The end is near with this second last episode.
In this episode i leave Shkoder cross Montenegro and Bosnia to end up in Jezerce, a little village on the edge of Plitvice national park in Croatia.
From Shkoder to the border with Montenegro is just shy of 20 minutes. At the border i pulled up behind the cars because it’s just a few cars but i got waved by the border police to the walkway.
They made a ramp so cyclist and motorbikes can also pull up on that side of the window.
After finishing the paperwork for the car he was already working on it was my turn making this crossing again a quick one.
I’ve been here before with my ex on a fly and drive holiday and passed this border in both ways by car.
This time i take the same road along lake Skadar but use a shortcut to get up the mountain.
With the car we had to turn around a few time because it was too sketchy for my ex but also one time for me, or more for the car. I had a perfect record of returning rentals without damage and i was not planning on changing that.
This was the shortcut looking up to the destination and down on it.
Once up there it was a short ride to the lake.
On the map it looks like the road is on level with the lake but it was definitely not the case, i knew this from the first time i got here so this time there was no disappointment. Back then the idea was to check the swamp area down and by the time we got to that level it was too late to take some tour.
I really loved that road so now i could enjoy it even more.
This lake is 5500km² with about 62% here in Montenegro (rest in Albania) giving you an idea why it took so long to get down.
Along the way there are some ways that seem to go down but we were not sure and only at the far side we could get on an excursion.
On this road i came across the first other bikers since the 2 i saw in Albania and the first i spoke to since Motocamp Bulgaria.
Again someone who had to wait for the friends who fell behind, something you don’t have when riding alone. These guys where from France.
From the lake i went to the coast to Petrovac via Budva to the harbor town of Kotor.
In the initial plan i was going to stay the night there in the hidden old town but as you know after Odessa the plan went overboard and will not be resumed until Plitvice.
Kotor may not be a place to stay but i’m there in the perfect time for lunch.
After lunch i’m heading for the reason to go here, the Kotor serpentine road where you rise 423 meter over a stretch of 8,3km and 16 hairpin turns.
But to get there my GPS threw in a surprise.
I followed the route but i didn’t noticed that it didn’t followed the track which is the real planned route. Sometimes i go in a different direction if i spot something or i got some tips i want to check out and in that case the GPS recalculate the route and might take a different route between 2 points to get back on track just like in this case.
When i noticed it was too late to turn around as i was in a tunnel and the other way was a traffic jam which is not safe to pass in a tunnel so i went along with her choice.
After the tunnel i had to take a left turn and there it got interesting…
The shortcut in the beginning was about a 60% incline (30 degrees) but this was close to a 100% (45).
The bike was in fist gear and i had to let it bump into the gear real slow, otherwise the gear was not able to hold him in place.
I had to pee real bad and i couldn’t use the distraction here but it was also not the smartest move to stop here. When i continued i had a hard time keeping the front wheel on the ground and at that post you can see just in front was the next very tight hairpin turn.
That post is also where you can get a little idea of the incline and this part was very close to my and also Ragnarok’s limit. He had the power and torque but any steeper and i had to mount wheely bars.
I didn’t get to a point where i could make a picture of the serpentine so i hope this borrowed picture won’t get me in trouble but i just had to show why i wanted to go there with a bike.
Back then i went down and was stuck behind a bus for a big part, now i went up as it is nicer to ride when the bike pulls.
From here on i went north for my next destination, Durmitor national park.
Of course i took the small roads for the most and yet again it got me almost without fuel.
Big parts of road where missing, not closed but a new road was being constructed and they probably thought that when they had the machines there to dig out the base of the new road they also could take away the old road already.
No problem and also not unexpected as i experienced it on the first trip there and al over the Balkans.
What was unexpected was the distance between petrol stations but on the last trip we took more main roads.
The next trip i think i have to plan the fuel better because Norway is less populated and way bigger.
It was all very beautiful and remote. Until i got back to the more main road i drove about 2 hours and saw about 2 or 3 cars.
The first 3 are about halve way between Kotor and Niksic (also a good Montenegrin beer), the other 2 are the front and rear view of the hotel for that night.
There i had diner with a Finnish motorcycle traveller who spends several moths per year on the bike, he went on to a cheaper place after diner but when you spent that much time you have to save as much as you can.
Now it was time to find out if i made the right choice to take another road through the park then most people do.
I don’t plan too much but i do check Google maps and YouTube if it’s worth my time or that i gamble on the unknown and this time i gambled the unknown based on a few pictures over a Streetview covered road and part of many video’s.
The R-14 (or P14 in Google maps) is going left from the mountain you look at in the front view picture at the hotel which is south.
I went more north to Zabljak and then west/north-west meeting up with the P14 at Trsa and i think i made the right decision.
At Trsa you’re about to leave Durmitor national park towards lake Piva where you descent and then follow the lake north where it turns into a river and also the border between Montenegro and Bosnia.
After crossing the border over the Tara river i went south again following the Drina river through Sutjeska national park towards Gacko and on to Mostar.
According to pictures Mostar had to be a small old town and i was thinking to stay the night there but it was far form that.
It was a big metropolis and within minutes i had burning eyes from the smog, this is why you never should go on the brochure.
I passed it anyway and that’s why i didn’t check it out on forehand, it was not a destination so it was a bit of a bummer but not a disappointment.
It was still early enough to keep going, i didn’t book a hotel yet so stick to the plan of ride until i don’t feel like it or it gets too late.
I went to the Trebizat waterfall but it had an entrance fee and it was too late for something i had to pay for and have no time to spend some time.
It was all dry and desert like over there and there was also not much for overnighting. I saw i motel on Google maps but i was not sure about that until i passed it.
It turned out to be like an oasis so i turned around, another good choice.
Friendly staff, nice and cheap room plus good food. This was my view during breakfast.
Again i was close to the border, this time the border with Croatia which was another plus because at the motel i could switch to the Croatian network which is covered on my cellphone data plan giving me free internet without the need of wifi.
After breakfast i set sail to the Croatian coast to follow the famous coastal road until Sibenik and inland from there.
Even though i like the sea (water and mountains) i think this road is overrated. It was a nice easy ride with a nice view and i could cover some distance but only because it was after the holiday season. Maybe i should have take a right turn just after Brela and head to Serbia but i will cover that when i manage to get to South Africa, in that case it’s on my way. If not i still can go to Serbia for the TET.
I ended the day in Jezerca on the edge of Plitvice national park and that was one of the goals of the trip but that’s for the next and last episode of the Balkan blog.