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Thread: Round 2: Another European Sortie

  1. #65
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    OK I'm back.. normal service to be resumed..


  2. #66
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    Hvar

    Well, the last five days of the trip have been truly kicking back and taking things easy, not that poncing around the continent on a motorbike ever constituted any particular great effort, but this was still managing to turn it down another notch. We rented an apartment in a place called Milna, as mentioned a short run outside of Hvar town. What a terrific choice this turned out, a tiny little town with an uncrowded beautiful beach lined by pleasant terrace restaurants that served a mean 4 course menu for 85 Kuna (about a tenner to you chief) and the all important omnipresent beer of choice on the Island, Karlovaco. For the camping minded within this parish also there's a very well placed tiered campsite looking out over the bay; if I was on my tod at this stage that's where I would have headed.

    So otherwise I've been strolling, swimming, eating modestly but well, and bimbling about on the old GS in newly acquired natty pair of blue crocs.

    So, a few nights in Hvar old town, watching the glitterati and their yachts, well dressed ladied being stalked by blokes in shabby vests (is that really the fashion?.. well I never) and drinking a few quality beers at Cambrinus, the world ale pub of Hvar. It's been tough, I'll tell you.



    So what else to do but this..?



    And this..



    Etc etc.

    Today the wind has really picked up and it's been pretty bizarre at times. Most beautiful, but probably a bit like standing around in one of those modern convection ovens where you can take 20% off of the cooking times on the packaging. And let me tell you, it's some trick to try and eat consomme in toasty 50mph winds.

    The GS is parked in a very exposed place up on the cliffs, so I've lashed it up again to be sure it doesn't wander off and fall over.

    Toasty indeed..



    Sights of a cliffside stroll.

    Hot wheels.. (a bit out of focus, not that Instagram twaddle. But I like it)



    Hotter wheels.. (the most delicious looking Mercedes I've seen in quite some time)



    Touratech Flipper Carrier, only 269 Euros..



    I've gone on enough about Croatia. It really is some place though- and it's not a coincidence I've been drawn back a second time so soon after my first visit. I'll be particularly sad to leave Hvar. I really have to wonder why folk venture further afield for sunshine holidays- this place is just the bees knees.

    Hey, and to cap it all, they also have Jaffa Cakes too so that does it, I'm relocating at the first opportunity.



    (Some folks here who are friends on FriendFace will be aware of my quest and obsession with Jaffa Cakes)

  3. #67
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    Milna to Mostar

    So it's goodbye Hvar and hello Herzegovinia.

    The day begins with a ride to the other end of the Island to catch the ferry back to the mainland. "Be sure you allow an hour and fifteen minutes minimum to get there" tells the taxi driver to us last night "it's a long way". And he's not wrong. It's actually a long and tricky way, climbing up into the hills with precarious bendy roads and crash barrier absent sheer drops, following the contours of the rocky island. As we ascend we find wobbling rental scooter pilots and passengers, noticeably freaked out by the challenging riding. A couple ride so slowly they're virtually not moving. In stretches the road becomes elevated without crash barriers either side. It's not good for newbies. In fact, I'm sure some older hands wouldn’t like this.

    Croatia has an interesting attitude to Health and Safety. In general things just seem to get on with themselves. For instance boats speed around in harbours, there are minimal crash barriers, no signs for trip hazards, all that malarkey that we're more than used to at home. Looking at the scooterati up in the hills, you would think the rental people might warn them not to venture too far afield given the roads, but I'll bet it doesn't even occur to the locals- not suggesting anything bad, just that I think it doesn't occur to them.

    The ferry Queue at Sucuraj is very long and we chug along to the front. Tickets are bought and fifteen minutes later we're on. Looking back at the waiting queue it doesn't seem to have depleted at all despite a full ferry. One of the further joys of bike ownership.

    Loaded up for another wobble on to a ferry. Observe the queue on the left of the piccy, which we gleefully jump.



    Back to the mainland and another pleasant run down the coast to pick up the road in to the hills. We get stuck in a long border queue and it's touch and go to get through without the bike overheating. The border guard asks for the Green Card, the first time I think I've needed to produce it, so I'm glad I renewed.

