Week 9 – Romania, Serbia, Bosnia & Croatia

Sunday 26th to Friday 31st of May

Turda – Sebes – Orsova – Belgrade – Sarajevo – Makarska

Sunday 26/05/2019 – Ride Day; Turda to Sebes

We woke up to a fine day so got on the road with a view having a look at Cheile Turzil  natural reserve which we missed yesterday. What little we saw on a short walk was impressive.

Seeing as today was going to be a rather short day we decided to do a few roads that I doubt too many travelers have ever seen, and they certainly beat the main road even if a little slower and less maintained. The first loop took us well west of the highway.

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This brought us out at the town of Aiud where we had a coffee sans cake, and listened to the church bells competing before running down the highway to Alba Iulia where we stopped at the  Cetatea Bastionară Alba Carolina which is well worth a visit. We spent a pleasant hour over lunch.

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We then took a loop eastward through some lovely farmland.

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We arrived in Sebes in the mid afternoon and booked into our 5 star hotel. Well  not exactly 5 star, but it was for us considering a couple of our immediate previous lodgings. It’s certainly a bit of a lottery when it comes to doing accommodation on a budget because you never really know what you’ll get in spite of the reviews and pics posted on booking.com which is what we’ve been using as a rule. Mostly they’re pretty good, but there’s been a few that haven’t been. Sebes was great with dedicated secure motorcycle parking.

20190527_001416Day 31 135k

There’s actually not much to see in Sebes, it just happens to be a convenient jump off point for the Transalpina Highway, which remains closed until 30th June. 135k for the day.

Monday 27/05/2019 – Ride Day; Sebes to Orsova (Iron Gates)

With conflicting reports on whether or not the Transalpina was open we decided on the side of caution and took the western road which in itself turned out to be a great ride.

But first we ran even further west to see the Fortress of Deva which is pretty spectacular, by all accounts anyway, because when we got there we couldn’t see 50 metres in front of ourselves because of fog. This is what we should have seen, but didn’t.

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So we turned around and retraced the road to the E79 and south. There was snow on the peaks and it became quite cool as we wound our way down and ever down to emerge at Targu Jiu where we took a break.

And so we arrived in Drobeta-Turnu Severin where we played tourists on a motorcycle.

 

We passed the famous Iron Gate I Hydroelectric Power Station  which is the largest dam on the Danube river and one of the largest hydro power plants in Europe. It is located on the Iron Gate gorge, between Romania and Serbia.

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It was becoming a long day as we headed west towards Orsova and our lodgings in what was once a communist era apartment block. Not a lot has changed and this one was marked as a ‘miss’ in the lottery. You pays your money ….  335klms today which is one of our longest on this trip to date.

Day 32 335k

Tuesday 28/05/2019 – Lay Day; Orsova (Iron Gates)

Today we played tourists in a leaky boat as we joined 10 other game souls in what could well have been a communist era bath tub with a Johnson outboard on the back. For A$15 each we got to see the Iron Gate Gorge first hand while our tour guide gave us a running Romanian commentary. Luckily we were seated next to a bloke who spoke far better English than we understood Romanian.

The Danube River is not Blue, but it is big at 2,850klms long and passing through 10 countries.

Wednesday 29/05/2019 – Ride Day; Orsova to Belgrade

Today I thought it prudent to take a major border crossing from Romania into Serbia. This is because of the third party property insurance, or Green Card, that we carry and the uncertainty with its acceptance in Serbia even though there is a footnote (in German) to say that it is. I’d gone through the trouble of getting said footnote translated and hoped that Google Translate wasn’t telling fibs.

So we headed back and crossed the dam wall at Iron Gates. Did we have any trouble? Yes we did, but on the Romanian side which insisted we wouldn’t be able to enter Serbia with the above mentioned Green Card, not that it mattered to them really. I’m thinking they were just feeling extra bureaucratical that early in the morning and once I showed them the screenshot of the translated text they merely shrugged their shoulders as if to say ‘be it on your own head fool’.

So what happened on the Serbian side you ask. Absolutely nothing. They didn’t even look at the bike papers, just stamped our passports, smiled and said ‘welcome to Serbia’. You just never know. Let’s see what happens when we enter Bosnia tomorrow where we’ll have the same issue we had entering Turkey.

We counted our blessings and followed the mighty Danube for 130klms. We got to see some of the sights we’d seen yesterday.

 

And passed a few other sights before stopping for a brew.

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Belgrade seemed to be in turmoil when we arrived with traffic jams at every turn, but we finally found our ex communist/dictatorship era apartment block ‘miss’ for the night just before a torrential thunderstorm. The thing is with these places is that they can be very nice inside, as this one actually was, but a total mess otherwise.

After the rainstorm we played tourists for a couple of hours.

It had been a good day of 260klms.

Day 33 260k

Thursday 30/05/2019 – Ride Day; Belgrade to Sarajevo

I’d originally planned on spending 2 nights in both Belgrade and Sarajevo as well as a night in a place called Mokra Gora but extended threatening bad weather and an obscure border crossing into Bosnia helped me decide to take a quick and easy run to Croatia and a 5 day rest period in Makarska.

The threat of inclement weather had us togged up in our wets for an early ‘beat the traffic’ start out of Belgrade. Total fail, but eventually we got out of town and rode through Serbia’s heartland, stopping in a small village where we brewed our coffee in the local park before heading for the Bosnian border.

You can just never predict how these border crossings will turn out. Exiting Serbia with perfect paperwork was a bit of a drama. Entering Bosnia was a ‘stamp your passport, not interested in your moto, see you later’ 30 second anticlimax.

We headed into the foothills of what I think are the Balkan Mountains, and it started to rain. But these were virtually perfect roads so the riding was really good. That was until we got towards the top of the ranges where we ran into dense fog/cloud before breaking through into clear skies over the top then the reverse on the way down. Still, hills and great roads, short sweepers and a powerful motorcycle make for an enjoyable time, even if it’s cold and raining. We stopped for fuel and a much needed comfort stop 40klms from Sarajevo and hot chocolate tasted just fine.

It was an easy ride into our ‘win’ lodgings in Sarajevo which even had heated floors in the bathroom much to Norma’s delight. It was a definite win for her after a different and probable uncomfortable day – I am blessed man to have such a willing partner. We had a shower and had a quick look around the Turkish Bazaar like old town before an early night. Another decent 290klms for the day.

Friday 31/05/2019 – Ride Day; Sarajevo to Makarska

I managed to coax Norma into her wets and away from those heated bathroom floors and we were on the road by 8am through some of the most delightful riding we have done so far. Perfect roads, amazing views, lots of corners and little traffic; what more can a man ask for?

We generally like to stop for morning tea around 10am and that requires finding a convenient stopping place preferably with a table and chairs for our aging bodies. Today we had to settle for AMCO for seating, but the scenery didn’t disappoint.

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We continued on our way to Mostar specifically to see the reconstructed Mostar Bridge.

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We joined the throng of tourists, took our pictures, and left town via the high road on our way to Croatia where we had no border issues. We chased the new tollway along the mountains before dropping down to the coast through a tunnel.

 

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And so to Makarska where we found a car wash on the way in and spruced the Guzzi up a bit before finding our winwin accommodation right in the heart of town.

We had stopped here in 2016 and it was a little like coming home although there are a whole lot more tourists around. We enjoyed dinner overlooking the beach as the sun set.

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255klms today and time for a well deserved break. See you next week.

Day 35 255k

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