Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Two more countries today

Woke to a beautiful morning in Dubrovnik (Croatia) – and no sign at all of the annoying youths of last night. What could be better?

Up and out quickly and down the road for the 2500km oil change on the bit of waste ground spotted last night. Did that OK but then managed to shear one of the exhaust nuts off so had to fix the whole exhaust mounting with a super large jubilee clip and a piece of wire. It held it in place, but the bike is now louder than a Harley.

Rode to Montenegro and encountered more roadworks en route which was great, as once again, they don't bother shutting the road, but you just carry on and take your chance with the rough and unmade surfaces as well as the working machinery. Can't imaging that happening in the UK but it was fun and a good bit of off roading, despite the fact that we hadn't actually left the road at all.

The mountain scenery is just spectacular, which is more than can be said for the driving which is bloody awful. They seem to have no idea at all – one bloke overtook us this afternoon on the wrong side of the road, on a bend and in a tunnel. Needless to say, he met a vehicle coming the other way and so cut in front of Nadine. You really have to have your wits about you at all times, and luckily, she did.

Crossed the border at about midday and immediately got pulled by the police and made to buy insurance.

 It only cost 10 Euros but that is for 2 weeks, which if you work it out, is quite expensive, but it was better and less time consuming than being arrested. They were actually quite nice to us, especially once the spotted my IPA badge and said “ ahhh, IPA” before taking 10 euros from each of us.

Crossed the Bay of Kotor on the ferry rather than drive right round the coast. That saved us a bit of time and was a nice change.

 Its only a small passenger ferry, but once again, when getting off, somebody tried to overtake me on the ramp. He lost.

Continued down the Adriatic coast road which at every turn, is another scene from a Bond movie. It almost looks CGI'd, with snow capped mountains, sun bleached rocks, clear blue sky and a few dark clouds over the mountain tops. It is actually quite distracting to drive because the scenery compels you to gawp at it.

Had a great ride up through the foothills towards the Albanian border. We were a bit worried it was too rural a road to be a permissible border crossing, something which got even worse when we reached more roadworks and ten miles of road in various stages of being made, complete with dogs, chickens, sheep and crapping cows all doing their thing as we approached. It really is very bizarre to ride in such conditions and dodging working diggers and cranes, but great fun.

Fortunately, we reached the border and were called to the front of the queue – via the pedestrian gate, which we were instructed to ride through. So we did.

 They took our passports but were more interested in our bikes, how fast they went and who made them than anything else. The Albanian police were even more interested and called us over for a chat which was just that – a chat, not an interrogation.

 Chief Albanian border bloke - note British Policeman badge on his lapel with which he was highly delighted.

Albania is noticeable more shabby and also more rural than Montenegro. You cross the border into farm land and a few scattered villages, plus loads and loads of Yamaha Town mate motorcycles which look very much like the original Honda C90s. The locals clearly noticed this too as they kept waving at us as we pottered past.

Holed up for the night in Skoder, a largish town about 10 miles over the Albanian border. The town is a bit wild and we decided that we would get the bikes off the street for the night rather than leave them anywhere accessible to passers by. So we chanced upon a posh hotel – 5 stars, secure garage, en suite room, nice restaurant, breakfast included. Set us back a mighty £70.00 for both of us – which turned out to be the best decision we've made all day as there is now a massive thunderstorm and lashing rain outside , which would not have been fun to camp in. Lots of crashing and banging and lightening going on, but for once, we're indoors, warm and dry. Luvverly.

We've also changed our route a bit too. We don't think we'll get to Bulgaria that soon because of the exhaust and because we still need to skirt around Kosovo and pay a massive insurance fee of 50 Euros each in Macedonia. So we're going to meet everybody in Istanbul instead.