• sa
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  • Riding....
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  • My shadow...
  • Ukraine
  • In Evinos river reservoir, Greece...
  • Curving...
  • Montenegro...
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  • Bosnia i Herzegovina...
  • In Graz, Austria...
  • In Montenegro...
  • Ljubljana...
  • Bled lake
  • Bled lake to Bohinj lake
  • Nockalmstrasse, Austria
  • Bohinj lake, Slovenia
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  • Triglav National Park, Slovenia...
  • Grossglockner, Austria...
  • Grossglockner Pass
  • Grossglockner, Austria...
  • Don't drink and drive...
  • Nockalmstrasse, Austria
  • Graz
  • Nockalmstrasse, Austria
  • Nockalmstrasse, Austria
  • Nockalmstrasse, Austria
  • A1, Croatia
  • Curving in MotoLeonidio Race...
  • In a Gas Station in Serbia
  • On the road...
  • On the road in Hungary...
  • On the road in Belarus...
  • In Minsk, Belarus...
  • In Russia...
  • Borders Belarus - Russia...
  • On the road in Russia...
  • Riding in Moscow, Russia...
  • In Red Square, Moscow, Russia...
  • In Red Square, Moscow, Russia...
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  • Crossing a bridge in Latvia...
  • On the road in Latvia...
  • On the road in Trakai, Lithuania...
  • On the road in Trakai, Lithuania...
  • In Trakai, Lithuania...
  • On the road in Poland...
  • In Automotodrom Brno, Czech Republic...
  • In Automotodrom Brno, Czech Republic...
  • In Trigrad Gorge, Bulgaria...
  • In Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria...
  • Morocco...
  • Morocco...
  • Morocco...
  • Morocco...
  • My son Konstantinos
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  • Biogradsko Jezero, Montenegro...
  • Fez, Morocco...
  • Rabat, Morocco...
  • Transfagarasan Pass, Romania...
  • Careterra Austral, Chile...
  • Unpacking my new baby...
  • Leonidio, Greece....
  • Transalpina Pass, Romania
  • Transalpina Pass, Romania
  • In Romania...
  • Riding...
  • Moldova...
  • In Evinos river reservoir, Greece...
  • Curving...
  • Montenegro...
  • Croatia...
  • Bosnia i Herzegovina...
  • Bosnia i Herzegovina...
  • In Graz, Austria...
  • Keeping notes of the trip, in Montenegro...
  • In Ljubljana, Slovenia...
  • In Bled lake, Slovenia...
  • On the road from Bled lake to Bohinj lake, Slovenia...
  • Crossing Nockalmstrasse, Austria...
  • In Bohinj lake, Slovenia...
  • Triglav National Park, Slovenia...
  • In Triglav National Park, Slovenia...
  • In Kaiser Franz Josef Hohe, Grossglockner, Austria...
  • Crossing Grossglockner Pass, Austria...
  • In Kaiser Franz Josef Hohe, Grossglockner, Austria...
  • In Benedikt, Slovenia...
  • Crossing Nockalmstrasse Pass, Austria...
  • Walking in Graz, Austria...
  • Crossing Nockalmstrasse Pass, Austria...
  • Crossing Nockalmstrasse Pass, Austria...
  • Crossing Nockalmstrasse Pass, Austria...
  • Heavy rain while crossing A1 Highway in Croatia...
  • Curving in MotoLeonidio Race...
  • In a Gas station in Serbia...
  • On the road...
  • On the road in Hungary...
  • On the road in Belarus...
  • In Minsk, Belarus...
  • In Russia...
  • Borders Belarus - Russia...
  • On the road in Russia...
  • Riding in Moscow, Russia...
  • In Red Square, Moscow, Russia...
  • In Red Square, Moscow, Russia...
  • On the road in Russia...
  • Crossing a bridge in Latvia...
  • On the road in Latvia...
  • On the road in Trakai, Lithuania...
  • On the road in Trakai, Lithuania...
  • In Trakai, Lithuania...
  • On the road in Poland...
  • In Automotodrom Brno, Czech Republic...
  • In Automotodrom Brno, Czech Republic...
  • In Trigrad Gorge, Bulgaria...
  • In Buzludzha Monument, Bulgaria...
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Slovenian & Austrian Alps (October 2015)

Written by Thanasis Vavaroutas. Posted in Expeditions

 

All of the Alps passes are always a pole of attraction for all motorcyclists! Motorcycle enthusiasts have the opportunity to curve on roads into enchanting landscapes, on roads where the excellent asphalt gives you the confidence to enjoy driving!

Until now I had seen a lot of beautiful photos from friends and co-motorcyclists who had crossed them and I was impressed so my moment came! I dreamed this trip my girlfriend Efi and me! I picked and worked on beautiful routes on the Slovenian and Austrian Alps for a long of time. I got information from other moto-travellers but also from Google. I planned the routes on Microsoft Autoroute, on Google Maps, and also on Garmin maps since I have a Garmin GPS.

