Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Dec. 25 Merry Christmas in Larissa!
On Christmas Eve I was taken out by Val. She wanted to show me Larissa and show me traditional Greek drinks. We drank rakomelo. Which is a liqure made from grapes that the put honey in and serve it to you warm in a small jar. You keep pouring “shots” to sip. Yamas! After a few rounds of these.. it was beginning to be a great Christmas.

Rakomelo. Goes on my list of favorites. 

In the morning we hung out and about 1 the whole family got together for a feast. I am not joking about feast. There was rosted pork, chicken stuffed with peppers, turkey, stuffing, soup, bread, home-made wine, beats, and of course tziki sauce! We chatted for a while. A few of the dozen or so that were there spoke English. Its always interesting to have people ask questions through a translator then wait watch them light up when he/she explains to them. Then 5 more questions come back. I'm getting a very good feel for the order of questions people ask. Where are you from? Where have you been? How long have you been traveling?.... If I can explain those.. its usually followed by How rich are you? I explain that I am a bank robber and I go from city to city until the money runs out. This usually gets a laugh and they don't ask that question again. But in this family, they didn't care about that. They wanted to hear about where I have been and where I am going. What Morocco, Italy, Scotland, Canada and the US is like. Later in the day I noticed the little ones playing Legos. I am a firm believer that Legos are the best toys on the planet and they teach so many basic skills about spacial knowledge. The little kid was 6 or so? But we made this huge tower together. After a few rows he understood to overlap bricks to make the structure stronger and could finish any row that I started. We built the tower as tall as we could then made it into a wind turbine. The next day his mother said he wouldn't stop talking about what we had built. That night Val and I met her sister out for a few more drinks. We walked around the city and took some picture. I even caught my family back in Minnesota at my grandparents house just before their feast. If I couldn't be with my own family, this was certainly the best alternative ever. I now feel like Greece is another spot I will need to go back and visit.

Part of my xmas family. 

Ms. Greece and family

This guy is from Russia apparently. I think I will have to pick one up when I am there. 




She likes the way these flowers smell. 
Dec. 26 Larissa to Thessaloniki Greece. 167 km
We said our good byes and Val signed Greece on the moto. I was on the road by about noon and got into Thessaloniki about an hour before dark. I tried to stay off the toll road but its actually quite hard to do. I found “The Little Big House” hostel in the internet the night before and put it in my GPS. Finding it in real life proved to be much more difficult. Thessaloniki is full of one-way streets and all sorts of craziness. The more you get into the hills the less reason or rhyme they have. They get very small also. The hostel didn't have private parking but it was a dead end street so I locked her to a pole out front. I met a kid from Australia at the hostel the plan was to get dinner. He was supposed to catch a bus at 6 or 7 in the morning. I was not the instigator but 1 turned into many and we didn't get back to the hostel until 3 in the morning.

I really like this beer. 

Dec. 27 Thessaloniki
I slept in then walked around the town some. Got a hair cut and some things I needed. That night I went out with another guy from the hostel. Prithu is from India but was living in Germany. Again it turned into a late night. Later then anticipated. I think Thessaloniki is a time warp. If you go have dinner at 7 or 8.. before you know it.. it's 4 in the morning. No regrets. This was a fun town.

The trash collectors were on strike. There is a dumpster in there somewhere. 

New friend Prithu

Our friendly bartender.

Old school KTM 640 ADV. 

Had quite the interesting convo with these guys. 

Dec. 28 Thessaloniki to Asprovalta Greece. 193 km
Around mid morning I checked out of the hostel and started to ride. I wanted to get some spare tubes because after the flat in Albania, I had no spares. I found a motorcycle tire shop called “OK Tire” and I ended up buying new tires and tubes. The price was right. T-63 in the rear and a Karroo 2 up front. I felt a bit bad taking the 908 off the rear because it still had a couple thousand kms left in it but I was told by a friend that Turkey is very expensive for tires. The guys at the shop were great. They fed me and gave me coffee before I left. Thanks!
I wanted to do motorway toward Turkey but I took a wrong turn leaving Thessaloniki and didn't realize I was driving south instead of west for about 80 km. This took me onto a peninsula that actually had some very nice mountains. When the sun was out, it was warm but closer to evening it started to get very cold and foggy. So I ended up only going about 80 km from Thessaloniki after riding 190. I stayed the night in a side-of-the road cafe/hotel.

OK Tire Crew. 
They even fed me. 

If I ever start drinking espresso.. I will have this cup.

New Karroo 2 up front 
T63 in the rear. 

The TKC 80 had 14,000km on it and the Dunlop 908 had about 8,000km. I felt bad about changing it but tires get expensive in Turkey.

Fog creeping through the trees.
Dec. 29 Asprovalta to Feres Greece 294 km
Up early to rain. When the rain stopped the wind started. There were times when my bike was at 45 degrees. I left the motorway and went on small roads for most of the day to try and stay in shelter. I found a hotel in Feres Greece. The hotel had a court yard with a locking gate so the moto was safe. Dinner was brick oven pizza made from a fat-bald German man who chain smoked like crazy. He would light one cig then start talking and it would burn down to the butt and he would light another. Quite funny. It was very windy and cold that night.