    We pitch up at the Pension Nur, which is very well located in the heart of the Old Town of Mostar. To get to it, I need to ride my little two wheeled motorhome down some cobbles with sort of tiered steps. That's all good fun, parting the crowds to get down to base. We have a great little parking spot right by the front door of the Pension. The very friendly chappie introduces himself as 'Fraser' and shows us to our comfy compact but cheap digs. He tells us there's home made Ice cream in the freezer, and we should just help ourselves with their compliments and that it is very good. I believe that is what US retail analysts call "The Delighter", the thing that just puts the cherry on the cake. And it does; the stuff is something else and just the ticket after another hot ride.

    The Old Bridge..



    Terry McCann's old company car.. "Сам могао бити тако добра за вас..."



    Later on Fraser gives us a restaurant recommendation and its dining outside on a balcony overlooking the river. Very pleasant indeed. I have a mahoosive mixed grill. Excellent value- Soups, gigantic main courses, with my brother having the largest quantity of Calves Liver I've ever witnessed, cokes, multiple large bottles of water and half litre of house white for £10 a head.

    Spendid Soup..



    Mixed Grill excellence..



    Fried Brain, anyone?



    After dinner and a well needed stroll to remove some of the bloatage we hit a lively bar and watch the Sarajevo team go out of the qualifiers of the Europa League. The channel is swiftly changed to a local music TV channel, which turns out to be a sort of cross between Readers Wives and VH1. We're transfixed by pop videos of aged pop-rappers such as Mile Kitic and also a chubbier hairier version of a sort of David Mitchell, whose name was something like 'Tommy Potato'; it's a shame I never wrote that one down as he was a cracker.

    Here's dear old Mile. This is what they groove to in this neck of the woods. A corker of a vid, and hope to many a tosser that a career in pop could still beckon



    Later we head back into the old town and to the Marshall Bar. We get chatting with Farouk, the barman although he seems to answer my questions not in the order I ask them, like 'What beer is this?' answer 'It's four Marks' (the cost). We have a bit of that, sort of like that Two Ronnies sketch. Still we have a giggle and once we buy him a beer or two he really opens up and is a good chap. Some time later some other locals show up, make themselves comfortable behind the bar and roll a massive doobie, to which is immediately offered to us. I decline, because a) I'm a good boy, and b) it makes me want to barf. Hey, they're certainly friendly here.

    We're there a couple of hours, have a fair few beers and multiple local peach spirit stuff, whatever it's called, I think Maraska. Things were getting fuzzy. Farouk gives us a bill for 18 Marks, which is about £3.50 each. We depart as heavy tippers.

    Back to the base, Sarajevo beckons once again tomorrow.

  4. #68
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    Mostar to Sarajevo

    'You will like the journey to Sarajavo, it's quite beautiful, especially the view by the river' says Fraser. A selection of the family are gathered by the bike as I load up. His father muses, 'I should have learned to ride but I never did, I wish I did'. I figure he's only about 50 tell him that it's not too late, and relay stories of senior Gsers who are still riding around the planet like loons at ages far advanced from his. He listens intently, eyebrows rised and I get a sense of ponderous perhaps.

    The ride out from Mostar is very relaxing and the scenery is lovely just as promised. It's busy, and mostly 50mph stuff with a few overtakes dotted here and there. It's just great relaxing pootling.

    We fill up at an OMV and petrol is 2.50 BAM per litre, just under a pound. Cappuccino fill up too. I have a spinach sort of pasty which is rather nice, and Nick ups the game vis-a-vis Jaffa Cakes with this little gem of a find:



    So soon enough we're heading in to Sarajevo from the west. A traffic light squeegy operative gestures that he wants the Jaffa Cakes strapped in the cargo net. I tell him where to go.
    We cross the city and then need to start climbing into the hills where our hotel is. Garmin starts playing the usual tricks, though a new twist, trying to lead us down a narrow street that turns into a stairway. Bother

    Eventually we're back to the very welcoming Hotel Hecco which more than makes up for the run in.

    We have a wander and return to the hotel ready for a night on the sauce. We start at the Cheers bar, sat outside and watching the Olympics on TV. It's a good vibe and there's good plentiful beer. A good couple of hours spent. Later in the evening we head to the 'Underground' bar, a live music venue. They're having a jam night tonight, with results that I'll just summarise as 'Interesting'.