The result of all this work was to "conclude" to a 10-day trip through 11 countries. A total of 4,340 km, of which the 60% are in provincial and secondary provincial roads. The price of fuel in these countries, up to 1.20 euros, made the trip budget, as the average consumption reached 5.8lt/100km...

 

 

Day 1 (2/10/2015)                    Patras - Sibenik (Croatia) 1,115 km

 

The first and last day on the trips I plan are made full of kilometers, as I try to get closer to the point where my “actual” trip will start, and on the return I don’t waste time to return. All of this with a focus on security! So to cover these 1,115 kilometers, most of which would be on provincial roads, we departed from Patras at 03:30 o’clock in the morning... Efi was ready from the day before! The motorcycle, ready-loaded from the previous night, full of gas, was waiting for me to push the starter button to get us through into magical worlds! The intercom on our helmets came into operation, the GPS "loaded" on the way, my senses on alert after breakfast espresso at home ... The boxer roared when the magical moment came to push the starter, showing the impatience to swallow kilometers...

We passed the "Charilaos Trikoupis" bridge (Rio-Antirio) and we followed the Ionian Road. Darkness is dangerous for night driving on this road, but the lights of my moto helped me a lot for a safe driving. I hope that the constructions on the Ionian Road will soon be completed and that the motorway will be ready to use!

The temperature near the 8°C didn’t give us any problem since our isothermals and our uniforms were impervious to the cold. The sky was clear and the dawn, which was ready to come in a while, showed us that would be a beautiful day ahead for driving. We stopped for a coffee break just before the city of Ioannina for another espresso. At 06:30 o’clock we were in Kakavia, on the border station between Greece and Albania...

The sun started to rise when we entered Albania. We crossed Gjirokastro, Tepeleni, Fier, Durres, and we headed towards Shkodra. We didn’t stop at all but once for refueling and one more time for a break, just to stretch out. We were at the Muriquan border station crossing at the Albania-Montenegro border just before one o'clock. Not bad... We had covered over half of the kilometers we had to do that day. The first kilometers in Montenegro find me driving in a narrow street (E851), with a total width of 1.5 car... At some points the asphalt was very good and in others was unacceptable...

Twenty kilometers before Montenegro, we made the standard stop at Konoba Ribar (Café-Restaurant), in the village of Pečurice, for a soup... It is best snack to keep you up for the rest of the trip!!! Efi was full of joy because the trip had already begun, and was taking pictures of all the beautiful spots of the tavern, but also of the view where the tavern was located, since it is high altitude to the sea level...

I still had a big desire for driving, despite the six hundred kilometers that I had already driven... We left behind the town of Bar, and once again we marveled the beauty of Sveti Stefan isle, twith its small castle located on a very small island in the Adriatic Sea and after we passed the beautiful Kotor we reached Lepetane where we got the ferry for Kamenari. At the embarkation, we met a young couple of Germans who were driving their vespas, returned from Iran... to their homeland!!! The Vespas were restored Schwalbe, produced years ago in East Germany... We had a chat with them during the short crossing to Kamenari, and we continued on our way to the Montenegro -Croatian borders. We crossed the border and headed for Dubrovnik. A few kilometers before Dubrovnik we took a stop in a beautiful seaside village, Cavtat, for a coffee. We enjoyed our coffee next to the sea and we went back to the motorcycle to continue our journey. We left Dubrovnik behind us and continued to Split. The sky was incredible with clouds covering it from time to time, along with the green Adriatic island complex, which with its blue waters created an awsome scenery where we lost in it! After about 100 kilometers from Dubrovnik we met the A1 motorway, which led us to the city of Sibenik.

We arrived at the time we sundown. We unloaded the motorcycle, and we headed to the Marley's Apartments which I booked through booking.com, in the old town of Sibenik. We freshed up and jumped into cobblestone pavements to explore the beauties of the city. A city located in northern Dalmatia, with a population of 37,000, where the cathedral is its main attraction and it is an  UNESCO World Heritage Site. We closed our evening with delicious local dishes and red Vranac wine... The next day we would start the ''real trip''...

 

Day 2 (3/10/2015)          Sibenik-Zrmanja River-Zagreb-Ljubljana (Slovenia) 520km

 

The next morning the clouds had covered the sky of Sibenik... We loaded the motorcycle, refueled it and we left to see the canyons and the narrow passes of the Zrmanja River. A distance of 100 kilometers from Sibenik. We got the motorway in the first kilometers and then we went to the exit for Jasenice. We headed to Obrovac with Zrmanja River in our right. Even though I had Googled the point I wanted to go, using a path somewhere I passed it... I went to Obrovac having Zrmanja on my right. We saw the river from above, from the road and gave us an incredible spectacle with its calm waters between the rocky banks. We got to Obrovac crossed the river and we continued to follow it east.

The sky had been full loaded of gray clouds and the temperature was falling. I wanted to go to Plitvice lakes following road 27 at the beginning and after 1. In the first kilometers started a heavy rain... As I was driving Efi saw an abandoned building and we stopped there to wear our rain gear. Efi began to explore the building a bit, but after a few days, we learned from our Serbian friends that was a bit dangerous, because it could have been mined in the Yugoslavian war and not "cleaned" yet... So that moment we decided not to continue to the Plitvice lakes since the weather would not give us a chance to visit them. I promised Efi that we would visit Plitvice Lakes on a next trip. I had visited them on my previous trips and the natural scenery of the landscape amazed me.

