S2 Ep7 Montenegro

My first view of Montenegro was border control.

Well border control was slow. Over an hour to get through and the first time I’ve been asked for documents. Passport and bike docs.

One of my first stops was for a haircut.
In Montenegro they have scenic routes marked and this was route 3.

I thought I’d film the zig zag road. Took the GoPro session off the chin mount and put it on the top mount. Bleep battery dead. Swapped it for GoPro no2 bleep memory full. OK I’ll get to the top and fly the drone.

At the top unpacked everything, hooked up the phone, switched on the drone. It needed calibrating, did that and it refused to fly as it is too close to an airfield.

You know I love an airport right
Stunning
I don’t know, but I like it

It was all roads and I ended up in Podgorica, the Capitol. I had a fantastic carbonara in town before heading to my super cheap apartment. It was cheap and cheerful.

It looks OK but it was in a dodgy looking area
Inside was a bit tired

Next morning I would be headed to Albania.

S2 Ep6 Stop the clock!

As this would be my first day in a non schengen visa country I could stop counting days. As Brits we can now only spend 90 days in every 180 in schengen registered countries. So at 50 days the counting was put on hold.

I headed for Zagreb to try and locate a new front tyre. Long story short 10 shops 70 miles no tyre.

Riding towards the coast I took shelter from a massive downpour

It was 4pm and the skies were black. Next to the petrol station was a motel. I was in and cozy for the night as heavy storms rattled on.

In more grey skies the next day I headed further towards Rijeka. Soon I was staring at the Med.

I had plans to visit two lesser known tourist attractions

On the coast to the North of Rijeka is the first ever torpedo factory and testing facility. Empty for decades its slowly being reclaimed by the sea.
This is the Communist built Palace Hotel. Again now abandoned it was fascinating to see and wonder what deals were brockered in those little booths on the dance floor.
Lunch in a cute harbour but storm clouds were forming
29km later I found a great apartment and there was a supermarket just down the road. I ate way too much that night.
Decission time. The weather said stay on the coast but the TET is in those mountains and I wanted some off road.
As I went up the clouds moved away.
I cant explain how steep this rocky path was. I almost turned round. Riding alone is no time for heroics.
I walked up the climbs to assess them first. I was shattered. If it rained I was scuppered
A gentle reminder not to wander off the track
Some bits were awesome, fast gravel tracks weaving through stunning scenery
Towards the end of the day a hill top monument to those young men who gave their lives just 27 years ago.
Im in a race against the seasons and Im not winning
Time to head back to the coast and find somewhere
At a cost of £24 I got a 3 bed apartment with a covered entrance for the bike.
The covered entrance was needed. The weather was bad and there was no way my bike, my mis-matched tyres and my ability were going to be able to continue in the mountains
So I followed the coast road south, dodging rain storms. This is Zadar an old city and fort
It was beautiful but as so many places it was full of boutique shops.

Back on the road and still rain dodging i was pleased with my efforts until I felt a few drips. I always go straight for full wet gear but there was nowhere to stop and in the few minuyes it took to find a place, the rain was hammering down. I was drentched. It carried on for quite some time. I decided to get a room.

This little place was perfect. It literally had steps down into the sea.
Next morning it was as if nothing had happened
I was headed for Dubrovnic. This is a spectacular bridge. I stopped to admire it and met a Brit on a BMW who had riden down just to see it.
Dubrovnic campsite was rocky.

I had heard from a work colleague, Mark and his wife Julie, that they were in Dubrovnic. We met up and I drank beer. (Not done that in a while).

These two were great company for two nights. It was great to see Mark and meet Julie
A patrol boat from the serbia Croatia war
Looking like something from the A team. This armoured vehicle was manufactured in Dubrovnic to protect Dubrovnic
The old town is captivating. I walked around the castle and streets for hours.
Used in Game of Thrones they were filming again during my visit
Viewed from the top of the cable car

The weather had been awkward for off road riding but when it cleared up Croatia delivered in so many ways. I was fairly sure Montenegro would struggle to match it, but its the next country just a few short kilometers away.

S2 Ep5 Austria.

I was in a fowl mood. My tent was wet, even on the inside and it was going to be another wet packing up. I used the water I got last night to clean my teeth as I wasn’t sure the water in the taps was safe. I opened the bottle to the fizz of gassy water again. I swear that’s the 8th or 9th bottle in a row I’ve done that with and I hate fizzy water. The sun was out but a heavy mist was stopping it breaking through and it made the campsite look even more grim.

I set off and within 30 minutes I was in Austria, the sun was out and I was singing songs from The Sound of Music.

It would be a day of making miles and I did, passing through Austria, Slovenia and into Croatia. I was headed to Zagreb but with 400km showing for the day I headed to a campsite. It was tiny with no services as it had only been open a short while. However it was loads better than last nights.

