In early May 2006 I drove from Germany through Switzerland
and Liechtenstein to Italy and San
Marino. Jayne flew to Naples to meet me,
and we visited Pompei, Herculaneum
and Vesuvius over a long weekend. Then I drove, on
my own again, on to northern Greece, Albania
and Montenegro. In Mostar, Bosnia
I visited a friend stationed there with the German military (EUFOR).
Then it was further on through Croatia, Slovenia,
Austria and Czech Republic
back to Germany.
This is what my living room looked like while planning the trip!
|The best time for
such a trip is May/June and September/October. But in the
Spring or the Fall you do risk that some passes in the Alps are closed.
In summer it is much to hot. I already found by mid of May temperatures
of more than 30°C (90°F).
Riding a motorcycle in Italy is
one of the most dangerous things that I have experienced on my trips so
far! The Italians just don't accept motorcycles (or Germans?). Every
day they tried to push me off the road many times, NOT by mistake, and
with no reason! Italy on a motorcycle? Never again!
The following is not written for Austria,
Italy and other established tourist countries I crossed.
Whether or not you need a visa for such a trip
depends on where you are from (I, as a German, didn't need one), so
best check with your Government or Embassy. An international drivers
license isn't absolutely necessary, but it is recommended (because it
standardizes license info and presents it in several languages).
English isn't of much help in most of the countries I visited; Italian
and German is spoken more often. Especially in Bosnia, many people
speak at least a little German, because many of them where in Germany
as refugees during the war. But even if one can't find a common
language, one can manage, because the locals really try to help.
Everybody said I would be crazy to do this trip because of safety
concerns, and I have to admit that I was a bit nervous. Mostly, I
feared my bike would get stolen, but that can happen everywhere. I took
more locks than normal and was careful where I parked my bike -- I
tried to always park where I could see my bike when in a restaurant, it
was right next to my tent while camping, and I did my best to always
lock it to something else. My motorcycle was unattended and out of my
site and hearing only at certain historic sites where I had no choice
but to leave it while I toured on foot.
There are still minefields
all over Bosnia and also in the backcountry of Croatia. Unfortunately
the warning signs are often taken as souvenirs, so it's best to stay on
paved roads. There are also explosive traps in and around bombed out
buildings, so don't enter them and don't pick anything up!
I found the locals very friendly and helpful. And since I didn't bother
the Mafia, which is supposedly very strong there, I felt safe and had a
There are plenty of gas/petrol stations in all of the visited
countries, but many close at about 5 p.m. The quality of the gas/petrol
seemed to be fine -- at least I didn't have any problems.
In the countries of former Yugoslavia and Albania they obviously
retrained the snipers, and so they now operate radar-guns. Everywhere
where they have new, good roads, there are policemen trying to raise
the income of the country. But they wear bright orange or yellow vests,
and so they can usually be seen from far away.