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Adventure, Helmet Views, Motorbike

Helmet View of The Mediterranean – City Of Light (Part One)

The story about this awesome trip starts almost a decade before I packed the bags and put them on my motorbike.


Mom, dad… I wanna buy a motorcycle

When I was young there was this passion about motorbikes that woke up in me. If I recall correctly, it happened after watching Long Way Round. The documentary follows Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman on a motorcycle trip around the world. After that I really wanted a motorbike and go for an adventure, but since I was young and could not afford it myself, I asked my parents… And of course, the answer was “No”. After some time and failed attempts to earn money for a driving licence, I forgot the idea.

Beautiful sunset with my old motorcycle

Beautiful sunset with my old motorcycle

Rediscovering my passion in South-East Asia

When I started earning some money I went on a trip through Southeast Asia and while staying in Bali I rented a 125cc  scooter which was more than enough for me. I visited almost all of Bali on that little piece of machinery.

I visited almost all of Bali on that little piece of machinery.

Eight months later I came back home telling my parents how cool it had been and what I had visited. A few days later my late father said: “You will buy a motorbike, won’t  you”? He had a really bad dementia at the time and I have no idea how he remembered it. He sounded like he just continued the talk from 10 years before, like there was no time in between. He planted the seed back into my head which has been growing ever since. Well, my answer was “Yes”.. But did I have money for one? Almost…

My first bike

First I went for a licence training and in the process I got myself a Kawasaki KLR 650 in a really bad condition. After a full motorbike overhaul it was ready to hit the road. My travels consisted of travelling around Serbia. Few times my KLR failed me leaving me 300km from my hometown and once in a pouring rain with no shelter to seek.

Few times my KLR failed me leaving me 300km from my hometown

So for this big trip I decided that I would need something more reliable, something that wasn’t already worn out. After a few weeks of checking used bikes, I found Yamaha XT660R 2007. It had everything I needed – side bags, a helmet case, crash bars and it was in really good condition. And there it was, my new steel horse to ride on.

I had great time with my KLR 650 but it wasn't reliable so it was time for a change.

I had a great time with my KLR 650 but it wasn’t reliable so it was time for a change.

Getting ready for my adventure

I didn’t tell many people about my plans because when you talk about it people usually have negative comments about it and the usual ones are – ‘it’s dangerous’, ‘aren’t you afraid’, ‘you will get robbed’, ‘people will hurt you’, and so on. And it was all the opposite – it was safe, I was not afraid, I was not robbed and people helped me (not in every country, but  more about that later).

After acquiring all the stuff I needed I was ready to hit the road. Was I excited, scared, worried when I was leaving my hometown? The truth is- no… I was too busy thinking if I had forgotten something… and you guessed, I did… Since I’m a passionate photographer I wanted to get some cool landscape photos and for that you need s tripod and it was 1000 kilometers behind me… It could have been worse, I will survive.

First stop – city of light

Highway next to Skopje

Highway next to Skopje

I was travelling along the well known roads through Serbia to a border with Macedonia. After passing the border, that’s when reality hit me. I was excited, my eyes were just glancing everywhere and that was it. The road trip officially started after the border crossing.


I was passing Skopje, it has really beautiful mountains surrounding it but with all of the temptations I had to stick to the plan. The plans was to arrive to Ohrid during the day. My plan failed…

Arriving at night, my idea to camp somewhere failed, so I searched for a room. That was a big challenge since it was a peak season.

Beautiful Garden in Ohrid

Beautiful Garden in Ohrid

After finding a room I started exploring Ohrid at night. Far away I could hear some metal, hard core or whatever music and since I did not find anything better to do, I went there. Shortly after, I met many new Macedonian friends and we partied, drink rakija. When you have fun, time passes quickly. I told them I was leaving the next day, but Ohrid had other plans…

Saint Panteleimon, Ohrid

Saint Panteleimon


The morning was hard, a little bit of a hangover and lots of dilemmas. Should I stay or should I go? I decided to stay one more night but I had to find another place to stay since it was reserved for that day… Well, I thought, there goes another 3 hours for searching for another place… Some lady helped me find a place, smelly but OK… I mean the place, not the lady.

