Have you ever considered if travelling on wheels to the destination spot of your choosing could be better than just packing and shipping the bike?
Why would you even consider travelling on wheels?
For this year target of our big motorcycle trip, we’d chosen Montenegro, so again the Balkans country, which lies over 1400 kilometers (870 miles) from the spot, where we live . Our time was limited to 3 weeks long time range, unfortunately, as we’re no digital nomads or anything alike. So shouldn’t we consider the motorbikes shipment? 1400 kilometers are like over 17 hours of riding. Without making any stop, of course. Rather impossible as everyone knows. (Unless you have an iron butt. ) So those hours are about 3 or 4 days wasted for just transiting.
This wasn’t also our first ride out in Balkans direction as we’d been to Albania a year ago, so the same route was waiting for us to cover. Sounds dull, doesn’t it?
So if everything speaks against getting to Montenegro on wheels, why we have chosen to do so? Aren’t we just cheap? (╭☞⌐■ᗜ■)╭☞
I thought about it for a while, when I was about to start a post series about our Montenegro trip and I reminded myself, what we would have missed in our 4 days long transit to Montenegro’s Zabljak, when we would chose to spare our butts the pain.
Here are my 6 reasons of why it would be bad to omit travelling on the wheels part on our last trip :)
1. Strange wild campings
Beside the normal stops, travelling on wheels gave us also an opportunity to try out new, though strange, but awesome, wild camping spots. Sometimes in places you wouldn’t think of.
Before entering Serbia, we were crossing Hungary, which is known as a little unfriendly for the wild campers.
Not that the regulations strictly forbid wild camping, but because Hungary plane mostly consists of the farmlands. So it’s a little problematic to find a spot.
And if you want to find a normal camping past the 15th of October, then you will have a bad time. The holiday season is over, so everything is closed.
So we stuck with wild camping version. We wanted to use tent as much as possible.
To not search by trial-and-error approach much, we’ve made a little research before. We found out from other campers that there is a hill hidden in the forest near Varpalota, where you can sleep in the tent without any problems. The only harder part was that you had to approach the dense woods at the right entry point to get up on the hill. Then you also had to overpass a bit offroadish track… which wasn’t so bad. Maybe except the steep section with very loose gravel, on which you can easily drift from left to the right.
But the drifting was well worth it. From the hill top there was an amazing view on the town stretching at its foot.
For bedrooms like this, its good to be a wild camper. And choose travelling on wheels ;)
Though it came with a price.
When we were pitching up the tent, some hair-raising roar behind our backs froze us. Our first thought was that it’s actually a… bear.
At first we quickly started to consider retreating immediately. But we were tired, it was dark and late and it started to rain also. We also hadn’t any other idea to survive the night than to just stay there. So we stood our ground and just tried to make as much human noises as possible to not be confused with a dessert.
But the roaring intensified anyway. Which was bad… Making us really uneasy and restless. But in the end it was actually good as we started to hear similar roars, but from other sides of forest. That lead us to thinking that it’s a breeding season for the deers after all. So supposedly we had deers as our neighbors.
With this in mind we could eventually go to sleep.
If we would not be travelling on wheels, then we would omit such a nice place :D
2. Unexpected on the road technical challenges
While for sure just cruising around and enjoying the views on the bike makes the trip enjoyable enough, I feel like those unexpected moments make the travel truly memorable. Even those purely technical challenging moments. And those are plenty even in transit.
When we were riding our way through Austria to Hungary, we made a spontaneous decision to visit Augarten in Vienna.
Not even for sightseeing, but just to visit a friend. (We’ve seen the whole Vienna’s porcelain production procedure already, so we won’t take you on a trip inside this time.)
The visit was a successful and a happy one, but it ended up with the DR showing me, where’s my place. The bike just flopped down, when I was climbing up the saddle.
At first I thought I’d done something stupid, but…
Weld on the half of the mount of the side stand just cracked.
We were a little terrified, because we didn’t want to lose more time on searching a welder in Austria, when we were still having so many kilometers to cover to get to Hungary. And it was already late. So a little unsure, but we left the welding on our TODO list for another day on our way to Monenegro. Or in Montenegro.
Finding flaws in the bike you just rebuilt during a big trip can be a little undermining and that left me a little fretful. Side stand seems to be a trivial problem, but I couldn’t manage to get on and off the bike on my own. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like in some rougher terrain, when both of us would have problems to find a place to park… But hey, that’s the motorbike adventure ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ You moto, you go as one Serb told us once.
So we did just go.
Two days later we spotted a place looking like some car service, while we were looking for a camping in Serbia’s Subotica.
So we gave it a go and asked if they can weld the broken stand, although it was plain to see they are repairing buses and trucks etc. But without any problem they said they will try.
So while I was working as a side stand, Mr Welder tried and in 15 minutes I’ve got a brand-new-looking side stand (◉▾◉) The side stand holds up firmly to DR up to this day!
But no one even asked us for paying. So we figured out this is was perfect occasion to get rid of the small bottle of Polish vodka, that we had been carrying around for special gifts in special situations. And it turned out to be a right gift :)
The stupid side stand was irritating, but if not for this, our way through would be much more dull and I guess we wouldn’t know much or, at least, forgot about usual people kindness.
3. Interesting overnight stops
Just taking the bus or flight to the spot, where our bikes wait politely for us, would take away not only the butt pain, but also the whole fun of route and stops planning and fun of failure in fulfilling the plan. The failure happens quite often in transits as we would like to just engulf hundred of kilometers at once. Because transits are just like appetizers before the main course.
