Mega Balkan trip 2021, episode 5

Happy new year for everybody and may your dreams come trough.
Don’t do new year resolutions but change things you don’t like about your life or yourself when you discover it and not because it’s a new year.
Only reason to postpone things you want to do is because it cost more money than you have but don’t let those thing become a dream but make it a goal.
This episode almost was later than i wanted because yesterday it was to good to not take Sporherre for a ride, what a start of the new year that was.
But now back to the Balkan…

Motocamp Bulgaria was a great place even though there where not many guests.
It was already late in the season corona still was (and is) amongst us leaving them with limitations.
An American BMW GS was parked there, the owner shipped it there to have an European road trip but went home almost right away because he was afraid he got stuck here.
Some people from the UK moved to the little town, also motorcycle travellers who are now living there.
A Dutch elderly couple on a Honda Goldwing arrived a bit later which whom i had a nice conversation that evening and an i believe Irish guy who gave me some tips based on my direction where i could go to check out.
The eyes of God caves where the best option, not to much out of my way and the other i will visit on my way to South Africa.

When you watch the video you will be surprised about the location.
I knew about this cave but not where it was located and because i was not expecting it this close to my route i would have missed it just like i would have missed the rock formation in the last episode.
These are two great examples why you should not plan to much and leave room to adjust, not only in your time-frame but also in your mindset.

From there i rode to Kjoestendil, about 20km from the Macedonian border where i found a cheap hotel.
The hotel was not bad but the manager was a bitch and the breakfast terrible. It was the only person on my trip who was not friendly.
Wait… that’s not true. When i went for diner i stopped at a restaurant where i left because i was ignored like i was not there. Probably they didn’t need the money and could live from the locals alone so i left.
It was still early so i strolled through town ending up at a restaurant with great food and friendly staff. It was completely booked for a bit later but i still could sit down and i never had the feeling that they want me out in time for the guests who had reservations.
After desert and another beer i decided to try to find the hotel. I had a global idea where i was but wanted to take a more direct route back where i had no references from passing by on my stroll through town.
Luckily my inner compass still worked after using the GPS for a long time.

The plan for the next day is to get at least to Kosovo. At Motocamp Bulgaria the owner told me there where restrictions for coming into Bulgaria from Macedonia, even when fully vaccinated you had to have a PCR test so to avoid problems getting out of Macedonia i had a 5 hour window to get from Bulgaria to Kosovo.
It was just under 3 hours, no problem and i got into Kosovo without questions at all.

At the border i had to arrange some insurance for the bike because Kosovo is not in the EU and also not a Schengen country and therefore not covered on my green card (EU insurance coverage list).
It was not difficult because the first building after the border control said “insurance” and in just a few minutes i went out with a free insurance. For some reason i could not pay but i had the proper papers and i was good to go.
On my way i’ll have to look out for an ATM to get some Euro’s because i spent my last 20 bill at the Transnistrian border.
Kosovo is also not completely recognised, only by 97 from the 193 members of the United Nations but still enough to get them on the map unlike Transnistria who is only recognised by 3 also non recognised country’s.
Kosovo is an unofficial user of the Euro just like Montenegro and Zimbabwe, they cannot print their own version but have to buy them At the ECB (European Central Bank).

Even though the war ended in 1999 many people still think of that war when they hear the name Kosovo and that is quite sad because it’s a beautiful country.

It still was to early to stop when i was about to leave the country so i kept going and entered Albania.
This was a bigger border with lots of cars but i knew in these country’s it was normal to pass the line when you’re on a motorcycle so i squeezed through the lines. Even though it’s normal there are always a few people who don’t like it but you just have to ignore them.
Just like Ukraine for this reason it took less than halve an hour to cross instead of 2 to 3 hours making me decide to keep going, but first a coffee just passed the border.
The first 10 to 15km was highway because this was the only border within 70km or a lot more highway to get there and way out of my direction too.
Another 10 to 15km later the fun really started. A long twisty road ahead of me with pretty good asphalt, only a big bitumen filled crack in lots of places i had to avoid.

This is the SH5 and when you want to ride it don’t forget to fill your tank in Kukes when your entering from Kosovo or Vau i Dejes when you come from Montenegro.
I’m used to mountain roads where you have at least every 20 to 30 km a petrol station but this went on and on for about 75km and thinking a will come by one soon enough i was not riding very economical.
Still, or better said again out of the free use of internet data on my phone i also could not check for petrol or a hotel.
Now i refresh my memory not mixing up things for the story there where hotels along that road but not within sight so it seemed like there was nothing but i had way too much fun to stop anyway.
At some point i decided to continue to Shkoder and when i got close i stopped to check for a place to stay and ended up in a hotel just on the other side of the roundabout where i had something to drink when i went to Shkoder with my ex in 2019.
It was not in Shkoder itself but just outside along the Buna River with a few on the fortress.

This is close to the border with Montenegro but that’s for the next episode, i think there will be 2 more episodes and then i will focus on the preparations for the ScanBaltic trip and i want to do 1 or 2 weekend trips with Sporherre before the big trip.

4 Replies to “Mega Balkan trip 2021, episode 5”

    1. Thanks.
      I think a lot of people don’t expect it but remember Macedonia and Kosovo where parts of Yugoslavia before it fell apart just as all the country’s until i enter Italy in the next episodes.
      That was an upcoming holiday destination because it was cheap and beautiful until the war came.
      Then the new names came and everybody knows it because of the war and forgotten about the beauty.

  1. Weer een prachtige film en mooie foto’s Ray. De films worden steeds leuker om te kijken ;-).
    Bedankt 👍

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