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Scouting Greece2Croatia and Eastern Europe - we'll be baack!

Sunday, April 8, 2018 | Thomas Ritt | Europe

This post was brought to you by co-scouter and professional "hidden treasure" hotel and restaurant researcher Simone Ritt. Thanks for watching!

Day 1

First Day - first stop - first highlight: Butrint - in the picture the best preserved mosaic in Europe. Well, we must believe them, it's covered under the sand.
Traditional architecture in Albania.
Riding curves all day long: in Albania no problem. Just a short impression of it.
Another Highlight of the day: Gjirokaster Castle. Really impressive building.
And from there you have just a overwhelming view to the snow covered mountains.
That's the reason why scouting is necessary: the picture speaks for itself!
A possible overnight stay in Albania and ours for this night.

Day 2

Before we left Korca we visited this really nice orthodox church of St. George or Shën Gjergji.
Our first destination of the day was Ohrid and our first challenge of the day to reach it was to go over the Livada Pass. But as you can see, it was snowing very heavily.
Eventually we had to quit and find a way to turn around. But the first part one of us had to drive backwards and for one of us it was a little bit frightning. Shit happens.
Finally we reached Ohrid and went for a walk to the beautiful orthodox church Sveti Jovan.
And almost the whole way we had our personal city guide. You can see him in the picture Isn't he cute?
After sightseeing in Ohrid we went on to scout some nice curvy roads and hopefully without another u-turn in deep snow.
Finally we reached our destination for tonight: Shkodra. After a very tasty meal we made a short walk and passed one of the first highlights of this town: a statue from Mother Theresa. She visited this town twice.

Day 3

We are in Shkodra in front of a sculpture of Adrian Isufi. These flowers are made out of remains of communiste-era grenades.
After that we visited the castle Rozafa. In the picture you can see the church-mosque Saint Stephen.
From the castle you have a good view of the Lead Mosoque.
Always be careful in the mountains, especially in Albania. From time to time we had rocks on the roads.
SH20: don't forget the number. A sharply winding road with roundabout 30km length. It climbs up to Leqet e Hotit mountain pass. When it snows really hard it may get closed.
We think, it should have been closed this time. A second day with hard conditions. In the picture you can see the beginning, but the hardest part was yet to come. Sorry, no picture of that, we had to concentrate to much...
After a series of turns this restaurant could be a perfect place for a break. Not for us, we only had one wish, to get out of the snowy hell! For your interest: we surely made it.

Day 4

Switching from CCG to CEE we made a stopover in Beograd. Here you can see an iron maiden, part of a torture exhibition.
Before we continued to Romania we had a look at the temple of Saint Save, a Serbian orthodox church.

Day 5

After a short night (we switched a time zone) we made a walk trough Timisoara, a destination of the tour. This is the square Piata Unirii with its restored houses Brück and Emmer. Both were built in Art Nouveau style.
Here you can see the Timisoara Brewery, the oldest one in Romania.
In order to select the best attractions for this tour we stopped at the excavation of Sarmizegetusa (Hunedoara).
On our way to the next highlight of the day, we were impressed by snow covered peaks of the carpathian mountains.
Each of us had to make his own picture! But now hurry up, we had a few more miles to drive this day...
But still we had to take a picture of the oldest church in Romania called Densuș.
On our way to Hunedoara we saw these impressive roof ridges.
Corvin Castle: Isn't it overwhelming? We have never seen a comparable castle before. Vlad the impaler is said to have visited this castle.
Matei Corvin - the Good King of Hungary.