Kavala Greece. Stopping for coffee. 

Dec. 30. Feres Greece to Istanbul Turkey 286 km
It was about 15 km to the border when I started. I made sure I got fuel in Greece. As expensive as the fuel is in Greece, I knew that Turkey has the highest fuel prices in the world right now. It was not as windy as the day before but still very cold. In the evening I made it into Istanbul and found my friend Tolga's (Mudfrog) house. Istanbul is a crazy place to ride. Very steep hills and very small streets. Not many people ride motos so the cars don't really respect the space. One would think with fuel prices the way they are, more people would ride motos and scoots. But its mostly just the delivery people on scoots.

This guy is on his 2nd year peddling. He rode from south Africa up through the continent and is now headed toward Asia. Keep going man!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia

Dec. 18. 2012 Split Croatia

I got off the ferry in the morning and found a cash machine and internet. I needed to find the address my friend Sheldon sent me for the apartment he was staying in. He has been on the road for since May 2011 and has done Most of Africa and Europe on a F800GS. We walked around the town that day and that night. I didn't really want to leave Split. It was so beautiful. The town and the woman. I think there were at least 5 females for every guy. I was considering buying a house there. I guess I have to go back sometime. I say that a lot it seems!


A nice dinner from a nice Croation girl

Seemed appropriate at the time

Dec. 19 Split to Makarska Croatia. 73 km

I knew there was a KTM dealer in Makarska and I needed to change my oil. I was hoping they would be as cool as the other KTM shops I have been to. In Germany they let me us a lift and do all the work my self. In Spain they gave me an oil pan and let me change it outside the shop. This guy insisted on doing the work so we just talked to him. I wanted to check the valves but I didn't want to pay him to take apart my bike.. something I can probably do in half the time since I've done it before.. many times. So he finished up and then changed the oil on Sheldon's F800GS. It was interesting getting a close up look at that bike. The wind that day was horrible. It was blowing off the mountains into the Adriatic Sea. I started the day with the snowboard mounted sideways but after the oil change I figured out a new way to mount it. Strapped to my tank and giant loop. There is enough room to put my leg in between the board bike comfortably. That night we stayed in a pretty nice hotel. We ate at a pretty nice restaurant and I had some sort of fish from the sea. It was a whitefish with both eyes on the same side of its head. It was great! We walked around the town for a few drinks then slept.

We tried to go through that tunnel but it was closed due to construction

Sheldon all bundled up. 

Cool wooden boats

The Croatian KTM dude. I thought letting him sign Croatia on the bike would help him crack a smile :)

He had a sweet LC4 660 motard though. 

Getting full!

Look at that wind!


Dec. 20 Makarska Croatia to Neum Bosnia and Herzegovina . 147 km

Beautiful morning in Makarska. It was hard to leave. This place is like a paradise. Snow covered martians over looking a historic village/harbor on the sea. We started to ride south and after about a half hour noticed some twisty roads up into the mountains and wet exploring. We got up to around 1200 meters before the snow was to slick to continue. We got to ride some dirt in the mountains then we continued south toward Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was getting dark before we got to Neum and we found a hotel. The sunset was amazing though.

Beautiful morning in the harbor

Maybe they should take it out of the water more often? 

Getting up by the snow level

Sheldon tiptoeing through the snow

An old bunker

Some sort of agricultural field. Rice maybe? 


View from the Hotel. 
Dec. 21 Neum Bosnia and Herzegovina to Petrovac Montenegro. 198 km

Sheldon and I split ways in once we were back in Coratia. He stayed in Dubrovnic and it sounds like he met some nice ladies there. I continued into Montenegro. The border police were great. They wanted me to drink beer and whiskey with them. A couple hours later I got pulled over for speeding apparently I was going 65km/h in a 60? Its a good thing he didn't see me before I slowed down for the corner. So I paid the fine and kept going. After talking with the cop for a while I almost got him to let me go but his boss was on the other side of the street so he said he had to. Oh well. Ticket number 2 for the trip. Way cheaper then the one I got in Alaska. My plan was to stay in Budva but when I got there, it didn't feel right so I kept riding. When I got to Petrovac, I found a great Apartment for 30 euro. I wanted to see what the town was like so I found some dinner and drinks. For dinner I had pesto pasta.. only they added cream to the sauce. It was the most epic pesto I have had in a very long time. My bar tender at one place grew up in Sarajevo and she was there during the war. It is so unreal talking to people with these experiences.

My friend  Djordje signed Bosnia and Herzegovina 

Back in Croatia


I thought this was funny so I took a pic. It doesn't translate as well though. 

Making friends with the Montenegro border guards.

His and Hers churches on Islands.  