    There's a tall young English lad at the bar ordering drinks. Greg his name is.
    I put on my best Meerkat 'Car Inshoorance' advert accent and start talking to him under the pretence of being a local. I tell him about some of Sarajevo's ancient customs, such as people wearing hats on their feet every second Sunday in August and other ridiculous whoppers to which the lad is hooked.
    He asks where I come from and eventually I tell him I come from a suburb called Romford. He tells me there's a little town called Romford near where he lives, and it's a veritable shithole. 'Do you mind' I tell him, 'that's my home town' dropping the accent. Poor old Greg is pissed and now very confused. He looks like he's having a stroke, bless. Eventually he works it all out and he can't stop laughing. He goes and gets his mate Dave and relays it all.

    We chat for a while and the guys are doing a month of what is a modern version of Inter-rail. They're good lads both and it is a pleasure to meet these sort of Brits abroad. The lads beckon us to join their group, but they have a sparkly bunch of internationals and two forty somethings would no doubt cramp their style so we politely decline. As we stand and chat Dave is being strafed by one of the group, a lovely young brunette from I think New Zealand, but he can't see it, so I feel obliged to relay to him that 'she digs you man'. 'Really?' he says. Kids and beer, eh, kids and beer.

    And off they disappear into the night. I would say I'm rooting for you Dave, but if you've got any sense you'll be doing it for yourself.

    Well I figure I'm about eight large beers in now and that is way more than I usually get to these days. I'm feeling full of the stuff and quite pissed. As we ready to conclude I turn and behind the bar I see a guy in a BMW jacket with a grey pony tail. I'm thinking it was the same guy on a 1200GS we saw in traffic on the way into town earlier today; we exchanged friendly gestures as we tootled in. I say to him 'You have a 1200GS, yes?' and he nods, yes, and I tell him that I have a GS and I think we saw him earlier. 'Ah, he says, with all the bags, that was you?' He's heading out, but he says 'we have a blues evening tomorrow if you want to stop by'.
    We shake hands and bid farewell. A couple of minutes later the barmaid comes over with two beers for us, compliments of the house. Nice. Of course, I'm full of ale but we can't not neck these, so I wobble back up to the street just that little bit more spangled.

    We stroll back and stop for late night Cevapi in the old town. We're joined by a group of six young locals, who at first seem like they're being a bit off, but I start chatting to them and from thereon they are as good as gold. They ask so we talk about where we're going and what we're doing. I tell them this is my second visit this summer. When I tell them that I see Bosnia as just the most beautiful place they seem genuinely humbled and appreciative. They recommend a place North to look in on. They are all handshakes and smiles when they eventually wander off.

    Finest cuisine..



    Back to HQ and eek it's 4.30 am.

    Great place, Sarajevo




  5. #69
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    super report

  6. #70
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    Just spent a delightful hour or so sat in the back garden, with a bier, catching up on you Rob

    Keep up the good work

    Adventure.GS
    Tours, training or custom made earplugs ... it's all here.

    "If you want the rainbow then you have to put up with a little rain" Dolly Parton

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    .

    Excellent report, keep it coming
    'Not all who wander are lost.' - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring







  8. #72
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    I remember going to Mostar soon after the war had ended. Every building had been shot up, many with artillery shells.
    The iconic bridge had the middle bit missing and the place had a certain 'edge' to it.
    Good to see the town seems to have repaired itself.
    Well worth a visit if you are that way.

  9. #73
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    Fantastic Rob, keep it up mate

  10. #74
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    Ta folks for the comments

    This isn't an update, that'll follow later, but for now I'm having loads of problems with my Zumo GPS, the screen has gone for a burton so I've posted here to poll any of the wise Zumoista if they can help..

    http://www.ukgser.com/forums/showthr...17#post3173717

  11. #75
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    Thanks for all of the help with the GPS stuff peeps. We'll see how that pans out

    In the meantime, back to the action..


    Sarajevo to Split


    There's another evening to be had in Sarajevo before heading back to Croatia where Nick will catch his flight back to London. We toddle out and have a few more leisurely ales and watch Mo Farah do the business. All of Sarajevo's Saturday evening peacocks are out strutting and there's the faint smell of Hai Karate in the air.
    All manner of Sarajevo's singletons are taking to the streets for the promenade: from Russell Brand, to Russell Crowe, to Russell Grant. From Helena Christiansen to Mildred Roper.
    After a chat with two ladies from Iceland (the country, not the Bejam successor) we're plodding back to the underground bar for a few late ales and a chat with the GS riding owner. It's cool and we discuss all things bikes albeit a bit pissed and are being introduced formally to Sarejevo's Dark ale.
    We also run into Conrad from Oslo who is here to watch an Austrian heavy metal band tomorrow. Conrad is a loon. A personable enough loon, but we decide to head off before it turns into a fully fledged evening with Combat 18, which we suspect won't be long.