So we turned back and we were on the A1 motorway heading to the Croatian capital Zagreb. The rain was getting stronger and at some point it was a thunderstorm accompanied by several thunders that scared Efi since we were exposed to the open. The water had covered the asphalt and many cars started to stop right of the road with the alarms on. And I had lit my moto alarm and I was driving too slowly because the visibility had dropped too much... My tires were new but even this I was afraid of being aquaplaned by the amount of water that had covered the road... After a few kilometers we found a gas station and I turned right and we waited there a bit. During our stay there, there were moments where the tension intensified with the accompaniment of strong winds... As we waited there, we met with a Lithuanian motorcyclist. We had a chat for some a little while as the storm took a long time to calm down. When the storm calmed down there was only a light rain, we made the decision to continue to Zagreb. One hundred kilometers before Zagreb the sky was clear and a bright sun began to dry out the road.

At noon we found ourselves enjoying our coffee in the center of Zagreb. A city that I had visited it 3-4 times in the past and I could say that was never impressed by this city... We drank our coffee, wandered a bit, ate a snack and continued our way to our final destination of the day, Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia . It lasted only 140 kilometers and the two cities were joined by the A2 motorway passing through dense forests, lush hilly slopes with farmhouses standing and observing us as we passed, through a fog of low temperature and moisture. As soon as we entered Slovenia, I bought the necessary vignette, which cost 7.50€ for 7 days. As we headed for Ljubljana the GPS led us to our beautiful accommodation I had booked through booking.com as well. We would stay two days in Ljubljana and I had to be a tour guide for Efi, through the sightseeing of this city that I like so much. I have visited this city several times and I don’t stop enjoy it every time I go.

One of the smallest and most charming European capitals, Ljubljana is a calm and welcoming city with a rich cultural heritage and atmosphere that harmoniously combines the features of Central Europe and the Mediterranean. It has a population of 275,000 inhabitants... Separated in two by the Ljubjlanica River, the Slovenian capital may not have a famous monument-symbol, but it is an attraction in itself. Gone in the green and with the river Ljubjanica crossing it, Ljubljana is a calm, friendly and human city that offers to its inhabitants and visitors a good quality of life. According to the legend, the founder of Ljubljana is considered to be the well-known Jason with his Argonauts, who were accidentally found in the area, returning from the distant Colchis (ancient city). That is why the dragon is the symbol of the city.

At the time we left our hotel, the shops had already closed and so we started walking down the streets of the old town to start Efi coming in contact with the charm of this city. In the evening we found in a nice restaurant to enjoy Slovakian cuisine accompanied by red wine. Absolutely perfect!!!

But I have to say that Slovenia was the most expensive of the countries we traveled. Prices of hotels, restaurants, shops, gasoline (1.20€) were high...

 

 

Day 3 (4/10/2015)                      Ljubljana (Slovenia)

 

A new day was up! Sunday in Ljubljana (Ljubljana means "beloved"), with a drizzle over the city. We got our breakfast and we got ready to explore the city... We crossed the bridge over Ljubljanica River that divides the town into two, and we went to the funicular to visit Ljubljanski Grad castle to drink our morning coffee, gazing at the city from a high altitude. The ticket cost EUR 10 per person, round trip. The castle was once a royal residence, but today it hosts artistic events as well as wedding receptions. We admired the city from above, we explored the inside of the building and drank our coffee at the cafeteria in the precinct area.

After our visit to the castle, we walked through the cobblestone streets of the city to the open air market, crossed the triple bridge Tromostovje, and visited the street shops set up on one bank of Ljubljanica, with antiques and souvenirs from the former Yugoslavian Republic. Efi was looking at the stalls to complete a new collection of porcelain... Yes, the motorcycle’s panniers could also carry porcelain!!!

We enjoyed our lunch accompanied with a local beer (Lasko) by the bank of the river... The river ... Every city that respects itself has a river!

We continued our walk in the beautiful squares of the old town until the fatigue led us to our hotel...

 

 

Day 4 (5/10/2015)   Ljubljana - Bled lake - Triglav National Park (Slovenia) 250km

 

The 5th day of October is important for two reasons... First of all, because it is my birthday and because we lived an incredible motorcycle experience! Bled Lake and Triglav National Park a route of 250 km full of pleasure waited for us... We saddled up the motorcycle at a leisurely pace, and we departed from Ljubljana at nine o’clock in the morning, with a blue sky predestinating us for what we are going to live on... I refuel my motorcycle in a gas station and a short route was ahead to Bled Lake... We were just 50 kilometers apart. The road led us straight to the idyllic lake with its homonymous islet in the center, which is one of Slovenia's most beautiful and most popular natural sights. I drove for a while the lakeside alley and I admired the only island of Slovenia that is in a lake!!! An old castle and an 18th-century church dominate the Lilliputian island, while on the shores of the lake, on a towering vertical rock, stands the oldest castle in Slovenia. We sat on the shore of the lake where we took a bit of the calm of the landscape and met some Austrian motorcyclists, since the northwestern part of Slovenia is a pole of attraction for many motorcyclists.