Riding Around Ohrid

Riding Around Ohrid

So, what does Ohrid has to offer?

The lake is amazing, it almost looks like the sea. I would choose Ohrid rather than  some Mediterranean sea location that’s for sure. Ohrid lake is also a natural border between Macedonia and Albania and it’s the deepest lake on Balkan going deep to staggering  288 meters!

Sunset at the Ohrid Lake

Sunset at the Ohrid Lake



Ohrid was called ” the city of light” by the Greeks and maybe that resonates best in the evening when the lakeside is bathed in street lights and lights coming from cafes. That is the time when Ohrid becomes really alive, it becomes packed with tourists and you start wondering where all those people were during the day? If you stroll around Ohrid you will find out that the old town is really beautiful, that the monasteries are even more than 5 centuries old and that the museums are everything but ordinary. Make sure you check out Bay of Bones Museum. Why? Because I didn’t, and everybody told me I made a huge mistake and they were right. So that’s why during the day Ohrid doesn’t seem as packed as at night, because there is stuff to see, there is something for everyone.

Ohrid is the deepest lake on Balkan going to staggering  288 meters!

In the evening I had one last “Skopsko” beer and went on my way in the morning. 

Beautiful landscape of Ohrid

Beautiful landscape of Ohrid

Leaving Macedonia

It’s morning and I finally managed to pack and head on my way, first to Albania to see if it’s OK to travel to and after that to Greece. What happened in Albania and what’s it like there and what problems I did or did not have? Read in the next post.

 

My motorcycle and Albanian police

My motorcycle and Albanian police

 

National Park Zasavica - Serbia
Adventure, Motorbike, Serbia

Zasavica – Hidden Gem of Serbia

Just under the town of Sremska Mitrovca there is one, also not known, gem of Serbia called Zasavica. Along with Obedska Bara and Carska Bara it’s one of main refuge of wildlife and one of the best kept swamp areas in Serbia. If think having a swim there is a good idea you are gonna have a bad time. Depth is around 2.5 meters but sludge is deep up to 8 meters! Just 2 kilometers of park is available for tourists and rest of it only for biologists and caretakers. If you visit this place you will meet a little eccentric but great biologist – when you visit this place for sure you will notice him.

Birds of Zasavica

First glimpse on the water and you will notice lots of birds and most common one is little Grebe. Everybody thinks it is a duck but it is more in a family of chicken. They can not fly they can skid few centimeters above the water. They are very clumsy on land so they lay their eggs very close to the shore.

little grebe in the national park zasavica

Little Grebe

There is a special bird at the national park Zasavica named golden oriole. She is famous for building hanging nests for a female to lay her eggs. When male finishes building the nest female inspect the insides and outside of the nest and if she doesn’t like she just chops the hanging thread and destroys the nest and the male needs to build another one.

What Zasavica has more to offer

In 2004 beaver was reintroduced to national park Zasavica. 31 beavers were let go in the national park – families and singles. Strapped with GPS they noticed some of the beaver migrating and one female went all the way up the Sava near the town of Brčko and had the babies there.

Horse At National Park Zasavica

Just beside the national park fence there is pasture for cows and horses which walk freely. Horses are mostly tamed and you can approach and pet them. While I was photographing, one of the kids ran few meters away from the parents and started walking in the horse dung. By the time they noticed he was already ankle deep.

Boat ride along the swamp of Zasavica

In Zasavica you can take a boat ride through the swamp area. While we were in a boat we were waiting for an elderly couple to arrive. All of a sudden they were almost running towards the boat thinking we will go away. Lady said sorry and she said they went to see the horses and stayed longer than planned. All of a sudden her husband added that they could not miss the chance to visit her relatives…

biologist of zasavica

An interesting history fact – Zasavica was a hiding and commanding place for Zeka Buljubaša. He was national hero from First world war. At the battle near river Drina, against the Ottomans, Zekas company ran out of bullets and they decided not to go quite into the night, they took their knives and rushed the Ottomans – and that’s how they died.

When you finish the visit of the national park there are lot’s of souvenirs to choose from but also lots of local foot to by – mostly made from donkey milk – soap, liquor, cheese and lots of pig products.