    Following what turns out a very late night indeed we're up and out from the Hotel just before the we're timed out of the 12pm checkout deadline. Nevertheless they're still mellow. We like the Hecco. I got up late and dishevelled to get to breakfast at 9.50 (it closes at 10) and the lady went and made me eggs. 'You need them' she says. And by jove she's right. Finally loaded up, they're washing the tiled floor of the garage. Getting the bike off the centre stand and out is a toughie. Still, we manage ok, all is mellow.

    We head out and on to the Motorway north from Sarajevo, looking to loop across to Split. The motorway is gorgeous, rolling along. We float along with hardly any traffic at all. We're soon reminded that we're not in the motoring first world: there's a coach broken down right in the middle of the two motorway traffic lanes (there is a hard shoulder, too, lord knows how that was managed). The warning triangle is positioned about six feet in front of the coach, very useful heading uphill and around a bend at 130kph. Shortly after we see a clapped out Vauxhall Cavalier being pushed the wrong way down the hard shoulder by a large throng. Such as is here.

    After the motorway the scenery gets very pretty- we weave our way over the hills, up and down. The riding is Joyous. No time trial mind- time to smell the flowers. A stop for a coffee and to watch a wheelie-stoppie-burnoutee hatless Mark Lamarr double on a natty yellow Firestorm.

    Back to the road.

    They're fearful of fire here..



    .. And we see why, with a fire smouldering in the distance.



    I personally can recommend Bosnia's finest petrol stations for their small but broad collection of Jazz DVD's, heartily promoted by the staff..



    As we near the border evidence of the conflict in the region becomes very clear. Bombed out houses. An unnerving sight.



    We cross into Croatia and get held behind a swiss registered VW golf where customs are going to town. The customs officer is a bruiser alright and bleeding huge, she looks like a bronze age fortified hill. You don't see much of that round here, but hell, I'm not arguing with her. It's a dull wait as the queue builds up to watch the rummage. After an age the car is pulled to the side and we're allowed on.

    Large Pillion + Even Larger Rider + Loaded up Bike + Seat on High Setting = Mad Balls



    We get to our apartment in Split, which is just fine. Actually, with the washing machine, DVD player and huge fridge I could get used to these places better than hotels (certainly better than tents, eh.). A stroll the wrong way actually away from old town leads us to a beach side restaurant where we decide to stop and eat. And it is most superb.

    Dalmatian seafood salad..



    Followed by a splendid Spicy Shrimp Spaghetti..



    And a super, super Mousse..



    We head to a bar and watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics. There's rapturous applause at the end from those gathered, I can't help but feel proud and a bit teary eyed. A bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and four lagers help of course.

  12. #76
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    A day orf in Split

    I know, Split again. But it's a dandy place.

    So we have a day out. We visit a beach a few km's down the coast where I do a bit of attempted trip planning..



    ..and then repeat with a decent dinner, concious that this ride report is turning into Saturday Kitchen.. But it's all rather good. Sorry.



    We watch a lot of DVD's at the apartment and have a giggle. Not much else to feature.

  13. #77
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    C'mon!
    PUI since 2004


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  14. #78
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    im heading out that way next year and was a little bit hessitant about what i'd find when i got there,now i cant wait to leave,this is a really entertaining traval log,keep up the good work(if you can call riding,eating and drinking work lol) im looking forward to the next chapter

  15. #79
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr K View Post
    C'mon!
    Yeehah!

    Quote Originally Posted by carl8gs View Post
    im heading out that way next year and was a little bit hessitant about what i'd find when i got there,now i cant wait to leave,this is a really entertaining traval log,keep up the good work(if you can call riding,eating and drinking work lol) im looking forward to the next chapter
    Carl, don't be put off. There are a lot of doubters around, forget them

    It's worth doing- Slovenia is biking bliss, Croatia splendid, Bosnia Herzegovina awesome, Montenegro Stunning, Albania just incredible.

    Great places, not to be missed if you can..