Sorry no good pics

S2 Ep4 Brno

I did the non motorway thing again and enjoyed some flowing smooth country roads. I stopped at Kutna Hora a very small village that homes the Sedlec Ossuary. So throughout the ages the residents of Kutna Hora had some bad times 30,000 died of famine in the 12th century, then another 30,000 from the plague in the 1350’s and during the husite wars another 10,000. The 3 acre cemetary was filling up and so they started to exume the bodies and store the bones around the grounds. The upshot was that a crypt was made to store the bones and an artist employed to make it attractive. There’s no photography allowed so my pics are from Google

70,000 skulls and other bones make up the displays within
A bit weird and freaky

After about 20 minutes I moved on. Arriving mid afternoon at the Brno race track. There were some teams practicing and the whole track echoed to the sound of screaming bikes and quick shifters.

I still needed tyres if I was going to ride more off road trails. I had contacted a bike tyre shop but they never got back to me so I called in. They could fit a pair of 50/50 tyres at 2pm the following day. I agreed but that would be a wasted day. I then found a small business who had a rear tyre but no front. I took it

Looks like a tractor tyre

What followed was a frustrating ride to 2 campsites that didn’t exist and then finding one that promised to be great. Having paid and entered, reality hit. Its a big site with 8 restaurants and play areas, pubs, beaches and even a nudist beach. Nothing was open apart from the toilet blocks and they were grim, there werent even any nudists! The ground was wet and my tent also still wet from the last use.

I went out to find food and ended up eating in a petrol station. I wasn’t having fun. . . .Tomorrow is a new day.

S2 Ep3 Prague

Crossing into the Czech Republic made this my 11th country, although some were visited twice and without question my 2nd new to me country. I stopped just after the border for a coffee only to find they spend Czech Koruna not Euros as I thought.

I tried the town centre campsite but it wasn’t great. I then found 1 Republic Hotel in the city centre. The price for 2 nights was great and they had secure parking. On arrival the guy at the desk wS so helpful, explaining they have one garage entrance but use a hydraulic stacking system for cars only, however he called the hotel over the road and arranged parking in their car park.

There was a music and food festival which was handy
I knew I wanted to get around a bit so I downloaded the Lime app and gave it a go
1st stop an air vent that has been painted
A famous author who mental turmoil is represented by this art work.every hour the layers rotate in opposite directions
Museum of weird art.
In the old town ‘Tyn’ there is an anatomical clock. I think its an hour out though
Tyn square
Walking up the gorgeous town hall to the viewing gallery

The Lime scooters was fantastic. Hop on, hop off, leave it in a safe place then when you are ready pick up a new one. I took one about 2 miles to the old soviet TV tower.

Its a funky building and yes those are babies climbing up the outside!
The 10 babies were added when Prague was given the title of European City of Culture. After the year was up the locals demanded the babies stay.
Weirdly the babies have bar codes instead of faces
The building has inspired many sci-fi writers including being used on the cover of a Star Wars novel.

S2 2 Off to prison.

I left Querehorst refreshed and dry. Headed for Prague. The rain clouds were about but my route remained dry and got warmer as the day went on.

There were a lot of roads like this with 80kmh limits. They have long sweeping bends and the bike was more than happy to tramp along at 100kmh (ish)
I wasn’t going to make Prague in a day so took a slight diversion pitching my tent in the village of Colditz
OOPS! My docs bag has a hole and everything was still wet from yesterday
Colditz Castle better known as Colditz POW Prison during WW2.
It housed mostly English and American prisoners who were known for their escape attempts.
The village is very pretty

Season 2. (1)

Ok Sweden and Norway are done. I’m not sure I have a plan now but the next three days can be compressed into this.

I rode to Kristiansand and boarded a ferry to Denmark.

The ride to Kristiansand was basic on a main road with all of Norways charm as expected. I did narrowly avoid a speeding ticket.

The ferry took me to Denmark and a cabin hotel in Aalborg. I needed to be in Hamburg in 36hrs to get the bike serviced at a Honda dealer.

Photo courtesy of FeralMoto #TOTU

I made it to Hamburg but the campsite looked awful so I searched for a hotel. They were all booked for a convention and those with a room wanted €315 a night. I found another campsite outside of town and bonus only 10 minutes from the Honda dealer.

The next morning I dropped the bike off and had a coffee with the mechanic as we chatted bikes.

Then public transport back to the camp to make the most of the clothes washing and drying facilities.

The bike was done and they even had a set of fork seals set aside. They couldn’t fit them but it will make getting them done easier at a later date.

I did manage to get to one tourist place.

Miniature world is on 4 floors of a warehouse. Every floor is full of miniature cities
They even have the ice church from Tromsø

It was now gone 6pm and suddenly I felt unwell. Cometely drained and light headed. That will be the result of a busy day on one cup of coffee then. To the restaurant and I drank a coke to fire me up whilst I ordered a veggie chilli.

Finally a walk along the harbour and back for a sleep.
A floating dry dock

Leaving Hamburg the next morning I routed for Prague avoiding motorways. That resulted in an hour journey through Hamburg in heavy traffic. 20 minutes in the rain started. I put on full waterproofs. Minutes later it was torrential rain. After my hour in city traffic I ditched non motorway in favour of miles to outrun the rain. 7hrs, 350km later the rain stopped. I was soaked through. No way was I camping as I’d never get stuff dry. Booking.com had a place for £25 just 3.1 miles away in Querenhorst. Click, non refundable, directions 31 miles back into the rain!!

