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 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
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
Language: 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.
Safety: 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 good time!
Getting gas/petrol: 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
Speed limits: 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.