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    Split to Podgorica

    I almost don't know how to begin the write up today. It's been one of those wow/feck/yee hah/blimey/eek days.

    So I just didn't know where to go today. I stayed up until the early hours looking at the web and the map and just had so many thoughts that I couldn't crystalise on. Stupid really. I think this is a by product of a very busy mind for years in my work now having little to do and making a silly meal of it for no real reason. Odd, not me, and not reasonably explained, along with another couple of odd and unexpected character traits that I wasn't expecting in this whole thing. Still, that's another story, another post.

    So ultimately I went to bed, and my dear brother insisted on having the Steptoe and Son movies play through the night, such as he is, so I was serenaded to a sort of sleep by such immortal lines as 'I told you Harold, he's a wanker', which made me sleepily giggle through the wee hours. So that reduced me to just a few hours sleep, which was not for the best.

    I'm woken at 7.30 as Nick's flight is this morning and he needs to be at Split airport by 9am. So it's getting everything together which actually goes a lot better than I'd anticipated. The run to Split airport is fine, punctuated by the poor Croat city driving, but I know it's there and all is fine. I drop him off and we say goodbyes.

    So there I am without plan. I watch for the cars at the airport junction. If the first one comes from the left, I will go North. If the first one comes from the right, I will go South. Right is the first, so South it is.

    I join up with the A1 motorway just outside Split to get a wiggle on south. A quick look at the map and I'm decided to go to Montenegro, figuring I wouldn't be in the region again for a while and the chance to go by again was going to be too good to miss. This, I feel, is a good decision and hope that fate sets me straight.

    I loved Montenegro. I think I rode most of the last trip around Kotor bay with my jaw dropped, the scenery is just so, so amazing.

    Anyway. Rather than take the coast road, which now is well trodden by yours truly over recent weeks, I decided to hop the motorway and munch some miles, then drop into BiH once again and then cross to Montenegro. It looks wiggly. Interesting.

    The motorway from Split to, well the end of the motorway (it sort of ends nowhere) is a great way to spend an hour or so. Lovely- perfect tarmac, impressive scenery, not too hot, temperature dropping to the mid 20's and it's just well.. Nice.



    My own personal Motorway. Splendid tarmac miles. Rider rocks out and nods head enthusiastically to Deep Purple's 'Highway Star'.. 'Alright, hold tight, I'm a highway star…."



    For lovers of other music, 'It's fun fun fun on the Autobahn' as I believe Kraftwerk put it.

    And here's the lovely motorway ending abruptly, it appears they're still saving for the next bit..



    And so we're deposited, sort of nowhere to work our way on. So I take the road over towards the Bosnia Herzegovinia border. Now. If you've ever wondered what those little roads on the map are without the 'border crossing' signs on them, but still cross the borders do, I will let you in on it. I pull down to one of these and am met by a smiley border guard. 'English' she says, looking at the number plate on the bike. 'Yes' is my stock reply. 'Sorry- you can't cross here' she says 'this is for locals only'. I see. "This is a local border crossing, for local people." Very League of Gentlemen. Ah.



    She directs me a few KM down the road to a main road crossing. She is friendly, very charming and apologetic. I pass on my many thanks- no problem I say, and head off to where I am sent. Hitch, though. This one is rammed- about 30 cars or so, camper vans etc on a narrow road, with a single point of crossing. Filtering here would probably result in a 'punch up the bracket' so I decide to turn around, there'll be plentiful opportunities to cross.

    Down small roads. I counted ten Fire engines, I think filling up from the river. Constant reminder of the fire risk.

    Now.

    My route now is headed over to Metkovic, and then on towards Montenegro in a left to right left to right pattern. I cross in to BiH at another small post but this one is OK. There's no computer here, the miserable guard just spends an age looking at my passport and Carole Nash's finest administrative bod's scrawl.

    Going up..



    So. At this point two things happen. 1) The maps on the Zumo, predictably begin to become completely rubbish, hardly even useful. 2) More unpredictably, my Zumo touch screen decides to start fecking up, as though it’s being consistently prodded (see other threads). It's OK. I take to using my directional sense and the not so good map to get me on, and Zumo's odd jumpy general directions.

    My efforts take me (I must add Zumo guided, just, but still at this point)

    Past a hydro electric thingamybob..



    .. Down small roads..



    .. Meeting locals



    .. Down tracks..