We continued to Lake Bohinj 27 km SW of Lake Bled. The route reminded Alpine landscapes of Switzerland and Austria. Flowers with running water flanking the street, farmyard and groomed fields, houses on the slopes and gazebo filled with cut wood for the fireplaces, composed a landscape that fills every motorcyclist! When we reached the lake, the landscape we encountered reminded one of the landscapes Bob Ross painted on a TV series... The imposing Slovenian Alps surrounded the lake, which, with its calm waters, created an imposing scenery... Some people from India and Pakistani circled the moto, taking pictures with the background of the lake and made me wonder what were they doing there... A little later I discovered that they were members of a movie crew where they shooting a movie... Efi didn’t miss the chance to watch the shooting of the film through the director's camera and photographed the technical team...

The area of the two lakes we visited is bordered by the Triglav National Park, which occupies 4% of the total territory of Slovenia! From Lake Bohinj I had to drive a few kilometers back to Bled Lake to get the secondary provincial road 909 and headed south to the village of Podbrdo and then via road 403 to Tolmin. The description of the landscapes we traveled does not fit in this travel story... Landscapes of extraordinary beauty unfold before us after every turn of the road... Green valleys that grazed cows, streams that the waters were rushing, wood stooped waiting to be used in fireplaces, to warm up people in the cold nights of the upcoming winter... After a while the scenery changed and wild mountain volumes sprang up over the green forests that we crossed. Rivers and canyons full of rushing waters were our inseparable companions on the side of the road. The mountain Triglav is the tallest in Slovenia, and the park got its name from it. Near Tolmin, we stopped at a restaurant "friendly to motorcyclists" and ordered two delicious trout cooked by an experienced chef. The area is recommended for its restaurants, which offer trout. Efi ordered an Austrian schnitzel... After Tolmin we followed road 102, and from Kobarid village to Bovec in road 203. From there we got the forest road 206 (asphalt) to cross the village of Trenta in order to get in the village of Kranjska Gora to stay overnight.

Kranjska Gora is known as a Ski Resort without reaching the shine of other similar resorts... It is a humble Alpine village of about 1500 inhabitants, located near the border with Italy and Austria, and is the base from which the winter sports enthusiasts start their excursions. After a little searching, we found accommodation in a nice Pension (Livada) arranged by Efi at a very good price. Sava Dolinka River runs through the village. Kranjska Gora is surrounded by the Julian Alps mountain range. Our warm room offered us the warmth that required this mountainous place...

The 5th day of October was therefore a special day !!! I spent the day of my birthday, traveling with my bike and my girlfriend in a magical place...

Invaluable!!!

 

 

Day 5 (6/10/2015) Kranjska Gora (Slo) -Grossglockner Pass-Salzburg (Austria) 320km

 

A new day had come in Kranjska Gora with a few gray clouds to play with the sun that began to pop up above the Alpine mountain range. We got our breakfast and started to load our stuff in the motorcycle. We wore our rain gear over our uniforms and departed following road 202 west to the Italian borders. After entering in Italy we continued on road SS54 to Tarvisio and later on we got highway A2 that led us to the Austrian borders. In our first kilometers in Austria, we stopped right in a gas station and we bought a vignette... 5,10€, for 10 days. We continued onto A2, later to road 111, road 87 and then to road 100 towards Lienz. Just before Lienz we followed road 107 and we stopped in the village Winklern for a coffee break. From that point and beyond the party will be on...

We would cross Grossglockner Hochalpenstrassen Pass from the south to the north. Near to Heiligenblut am Gross-Glockner we stopped at the tolls where we paid the insignificant amount of 24.50€ for 48 kilometers... The ascent had begun well before the toll... I couldn’t say that the sky was totally clear from gray clouds. When we departed in the morning from Kranjska Gora, it started to drizzle and so the rain gear was our 15th layer of skin after the isothermal, the fleece, and the uniforms... Of course we didn’t feel the cold, although the temperature was around in low single digits. In the first kilometers we saw green slopes with cows grazing gently and indifferent to the noise of the boxer who was yelling happy as he swallowed uphill kilometers! As we climbed altitude we began to reveal the nude Alpine landscape and reminded me the places in Nordkapp and in the Highlands...

A photo can’t give the glory you see as you drive to all the Alps passes. Not even the cold air that surrounds you, nor the smells that emerge from nature, nor the driver's emotion can be "captured" and transferred through a picture. Of course in all the way the shutters of our cameras were on fire. In addition to these I was filming the route with my two GoPro! The pleasure was that despite all the clouds there was no fog and so we had the opportunity to admire the rugged sides of the snowy Alpine peaks. Our first stop was at the Glocknerhaus at 2,131 meters altitude, where we saw the waters that had been gathered and became ponds at the foot of the impressive Alps standing opposite us. A few kilometers later, I turned to the Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Haus, which is at 2,369 m. altitude and overlooks the Pasterze glacier. On the other hand, the Grossglockner peak was overhead with 3,798 meters alt. We walked over in the two tourist shops to take a look and after that we went up to the Wilhelm Swarovski Observatory - a seven-minute footpath - from where you can get ahead with the help of various optical instruments the alpine peaks that are visible from this point as well as the glacier.

