25 April — Croatia – Montenegro – Albania, 245 miles
Still racing to get out of Europe… and another fairly long day. “Only” 245 miles (plus the extras when I went a little off-route into central Tirana) – but two border crossings, and a ferry.
~24 miles of “just get there” roads to Croatia-Montenegro border – where I got the first actual passport stamp ~75 miles to ride across Montenegro, plus a wee ferry ride. Some stunning coastal views, and not-so-stunning inner-countryside Entered Albania – where the locals seemed confused we were lining up with the other vehicles… “just ride down the pedestrain aisle” – seemed to be what the sign language was saying – so yeah, sure ~145 miles of riding amongst Albanian drivers. All I can say is… good practice for when we get to Asia, I guess… a nice little sneak peek for those who have never seen Chinese driving.
My introduction to Albania was coming around the very first bend, and seeing a reasonably (dangerously) sizable rock in the middle of my lane. So, I veer slightly to one side. Then see the rock is still right in my path. Realise it’s a turtle (or tortoise) – crossing the road, and veer slightly more to avoid. A very nice twisty pass over a range for the last part of the ride, before we settled into our hotel in Pogradec, on the coast of Lake Ohrid – another World Heritage Site ticked off, I believe.
24 April — Croatia – Bosnia&Herzegovina – Croatia, 147 miles
A shorter day – with a wee sleep-in, on the bike by 8:30, for some more coastal roads, a pass-through Bosnia & Herzegovina (which bisects Croatia) – before returning to Croatia, to spend the evening in the rather impressive Dubrovnik. The old town of Dubrovnik is rather spectacular… I believe it is also known as King’s Landing – for those who watch TV. NB: Of all the border crossings I’ve done thus far – not once have I been asked to take off my (full face) helmet… but today the Croatian border guard – refused to even look at my passport – just opened the barrier as I rode up to the window.
~106 miles of Croatian coast road ~6 miles of crossing over the section of Bosnia&Herzegovina which reaches out to the coast And then another ~35 miles of Croatian coast
Sleeping slightly better, finally realising I’m in this, whatever concerns I may have. First day of adverse weather – rain in the morning, scary winds in the evening.
~85 miles of boring Slovenian motorways, in the rain… took me a while to gather up some speed. ~25 miles of boring Croatian motorways ~112 miles of awesome coastal roads ~44 miles of Croatian motorway in terrifying winds Before the decision to leave the motorway, and do the final ~44 miles on some more coast, but mostly stuck behind traffic, and too tired to enjoy
Arrived in Trogir fairly late, which was a shame – as it seems an awesome inner city to walk around (lost… perpetually lost, in one of those old, old cities within the old walls with alleyways and semi-alleyways that just baffle one’s directional sense). Another UNESCO site off the list, but, albeit without full appreciation.
22 April — Germany, straight across Austria – Slovenia, 328 miles
A little more sleep last night – 4 hours before I woke up thinking over-and-over about stuff, mostly just useless stuff.
~175 miles of boring German motorway (Autobahn, but never really going over a standard 80mph) ~124 miles of Austrian motorway – some boring, but some spectacular views leading up into the Alps (when not in the tunnels) – it’s illegal to record video while riding in Austria, so couldn’t get a video… luckily one of my memory cards had some preloaded stock footage of a Triumph Tiger riding up towards the Alps… so will get that cleaned up and made available sometime ~22 miles of Slovenian motorway – about half of that underground And a final 7 or 8 miles of Slovenian country roads, including some off-road/farm-tracks – Did get some video of that, will need to check it, clean it up, etc
Second day – after almost zero sleep. Despite (/because of?) how exhausted I was yesterday – simply couldn’t sleep. [Edited to remove (a bit of) the self-pity]… but, plenty of self-doubt clouding the mind over the night, but mostly nonsense… and I’ve since figured out a few other guys have had the same. One day at a time from here on in… and hopefully some decent nights’ sleeps.
Today’s riding – very long ~220 miles on boring French motorways ~40 miles of very, very nice twisty roads through the Black Forest And then ~87 miles of reasonable German roads to get to the hotel
Still not really any photos or the such… I did take some video of riding through the Black Forest… but will need to have a look at how that turned out.
So – first day done. Breakfast at the Ace Cafe, Photos, speeches, some dignitaries along to get their own photo ops’, Then finally started riding.
~108 miles on boring English motorways, The EuroTunnel/Chunnel, ~82 miles of boring French motorways, And finally ~103 miles on some quite nice French non-motorway roads.
Group dinner in Reims, I am bloody exhausted… and rather looking forward to trying to get some decent sleep. As such – not much more info for now, I’ll try to upload some photos/videos when I manage to collate them from other people… didn’t really take any photos myself.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs (only a couple of songs, as I’d double-booked, and then had to hurry onwards to the next item on the list…)
The Rolling Stones
Father John Misty
The Black Lips
Death Cab for Cutie
The Naked and Famous
The Gaslight Anthem
I also had tickets for a couple more, but missed them… Nine Inch Nails – more than a little gutted I forgot about this until it was too late Marlon Williams – simply couldn’t be arsed that night
Nick Cave was as good as ever… and had Kylie Minogue out for Where the Wild Roses Grow… the reaction of the british when that happened… absolutely mental. Never seen so many hipsters and the such absolutely lose their shit for a pop singer. The Stones – I was a little underwhelmed… but never really been a big fan.
Nepal – up the Mustang Valley on a Royal Enfield Classic 500
Can’t be bothered making notes on each, but highlights were certainly Nick Cave – turning a song like “Higgs Boson Blues” into a Stadium-Anthem absolutely filling the O2 Arena… pure class. And obviously, seeing Tom Petty before his passing.
Lowlights – Libertines, never really got the hype – seeing them live didn’t change my mind. FLC before them was fun but. And Stone Roses – glad I got to see them, but Ian Brown sounded like a drunk pub karaoke singer.