After my trip people asked me where I was for the weekend and when I told them nobody had a clue where is it and what the hell is Zasavica. After explaining them and showed them the photos they were very excited and wanted to go there. I consider this one of the places that is awesome to go for a day and enjoy and learn that even in Serbia there are places where some species can be seen only in a few places and one of them is a hidden and unknown gem of Serbia – Zasavica.

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Adventure, Motorbike, Serbia

Amazing Stories In The South And West of Serbia

The famous one beer

As the quote goes “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”. So it goes for this adventure, every aspect of this adventure that I had planned has gone wrong.

My plan was to go on this adventure with my motorcycle fixed… Guess what… with lack of the parts bike could not be fixed and I decided to go on this adventure with a shaky motorbike… when I say shaky I mean it’s shaking like never ending earthquake. After half an hour driving it you get used to it. I did not have to go on the trip but I did not want to miss last beautiful days of the summer. for any one asking motorbike model is Kawasaki KLR650.

That night I went for a famous one beer, as I have not learned that there is no “one beer”

Story begins a day before the go-off, I had planned to wake up at 5-6 and arrive at Uvac in the evening hours. You can tell it did not happen like that. That night I went for a famous one beer, as I have not learned that there is no “one beer”. I woke up at 9 packed my stuff and went on my way. They say you can not forget first love and I can not forget the first time I went up the mountain Tara. So I decided to go to Uvac over mountain Tara. Known road, beautiful landscapes  and all of a sudden sign for a canyon of a small river. Unplanned turn to dirt road. Nice little creek, nice views… Should I continue or go back to the main road…
Tara View with KLR650

Tara mountain and being low on fuel ‘somewhere’

I continue down the creek, up the mountain, passing small villages and children. As soon as they see me they run to the streets and wave. I reach the top of an uphill road and I am rewarded with a beautiful view on mountain Tara. Few minutes after that motorcycle is trying to tell me something… no more fuel! I panic a bit and then remember the reserve… I turn it on and thinking to my self  ‘please work’ (I was afraid since on this motorbike lot’s of stuff that you would think should work normally… don’t….) and to my surprise motorbike continues like nothing happened!

Few minutes after that motorcycle is trying to tell me something… no more fuel

 

Tara view with Kawasaki KLR650
With motorbikes need under control I start the descend to the main road hoping reserve will last… 15 minutes later asphalt! I reach city of Bajina Bašta, fill up the fuel into my thirsty animal and stop at the famous Drina house to rest.

 

House on the Drina river

House on the Drina river

Reaching Zlatibor mountain

It’s starting to get dark and I’m half way to Zlatibor and not even near Uvac – my planned destination. I decide to find a place somewhere on Zlatibor. After finding a place I decide to go for a walk and check out downtown of Zlatibor. I have seen some nice beer tavern and decided to go there after dinner. Finished my dinner and noticed domestic music has taken over and decided to skip it and go to sleep.

Small creek on the mountain of Zlatibor

Small creek on the mountain of Zlatibor

Early in the morning there was fog, you can see 20m. I wait for the sun to disperse a bit of fog, as soon as it happened I drive to check out more of Zlatibor. Not many people can be seen, mostly people working on constructions for upcoming season. I wrap up the tour and went on my way to Uvac. As soon as I get on my bike I notice I have lost one glove, I ran to the Chinese shop and get myself skiers gloves. I continue the ride and find some dirt roads and have fun on them a bit.

Having nice dirt ride on Zlatibor hills.

Having nice dirt ride on Zlatibor hills.

 

Beautiful view on Zlatibor mountain

Finally arriving to Uvac

I reach some bridge and I notice the sign for river Uvac… Finally I reached the river that made me go to this trip. Checking out the bridge, nothing special… I go to the dirt road on the left hoping for something better… anything… road takes me under the bridge, right, left up the hill and WHAM…. beautiful view on the bridge. The simple bridge that looked like nothing special has its own beauty. Sometimes getting closer to stuff doesn’t mean you’ll see more, going back a bit gives you the bigger picture.

Beautiful view on what seemed like a boring bridge.

Beautiful view on what seemed like a boring bridge.