No. It’s not a typo. I meant it. The fun of failure in fulfilling the plan.
While sticking to a plan is convenient, screwing it up to get to some spot on time or not getting to some place at all, is sometimes the best door (or window) to something new. New option, new people or places, which you wouldn’t consider otherwise.
When we arrived to Serbian Subotica on our way to Montenegro, it started to get dark, so we quickly decided to find a place to sleep there. We actually had one spot on our map. It was Odmoriste Camping near the Palicko Lake. From someone’s comment over the web, we knew it’s a nice place, where you can place a tent at the lake’s bank and the price for overnight stay is very low as it’s managed by the city itself.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t validate this opinion.
The camping was closed and some makeover was already in progres.
We were a little stuck there. Because we didn’t have any alternative. And no Internet access to find anything open around.
But! The gentleman keeping an eye on the campground and another gentleman living just on the opposite side of the street came to the rescue. None of them was speaking English, like none of us was speaking or even understanding Serbian. But they on the spot decided to help us somehow to find another camping. And it turned out good as the son of the camping neighbor was speaking English fluently.
With little problems, as the new camping was hid well from the street, but we managed to find the place, to which the gentlemen directed us.
But, to our surprise, the camping was actually officially closed as we arrived well past season. However, we noticed a builder at the gate. He told us the boss is away, but we can stay. So without further ado, we found a space for our tent and started to put it up.
I was a little worried that we are making tent without really consulting things with the real guy in charge there. Because you never know. I really tensed up when the when the owner arrived.
But he was super cool with us. So we spent the night completely alone at the campground, if you’re not counting squirrels hanging around.
Though, this night had a little sour taste for one of us, who forgot to hide the boots inside the tent for a rainy night.
But it’s not the end of unexpected stops.
The next day after our rescue camping, we were so fixated on getting to the Montenegro border, that the night really caught us on the road in Serbia.
Because we were rather tired, couldn’t find any campings and any decent wild camping spot in the mountainous area we were in, we decided to find a hotel.
But it turned out to not be as easy task as we thought. Hotels were sparse there and when we found one, it was full. What we had left was a quite strange institution – a gas station merged with a hotel and a bar, where all the sign told not to smoke, but everyone did.
Of, course, although the place seemed strange, the rooms were really decent. And for the first time in our lives we hanged around the gas pumps, drinking beer and observing the people in nearby traffic jam, caused by the road reconstruction.
4. Unexpected off the road adventures
While you can plan or discover fun offroad routes at the destination spot and bring home many memories from those adventures, when you skip the on-the-wheels transit, you might miss an opportunity for exploring even more interesting paths. Be it picturesque or simply demanding or fun ones.
In our case our off the road surprise on the way to Montenegro was the Hungary and the road by which we climbed up the hill near Varpalota for the wild camping night.
We really didn’t expect much, yet…
Miserable failure. Got the deeper rut angle wrong, so the rear wheel just slipped aside and DR was laying. And my knee was screaming with pain from hitting some nasty pointy rock. So I’ve learnt the hard way, why the rubber knee protectors built-in the motorcycle pants are worse than the plastic guards for some enduro riding :P
I was in one piece, but you couldn’t say the same about my side bags. Strip holding one got cut in half. Luckily, we were actually thinking while packing, so we had some spare ropes.
After 5 minutes we could ride further without much drama. However my knee remembered this for few days. And my head even for a longer period of time as I’ve never made the same mistake with angles and crossing deep ruts again ;)
When we rode down we even found some muddier sections, though we didn’t have that much time to explore them. But it was fun either way.
5. Familiar views not so familiar
I mentioned earlier in this post, that by making a choice to travel on wheels to Montenegro, we decided to cover the same route we have already been riding some time ago. So nothing in the landscapes should draw our attention much. Right?
Actually, when we were last time crossing Hungary and Serbia, it was Summer all around in all its glory. Sun and heat. Now we had September, so fickle Autumn started its reign, sending bigger and lesser clouds on us.
The rain, fog creeping everywhere and gloomy, worn out colors were ruling the light and landscape now, making an immense contrast to what we’ve already known about our road.
We’ve got a chance to see everything in a new, uncommon perspective for us, typical tourists, working 9 to 5 and travelling most often in the Summer time.
Maybe we should have been angry with the coldness and wetness with which every route stretch greeted us. But the new visuals, accompanying all of the inconveniences, were actually making riding the same route an interesting experience again.
It was like seeing everything for the first time again.
6. Just blissful food
This is really mundane. But yes. If you avoid the transit butt pain, then you often refuse the most celestial of foods.
We would be guilty of that sin, if we would not travel on wheels as we would have no other opportunity to visit the Serbian Novi Sad.
This may sound like a heresy for some, but we had a lunch there once and since then we both agree that Novi Sad has the best burgers.
Not to mention the almost-a-bucket-of-melted-cheese sandwiches. We’re drooling just at the thought of it up to this day.
Yes, you can be a less sensual person type, which doesn’t enjoy such mundane and earthbound pleasures as much .
But doesn’t the local food, slow or fast, traditional or modern, fill in some parts of our impression, feeling of other country or region?
So you missing out not only cakes and ale, while despising the pain-in-the-butt transits, but also a deeper dive into other cultures.
So that were ours 6 reason why we would choose travelling on wheels again. Do you have your reasons and adventure memories? :)
Although this was not a typical adventure post, this time we are also leaving a map of route we have ridden. Maybe you’ll find some points interesting or handy on the way through Hungary or Serbia someday.
See you there!