and food it's expected.
Steph needs to sleep on ferries, so we may get a cabin next time, I just laid out on the floor and pulled my bike jacket over myself.
We didn't stay long in Split as we had a longish ride down to our camp site near Dubrovnik, we did not expect a border crossing on the way down, but it was really quick.
The coast line of Croatia is stunning and the road hugs the coast, however as you get closer to Dubrovnik you can see the influx of tourist money, a necessary evil, but for us it takes away some of the charm.
Going over the bridge into Dubrovnik and see the huge cruise ships berthed up was a sight as was the look down into the old town.
We arrived at Camp Kate several hours after Google said we should arrive, we put up the tent went for a Meal and went to sleep.We also met a wonderful Canadian couple Mike and Jackie who are doing Europe in chunks in a large RV which they tow a large car behind. They invited us for drinks in the RV and we exchanged stories and tips until the small hours, 2 totally different ways of traveling but with a common goal.
Always check exchange rates so when you go to a cashpoint and don't pick a random amount you should really know what your getting.
We rode into Bosnia as we wanted to visit the bridge at Mostar, Satnav as it tends to do took us a little known back route to another border crossing, me being a bit green thought it was on one stop, wrong, I got shouted at and my docs got throughly checked by the Bosnian border guards, they found it funny in the end.
Mostar is a big tourist spot and we got to see someone jump from the famous bridge, but when you look a little closer the scars from the recent war are still very present. We went to a museum that is run and supports survivors and it was a stark reminder of the horrors of war and why as humans we should all really learn to get along and not give into greed.
From Croatia and Bosnia onto the biggest surprise so far Montenegro. The boarder Guard was so happy when we presented all our papers including green cards and another stamp in the passport we were through inside 15 mins, however thinking that we knew better than our satnav, we went on a magical tour of Montenegro, from seaside resorts, to Norwegian type fjords and high mountains.
It is the first time we have ridden through snow drifts and road building sites, we did about 20 miles in total avoiding diggers,trucks, rock breakers and other assorted heavy machinery. The road was open and it was up to you to avoid the road workers, it kept us alert.
We also rode a wonderful gorge type road upto our hotel which had suffered landslides, rock falls and went from 2 lane to 1 with no warning, they had also stripped the tarmac on some corners which made for interesting passage, this was a ride that would stick in our minds and we will be returning.
Watch out for hire cars and big Mercedes cars they seem to think they own the road and blind overtakes are always on for them ( we did see the aftermath of when this goes wrong but that was in Croatia)
Our hotel for the night was a 27 euro booking.com pick with a 9.2 rating, we were not expecting very much.
How wrong we were it was fantastic with cheap very good food beer and wine.
We had ridden from 27 degree temps to 3 degrees.
The Hotel Sedar was a place we would recommend plus the owner is a biker with a Harley parked outside.
The ride out of the mountains was superb, down a never ending gorge road, dodging HGV'S and camper vans, it never seemed to end and the temps hit 26 degrees as we reached the bottom.
It looks like they are building a motorway to bypass this road, I hope its finished soon as this road will become a bikers paradise and better for it, the views are breathtaking, the road twists and turns with every type of corner, even the bike cops waved at us, not to stop us just being friendly and boy can they ride.
One final boarder crossing only 35 mins to get through
Green cards really do save time, depending on what the UK does you might need them all over the EU and Europe soon, but border crossing are nothing to worry about, accept your not in control, they work at their own pace and you cannot rush them.
We arrived in Albania and the contrast between the haves and have nots is stark, we saw donkeys and carts, people working on the land by hand and ploughing with a horse, we saw goats being skinned at the side of the road, but we also saw modern buildings, new supermarkets and lots of very fast BMW and Mercedes cars, lots of people have mobile phones and most flashy cars are being driven by someone using a mobile as are trucks, bus and horse and carts. It is quite odd to see a shack with a huge satellite dish attached, it really is a country of contrasts.
We stopped at a fantastic campsite, Lake Shkodar Resort, which is very clean modern, with fantastic showers and toilet block, just what us stinky bikers needed.
It also has a wonderful position by the lake, but the access road is 1.5 km of dirt track.
They have a bar which serves good food, beer and wine and it is the cheapest of the trip so far.
Now do we press onto Greece, our TK70 tyres are showing some signs of wear but they have been superb in all conditions or do we turn around and start heading north again?? that's a choice for another day, I think we will have another wine and enjoy the sun today.
All the best hope to see you on the road some time.