After our visit there we went back to the parking lot, which also has lockers for motorcyclists to store their gear during their visit there! We met two Israeli motorcyclists who had flown from Tel Aviv to Munich and from there had rented two BMW motorcycles and made a tour in Austria... We had a little chat, and after we continued our way to Grossglockner Hochalpenstrassen. The road was full of hairpin bends, which have a sign with the hairpin number and the altitude... We got to Hochtor, at an altitude of 2,504 meters, took some pictures and continued to drive to this motorcycle paradise!!! I saw signs to the right of the road to warn about the existence of Alpine marmot and I was wondering if we would meet any of them... But we didn’t...

After the Haus Alpine Naturschau the descent began till we met the northern toll pass. We headed to the village of Bruck an der Großglocknerstraße from which the pass starts and there is point 0... A beautiful hamlet where we didn’t have time to spend since we had to continue to Salzburg which was 90 kilometers away from where we were. We followed road 311 and passed through Zell am See, this incredible beauty ski resort beside Lake Zeller See... It was late in the afternoon when we stopped shortly after Zell am See for a warm soup because our stomachs had a vacuum...

Just before the sunset we arrived to Salzburg where we would stay for two days. Our hotel (Snooze Hotel), which I booked by booking.com was in the Maxglaner Hauptstrasse and abstracted only 1.5 kilometers from the old town, just a straight line... We left our stuff in our room, we freshened up and in 2 minutes with the moto we were in the center of the city. It was the third time I visited Salzburg, and I was not surprised that many shops were trimmed in red and selling Mozart-kugeln chocolates, to which the first confectioner who made them gave the name of Mozart and is a necessary souvenir in the luggage of every visitor who leaveas Salzburg. We found a canteen and we ate Bosna (hot dog with pork sausage, herbs and onions) and a Käsekrainer sausage cut into a rectangular saucer with German bread... All of this surprisingly came down to our stomachs with help of local Stiegler beer... Simply ..... perfect!!! We drank another beer in a classic brewery and we returned to our hotel to relax as we were exhausted after a full day on the Alps.

 

Day 6  (7/10/2015)                        Salzburg (Austria)

 

Second day in Salzburg... In German the name of the city means, "Castle of Salt". Salzburg is built next to the banks of the Salzach River, and this small 150,000 inhabitants city stands into a unique landscape surrounded by the imposing Alpine mountain range and beautiful lakes. The "Rome of the Alps" or "German Rome," as Salzburg, is considered to be the most important spiritual and religious center in Austria, while the Altstadt (the old city) is part of the World Heritage Site of UNESCO.

After we got our breakfast in the hotel we started our excursion in the old town. The drizzle that  led us to the decision to go by bus. A morning coffee was what our body first asked for and where else could we enjoy it? Of course at Café Tomaselli, in Alter Markt Square. The famous Café Tomaselli opened in 1703 and was Mozart's favorite haunt. After having enjoyed our coffee we started our tour of the city from the cathedral next to it. The Cathedral with its three large bronze gates, a marble façade and elaborate interior decoration, is the most impressive religious building in Salzburg. From the precinct of the cathedral we saw part of the Hohensalzburg castle standing imposingly over the city. Nearby, it was the pedestrianized Getreidegasse, the commercial heart of the city. We walked on the cobblestone streets of the city and we were at Getreidegasse str, on one of the most beautiful shopping streets in the world. About 800 shops (most of them housed in medieval houses that have been transformed into shops with ornately decorated shop windows) invite you to shop... The drizzle continued to fall and when I raised my head a little I saw a colorful river created by the umbrellas which tourists and locals holding on their hands.

It was already noon when we took the road to a famous brewery of the city, Augustiner Bräu (dated back to 1621...), located on Lindhofstraße 7. The building was incredible, it had 7 large halls to serve all those who want to taste delicious Austrian snacks accompanied by endless beer produced by the brewery located in the same block of flats... Wonderful!!!

In the afternoon, we took another walk around the city on cobbled streets, squares and small arcades, where we got the feeling that almost nothing has changed since Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived and walked there...

