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Balkan Adventure ABA1901

Tuesday, June 11, 2019 | Dieter Arnoth / Paul Kustermann / Manuel Marabese | Europe

The iconic shot of the church "Iglesia San Juan Kaneo"

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Droning the Edelweiss Adventure (piloted by Manuel Marabese)

Day 1 - Welcome to the Balkans!

Welcome to Zagreb, capital of Croatia and starting point of our tour exploring the Balkans! A wonderful journey across 7 coutries (or 8, depending on how one considers the official status of Kosovo).

A short review of 9000 years history

Day 2 - Our first riding day... Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes

Despite a grey morning sky we have been blessed with some good weather for the start of our tour. After quickly leaving the urban landscape of Zagreb behind us we started to explore the mountains aross the Croatian - Slovenian border. A small, from time to time bumpy and wet single lane road brings us to a relaxing coffee stop in the middle of rural Croatia.

Lunch is served in a fairy idyllic place in the Rastoke, the hisotrical centre of Slunj. A series of small waterfalls and rapids surrounds the restaurant. Water seems the theme of the day, because our destination for today is Plitvice, famous for the National Park and the incredible waterfalls connecting the lakes. 

Our first glimpse of a Christian Orthodox church
Rastoke in Slunj
Our first hotel away from home in Zagreb
Arriving
Relaxing
Hiking among the Plitvice Lakes. One of Croatias largest, and arguably most impressive national parks
The big waterfall from above
and now the big waterfall from below - we have been on top right above !!
We walked two hours around the lower lakes, such a scenic place
look at this emerald water
Cheers! First riding day done!
Yummi

Day 3 - From Plitvice to Sarajevo

We are leaving Croatia today and entering Bosnia. After passing Bihac we ride along the valley of the Una river, arriving quite in Sarajevo for the night. This town has seen a long siege during the Balkan War from 1992 to 1996 but today it is thriving and mostly recovered.

Our Swiss Family
and Taiwanes friends
litte lunch stop
Sarajevo
Three hotel was nearly unreachable in the narrow streets above the city, but the rooms were unbelievably unique.

Day 4 - From Sarajevo to Kolasin

We discovered another country today - time to enter Montenegro, "The Black Mountain" as the original name Crna Gora says. This country is indeed surrounded by fiery mountains, which offer great curvy roads.

Border to Montenegro
Drina canyon
Durmitor National Park
Tara Canyon
Riding along the Tara Canyon

...while the van and one tour member took another route through the spectacular DURMITOR PARK

Day 5 - From Kolasin through Korsovo to Bajram Curri in Albania

Today we will have breakfast in Montenegro, lunch in Kosovo and dinner in Albania. A true Balkan multi-cultural experience!

Borders can be the most challenging part of the trip
I've of two great lunch places
The other great lunch place
Finally we managed to print the green card of Marcel and Marlies on a green paper! We tried to print in colours on white paper but in four days we could not find any single colour printer which worked!
Just after entering the border to Albania
Thanks to a tip from a German-Kosovar gentleman met at the border we discovered this restaurant from lunch: Trofta, which means trout. And they have trouts indeed, tons of them in their own basins.
Albania is the next country
Bajram Curri

Day 6 - From Bajram Curri to Mavrovo Lake

A very challenging day! We left Bajram Curri at 9am and we reached Mavrovo after 8pm. 335km, two border crossings, and an incredible 100-km long curvy road along the dam lake in the morning! What a ride!

Early morning ride into Valbona Valley
Start of the 100km curve challenge ... imagine 100km just curves, no villages in-between, no traffic and mind blowing landscape scenery ---- WOW
Group picture above the reservoire

Day 7 - Restday ride Mavrovo

Most of the group takes off for a remote village south west of Lake Mavrovo
Scenic landscape around Mavrovo
hot spring

While a couple of off-road lovers headed north into the up-mountain back road country

Day 8 - From Mavrovo to Kjustendil via historic Lake Ohrid

Wonderful Ohrid lake - close to Greece
Rodolfo from Brazil
Up through the scenic National Park
Lake Prespa
On the road to Kustendil in Bulgaria

Day 11 - Pirot to Belgrad through Serbia

An unusually friendly encounter with the police
Facilities along the way were somewhat primitive but thank God there was plenty of nature around for those not too shy to go "au nature"
After a hard ride a welcomed respite at a very unique little haven
...full of sculptures and fascinating hands crafted burl furniture and amusing fantastical "objets d'arts"
... and some nostalgic nationalism (or irony?) to boot!
Then it was on top the Danube...
Looking out at the infamously narrow "Iron Gate"
Did someone say it was the "blue" Danube?

Day 13 - Slavonski Brod to Zagreb and wrapping up the tour

The last van pack.... where will the last three bags go?
In the hotel in Zagreb. All back! All well. Some of our material the worse for ware, but bodies and souls keen, happy and enriched for the experience.
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