Day 6

We woke up high in the Apuseni Mountains, because we'd like to visit the Scărișoara Ice Cave, which is the second biggest underground glacier in south-eastern Europe.
We were very lucky, because of a school class we were enough for the guide to get a tour through the cave. And look at this ice sculptures!
Next attraction this beautiful church in front of the Piatra Secuiului. But the best part of it: a dream of a road for motorcycles, which leads to this nice little place. Bad for one of us who may not ride this on two wheels.
Salina Turda: one of the oldest and best known salt mine in Transylvania, which shall be one of the 25 hidden gems in the world. Well, we had to check this.
You must see it with your own eyes, otherwise you can't believe it. Comparible with an amusemant park, but situated under surface.
We reached Alba Iulia, which is famous for the Fortress Alba Carolina. The citadell is the largest one in Romania and has a heptagonal shape.
Really lovely to walk over the place and to eat some typical romanian: Cozonac secuiesc.
It's done for today! Just a short walk through the next Destination: Sibiu. The bed is already waiting...

Day 7

After a nice breakfast with everthing we could wish, we did something for our fitness by climbing up a bell tower to get a surrounding overview of Sibiu.
The oldest fortification tower in Sibiu is now calld Casa Calfelor and becomes a hostel for the wandering journeyman. Everyone of them can hammer a hand-made nail into this "Wood of Iron".
Unique for Transylvania are the Fortified Churches. We visited a view of them, but we think Biertan is one of the most impressive.
And once again we had to climb a myriad of stairs. But it's worth it. Sighisoara is considered to be the most beautiful and well-preserved inhabited citadel in Europe, with authentic medieval architecture.
But for one of us Sighișoara is more interesting because Vlad the Impaler has lived in this town. Maybe he is also born there.
Our destination for the night: Bran. A must for Dracula Fans. The Bran castle is commonly known as "racula's Castle". Well, it is not proven, but also not refuted that Vlad the Impaler was here...
But before we visit the castle tomorrow, we try to come into the right mood with our night accommodation!

Day 8

We are ready to be one of the first visitors this day on Bran Castle.
A very lovely castle. Hunedoara was very impressive, but this cosy one also counts to the best five we ever visited.
Every corner has something to discover. And each of us made the same picture of this little well, they are almost identical.
The last one fortified church we went by was in Moșna.
We finally reached our overnight stay Cluj-Napoca and made a short walk through the citycenter.
Well and the most interesting detail of this town is, we think, that King Matthias Corvinus is born here.
But we do not forget to mention, that this city hides the Ursus Brewery with a nice restaurant beside. Just right for a nightcap. (well, we had to test it, or what do you think )

Day 9

Last day in Romania and last day scouting some curvy riding roads there. We were sucessfull, as you can see in the picture.
The weather was not that good today but it gave us perfect conditions to shoot some really atmospheric pictures, right?
The weather changed and we were actually in Hungary. Here you see a calvinistic church in Nyírbátor.
Just before we reached our destination for this day we made a short stop at this castle. Maybe a nice coffee stop on tour...
It's done for the day, well almost. But before we checked the tourhotel's exact location we had dinner in this really nice restaurant with local dishes. So tasty!
Oh, did we even mention that we have switched the country again? We are now in Slovakia, exactly in Košice.
Just right on our way back to the hotel we found the oldest restaurant in Slovakia. We only took a picture of it, we didn't test it. Our bed is calling. Good night!

Day 10

On our way through Hungary we visited of course one of the most famous castle of this country: Castle Rákóczi. We were a little bit too early, so we made only pictures from the outside. Well we had a tight schedule...
Castle from Gyula Andrássy. We made a walk through the park.
Bur also visited the small exhibition inside and found a nice little cafe, maybe a option on tour to rest a little bit.
We drove also through the Pannonian Steppe, a famous region in Hungary also called Puszta. In the Hortobagyi National Park we stopped at the Nine-Holed Bridge. It is the longest road stone bridge in Historic Hungary.
Typical scenery in the Puszta a drawing well.
Last stop for today: Budapest. And we have a special tip for a certain tourguide, who loves burger: you must try the burger from Hoppacska! Not in a bun, but in typical hungary style in a Kürtőskalács.
After that we made a long walk (after that meal it was really necessary). And for one of us it was the first time in Budepest and for one of us not. So one of us was lucky to get a private tour.