I reach the Uvac dam and ask them where should I got? They explain to me dirt road that doesn’t follow the Uvac all the way but there are beautiful landscapes. I continue the ride and again small beautiful villages, mostly muslim and every of them has nice small mosk. I seem to be interesting to the children that see me, they run along my side and older people seeing me and thinking “what the hell are you doing here”?

The simple bridge that looked like nothing special has its own beauty. Sometimes getting closer to stuff doesn’t mean you’ll see more, going back a bit gives you the bigger picture.

 

There are more beautiful view not just on the meanders!

There are more beautiful view not just on the meanders!

Canyon of river Uvac is one of those places that is not talked about much, it is not known as Tara or Zlatibor but it’s actually one of the nicest places in Serbia. I have not visited Uvac as much as I have planned though… There are no photos of griffon vulture (vulture that was almost extinct 20 years ago and now there are almost 300 of them), there are no photos from viewpoints on beautiful Uvac meanders and photos of people living there in villages consisting of 3-4 houses. Uvac is also known to be home of the many bird species, brown bear and wolves!

 

Pasture at the end of the Uvac national park

Even at the exit of national park Uvac there is farewell view on beautiful pasture and just behind Sjenica lake. Only thing to do is sit, take a deep, mountain air, breath, rest and get back on the road and think about Uvac… how is it like here in winter, spring, or summer… and when am I gonna get back here again? I started my ride to Kragujevac and I make the wrong turn and go to the unplanned visit to the city of Novi Pazar. Nervouse becuase it’s night and mountain roads I finally go out of Novi Pazar and I speed to the Kragujevac. Night was cold but as I enter the city it starts to be warmer. Just in front of the hotel I notice half of the licence plate is missing… how? I have no idea.

 

Kragujevac forgotten history

In the morning I go for a coffee with a friend and she reminds of something that we learned in the school but totally forgot. One sentence was enough for me to remember everything “It was in country of a peasants in a mountainous Balkans where died company of students in one day”.

German forces shot few thousands innocent people among whom were students. In that time there were rebellions against german forces and germans started killing 50 civilians for every wounded and 100 civilians for every dead soldier. First they did it in villages because that’s where most of the rebellions started and after that they started doing it in Kragujevac. People were taken under excuse of changing their ID’s so there was no resistance.

 

Kragujevac

In the museum can be seen messages left by the students to their parents and of them goes like this: “Don’t send bread tomorrow”. Not much of a message, no emotions but then again evokes so much of it, message doesn’t say what will happen tomorrow but still it’s obvious.

In that time there were rebellions against German forces and Germans started killing 50 civilians for every wounded and 100 civilians for every dead soldier

In Kragujevac you can visit museum called 21. October and memorial park “Kragujevac October” to learn more about what happened here. For this article the photo of the monument to the kids of class V-III would be better but I did not have enough time to go there.

 

Long way back

On the way back I visit the monument for the Partizans in Second World War – Kosmaj. On this place was formed “Kosmajska Posavska” company in order to act around Danube and town of Mladenovac.

 

Kosmaj Monument - Also could be seen in articles about 'futuristic' Yugoslavian monuments

Kosmaj Monument – Also could be seen in articles about ‘futuristic’ Yugoslavian monuments

There was about two hours to reach home but that doesn’t matter… In my head I’m thinking what we have in our backyard but we don’t appreciate it,  we don’t show anything to our people or the international tourists. We can say we have the most beautiful national parks in Europe, monuments and events that send tinglings down your spine when you hear stories behind them and history that we have to learn first and then be proud of it.

Motorbiking Tara Mountain
Adventure, Motorbike, Serbia

Motorbiking Tara Mountain in Serbia

Friday morning. I packed the stuff, went to the garage and packed a recently fixed Kawasaki KLR 650. I started riding and thinking in the back of my mind if everything would work fine with my motorbike, but in my stomach it was a different feeling – it was just pure adrenaline and enjoyment.  Riding to Šabac and Loznica from Novi Sad is a dull and boring road but just after Loznica I arrived to the river Drina and started riding along the side of it. The scenery got more and more beautiful by every new kilometer.

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I had a pause by Zvornik lake for some rest and a bit of photographing. I ran into a man who was also resting there and he told me that it was going to rain. I told him I had checked the weather and there was just a possibility of light rain… I continued riding, the landscape was getting better and the light rain started getting stronger.

