Hans-Peter während der Rhein2Ganges-Charity-Tour auf einer Bergstraße zwischen Kroatien und Albanien.

Part 13: An Adventurous Trip to Shokdra

“Okay Google, show me the way to the next big city!”

When we shoot a question like this into a search engine, we expect a clear, straightforward route to come back: few turns, fast roads, long straight lines. Perfect for busy everyday life.

For motorcyclists, however, this is mainly one thing: boring. We want to take our bikes out for a spin and really get stuck into the bends. When planning our route from Kotor to Shkodra in Albania, we set our navigation devices accordingly: Adventure, level 3! We really had spent enough time driving along coastal roads – as beautiful as they were at times!

The result: this road pattern on the way out of the valley basin around Kotor. It made our fingers itch. Let’s get on the bikes and get going.

Très Chic, That Chicane

Challenge ordered, challenge received! A gradient of more than 22 percent and a partly broken road – often only provisionally filled with loose gravel. Driving our fully loaded 400 kg BMW-GS over these patched-up roads put our driving skills to the test. One chicane after another until the asphalt road opened up in front of us.

We wouldn’t have it any other way!

The view of the valley from the mountain slopes alone was worth the drive. Almost every bend made us want to linger and simply feast our eyes on the landscape. To top it all off, we found a nice café with a perfect view just after the penultimate bend.

We treated ourselves to a cool drink and watched a bridal couple who were involved in a photo shoot at this location – drone shots included. Zhis rest gave us strength for what our satnav had in store for us next: the adventure wasn’t over yet!

Dark, Damp, Cold – And an Adventure to Behold

To get to Shkodra, we had to take on the mountains between Montenegro and Albania. Taking the mountain roads was not the only way of getting around.

But given the alternatives, we felt most comfortable on our two-wheelers. According to the forecast, the weather wasn’t going to play ball with our team. We wrapped up thickly to defy the cold wind and the approaching thunderstorm. We couldn’t estimate how long we would need for the tour. Due to the bulbous thunderstorms, it also got dark earlier on the route, which made the journey even more difficult. Photo stops along the way were out of the question.

At around 21:00, we fled the pouring rain through the doors of our accommodation in Shkodra. A shower and some fresh tagliatelle with funghi before the kitchen closes.

Setting off for Lake Ohrid

We slept long into the morning – yesterday’s ascent still in our bones. Only a hearty breakfast revived our spirits. “No dawdling,” we thought. We were already looking forward to the next destination on our tour: Lake Ohrid, a World Heritage Site, the south-western tip of which is still in Albanian territory, while the rest belongs to North Macedonia. The perfect opportunity for our next border crossing.

The hotel had an extremely obliging concierge who even wanted to help us stow our luggage on our motorcycle. But we preferred to hand him the camera – we all have our own system when it comes to packing our GS.

Around midday, we make another stop on the route and treat ourselves to a cup of coffee. For the nerves. And we would need good nerves for what followed.

Over the Edge of North Macedonia

The next episode of “Berthold and Hans-Peter – Encountering Bikers” – as you know, by far our favorite show – took place at the border of North Macedonia. Two motorcyclists from the Rhein-Sieg region were also waiting to be cleared at the border crossing and we had a nice chat.

When it was finally our turn, the first of our new friends was simply waved through without being checked. But immediately afterwards, the border officials asked his companion and Berthold to take off their motorcycle helmets. They also checked our passports, vehicle registration documents and wanted to see our international insurance card. This was the first time on our tour that we were asked for this – and the search began.

I had the papers with me and handed them through the window opening. The friendlier of the two officials smiled at me and confirmed that this was the certificate I wanted – but he would rather have the one from 2024, as the other one had expired. Meanwhile, his somewhat more “authoritative” colleague objected that I could also purchase insurance that was valid for 14 days in North Macedonia for a fee of 50 euros.

I immediately called my insurance hotline and explained the mishap. Fortunately, they immediately sent me a new certificate by email – and the friendly border official was happy to accept it. We also bought a North Macedonian insurance policy and met up with the other bikers after the border crossing to exchange contact details.

The paperwork at the border crossing took us over an hour. We only reached the town of Ohrid after dark. We stayed with friends of Berthold, who provided us with excellent hospitality and a comfortable bed.

But more about Ohrid and Lake Ohrid in the next blog.

We ride from the Rhine in Germany to the Ganges in India – and all for a good cause. Help us with a donation and give the Aktionsgruppe Kinder in Not e.V. the means to give disadvantaged children in India a future.

Berthold and I want to collect at least 1 euro in donations for every kilometer ridden – in the end this would be around 50,000 euros. The money will be used by the action group Kinder in Not e.V. to set up educational opportunities that will benefit children from poor population groups in India. We look forward to your donation!

Donation account: DE40 5745 0120 0030 5199 46
Purpose: Rhein2Ganges

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