Europe · 78 Days · 111 Moments · July 2015

20 September 2015

That's it. Back home. 23 days, 5900 km, more than 1000 photos, a lot of memories, two big cases of dirty clothes later. Many things to sort now ...
Back to Germany.
Why do we travel around the world? We do that to broaden our knowledge about other countries, people, and cultures, and to get ideas and inspiration about how to improve our own lives. Others travel to find a better spot for spending their lives. People have travelled since the beginning of mankind. As a result, all cultures are interconnected, no matter that some politicians and separatists try to convince us that we are completely different. The similarities bring us together and help us understand each other better, so look for these wherever you are and then you will be able to understand easier the differences as well.

19 September 2015

We made a quick tour through Prague today. It is indeed a fascinating city and definitely worth to visit again for a longer time.

18 September 2015

Prague - the runaway ;-)
And there we are in the Czech Republic. The temperature fell to 21 degrees and it started to rain.
Just passed the border to Slovakia. There are some light checks for refugees by the slovakian border police, but luckily no delays.
We had to take a 2 hours detour to cross the Serbian-Hungarian border.
We made it to the EU again :-)

17 September 2015

Novi Sad was a great Balkan trip finale. The lively city surprised us with a beautiful city center with Austria-Hungarian architecture, a remarkable fortress, and an inspiring Danube promenade. We really enjoyed one of the last summer evenings for this year.
I think we'll break the high temperature record today.
But now we are on the fast lane. Highway between Niš and Belgrade.
Just came on the highway. The 70 km long narrow road from the border to Nish can be quite long when you have to follow the trucks.
We are leaving the EU today. Hope that we can enter it later on again ;-)

16 September 2015

After a crazy ride through the mountains east of Sofia, we stopped for a deserved pause in the Hydropark Windmills.

13 September 2015

Arrived in Sofia.
Yesterday we crossed the border from Macedonia to Bulgaria at Giueshevo. We expected to have much longer waiting times, but obviously this checkpoint is not a main crossing. Most of the traffic goes through Kalotina. The only sign of the tense situation because of the refugees was a Hummer with a machine gun installed on it and two soldiers keeping the EU border safe. At our turning point of the trip Bulgaria we will spend about 5 days.

12 September 2015

The "repair cafe" is open ;-)
On the road from Skopje to Kjustendil. It took us about 2,5 hours for 150 km. Almost no traffic.

11 September 2015

A lot of new monuments and official buildings have been added to the collection in the city center of Skopje. On the one side they make the center look nice, clean and more elegant but on the other with all the statues around one has the feeling it is a bit too crowded. There are still a lot of construction sites in work, so we are curious what the city will look like in another 4 years :-)
Just arrived in Skopje. We will start to explore the city after a short break in an hour.
On the way to Skopje. Main crops seen from the road are corn, sunflowers, and tobacco. And after the mountains there came the orchards and wine hills.
Some impressions from the Pelister national park... There were unfortunately too many clouds at the highest point.
We had a relaxing stay close to Bitola in the Pelister National Park. We were again amazed by the tasty Macedonian food in the elegant atmosphere of the restaurant garden with the sound of jazz radio 24/7 :-) We are now packing our bags for Skopje.

10 September 2015

Don't know if they just forgot it (noticed it already last time here) or it is on purpose ... Н.Р. Албаниja/N.R. Albania means Peoples Republic of Albania which stopped existing about 25 years ago ...
Just after crossing the border from Albania to Macedonia we visited the Sv. Naum Springs. The place has been renovated since our last visit and we really enjoyed it.
Good morning from Pogradec in Albania ! It is not sunny at all, but still a great view at the Ohrid lake over to Macedonia where we are heading today. We know some of the small places over there, but it will be interesting to see them again when it's not 40 degrees and burning sun.

9 September 2015

By the way if you are using Apple maps, you will not see the Ohrid lake. You can only see it in the satellite view. We already sent a tip for correcting this to Apple. Let's see how long it will take.
A short stroll at the beach of Pogradec before it started to rain. The season here is obviously over but therefore we can enjoy a calm and idyllic atmosphere.
The drive from Tirana to Pogradec was a bit hard because of the many curves and because the driver has some stomach problems since breakfast. And we thought that our stomachs are already used to the Balkan bacteria ;-) Nevertheless, we managed to get to Pogradec. The lake view from the hotel room is great.
People in Tirana are so friendly, you start to ask yourself is this real :-) the staff in our hotel Theranda made us feel like at home. However, we have to continue our journey today... Heading to Pogradec at the Ohrid lake. Unfortunately the weather forecast doesn't look so good for today and tomorrow. Let's see how we can make the best of it.

