South for North ( 1000 miles in the wrong direction)
In true Talkingmonkeys tradition we decided to head south to go North, this is not as counter intuitive as you would think.
After Hungary we headed to Slovakia and a really nice quality apartment, in a quiet village, it rained of course it did.
Still we did manage to get some washing done, when traveling there is nothing nicer and more welcome than clean fresh clothes.
From the apartment we moved onto an eco campsite run by a Dutch couple on the Slovakia border, this really was rustic camping in beautiful countryside, wooden outside toilets and showers.
The village we stayed at had about 300 inhabitants and when we attended the local skittle/bar for a beer we were looked at as if we had arrived from mars.
No-one spoke English ( which is no bad thing) but we managed to get beer at the vast price of 1 euro a beer and we saw our first drunk ( this is a common sight in the UK) not so much in Europe.
Slovakia really was a green clean country, very modern apart from one shanty town with people living in poverty amongst the rubbish in an enclosed community, still even though we must have looked like a king and queen on our BMW’S everyone waved and laughed at us.
We moved onto Romania and a horse riding stables with camping, the people could not have been more helpful and when the weather turned from hot and sunny to bouncing down with rain, they let us dry our tent in their eating area,
they offered to let us to put the bikes inside as well, they also had a massive sound system that sounded incredible with AC/DC blasting out of it.
We then moved onto Moto camp Romania run by Doru Dobrota
There we met the Salla the solo woman travel/ explorer from Finland on her Harley, it was because of her social media posts that we ended up in Romanian at the Moto camp.
Parts of Romania are ultra modern and some are not. Our Garmin took us on a magic mystery tour of Romanian back roads, which is really nice for a few hours but after 8 hours it is no longer fun.
The roads went from full on smooth tarmac, to pot holes to no tarmac.
The driving ranged from horse and cart to super fast BMWS and everything in between.
We travelled through villages that have not changed for years with cows ,sheep, goats and pigs loose by the side of the road, we even saw a man taking his pet pig for a walk.
What got us the most was the vast and clear difference between the haves and have-nots and Romania is the first country we have visited where they have warning signs for horse and carts.
Animals have a life use and once that is over expect to see them thrown in bins or by the side of the road, that’s just the way it is.
The people could not have been any more helpful and the food and accommodation was cheap, we even got talked into Romanias first HUBB meeting, this means we will be back after the Nordkapp and hopefully we will get to ride some of the famous roads which were still closed when we turned up.
We left Sibiu and rode for Bachet on the border of Romania and Bulgaria, we knew nothing about Bulgaria other than how to get the ferry across.
Bachet at one point would have been an important place because of the ferry crossing, but to us it appeared in a slow decline because of the recently opened bridge between the 2 countries.
However our hotel was cheap and served good food, but do not ever believe Google, which told us the ferries ran every 2 hours ( wrong) and that there were a couple of cashpoints close to where we were staying, this was wrong again as both were closed.
Still the ferry across was fun and quick and customs was cleared in record time.
We rode into Bulgaria which we later found is the land of the giant communist monument
We went to the wonderful Moto camp Bulgaria, this is a must do for any travellers, the people were warm and welcoming and gave us some great places to visit and roads to ride.
We met Sella again and a dutch couple overloading by bike to Thailand shortly after their wedding, hope to met then again one day, Hi Klass and Danielle, along with Josh who was riding on his own to Turkey before riding onto China with several others.
We exchanged tips and tricks and I even managed to get my spot lights fixed after 2 months when they had been held on by cable ties.
We stayed 3 days and had a wonderful time with the motosappions.
We rode onto Velingrad a famous spar town, where we stayed in another cheap hotel, still we had a good meal a hot shower and a decent nights sleep.
After a late night planning session we decided to come to Greece as we felt that we had missed out when in Albania.
We got an invite to couch surf by the wonderful Caroline @crazeeburdonwheels and we spent 2 great nights with Caroline as her guests, we exchanged stories tips and tricks as well as sat nav apps, route information and kit for the bikes.
We met Carolines blind cat, which lives a full happy life and just shows what can be overcome.
Caroline was a wonderful warm host and we look forward to seeing her again.
We then moved on into the mountains and stayed lakeside in Ioannina for a few days.
We will move to the sea side soon near Partras before catching a ferry back to Venice Italy and start going North towards the Nordkapp.
This really has been South to North.
Neil and Steph