Only my 2nd ticket in the past 9 months. Way cheaper then Alaska. 
Dec. 22 Petrovac Montenegro to Shkodra Albania. 121 km

In the morning I went back the same restaurant that I ate at the night before. It was called Cafe Azur and I highly recommend it. On the way out of town I was going into a grocery store to buy some water and an old lady was begging for money for food. So when I was inside I bought her a loaf of bread. When I gave it to her she said "no money money". Next I met this huge guy who was said "my friend my friend, how much would you have to pay for this in America". He opened his trunk to show me about 30 different Adidas track suits. I had to explain that I really didn't know because I don't wear Adidas track suits. Maybe I should? I might fit in better? He was funny. Apparently he gets them from a friend who works in an Adidas factory in Montenegro then sells them for about 1/3 the price. If he would have been selling Klim out of the back of his car I might have been interested. He told me I should go over the mountains to the town of Virpazar because there is a festival that is going on there. All sorts of local wine, veggies, meats, fish etc. My plan was to ride along Scutari lake on the way south into Albania. But once I got to Virpazar, it was a mad house! There were probably 10k people trying to park their cars along the road. There is only 1 bridge across the river and it was closed for the festival. Only foot traffic. So I was not able to go along the lake. So I headed back to the coast and rode south some more. Almost in Albania I went past a cafe and a guy waved so I decided to stop for some coffee. They convinced me to try the soup which was a bean and vegetable soup. Just what I needed. At the border the line of cars was about 2 km long so I went to the front and the police waved me into a different line. They had me go on the sidewalk between the main building and the booths. I handed them my passport and the stamped it and I was on my way. Going into Albania reminded me a lot of Morocco. It was a bit of a reality check. In the first main town I saw an electrical shop and I thought they might have a toggle for my heated jacket. I lost the inline switch so I had not been able to use it. The owner had me follow him to 4 different shops and we couldn't find a toggle. So he gave me a lamp switch and I wired it inline. Then we drank some Albanian moonshine from a clear bottle with no label. They found a hotel for me and said I would have a secure place for the moto in a gas station/garage next door. I had some sea bass that night and it was very very good.

Best home made soup I have had in a long time. Somewhere very close to the Albanian border.

I waited about 5 minutes then went to the front. 

Lots of nice A2 VWs

Looking over the bike. 

No toggle switch anywhere in there? 

No label? No problem. 

Dec. 23 Shkodra Albania to Ohrid Macedonia. 259 km

I left Shkodra after some coffee and sweet pastry things. I had to make it to Ohrid Macedonia that night because I had a free hotel room. My friend Sanja from Skokje had called in a favor to one of her friends. The day was going good and I decided to get off the motorway and go through some small towns. I felt the familiar release of air from my rear and pulled over on the side of the road. Sure enough I had a flat. It doesn't take long to draw attention so I pushed the bike into a parking of a wood shop and asked them if I could fix my flat. They offered an air compressor and everything. I had picked up a nail and it ripped the tube so it was not fixable. After the spare tube was in and aired up, the guys made me have coffee with them. Good bunch of people. I continued on and got a bit lost in the capitol city of Tirana. Traffic is crazy. Once again I was having flashbacks to Marrakech. It was dark by the time I was climbing the pass to the Macadonian border. Heated jacket was a life saver. The border guards didn't keep me long and an hour later I was in a nice warm hotel room in Ohrid. I wanted to go explore the city but the owners of the hotel insisted I eat and drink in their bar. Since I was a guest I didn't argue. I am sad I did not get to meet many people from Macedonia.

Abandoned factory of some sort. 

When the nail went through the tube.. it ripped the tire. 

These guys were happy to help. 

Fixing the flat

After some coffee. 

Turkeys everywhere. In Morocco, this would be goats.. and they would be on the roof. 

Quality roads. 

Traffic in Tiranna

3 wheeler or 5 wheeler? 

Dec. 24 Ohrid Macedonia to Larissa Greece. 314 km

It was a sunny cold day when I started. They cooked me a great cheese omelet and a few cups of coffee. I rode from Ohrid to Bitola then south into Greece. I was a little bit worried about getting back into the Euro union because I arrived in Europe in August and you are technically supposed to have 3 months in the Schengen area. When I took the tunnel into France, I never got a stamp on my passport. All my worries were for nothing and let me through with no troubles. In the first main town I met a great dude from Belgium who is biking to Mongolia. Raf plans to go through Iran this winter and get to Mongolia some time next summer. He has until September before he has to go back to work. I predict he will get to Mongolia and continue to China. He said the dogs had been messing with him so he made a spear out of wood just in case. Here is his Raf's Blog

After drinking coffee with Raf and continuing on, I was running out of daylight. I rode motorway for most of the way down through Greece. The thing I noticed in Greece was I never had long visibility. Sometimes it was fog. Sometimes it was smog. But it reminded me of LA. I made it to Larissa after dark and met up with my couch surfing host. I was taken in by an amazing family for Christmas.

Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid

Interesting home-made driving saw. 

At least the road is dry. 

Good Macedonian beer. 


Notice the wooden spear. This is for the wild dogs. 

Seems slightly dirty.

I really wish I could have spent more time in these countries. I suggested that my brother meet me in Croatia instead of Italy but he wanted to go to Florence. I would have much rather spent a week in Split Croatia the Florence Italy. Such is life.