 

Day 7 (8/10/2015)        Salzburg-Nockalmstrasse Pass-Klagenfurt (Austria) 275 km

 

The drizzling hadn’t stopped, but all the meteo sites showed that the weather would get better. We loaded the motorcycle and wearing the waterproof we departed from Salzburg heading south. We left the beautiful Salzburg behind us and we took the highway A10 to Sankt Michael im Lungau. From there we got road 96 and then 95 and through a dreamy route we arrived in Predlitz hamlet, where we drank a hot coffee and ate a homemade Apfelstrudel. From Predlitz started another pass for another dreaming route on the Alps... But we turned back to Thomatal and from there we took the Nockalmstrasse to the Innerkrems. Dense forest and water run wildly next to the bustling road. What else could I ask for? Even the drizzle had stopped some time before... After Innerkrems we met the tolls for the Nockalmstrasse. We paid 10€ to enjoy this 34 km route on this Alpine landscape. Up to 1,800 meters above sea level the route was in the green. From there on, the vegetation began to disappear. And there as well - on every hairpin bend – there was a plate written on its number and altitude. Enchanted we went up and down, leaving other mountain peaks lower... We arrived at Höchster Punkt at 2,402 meters altitude, where there was a small shop that had a large woodcarving on the outside and was selling local products. It also served drinks, and the lady who was behind the bench was making snacks and hot soup. The drizzle may had stopped, but the clouds still covered the sky. The temperature was steadily falling down to one digit... But the best thing was that there was no fog and we could admire the landscape wherever we looked!

We continued onto Nockalmstrasse and 13 kilometers later we stopped at the Nockberge National Park Reception Center, where we learned that it belongs to the protected biosphere areas. In the same wooden building there was a restaurant and next to a small shop that also selling – what else  - local products... In the parking lot we saw some motorcycles with Austrian plates. Next to the parking he had a lockers for motorcyclists where helmets could be secured... We went to the restaurant where we saw the Austrian motorcyclists enjoying their lunch. We were greeted each other and we chose a table, since there were not many customers. Beautifully decorated the interior was a microcosm of the wider region. We enjoyed a delicious goulash soup, which was warm, but it was as hot as it was to cool the cold when we ride up to the motorcycle again. We enjoyed our break and continued our way on Nockalmstrasse until we met at road 95. We got road 95 towards south and before the village of Patergassen we saw on our right, the colorful statue of Heidi from our childhood cartoons, standing on a a tree trunk along with her goat, with an open hug to welcome the passers - by to her village - that was a few kilometers up in a hill... We took a few pictures and continued to road 95 towards Feldkirchen in Karnten. The end of the day would be in Klagenfurt, but I didn’t want to go straight there. I wanted to visit two lakes that we would find next to us if we didn’t follow the shortest way to Klagenfurt. So from Feldkirchen in Karnten I turned west and following road 94 find myself driving alongside Lake Ossiacher See. We left road 94 and we took road 83 leading east and we were right next to the shores of Lake Worthersee. The choice of this bypass has greatly compensated us! 40 more kilometers is nothing in comparison of such a delight in the soul?

It was late in the afternoon when we entered in Klagenfurt. I had booked the accommodation by booking.com, I put the address on GPS and when I reached where we should be our accommodation be... we didn’t find any hotel... I had made a basic mistake! The moment I booked the hotel - for the first time - I didn’t check where was on the map! The accommodation I had booked was located in a hamlet, Ferlach, 18 kilometers away from Klagenfurt... We got the road to Ferlach where we found the Gasthaus Matheild, a nice hotel, which was the one I had booked... Our sympathetic owner guided us to our room where we left our stuff, we freshened up and we were ready to go to Klagenfurt. Ferlach was on the verge of an overgrown hill, and next to a dense forest. The village houses, beautifully and carefree, gave you a great feeling of the Austrian country... I got a feeling like I was a peasant and that I was a part of that place!

It was already dusk when I parked my moto in Neuer Platz, where was the fountain, in the center of the square with Lindwurm, a sculpture reminiscent of something of a dragon and the statue of Mary-Theresia a few meters away, immediately attracted our look. For several years I had listen the best about Klagenfurt's beauty and on this trip I took care of the route to take me there to make my mind about all those sayings... With a population of 100,000 inhabitants it is a non-urban city as it is Vienna and Graz, and the Renaissance buildings and their galleries in the old town have been shaped accordingly to host shops, expensive boutiques, trendy bars, and rustic breweries... We walked to the central pedestrian street that guided us to Alter Platz where it is located one of the monuments - a symbol of Klagenfurt - the Plague Column, which was erected after a victory against the Turks, and at the bottom of its peak is the crescent moon and above it a cross.

The shops had begun to close and the world was thinning out of the pedestrianized old town. We went to a cafe to drink coffee and met the barman-waiter, Marko, who told us that he had moved from Italy to Klagenfurt because he found a better life there compared to the Mediterranean countries... We had a very beautiful and a thorough discussion where he analyzed his income and the expenses from his living there and gave us the feeling that we make a mistake by still living in Greece (during the economic crisis...). And surely, Mark and his Mexican girlfriend live a quality life! After that experience, we headed to the oldest and well-known brewery of the city, Augustiner. We tried Viennese Snitzel and of course we accompanied it with local beer...

The time I spent in Klagenfurt were not enough to be able to assess the beauty of the city. We also wanted to go to Minimundus Park, with more than 150 miniature architecture monuments from all over the world. We didn’t manage to go there as well as to explore Klagenfurt better. It doesn’t matter! It is a reason for one more visit to Klagenfurt in the future...

