Western Balkan practical stuff

Maps

We used a printed map for overview but mostly relied on using the Open Street Map on our Garmin Oregon GPS and occasionally the OSmand, off-line map app on an Android smartphone. To prepare our trip we used Google Maps and Google Earth.

Language(s)

As we were visiting six countries on this trip there was a multitude of languages. Many people also speak some English or German. Occasionally we used Google Translate.

Roads and traffic

Before we started this trip we expected a lot of mad high speed drivers overtaking cyclists with less than a minimal distance. The contrary was true: in all countries we visited car drivers and truck drivers were very considerate. Often waiting behind us to for a good moment to overtake. An important factor was, without doubt, our mission to follow small road where ever possible.

Ferries

We used four ferries: the the Lepetani – Kamenari car ferry in Montenegro, the Fierzë – Komani car ferry in Albania, the ferry from Cavtat to Dubrovnik and the ferry from Split to Slatine, both in Croatia. Using the two last ferries with a bicycle may depend on how busy it is (in high season). More details about these ferries are on the route page.

Bike on the Fierzë to Komani car ferry. There also is a smaller boat that takes bicycles.

Water

In larger cities tap water seemed to be safe (as it was treated). We carried a water filter but rarely used it. Water in bottles is widely available.

getting water from a local well in the Albanian mountains

Food

Markets (or supermarkets) are everywhere. For the self catering cyclist there is enough to find. Eating out in (small) towns often means pizza or similar Italian dishes.

Local pizza with a local beer

Climate and weather

We planned this trip in May expecting mild spring weather with temperatures ranging from 20 – 30 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately this month of May was one of the  coldest and wettest since meteorological registration began. Most days were far below 20 degrees, often we  had a few hours of rain. Nights were cool (2 degrees in the Albanian mountains) and skies almost always cloudy. We may have had less than five days with warmer weather (above 25 degrees).

Dark skies and heavy rain showers over the bay of Kotor (Montenegro). It was a cool day with 8 degrees.

Where to stay?

There are hotels everywhere but in most countries we crossed it’s better value to find an apartment. Signs for apartments (a large one with kitchen, bedroom, balcony etc would typically cost 30-40 euro a night) are everywhere. Campsites are concentrated along the Adriatic coast. We did a lot of free camping which is easy and hassle free.

Free camping in Bosnia Herzegovina…

Spacious apartment in Kotor

 

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