However it was so very worth it. A house to myself with everything including washer/dryer, huge bath and a stocked bar.

20 Stavanger

I wanted to explore places I knew from my two years in Stavanger….

This hangar is where I used to work. It’s a museum now
Peeking in I can see its pretty much unchanged

I spent quite some time looking for Ølberg beach and the once thriving camp site we lived on….

I found it, pretty much as I remember but long since abandoned
I lived in this room. The place is abandoned now but that’s exactly how I left it
I was moved to this detached hut but as winter set in we wanted better

After 6 months on the edge of the North Sea two of us rented a basement flat. I spent a long time trying to find it but managed.

This was the better we got

After that I took another flat but I couldn’t find that one. I did however find the sword monument that commemorates the Battle of Hafrsfjord which took place there in the year 872.

Stavanger Town by the harbour is very colurful
In the Sola Fligmuseum I found a little write up on the HS412SP of 1986. Pretty sure that’s me in the black slip on shoes and white socks

I didnt spend long in the museum, I’ve done a lot of aircraft stuff this year. So I jumped on the bike with a few bits packed in a rucksack and headed to Preikestolen Rock. It’s a 4km hike as opposed to the 10km we used to do.

When I first visited Preikestolen we had to climb all these rocks
In 2013 Sherpas from Nepal came over and made a path
600m down to that boat
I haven’t changed a bit

It had taken less than two hours to get to the rock and after 15 minutes I was ready to leave. I walk quite fast and was overtaking lots of people on the way down, being careful with footing. I did look up a few times and on one of those occasions I saw a guy just in front of the two I was behind. At first glance it looked like Jess but it couldn’t be as he was a few days behind me. Then he turned around, it bloody was Jess. We laughed and chatted as we carried on down the hill.

I had just one last thing to do and that was eat at a Dolly Dimples Pizza restaurant. Another thing I’d done 35yrs ago when the first one opened in Sandness. Crazy but they are still going strong. I invited Jess as another final farewell. He’s a thoroughly good chap and I hope he has the best trip on the rest of his adventure.

The final farewell until next time Jess…

19 Lysefjord to Stavanger

Stavanger was my goal for the day but first the 32km road to Lysebøtn. It winds its way through the rugged scenery to the very edge of the fjord where it drops down the steep side to the end of the water in the heart of the valley.

Stopping at the top for a coffee and to admire the astonishing scenery. I started chatting with a Brit who was headed north on his BMW GS. Kevin Scott is a retired geologist and was fascinated by the fjords and their make up of the metamorphic igneous rock shaped by the last ice age (he told me that).

We agreed to ride to the bottom together. It was a blur of hairpin bends and a tunnel with a ‘U’ turn over 180°.

Obviously my bike is better!!
Beautiful and even more so when a seal pops its head up for a look round
Seal saw me and decided to leave

We spoke to some Danish guys who had a few days of riding available and all agreed this was the only place to head.

Kevin had booked a cheap hotel in Forus just outside Stavanger so I booked a room there and we rode together

On the way we diverted to Mannfossen. It was a 400m vertical hike but we’ll worth it.
After booking in to the hotel we shared a taxi to Stavanger where we had a really good steakhouse dinner
35yrs ago this was my local on 3 levels. I rarely drank in this bit but it remains exactly the same

The Cardinal Pub is on 3 levels. The Cardinal is a London look pub. One floor down is a music pub called Underground and on the top floor is Hexagon the night club. Although not open at the time I’ve seen pictures and they too remain unchanged.

I told the young barmaid it was my local 35yrs ago. She said she wasn’t born then. I raised my eyebrows and turned to the manager who shook his head “Nope, me either”. Wanting the ground to swallow me whole I reached for my last ditch effort. “Is Hexagon open tonight?” She replied “Yes, later but its really for 21yr olds, older people go to the harbour”. I looked at Kevin in despair.

18 Bergen to Lysefjord

I was on the road early with a route mapped by Jon. I stopped for a coffee and met this guy Torbjørn. We had a chat before going our seperate ways.

Torbjørn on his KTM690

However 30 minutes later we met up again and I followed him quite a long way as he popped wheelies as the 690 loves to do. It was about 20 minutes later I realised I had followed him way off my route, I was just enjoying the ride and sounds of the bikes in tunnels.

Clean-ish and going really well.
The route Jon gave me went all the way round Hardangerfjord but after losing an hour following Torbjørn I opted for the ferry
Bucket list, walk on a Glacier.

OK let’s get this straight, it’s still on my bucket list to walk on a glacier as having riden up there, they won’t let you walk on it as its full of crevasses that are up to 30m deep. There is a walk you can do but it’s guided and they had left. So I stood on a bit of snow

The ride up and back wasn’t too shabby either
Once again the big bike looks tiny
Keeping it real with lunch in the supermarket car park
I know, I know another waterfall but they mesmerise you
The sun was setting and blinding me so I pitched the tent for the night

Stopped at a little campsite in Sirdalsveien.

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