    .. Down smaller tracks..



    .. Erm.. not much road left now..

    [/]

    .. A Church in the valley somewhere..



    The very occassional farmed patch, I assume where the land permits for it now..



    I get to a point in a valley where I can pass no more. I go across a bridge that goes precisely nowhere, looking at it and age I can only assume this was an abandoned intended development from before the war.



    Now, if I can link up with the town about 16km SW all should be good. There are indications vehicles have taken the concrete by the river, the storm drain. So I take that for a bit. I ride up the side walls. 'Woohoo… greased lightnin'. But Olivia Newton-John isn't perched up top of this one with her arms around her knees. In fact I haven't seen a soul for the best part of an hour now.



    I begin to get to more awkward spots. I switch off my music and get more serious. It is brief seriousness though- I get round some rather tricky obstacles if I do say so myself on such a loaded bike. I start humming the theme tune to 'Kick Start' and thinking of whatever happened to Peter Purves. Note to self: I wonder what Carole Nash recovery would make of a call now. Eventually I come to a spot that looks just too suspect- a track onwards that's not well used, and I'd need to vault a sump-fecking concrete step to get there, which in a silly way I'm game for. But, mindful of the advice in the region about what lies beneath I decide to turn back, so do 16km or so of silliness all over again.



    Eventually I get back to a proper road and go another way. I follow what Garmin has routed as a railway track for some miles. FFS. Continuing the bloodhound angle I continue along a valley.

    Now, as I'm getting older, I tend to get more senior moments and I lose the odd words to describe things, to which I tend to use the generic term 'Doobry do' as some do 'thingamyjig' or 'whaddayamecallit'.
    Well now I've found it, so I know to what I refer, when I know not of what I refer to..



    There is a curious mist in the distant valley ahead. As I get closer I begin to smell the mist and it is actually smoke. Fire again.

    Now Normally my write-ups as you will know are all smiley and happy go lucky ducky affairs. But I feel myself becoming darker of mood.

    There's many a GSer here who has visited the French ruins of Oradour-sur-glane, and of course that is a terrible place, but I tell you this- This was a 90 minute motorised drive by display version of something similarly sinister. It was just haunting; absolutely and incredibly heartbreaking.

    A ruined junction..



    a churchyard what is now in the middle of nowhere..



    I continue for mile after mile. I don't seem to be making a great deal of progress, I'm doing a sort of steady 45mph down these rather iffy single tracks but getting nowhere. And there are towns. Well- yellow town signs, ruins, and then signs with little red 'no more town' slashes through them- but in so many there is no one here. All bombed out. Dead zone.

    Pictures. Just so, so sad and awful to see.







    A long stretch to the distance..



    Dead houses with pictures on folks on the gates with notes; red graffiti with 'OK' on it. I know not of what, but can guess.



    I wonder what that came off of..?



    Anyhow. For all the shite that goes on in life this is no better illustration to just be happy for what you have.

    Minefields mapped. Bad place to get lost off the beaten track..



    On a lighter note, I do believe it is a circa 1966 microbus. Restored, this'll make a few quid. Spot of turd polishing anyone?



    Long path to take, and I don't know what the squiggles mean. Proper reward for an ignorant tourist, I suppose. Whatever goes I stay on the road.

    32km of caution..



    Meaning, regarding?



    Old Firetrucks from ze Germans..



    I meet an elderly man on the track and he flags me down. OK? He asks. Yes, and I sort of stumblingly ask 'does this road go anywhere'. He has no English, but is clearly delighted that's where I'm from. Yes, he says, using his fingers to demonstrate 4.5km to the next town and 10km to somewhere obviously more significant. He is all smiles and we shake hands warmly. 'Thank you, thank you', I tell him. Real warmth, great stuff.

    Monument in the middle of nowhere..



    Eventually, and really I mean eventually, I pop out at what is termed as the M6. A tad different to ours. But it's a main road, and that's cool, and I can get where on with the business of getting on. About 25 minutes later I'm sat in a Petrol Station, called 'Best'. In the bar (this one has a bar and seems to be the local centre of everything) it has Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game' on repeat, and there's a rather solemn looking girl behind the counter who serves me a cappuccino with an awkward shy smile. She speaks English, but I deem it is best not to ask. They have internet, so I post about my Zumo problems and get some instant useful help. Grand, thanks folks. I book a hotel for tonight and get my route manually worked out to Podgorica.