8 September 2015

Today we tried to escape the heat and the traffic chaos in the park and at the lake. The cabin lift is closed Tuesdays so we could not go to the near mountain for a view of the city :-(

7 September 2015

The highlight of the day was the dinner at the restaurant Juvenilja Castello. Very charming atmosphere with a view to the park. And I had meatballs with tomato sauce just like my grandma used to make them and even better ;-) Chris was also satisfied with his Kebap dish baked in paper and found the beer from Tirana quite enjoyable.
Our first impressions from Tirana. It is not a touristical place yet, but it is to come. It is not too much about special sights like in Berlin, Paris or London, but a lot of parks, a wide boulevard, bars, cafes ... And they did not simply destroy the communistic buildings, they keep them and make them colorful.
After 5 hours we made it well to Tirana. The road conditions where quite ok and the traffic in Tirana is not worse or more agressive than in Berlin.
In the 17 km long high way from Skodra to Tirana.
Border control between Montenegro and Albania seems to be a whole afternoon pleasure ...

6 September 2015

Our evening trip planning for the next day ...
We can definitely not recommend Budva for beach vacation :-( The beaches we saw were either very crowded and polluted or empty and expensive. There are some nice small spots such as Petrovac close to Budva, which might be a better choice.
And just as we thought we have seen the most expensive beach we came across this at the eastern corner of the Budva bay.
The nice beach promenade in the small town of Petrovac.
The exclusive hotel island Sveti Stefan and the beaches next to it... kept legally reserved for the hotel guests by the beach usage price.

5 September 2015

hmmm, where's the beach?
First impressions from Montenegro. Shortly after this area seemingly inhabited only by ghosts ;-) we arrived at the crowded coast. In the narrow harbor of Kotor there were two large cruise ships, so you can imagine how the small old city looked like. We found our hotel in Budva very easily and we got the last free parking place! Now we just have to motivate ourselves to leave the terrace and walk 25 minutes to the old town and sea promenade and just enjoy the evening ;-)
Goodbye BiH! Hello Montenegro!
Having lunch in the nice city of Trebinje close to the border with Montenegro. Who do you think is more hungry?
No comment
First day in rain, not too bad to cool down a bit.
After breakfast we are heading to Budva (Montenegro). We loved our stay in Mostar and would stay even longer just to relax, but the road is calling. We decided not to pass through Dubrovnik on the way, since there are 4 cruise ships arriving today in the town. We will come back definitely again some day to visit the Dalmatian coast.

4 September 2015

Now I recognize the smell, it smells like in the sauna... i.e. like the heated stones of the church construction site sprinkled by the rain.
It's raining! Unbelievable! The air smells and feels so good after the last dry and hot days :-)
What a moving scene ... It suddenly knocks at the door and a waiter from the hotel restaurant comes and brings us free drinks. He just saw our car with Bremen carplate and decided to visit us. As a war refugee he had to flee Mostar in 1992 and stayed until 1999 and returned then to Mostar. He still keeps a lot of good memories from Bremen including Werder game visits and still has his Werder Bremen keyholder. A really nice guy, and I wish such a story with good memories for each refugee that he one day can come back into his country in peace and live the life for himself and his family he wants to live.
Unfortunately videos can't be postet here, but yes, they really do it ! Crazy young men jump off the bridge into the Neretva river, of course making sure that their friends collect enough money from tourists watching and filming before the show starts ... 😀
Although being a quite touristical place next to the world famous old bridge in the center it is really worth a visit. It is a special, cosy place. If there wouldn't be thousands of bullet holes on both sides of the town you could simply forget the latest history of this town and why the bridge became so famous.
And here we are at our hotel in Mostar. The view from the balcony is the construction site of a new church.
Some pictures from the way from Sarajevo to Mostar. 2,5 hours for 130 km. Beautiful landscapes on the Neretva river.
Heading to Mostar today. Some clouds in the sky promise a cooler day.

