My bike has been shipped to Thessaloniki in Greece, three weeks before I fly there from Frankfurt. After a relaxing weekend, I collect my bike early Monday morning from the logistics company and ride immediately to Gelibolu in Turkey, across the Bosporus from Asia.
Despite both Bulgaria and Romania being EU members, neither are part of Schengen, so consequently there are border controls. Fortunately these formalities do not take long and my Bulgarian Lev is soon exchanged for Romanian Leu.
After passing (and mostly jumping) through the long queue for Bulgarian Customs, I quickly change all my Turkish Lira for Bulgarian Lev, adding in a few Euro for good measure. Petrol is replenished and I head straight for the Black Sea coast along a heavily pot-holed forest road.
I begin the tour in Thessaloniki, Greece. The bike had been shipped here by Bike-on-Board in Düsseldorf, saving me 2,000km of motorway riding to reach the start point. My luggage, helmet etc, shipped with the bike and I flew out with just hand-luggage for a couple of nights in Greece before I collect the bike.
During our first trip to the Balkans in 2012, we found ourselves heading south from Montenegro through Kosovo and then on to Macedonia. When I was stood looking out over lake Ohrid from the Roman Amphitheater on the hill in Ohrid, I said that we should return and visit the once isolated country on the
Located literally on the border between Croatia and Bosnia is Željava Airbase. It used to be one of the largest airbases in eastern Europe outside of Russia. Since the wars of the 1990s it lies abandoned. Unmarked minefields surround the airbase.
The road (E022/SH4) out of Greece towards Albania is large, deserted and unsignposted. Neither Albania nor any of the major cities that are reached along the main road are sign-posted. Thankfully we were using the Satnav.
Albania features two cities which have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, Gjirokastër and Berat. Both are located in southern Albania and it would be highly recommended to include them in any tour of the country.