Day 11

We slowed down a little bit this day (which does not mean we did not get up early) and looked at Budapest a bit in daylight. But only a few ours later we walked through Szeged in order to find a nice coffee-stop.
Yes, a new attraction for the tour, we immediately marked in the GPS. It is a memorial park from a lost battle.
Both of us were really impressed about the memorial park of the Battle of Mohács.
And in the small exhibition about it we got a personal guidance trough it.
We are in Pecs now. First we made a track how to get to the tour hotel, then we got to the tiny cosy hotel, which one of us researched online in advance. Only to check in.
Also the researched food option in Pecs was a bull's eye and on the way back we indulged in another ice cream. And one of us, of course, had to try Dracula's ice cream.

Day 12

Before we went on we went for a walk trough Pécs. Franz Liszt visited this town and the statue at the entrance of the bishop palace is supposed to remind you.
Here you can see the Love Lock Wall. The tradition of the love locks appeared in Pécs for the first time (in the early 70s)
The former Zsolnay Porcelain Manufacture changed to a cultural quarter.
Once again we crossed a border and in several villages we came through we found these beautifully painted big easter eggs.
Today we found another love padlocks specialty. This is the Crinoline of Love in Varaždin, Croatia.
This is a exhibition in the Ptuj Castle (by the way: did you notice that we are in Slovenia now?). Ptuj is the oldest city in Slovenia and is known for a special carnival event called Kurentovanje. And these are the costumes for that.
And once more we promede through a castle, but this one, Ptuj Castle, we have completely to ourselves (yes, the two of us are the only visitors)!
And although they were almost closed, we also could have a short look into the armory.

Day 13

Our last scouting day has began and we had our next border crossing and went to Austria. After that we enjoyed the winding roads of the South Styrian wine road.
Oh what surprise, we passed the Birthhouse of Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is now a museum. But one of us was more interested in the oversized Transformers being currently presented in the museum.
Just because it was our last scouting day does not mean that we were less busy. Maybe you can guess who designed this church in Bärnbach: Friedensreich Hundertwasser.
Our next stop just close was Piber, home of the Lipizzan Horses.
Just to show how great the scenery for bikers can be. In that moment we both had the wish to be road with only two wheels.
Nearby Admont, a overnight stay on tour, you find the Gesäuse National Park. It is a hot spot of edemic species.
Well in the end we can say, in these 2 weeks scouting we had an overload of impressions with which the 2 tours become a unique experience. We crossed many borders and came to a sum of 11 countries: Greece, Albania, Mazedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania, Hungary, Slowakia, Kroatia, Slowenia, Austrian.
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Ursula Peter
Friday, March 30, 2018 at 08:18

Oh Mann, poor guys. Hoffentlich hab ihr schöneres Wetter an Ostern. Falls es euch beruhigt - im Allgäu schneits auch. Ich nur grad Glück dass ich nicht daheim bin. Trotzdem schöne Bilder. Machts gut, schöne Ostern
Thomas Ritt
Saturday, March 31, 2018 at 07:05

Alles gut, inzwischen haben wir 20° und auch die Sonne lässt sich immer wieder sehen. Hier ist übrigens erst nächstes Wochenende Ostern, da orthodox. Wünschen dir ne schöne Tour!
Angela de Haan
Thursday, March 29, 2018 at 20:13

Hey Tom,

it looks like you are going through the weathers of all seasons possible. Still, I wish you a fun scouting and an enjoyable time.

Take care and save travels!
Thomas Ritt
Thursday, March 29, 2018 at 21:30

Thanks Angela,
it's gonna be an incrdible tour - in more than one way. Have fun in Spain and enjoy the warm tempereatures........
Anthony Fairweather
Thursday, March 29, 2018 at 22:56

Should I be worried?
Thomas Ritt
Saturday, March 31, 2018 at 06:59

Don't worry. As long as you are not a vegetarian you have nothing to fear....
Anthony Fairweather
Saturday, April 7, 2018 at 09:58

Thomas Ritt
Sunday, April 8, 2018 at 20:22

Yes. Burgers. This one is a "chinmey-burger" named "Jucy Lucy", small size. They also have a big one...


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