Summer of 2019 we did a little 1.5 month motorcycle trip in Europe, through Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. We already covered the beginning the trip: Moto Euro Trip 2019. Kitty and Ada do Europe.
We are able to travel for long periods of time (and even relocate if we want to) because we can work on the road. We’ve been keeping our eyes on and working towards the goal of being location-independent for the last 15 years. It hasn’t always been easy, but we are now able to move around with relative ease and conduct all of our business exclusively online. We’ve talked before about how we work on the road (RO).
It all usually works out as long as there’s a decent internet connection available and we can find a relatively quiet spot to sit in with our laptops. We stop, we put in a few hours worth of work, then we ride again.
We also break for food a lot. We always keep track of all our expenses, so we know that about a quarter of our budget usually goes towards food. We’re normally frugal and cheap when it comes to eating, but we soon discover that riding a motorcycle takes a bit more energy out of you than expected and we find ourselves voraciously devouring a huge hamburger now and then.
We ride at a leisurely pace, choosing points on the map that are no more than 200 km (125 mi) apart. We always avoid highways and take the back roads. It makes for a more immersive experience and it allows us to use the small displacement bikes as they were meant to be used.
And speaking of bikes, it took as a while to figure out what kind of machines we should get for ourselves; what would work for our style of travel. The internet is inundated with discussions (and heated arguments) about which brand or which engine displacement is the right one for adventure. But we’ve got it all figured out.
It mainly has to do with time. People just generally don’t seem to have enough of it. This puts them in a situation where they effectively need to reach point B in X amount of time. When faced with this simple equation, it’s quite easy to understand why most people will opt for (or think they need) a large displacement bike. It’s the only reasonably comfortable way to traverse large distances. You want to see as much as possible so you try to find the fastest way to cram in as many pinpoints as possible. This always seems to happen if you don’t have enough time.
The other aspect has to do with luggage. Understanding what you actually need to take with you on a motorcycle trip takes some practice and people will usually lug way too much around. You need a large and powerful bike if you’re gonna carry around toiletries, 2 pairs of jeans, an evening dress, extra shoes, a couple of books and your favorite pillow. We know, we’ve been there. And it took us years of practice to perfect a more minimalist style, which seems to work quite well for us. Now we try to apply that knowledge to motorcycle travel.
Our setup is quite simple:
- We both have small backpacks on our backs (less than 3kg (7lbs) each) for a laptop, some food and a bit of water
- The CRF carries 2 soft bicycle panniers filled with a bunch of tools that we don’t know how to use, emergency kits, very light rain gear, 3 t-shirts, 3 pairs of underwear, 3 pairs of socks, 1 warm fleece and, yes, 2 motorcycle covers that pack down small
- The Grom has a cheap and tiny Decathlon pouch strapped to the seat which contains the 3 shirt/underwear/sock combo and a tiny bit of medicine, all in plastic zip-locks.
We never missed a thing and, on our next trip, we would pretty much loose the tools, some of the clothes and some of the medicine. Mind you, we did not carry any camping gear this time, that’s a whole different bag of kettles of fish that we’re not gonna get into right now.
We advance quietly (we don’t use any kind of communication system) across Croatia, Slovenia’s neighbor to the South. We spend one night in Slavonski Brod, close to the Bosnian border, in a chic little home-stay. We notice the chain on the Ada’s Grom is getting a bit loose, so we hit up a Honda shop and they adjust it for free. Lovely people in a nice little town. We walk around all day along the Sava river and spend time in the cafes in the main square.
The border crossing between Croatia and Slovenia happens seamlessly, we’re the only people crossing there. The only border guard in the little booth gives us recommendations about what to visit in Slovenia. We are not to miss Bled castle, he says.
Beautiful green sights all around. A bit hot, but we like it like that. It’s not always fun when in full gear, but we can take the heat. While on the subject of gear, a list of the stuff we use may be of interest:
|Shoei GT Air 1
|Scorpion Exo 510 Air
|Rev’it! Cayenne Pro
|Highway 1 Urban Lady
|Rev’it! Vertex Air
|Clover Outland Lady WP
|Dainese Street Darker
It’s all been pretty good, no buyer’s remorse yet. It’s late July, middle of summer in Europe, so I guess the most fun would be riding in the nude; then again, that presents some complications as well.
We are headed towards Dolenjske Toplice, some sort of spa-centered resort where we booked our first hotel in Slovenia. We pass the lovely building of the crematorium and meander around in the narrow streets of the town. Our hotel smells like aromatic herbs. Parking would normally be difficult here, but our bikes fit neatly just by the entrance. We unpack, shower and jump on our laptops until evening.
The next day, a nice girl at the tourist info point recommends a walk nearby. She draws us a crude map, we try to follow the instructions and fail. But it’s a good day nonetheless, because the walk is relaxing and the sights are beautiful.