 

Day 8 (9/10/2015)           Klagenfurt-Graz (Austria) - Koprinvica (Croatia) 375 km

 

A new day at Ferlach had came with a slight overcast. The cheerful owner had prepared a delicious and hearty breakfast, and she was waiting for us! After a delicious breakfast, we loaded the panniers to the motorcycle and departed from Ferlach to Graz for our first stop... After crossing Klagenfurt, we didn’t got A2 motorway but the provincial road 70 and we enjoyed the 150 km route that separated us from Graz through green valleys where the cows enjoyed their food, overlooking hills and gorgeous hamlets... Our day started perfectly!!!

It was the second time I was going to visit Graz, but because Efi hadn’t been there, I put it on our route. Something that didn’t bothered me at all! On the other hand, the last time I visited this city, I was fascinated! We entered in the city, crossed the Mur River crossing Graz and parked the motorcycle in the beginning of the central pedestrian street. As I have said many times, every city that respects itself has a river!!! We started walking on the main pedestrian street called Herrengasse, admiring the buildings on both sides, and we reached the Hauptplatz square where we enjoyed our coffee and the passing of the locals and the tourists. In the opposite side of us was the town hall where we could see honeymooners being photographed outside that very beautiful building...

We left Graz and continued our trip to Koprivnica, Croatia. Before Koprivnica I wanted to stop at a small village hut I had stopped on a trip in 2007, and as I was on the way to Koprivnica, I set up the village of Benedikt in Slovenia on my GPS. A 90 km route covered it through the road E59, road 69 and the second provincial road 433. So we found Pension Petelin where nothing had changed those eight years since my last visit... The interior of the cafe-restaurant was the same as it was then which I loved first and foremost, as well as the soup that is a fixed value! So soup and Lasko beer!

            We continued on the Slovenian A5 motorway, which we just passed the Hungarian border became M70 and from the Letenye border station we entered from Hungary to Croatia. At the Croatian border, we saw a camp with Syrians and non-refugees who were waiting to go to Hungary, and Croatian police officers were guarding the area. We followed road 3 and then road 20 that led us to Koprivnica. Koprivnica is a small town, located in the NE part of Croatia, and is only 100 km away from the capital Zagreb. The reason we would spend our afternoon and our night in Koprivnica was the Dedic family. Through the Comenius program I had accommodated Dominik (Dedic family's son in my home) when he visited Greece. His family knew that I was traveling on my moto and had invited me to visit them, many times. Well, the time has come for that... That afternoon we were at the Dedic family home. I parked my moto in their yard, and they welcomed us. We had a big conversation about the life in Croatia and so much about how it was life in former Yugoslavia... When night came we went to the center of beautiful Koprivnica and we ended up in the oldest brewery in the city where we tasted old traditional dishes of local cuisine. Their hospitality really enslaved me!

 

Day 9 (10/10/2015)       Koprinvica (Croatia) - Novi Sad - Belgrade (Serbia) 390 km

 

In the morning we drank a coffee, we ate the delicious breakfast prepared by Manuela (the lady of the house), we saddled up the motorcycle, and after we thanked the Dedic family for their hospitality, we took a ride in the center of Koprivnica. After seeing the city we departed for Novi Sad (Serbia), following roads 2, 34 and 213 until we reached the Croatian-Serbian borders. The closer we were to the border, the more buildings, factories, aqueducts, etc., we saw that had suffered the consequences of the civil war... At the same time, the rain had begun to make its presence strong. I had given an appointment for a coffee and a chat in the town of Novi Sad with a friendly couple, Ernest and Jelena from Zrenjanin. I had never been in Novi Sad,  and I was always driving near by, as I had chosen Zrenjanin or Belgrade as an overnight stay. Belgrade was once again our destination that day, but after we had enough time, Novi Sad checked in on our route as a stop for a coffee break. As we were approaching the city following road 111, the rain was getting stronger. We parked the moto and started walking on the Dunavska pedestrian walkway, with the rain falling over our heads... Dunavska pedestrian street with the beautiful Baroque buildings of the 18th and 19th century that houses many cafés and restaurants. In one of those cafes we had an appointment with our Serbian friends. We had a long time to see each other and our joyful chat accompanied by hot coffee took some time. The time has come for us to continue our trip, so we said goodbye to our friends and continued our journey to Belgrade, which lasted only 95 kilometers, most of them on A1 motorway. I didn’t spend much time to explore Novi Sad, so I left a promise to explore more in the near future...

The rain didn’t stop, and accompanied us till we arrived in Belgrade. By the way... Beograd (Belgrade), means White City... We arrived in the old town of Belgrade, and we were accommodated in my well-known hotel, from my previous trips, in Booking Rooms Apartments. After we settled in our room, we went for a walk at Knez Mihailova, the central pedestrian street of the old town that was next to our accommodation. Also nearby was the Kalemegdan Fortress, which certainly deserves to be seen, since it has an incredible view of Belgrade's new city, but also of the two rivers, Sava and the Danube, that joined, in front of your eyes. I had walked to the park surrounding the castle, and I had admired the castle and the view from above on my previous trip, so we limited ourselves to the exploration of the shops on the pedestrian street... At some point we went into a cafe to get our afternoon coffee and a thunderstorm make its presence in the city and behind the display glass of the coffee house we were observing the people trying to protect themselves with their umbrellas, but the strong wind made it hard to keep them open...