3 September 2015

Today we saw all that and even more. Sarajevo is indeed an interesting spot, still not crowded by tourists and presents itself as the crossroad between the orient and the western cultures. However, the recent past still throws a shade on the city, with all the graveyards, bullet wholes and memorials in the center. A visit of the exhibition about Srebrenica shook us even deeper considering also the fact that similar conflicts are happening in the present.
180 degrees photos
Having breakfast on the balcony of our hotel breakfast room and bar (non-alcoholic) :-) The funny thing is that the hotel starts at the 9th floor of a building in the pedestrian zone and goes for 3 more floors up. It is build as a house on top of a house :-) This is probably the highest building in the city center and offers a great all around view.
Good morning, Sarajevo !

2 September 2015

Great stuff in Sarajevo after this long trip, and the best beer on the tour so far.
We visited the main attractions of our two stops Jajce and Travnik but we still had to struggle with the heat a lot. Walking up and down the hill is not so much fun with 34 degrees, but we still made the best of it.
We finally made it to our hotel in Sarajevo. What a long journey it was! We saw a lot of sparsely populated areas, a lot of half built houses and fields for sale and a lot of beautiful forests and mountains.
The breakfast was great, and the coffee here is really strong, you don't need much to feel like flying. ;-)
Today's itinerary is Bihać - Jajce - Travnik - Sarajevo. We will not have any internet connection on the way, so expect us back in touch in the evening from Sarajevo. Currently there are some clouds in the sky, so I hope that the day will be cooler and we can be more active. And now let's check out the breakfast with the river view :-)

1 September 2015

Preminger Lager Beer, the beer from Bihać. "Proudly brewed in Bosnia and Herzegovina." Really nice, and I am wondering why the locals buy beer from Croatia and pay even more for it. This one is 100 times better.
Yes, the water is back! One almost forgets how luxurious our everyday problems are and how happy one can be about such a small thing like having water again :-)
A lot of water outside, but no water inside ;-) let's see when the repair works will finish. Otherwise we'll have to swim in the river ;-)
Just arrived well in Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegowina. Looks very interesting, some things to explore. But still 36 degrees, we better wait a little. This is the nice view from our hotel room. 😀
Hello Bosna!
Close to the Bosnian border... Roadworks
Nice, but very crowded.
The road trip continues. The streets still look fine. Almost no traffic.
One more hour and we are taking off to the Plitvica Lakes. I am really excited too see this wonder of nature.

31 August 2015

Just a few minutes of day light remaining ...
Nin Laguna Beach. Just the beer is missing.
Had a nice but exhausting walk in the high noon heat in the old town of Zadar. We slept for 1 hour afterwards to get our energy back. Now I am ready for the beach :-) We are heading out to the lagoon of Nin.
Exploring beautiful Zadar old town once again in the noon heat ...
Good morning Zadar ! Our little breakfast with Adria view. It still feels quite nice to sit on the terrace, later we expect the great heat again.

30 August 2015

Amazing Greeting to the sun lights and music created by natural energy forces at the sea promenade in Zadar.
Here we are. ☺️
Yeah, it is true. 😀
This feels quite adriatic. And invites to stay longer for a typical beach vacation. We are still waiting for the food to try. Just the beer (Karlovačko) is - well - cold. 😂
Almost in Zadar!
I don't know if it is a good idea to get out of the air conditioned car.
We chose the right direction for crossing the Croatian border ;-)
Almost all vignettes are there. Ready to enter Slovenia!
Good morning Alps!

29 August 2015

Had a lovely evening in the friendly atmosphere of the small restaurant garden of the Gasthof, where each guest greets the other guests and the quite talks mix with the songs of the crickets in a relaxing melody.
Well, it's probably not the last time we have to say "This place is too nice just to be on transit." (not only because of the good beer 😊). But that's the trip, a road trip ... Thousand possible places to come back and to realize how beautiful Europe is.
First trip is done, more than 900 km, now in the middle of the austrian alps, enjoying the hot summer evening with my most favourite austrian beer (so far). Cheers. 🍻
Nothing unusual to report. To drive through Germany was a piece of cake. No traffic jam, very few construction sites. A paradise for drivers :-)
Goodbye Deutschland!
KM 0. Auf geht's !

28 August 2015

Hmmm, this requires even more concentration on the road ;-)
One more night, and the journey begins. Stay tuned!

5 July 2015

Es gibt noch so viel zu lesen ...
So langsam nimmt die Tour von der Planung her Gestalt an. 22 Tage, fast 5000 km, 7 Länder, reine Transitländer nicht mitgerechnet.