While crossing a wooden bridge we meet two local kids. They instantly fill us in on the local news, the surrounding attractions, when to or not to fish in the river. One of them speaks perfect English and tells us his whole life story. He’s here on vacation because he and his family now live in the UK, where they moved because „we didn’t have a good life in Ljubljana”.
They wave us goodbye and leave. We stick around for a bit, spit in the river and watch the huge wild trout eating it. As the sun sets, we take a fake meditation photo on the bridge and then walk back home.
We spend the next couple of days walking around town, chilling in cafes, sampling the local beer, hiking in the green surroundings and exploring the small villages around, usually on foot.
We also dedicate half a day to water-related activities. We took up swimming in recent years, and we find it extremely refreshing to alternate activities; meaning, after sitting your ass down for hours on a motorcycle, it’s quite a treat to be in a an entirely different medium, i.e. water.
We join Slovenians in their organized pool exercise routine. We notice that people of all ages (even the extreme ends of the spectrum) get together and follow the leader’s directions dutifully.
We can’t leave before taking a few rides on the water slides. We’re not phased out one bit by the fact that this seems to be mostly for children; we’re enjoying it immensely.
I think we were a bit overwhelmed by our first thousand kilometers and we felt the need for some R&R. It’s why we spent 3 days mostly off the bikes and used only our feet for light strolling.
On the last day in Dolenjske Toplice, we took the bikes up to this church, then did a bit of forest hiking. We’re the only ones here, it seems, so we get naked on a wooden bridge and take photos of ourselves (it’s a thing we do sometimes) and then quickly get dressed because we notice the swarming mosquitoes. Then we have a chat with some polite goats by the side of the road and ride back to the hotel.
We have friends living in Slovenia and the plan for tomorrow is to meet up with them at a campsite, stay the night, then do some exploring the next day, on our way to Ljubljana.
It’s a lovely day for riding, temperatures in the 20s C (70 F), smooth back-roads and not a care in the world. As we ride along, we notice the beautiful view down in the valley and we turn left. We come upon Žužemberk, charming town, Krka river running through it and a castle overlooking it.
We satiate our need for photos, then take off our boots and dip our stinky feet in the river. You can hear the sound made by a couple of small waterfalls, just beyond the bridge.
We’ve got our route planned out and we’re headed towards Luče, through small villages, on perfect little winding roads. It’s been cloudy for a few hours now, with the occasional rain drop hitting our visors now and then. But it’s starting to get dark and gloomy and we’re being hit by bigger drops.
We decide to pull over for a bit and push our bikes into this large barn by the side of the road. Just as we’re all settled in, the dark clouds above crack open and a ferocious flood ensues. We’re perfectly safe in the barn, but really wouldn’t want to be caught riding into something like this. We eat biscuits and wait it out, only startled for a bit as a chunk of hay stacked on the side comes undone and flops on the Grom.
We put on our rain gear as the dark clouds descent into the valley below and the rain ceases. We venture out, heedful of the wet asphalt, and soon reach Luče, where we stop for pizza. On the second floor balcony of the house opposite the restaurant, 5 guys are enjoying a jacuzzi and drinking beer.
Šmica camp is where we’ll spend the night and where we meet our friends. They provide us with the tent; they don’t need one, because they actually customized their Renault Kangoo to include a bed. Pretty sweet setup. We have a beer and reminisce about old times for a while, then go to sleep.
We slept like babies. We don’t have any, but I’m assuming they sleep quite poorly with all the crying and hunger, peeing and pooping that they do. I think our bones may be getting a little too old for this tent stuff, because we tossed and turned and peed quite a bit.
We take our time drying out every bit of gear in the morning sun and plan our route: we will take the road up to Logar valley and hike to the Rinka waterfall while our sleepy friends get their bearings, then we’ll meet up back at the camp.
Logar valley (Logarska dolina) is all we could have expected and more. The mountains seem to rise straight up from the flat plain, it’s all lush and green and the entrance to the valley is one of the most photogenic places we’ve ever seen.
We head towards the waterfall on a gorgeous winding road that soon leads into a forest. We ride slowly and we take in the sights and the pure air.
It’s a short hike from the parking lot at the end of the road, up to the waterfall. A bit steep, but it can be done in 10 minutes. There’s a bar hanging of the cliff and, next to it, this narrow and tall waterfall. You can take nice photos from the wooden terrace of the bar and, if you’re in the right spot, you can see a beautiful rainbow down where the water splashes on the yellow rock.
Slovenia has been impressive so far and it’s only about to get much better. Any doubts or fears we may have had about our first motorcycle trip have long been dispelled. We no longer feel like complete novices, we’re getting better at riding and more confident with each passing day.
The next couple of days we’ll be hiking across green pastures among the sheep herders’ huts, exploring the vibrant Ljubljana, falling in love with the enchanting Piran by the Adriatic sea and enjoying the exquisite countryside, the mountain passes, lakes and castles. There’s also crying by the side of the road, just to balance things out bit.
Stay tuned. Coming soon: gravel riding and then hiking up to Velika planina and first contact with the Slovenian sausage.