When the weather was a bit calm, we left the warm place of the coffee house in Mihailova str, and  under our umbrella, we walked to Skadarska district selection  of poets and artists to taste Serbian cuisine in the picturesque taverns and for a drink accompanying live music to local kafanas. We had a few hours to spend in Belgrade, but they were all "full". Let me not forget to mention the brotherly love that Serbs have to the Greeks! You see it everywhere. Wherever to say that you are a Greek, their faces change their expression immediately and send off this brotherly love! This love for the Greeks, I have seen it in all of my travels to Serbia, as well in the last.

 

 

Day 10 (11/10/2015)                     Belgrade (Serbia) -Patras (Greece) 1075 km

 

The last day of my trips (like the day one) includes many kilometers on the road... At nine o’clock in the morning, we were ready to hit the road. A little late for me... The moto was ready for the road, and the sky in Belgrade was full of gray clouds! The meteo predicted that in Western Greece it would have severe weather conditions, so with Efi we decided to stay in Thessaloniki on Sunday and Monday that the weather would have changed for the better, to continue our trip to Patras... We started to get out of town with our rain gear worn over the outfits for the upcoming rain.

As it was Sunday, early in the morning, the city was empty... It was probably resting after a full of fun Saturday night... After a few minutes I found myself driving on the Serbian A1 motorway heading south! From the FYROM borders, we were 385 kilometers apart and I wanted to refuel before FYROM. The last time I put fuel on my previous moto, in Kumanovo in 2013, I lost the right cylinder of my bike! What a pain!!! We passed by the cities of Nis and Vranje. A1 motorway is under construction up to a few kilometers before the Serbian - FYROM border. It was two o’clock in the afternoon when we entered in FYROM and we were on the motorway... Alexander the Great... who had several toll stations where we could pay either in euro or in dinars. We had to travel 200 kilometers to the Skopje highway until we cross the border station of Evzones and enter in Greece. With controlled speed and caution, due to the police blocks set up by the police officers I drove to the Greek border without any incident. I was informed that the weather in Western Greece was getting better and so we decided not to spend a night in Thessaloniki and we would continued to Patras...

The remaining 520 kilometers were to be driven in Egnatia and the Ionian highway. We got rid of our rain gear when we arrived in Patras... We were wearing them during all our way home! The weather was bad but we didn’t have hard time till we arrived home. At ten o'clock in the night we arrived at our destination with a sweet fatigue but with sadness because that trip came to the end. In fact, the trip was not over when I unloaded the panniers of my motorcycle, and it would continue to be part of us for a while, since all those beautiful routes we had been through did not fade so quickly out of our minds! They will accompany us for some time until new plans of a new trip will keep busy our minds. It's no secret that a trip takes too long! It starts from the moment its plan begins, it reigns at the moment when it is made and ends when the plan of the upcoming begins... Of course each trip takes a special place in our minds and unfolds in our eyes when discussing about these trips...

The three cameras (Sony DSC-HX20V, Sony WSC-630, Nikon D3200) that I carried during the trip captured countless moments and landscapes. Also the three cameras (GoPro Hero 3, GoPro Hero2 and Contour Roam) that were mounted on the helmet and on the motorcycle, recorded many moments of fabulous driving in incredible places! My BMW Rallye 3 outfit, my BMW Touring 2 boots, BMW rain gear, BMW gloves and the BMW System 6 helmet, were all dry, warm during the cold days and above all safe during my trip. The BMW communication system that we had in our helmets provided us (with Efi) uninterrupted communication even on the days we spent several hours on the bike.

The tires wearing the motorcycle, Michelin Anakee3 in all the conditions we traveled, made us feel safe and secure! The 40-liter Kry-o rug sack that I was tied on the pannier was very easy to use and helpful in the way it closes (the same) and the way it ties on the pannier. My GPS, Garmin Zumo 660, has led me to all these wonderful places without any problems. I always had my maps on the tank bag's transparency because we must have a general picture of where we are when we travel!

How do I describe what my motorcycle offers me??? I sometimes feel that words to describe it are useless. I believe that only those who drive the same motorcycle could feel the joy and the feeling that this absolute driving machine gives me, in every kilometer we write together...!!! It is a magic carpet! It takes me off at any moment! Unstoppable!!!

My pillion passenger, Efi, was a fixed value! She had a very good passenger attitude while I was driving! Behavior? As a little girl you put on a horse in a carousel and seeing the world unfolding in front of her eyes. She was willing to absorb new information about the places we visited. Collaborative at all times and with a low index of female nagging...

The description of that wonderful trip to the Slovenian and Austrian Alps has come to the end... but at the moment I'm working on my next trip, and that's the water that falls and makes the mill always turn...

 

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