    Through the glass the bike is a major source of curiousity here. There are long stares and gazes, discussions of what is for what, exchanges in views amongst folk. Quite something. There are two girls sat in the bar, they nod at me when people come in and mention the bike. I think it underlines not many visitors to this part.

    I set out through Trabinje, where I meet a local helmetless shorts and flip flops clad couple on a ZZR1100 who say Hi and welcome. Oh. It looks like the Kwaka has been fitted with a rear car tyre. Surely not. No, it can't be, can it? No pic to help validate I'm afraid, I'm busy wondering.
    We're both nearly run off the road by a taxi driver who is in a complete hissy fit. The ZZR captain gives him an earful, there's a brief but unpleasant exchange and he is telling him what to go and do. If that'd have happened in the UK everyone would be 'having it on the cobbles', no doubt. Strange.

    I get out from town and up into the flowing hills. Up we go and it things ride very well indeed, the mood is lifted a little. After a time of rapid freedom I meet up with a tanker driver heading up the hills and using all of the road. The film 'Duel' still gives me the fear, so I just amble along for some time until we get a long glorious stretch of straight and I can zoom past. I squeze past, toot and give him a wave, I figure this that way we'll be mellow, all will be OK and I won't have to make him drive off a canyon like Dennis Weaver had to.

    The going gets more wiggly and more pretty. I get off and take some quick snaps Benny Hill chase style in order to make sure I'm on the road before my tanker matey catches up.



    Not all drivers are bad though. A thoughtful Volvo aggregate truck driver indicates to let me by and waves. I stop further down the line to take a picture and he goes past, flashing and tooting hello. I catch him up again later and we do the same dance again. With the standard of driving poor as it is, it's blessed to find someone out there who is cogniscant of someone else on the road.

    In fact, a riding tip for the region. Now you might have a RoSPA or and IAM, but here's the thing here: Little red lights work. I mean, it's good to be tidy rider and use minimal braking and all that, but that's no good when the brim of the the blokes straw hat in the car behind is touching your number plate. If you show them a brake light, they see it and as their queue to brake. Trust me,it works.

    Eventually we cross to Montenegro. It is a high outpost and very remote. The guard is has his best wasp-chewing face on and wants every piece of documentation. There are lots of people wandering around, looking like they're stuck here.

    I cross over once Mr. Particular is happy. Sensational views, and the smouldering of a fire in the distance.



    So, whilst I'm at it, I'd like to highlight the 'maps' that Garmin purport to be of this region. I'm figuring how they did the plotting. I think they got a dodgy satellite photo, and then all went out to the firm Christmas do and had a huge number of free beers, and then came in next day and copied everything out in felt tip pen by hand prior to it going to be stuck in the computer. They're crap.

    So an hour and a half of good riding later and I'm in Podgorica, heading for the Ideal hotel, which turns out to be, well, Ideal.

    I decide to head out to take the evening air. The ever so friendly hotel bod calls me a taxi. I'm on my way in to town; the meter on the taxi barely turns over, a ten minute taxi ride in to town that costs 1.30 Euros.

    I wander along the plaza and stumble across the confusingly named 'Nag's Head', so I go in. It's an Only Fools and Horses themed pub. There are pictures of Del, Rodney et all everywhere. The bar staff have t-shirts bearing the legend 'Plonker'. Baffling but amusing, later it transpires that the sitcom was immensely popular in Former Yugoslavia.
    It explains a random picture I came across in the Underground bar in Sarajevo too, I suppose.



    I stop to write up some of the events today and get engaged, not noticing most of the town cramming into the pub as I write. They look at me oddly, but there's no worries. It's a cool place. People are polite. Two young girls come up to me and ask in good plain English 'Is it OK for us to stand here?'. It couldn't be more OK love.
    I meet an animated local called Dean, his explanation of life here in Podgorica revolves solidy around which pretty young lady in the bar he wants to jump on. Some interesting observations and it is amusing to listen to his Montenegrin Joe Pesci style yarning for a bit, but as there's no cultural enlightenment of the region I decide to hop off into the warm night: I can get this pish patter in Essex.

    I realise I didn't eat a single thing today and had five pints of beer. Not the best, but I kind of didn't even notice, which must say a lot.

    Back to base. An incredible day of highs, lows, bizarres. Top, top stuff

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