Just in front of  Bajina Bašta I arrived to a small house on river Drina that was in most of the papers, TV shows and even in National Geographic. It was built by swimmers and used as a place for resting after long swims. First they built a platform and as the time passed they made something more serious. Sometimes it could withstand the river Drina and sometimes it needed rebuilding… And it went on like that for 40 years.

I arrived at a gas station in Bajina Bašta and waited for a few minutes to see if the rain would stop… Murphy’s law set the stage and it was showering like crazy. When I saw it will not stop, I asked the worker at the gas station if he knew a good place to sleep at and he gave me the directions to a place called “Kod Kurte“ (“At Kurta’s”). By the way, there were twins working at the gas station, so it was hard to talk about something with one of them that I already talked about with the other…  The rain got weaker and I was back on the road again… I failed to follow the instructions from one of the twins and ended up on a forest road reaching a monastery.

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A Monk gave me the directions through the forest and the dirt road was amazing… It started showering but I did not mind, the trail was awesome, going up the mountain Tara, ears cracking because of the pressure change, passing small villages, seeing beautiful landscapes…. After a 20min ride I saw an asphalt road, turned right and hoped it was the right way.  A 10 minute ride and I arrived at “Kod Kurte”, soaked. The interior of the place was all wooden, with photos from rallies and motocross competitions. I settled in my room, had a shower, changed clothes and put plastic bags on my feet before I put my wet shoes on. I went to eat and by recommendation I ate “Bun set” (literal translation from “komplet lepinja”) with some kind of butter milk. It was so good I ate it for breakfast also.

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I spent my night drying my shoes for the next day. In the morning I packed the stuff and went to Zaovine Lake. Normal asphalt road… When I reached Zaovine Lake I started riding on dirt roads hoping to go all around the lake but with no luck. At the end of the road I reached somebody’s yard.

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An old man whose house it was, looked at me strangely and I asked him “Any more road?” and he said “No more road my child. Where would you like to go”? At that moment a lady came out of the house telling me, by the sound of my motorbike, that she thought a helicopter landed. I laughed and answered that I would like to go to Zaovine Lake and the old man told me to go to the asphalt road. I found a few more dirt roads around the lake and after some time I decided to go to Wooden City. I checked the map and saw that there was a dirt road to that place and I did not know how exciting the road was going to be!

A few wrong turns and I passed one left turn asking myself “Is that road that I have seen on the map?” and thinking that I cannot even drive up that road. After a few kilometers I figured that was the road… Checking out the steep road adrenalin helped me hit the throttle and with no problem the main obstacle was beaten. KLR  650 ate everything under it.

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Mud and rocks were on the track all the time while going up, until I reached the road peak. Made some photos and was happy that my KLR made it up and it was probably the hardest one by far. After that easy forest trail I reached the clearance and I saw 3-4 quad bikers and asked them the way to Wooden City. I said goodbye and continued my ride reaching the city.

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The Wooden City is a beautiful place, not a man made marble but a place very worth seeing. Names of the streets are “Bruce Lee’s Street”,  “Novak Đoković’s Street”, “Diego Maradona Square” and so on… The city has its own tennis courts, sports center with its funny name “The Damned Yard” (named after a book by a Serbian Nobel prize winner Ivo Andrić), a church, a restaurant and a few cafés.

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I bought some souvenirs from an old lady and got some rakija made from walnut. I got out of the Wooden City and saw a girl on the bicycle, with the saddle bags totally full, going up the steep hill, I smiled and said “Hi” and she nodded back. In the Back of my mind I was feeling a bit sad since I couldn’t ride my bicycle that much since I did not have much time on my hands.  I decided not to sleep on Tara since locals told me there would be rain and this time I believed them. Going the same road back I stopped at the Drina house from the beginning of the story and at gas station where the twins worked.. I had few words with one of them, thanked him and went on my way.

 

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The ride back was cold and I got caught by the dark and rain. Slowly but surely familiar places started showing up… Ruma, Irig, Novi Sad… I arrived home, wet, frozen, hands cramping but happy since my  Kawasaki KLR 650 after many repairs finished the ride without a problem.