Maps and Stats

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Germany – Schollbrunn, 15 September 2018

Another border crossing from Austria to Germany which I approached with dread and I rode straight through no one there but I was not getting off so easy. A few kilometres into Germany there was a queue of traffic about 10 km long which turned out to be another temporary border checkpoint. I rode down the emergency lane and where ever I could find a gap until I got to the front, cars and especially trucks would have been stuck there for ages, hard to believe I am in the EU without borders hahaha.

Another overnight stop in a village close to the freeway, good ride through the forest getting to it.

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Austria – Vienna, 11 – 14 September 2018

Vienna – home to Mozart and Freud, population 2.6 million, a million statues and thousands of museums.

Opera, Burggarten, Maria-Theresien-Platz, Museums Quartier, Hofburg, Kohlmarkt, Graben and Kartner Streets.

Naschmarkt, Secession Museum, Rathaus, Wiener Minoritenkirche and I replaced the air filter on my bike, it was full of insects and definitely the cause of the increased fuel consumption.

Prater Park, Hundertwasser House, Kunst Haus Wien Museum

Kunsthistorisches Museum

 

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Austria – Vienna, 09 – 10 September 2018

Budapest, Hungary to Austria, Vienna, just around the corner, only a 3 hour ride. Fine and cool with blue skies and being in the Schengen area now no border crossing to worry about  today or so I thought hahaha, think again this was the worst one so far. As I neared the border I saw a queue of cars a long way from the border and I thought No, No, No, “an accident” up ahead, this is going to take ages because they won’t let anyone through until the debris has been cleared. Anyway I did my usual and slowly filtered through the traffic, down the emergency lane and when that ended, through the middle until I got to the front and discovered the Austrian authorities had setup a temporary border and were checking cars and pulling some over for further scrutiny. If you are in a car be prepared for long delays, I was told later that this has been going on for a while. The Police ignored me as I rode past taking a picture of them. Lesson – motorcycles are good for crossing borders but useless when it comes to protecting you from bee stings hahaha.

Immediately you cross the border there is a Shell service station, stop here and buy your Vignette, 10 days for a motorcycle cost 5.20 euro. I tried to buy the Vignette online but for some weird reason it can only  be done 3 weeks in advance.

First thing I did was buy a one week pass for the public transport which consists of trains, trams and busses, cost 17.10 euro and for some reason it is a Monday to Sunday ticket only (Quote – Valid for unlimited travel in Vienna within the specified calendar week Mon-Sun. This is not a 7-day ticket!). This worked perfectly for me as I arrived on a Sunday, not so good if you arrive mid-week but there are other options. The ticket machines at the stations speak English.

The fuel consumption on my bike has increased by 10-15% and I am hoping it is due to the air filter getting clogged. So I found a Bike shop and ordered a new air filter and they gave me the bolt I needed for the chain guard free, in fact they gave me 2 sizes just in case.   Bike City gets a thumbs up from me. After that I walked to the nearby Technical Museum, I find these museums fascinating and never miss the opportunity to visit them. This place is huge and had a cafe with very reasonable prices. Entry 13 euro and lunch 6.40 euro, I spent about 3 hours looking around the 3 floors of exhibits.

 

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Hungary – Budapest, 08 September 2018

Kragujevac, Serbia to Budapest, Hungary another transit stop in a motel close to the highway on the outskirts of the city. While you pay your tolls on the road in Serbia, you have to buy a vignette for Hungary. This can be done online, there are a number of websites, this is the official one and you have to register and go through the rigmarole but you can pay with your credit card and it works. https://e-autopalyamatrica.hu/en

At the first fuel stop I smelled something burning and looked around my bike and noticed the chain guard had come adrift and was rubbing against the wheel. So I parked and saw that the bolt holding it in place had fallen out. I checked my spare parts and saw I had a bolt of  the right diameter but it was too long, after trying to saw a bit off it with a hacksaw blade I decide it would be quicker to use a temporary solution and buy a new bolt of the right size at the next opportunity, 50 min later I was on my way again. This is the first problem I have had with this bike in 4 years and 57,000 km.

