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Cycle tour on the Balkan states

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Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
Cycle tour on the Balkan states

Hello,
in a few weeks I would like to make a bicycle tour from Germany to Greece, passing Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegowina, Montenegro, Albania and finally Greece. Is there anyone who has made such a tour already and could give me some advice on it? Do you consider this tour to be possible in the very lowcost way of traveling?
I am looking forward to your answers
Thomas

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
Hi Thomas, I just reached

Hi Thomas,

I just reached Istanbul after crossing the Balkan.

Slovenia had the most beautifull nature, mountains,... It all looks like a natural park. There are only 2 million people, so a lot of clean nature. Perfect for wild camping. It is not a poor, cheap country. This is not the Balkan yet. It looks more like Austria, prices for food and accomodation too. People are friendly but rather distant, like in Belgium or Germany. Steep hills!

I crossed Croatia inland. The landscapes and the atmosphere were rather disappointing, untill closer to the Bosnian border, where the (sometimes steep) hills start. Easy traveling, supermarkets everywhere. Prices like in Western Europe.

Bosnia was the best! Extremely hospitable, helpfull, friendly. They didn't recover yet from the Balkan war, there are a lot of issues between the three different groups living in Bosnia. It is save though! The only thing you have to be carefull with is landmines. They put sings but even after 15 years it is impossible to find all minefields. Just don't walk through high wild plants, stay on the paths. Bosnia is very cheap is the west (Bosnia-Herzegovina part). The east (Republika Srbska part), especially Banja Luka, is as expensive as Western Europe.

I didn't go to the other countries on your list, so the information I have comes from others. Montenegro should be very beautifull nature, but difficult cycling due to the mountains. Albania is wild, less touristy than Croatia. They don't put signs with the names of the villages, which makes orientation difficult. In Greece they warn for wild dogs who love cyclists meet.

So in general people warn for the Balkan for cyclists: wild dogs (I never felt in real danger, I adopted a few), mountains (if there is a road, you can go up!), bears (please send me a picture if you find one, I'd love to see it), land mines (just follow your instincts and listen to the locals, take it serious but don't get paranoid).

My only concern would be the winter. Cycling in the snow and on ice is possible, but very tricky. You will survive camping untill minus 20, but it is hell!

Take care x Inge

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
Question on Croatia

During the last days I heard about the fact that camping in Croatia is permitted on campgrounds only and you need a registration to travel through the country. Is there anyone who knows more about this and who has already made some experiences on this?
I am looking forward to your answer
Thomas

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
Possible that there is a law

Possible that there is a law like that. Wildcamping is illegal in a lot of countries. I had the cops coming over a few times, I think in Bosnia. Smile, show your passport, they make a call, they ask if you need anything (you can ask food, sigarettes, a roof if it's raining,...). No problem at all, they are just curious. I wouldn't camp in a city park, but that counts in every country. No registration. Croatia will be EU soon, so they try to act EU-like and make everything more expensive than before.

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
Beautiful Dalmatian Coast

Hi Thomas

I can give you some advice about all those countries, because I cycled along the Dalmatian Coast in the fall 2011 together with my wife.
Slovenia and Croatia are touristic (especially in the summer and along the coast line) and with western infrastructure. If you've planned to visit some islands of croatia, you definitely should do it. Some islands are cheaper and have a special nature. For example Pag, which is like a rocky desert in the summer.
The next country on your trip will be Montenegro. It is more expensive than Croatia, because they have the Euro, even if it is not part of the EU. We didn't like Montenegro, because of the people and the huge amount of ruins along the coast. The most beautyful place was Kotor in the Bay of Kotor. This is a pitoresque old village with a castle worth seeing.
Definitely the highlight of this coast line is Albania. Very open-hearted and hospitable people, breathtaking nature and you will not use a lot of money. Do not hesitate to use highways to cycle along, because sometimes you don't have any other alternative. After a while, you get used to seeing donkeys, fruit- and vegetables stores on the breakdown line. ;-) Avoid the capital Tirana, not only because of the crazy traffic. In the southern region of Albania, if you still follow the coast line, you have to climb to 1'000 meter above sea level. After that you will pass by Himarë and Sarandë, which was the most beautiful but also hardest part of our trip.
In Sarandë you can decide to go to Greece on the mainland or make a detour via the island of Korfu. In the summer, Korfu is flooded by tourists.
The northern mainland of Greece is partly empty with some nice typical Greece villages on the coast. In Preveza you have to decide to take the tunnel by bus or to cycle the whole Bay of Amvrakikos, which will add about 100km to your odometer. This area is affected by extensive farming. In Antirrio you can take the sidewalk over the majestic bridge to the island of Peleponnes (with a staircase on the other side) or stay on the mainland and follow the coast line to Athens. Greece is not as cheap as you may think. I think the prices for food are almost the same as in Germany. I'm not sure if this is one of the consequences of the Euro crisis. For a night in a low cost hotel off season you have to pay 30 Euro. Prices are negotiable.

To make the long story short, I think you should not have any problems to do this trip in a lowcoast way of travelling. We usually used camping places to spend the nights, because the weather was sunny and warm and we wanted to have the "holiday on the beach" feeling. I cannot give you any advice for the winter time. I guess campsites are not an option, because they are closed. However, wild camping should not be a problem, espacially in the quiet winter time. There were some few moments, when we pitched the tent on the island of Korfu on the beach of a big holiday apartment resort, because it was abandoned in the late fall time. Additionally there are always some warmshower hosts along your way. ;-) And in Albania and Greece you can always find friendly helpful people and a place for your tent. Just ask!

I wish you a nice and safe trip!

Adrian

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