If I thought the queues at the borders were horrendous upto now I was soon to be disillusioned when I arrived at the Serbia/Hungary border. The queue was even longer and the checks more stringent because we are now entering the Schengen area and once you get past this point there are no more border checks, you can go anywhere in the EU. My tried and proven method of getting through borders was really put to the test here hahaha. There were cars everywhere and I had to park my bike and scout around on foot until I saw there was place in the truck lane for me to sneak through. I turned around and started to ride past the stationary trucks in the small space available until I got to a stranded truck that had pulled over onto the divider leaving very little space. I beeped and the truck in the other lane turned his steering and moved just enough to let me through, no place to manoeuvre and then he got out of his cab and guided me through the gap watching that my panniers did not scrape against any of the other vehicles hahaha. When I got to the front all the vehicles were stopped a few hundred metres short of the Hungary border and were only being let through 2 or 3 at a time to the Hungary Immigration booths up ahead, they waved me through hahaha, another half a day border crossing reduced to 20 minutes.

When I arrived at the motel in Budapest I took my jacket off and a bee hiding in the sleeve jumped out and stung the back of my hand.

 

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Serbia – Kragujevac, 07 September 2018

Lyubimets, Bulgaria to Kragujevac, Serbia in reverse this time, almost the same route as when I was coming the other way but they appear to have finished the road works in the intervening months. Managed to go around Sofia on the bypass but not sure if it was any quicker hahaha, after that 2 lanes through the mountains then the border and the road through the gorge. Thousands of Turkish German cars (D) still on the road returning to the EU which makes the borders a nightmare if you are driving. By now I have perfected my border crossing technique hahaha, first rule is ignore all the signs that say “EU passports”, “All passports”, “Busses”, “Trucks”, etc. just find your way to the immigration booth. The fastest route is around the outside of all the queues, if you try to go between them you will get stuck at some point, when you get to the front, poke your front wheel in between 2 cars and they will let you in. This time a Turkish guy gave me a lecture on how he had been waiting for 2 hours and why should he let me in and moved his car forward to block me hahaha, I ignored him and the next guy let me in. At the Batumi border an immigration officer ordered a couple of cars to reverse and let me through. Besides this one idiot everyone has been friendly and done their best to help me get through the mess, sitting in the hot sun or rain in full riding gear is no fun. All up I was through in 20 min, good 4 lane road after that all the way to Kragujevac. Serbia is on EU time so this will be the last time I adjust my various clocks (bike, phone, 2 cameras, laptop). This is just an overnight stop, a place rest my weary bones.

 

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Bulgaria – Lyubimets 05 – 06 September 2018

Sile, Turkey to Lyubimets, Bulgaria. First I went across the new Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge , it is the second tallest bridge in the world after the Millau Viaduct in France. This bridge crosses over the Bophorus strait at the north end as far from Istanbul as you can get thus avoiding the the mess of traffic around the metropolis. There is a toll after the bridge, 18 lira and you have to pay in cash, the HGS card does not work here, I had changed all my lira to euro and after the girl called someone she allowed me to pay in euro and gave me change in lira which I used at the next fuel stop so remember to carry some lira with you. After the bridge you travel south to join the main east-west freeway and go from 120kph to 50kph for about 50km and then no traffic until the border with Bulgaria. The bridge was not shown on my 2017 Garmin maps so I just followed the signs to Edirne which is the closest city to the border.

There was the usual queue of Turks returning to the EU, each car has at least 4 people in it and they all get checked by immigration and customs on both sides. I rode to the front of the queue and got through the Turkish border in 5 minutes, next Bulgaria and an even longer queue opening every boot probably checking to see there were no illegals hiding in there. There was even a gate you have to go through which was spraying something on the underside of cars and me as well. While riding through it an idiot Turkish driver bumped me in the back, how these people get driving licenses is beyond me, their total lack of discipline and inability to follow rules is what keeps them where they are. After that a stamp in my passport and I was through both borders in 20 minutes, if I had to wait in the queue it would have taken 2 hours.

Lyubimets is a village just the right place for a rest day. Absolutely nothing here and it also happens to be Unification Day which is a public holiday and most places are shut. I did not have any local currency so I just paid in euro’s and at petrol stations I used a credit card.

 

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Turkey – Sile, 03 – 04 September 2018

I rode from Amasra to Sile about half through the mountains and half on the freeway, good road, with lots of traffic around the cities. This is the most densely populated area in the country.

Sile is a seaside resort only an hours drive from Istanbul and a popular weekend destination for Istanbulites.

 

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