I went with bike in this countries:

I went with bike in this countries::

2011. augusztus 30., kedd

To Dubrovnik with a recumbent

The last summer’s bad weather and my own lethargy wich caused by my illness didn’t make a long range bike-tour possible. Luckily after the operation i was on my feet again with lightning speed, and with my strength my old optimism had returned too, wich was perested mostly by beginning this not-in-the-slightest-bit short tour. In the autumn I was only reading dremily Árpi and Zita’s jouney to Rome; wich journey’s first section ended with Dubrovnik. That time I made a promise to myself, that if I ever recover from my illness I will go at least to this point. The way the summer started, it didn’t seemed as if there will be two continuous weeks with good weater. In any case, with my son we appointed the beginning date to 15th of August, and hoped for the best. This time not in vain. Somehow the daily rains passed away int he days before our start. The day before we set off we packed our equipment skillfully, by the guidance of our good list, refined by years of practice. By the evening of Sunday the bikes were ready, my son’s at 35 kilos, mine 32, supplied by a pulled 25 kilo weighted small trailer.

First day Szedres-Velika Kopanica /closed distance: 185 km/

This small caravan set off at 6:15 from Szedres, to reach the sea and see the port of Dubrovnik in a few days. The weather contitions promised to be nice, we were routing in a good mood, caring for our legs, because in the first quarters, even a little sprain can make us unable to move two or three days later. We have already traveled through this road to Osijek/Eszék, so it didn’t brought us any interesing news. We could advance with an average speed of 22-23km/h ont he plain lands. Our job for this day was to near the Bosnian border, and to the end of the day it didn’t seemed to be a problem. This was our first tour when when we tried to minimalize the expenses of our days, so we had to stop sometimes to ask for water. Of course I managed to find the only two children in Croatia without an ability to understand my sign-language, even though I know the word ’voda’. Than in the next village (Translators note: In Zeta’s interpretation this expression could mean sitxty kilometers), we stopped to rest in a park where an other boy tried to communicate with us, sadly, his english was not as improved as he belived, so he mistook „Hungary” for „hungry” and restlessly tried to invite us for a ’benica’, even so we didn’t know what it meant, some kind of meal as we figured out. His arriving friend helped us out, dispersing the misunderstandings with his basic knowledge of english (and geography). This is how we reached our last village for the day at 6:45 pm, Velika Kopanica, we tried to find a place for our tent here. A man in the park told us about the Croatian (chatolic) religious holiday, wich explained, why all the shops were closed. In a really wide street beside a drained brook, with the permission of the locals we built up our tent and cooked our dinner. With the local’s giving us water, everything seemed to be all right. The sun descended and we have gone to sleep. We would have been, if it was not for that two not too bright teenagers, who decided to pass the night with not leaving us to sleep. First they were throwing apples at our tent, than made every kind of sounds, in essence they were sharking around us, so we had to guard our tent and our belongings. At two o’clock even they became bored by this, so they went home, leaving silence behind them. Interesting that no one needed them all night long at home. At last we could have some proper sleep, even though our night was ruined.

Second day Velika Kopanica-Maglaj /closed distance: 127 km/

On the following day our awakening was pretty late, and by the time we packed up, 9 am has already been passed. The begining was bad, and the following events didn’t improved it a bit. Directly before the parting I noticed my front wheel deflated at night. I took my chances, not wanting to waste time further with this, mainly because our spare tyres were in the deepest parts of our packs, so I pumped it, and we departed. After this I pumped it again in every hour than every half an hour, int he end I grew tired of it at noon. At a deserted petrol station I changed the tyre and we could continue our journey without the axiety for our wheels. Thiswas after we rached the border at Samac, getting across the Sava-bridge we were in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It’s always a pleasure to cross borders with these bikes. The border guards are only concerned with our bicycles. We could even be succesfull smugglers if we wanted to. Now the guard only glanced over our passports, his attention was on us, and even said: „Very nice bike!” I answered: „Yes, and comfortable too!” (Translator’s note: This was may favourite part to translate. :D) With this the inspection was over, and we were routing to the middle of this unknown country, wich we were even scared of a little, because this parts only recently recovered for the chaos of the war. Luckily all of our fears were without any basis. We found a bank in Samac, changing our money to local one (the Convertible Mark, 1 BAM= 0,5 €). From now on, we could also buy something for us. The prices are a lot friendlyier than on the Croatian part. Here comes the secon surprise of the day, on a railway-overpass my chain brokes with a snap. I tried to be calm, but I wasn’t able to. I was tired and felt like every odd was against me. Covered in oil and fat I was thinking about how foolish it was to start this long journey wich is even filled with mountain passes, with such an overused chain. Of course I had counted on it, it’s not an accident that I had a tool for it with us, and even a spare chain. I took out some pieces and try to integrate new ones, but we only suceed after a long time. Meanwhile from the nearby house came forth a man in the same age as me, who even knew some words on hungarian. As we found out, he is a truck driver, who brings grain from Tolna county, even know about Szedres.

He was very friendly and helpful, helps us with tools, and after we finished, gave us washing powder to wash away the one bucketload of oil on our skins. The chain is ready at last, and if we are standing before a store, why wouldn’t do the shopping for the dinner? The shopkeeper woman only speaks her native language, so I must have play a hen saying „cockadoodledoo” (Translators note: I know that’s a rooster, but I don’t know what the hen says on english.) before her to get some eggs. Not as if they could have been see me more foolish than they already had, but in the end I got my ten eggs for the omlette at dinner. We set off again, but missed our direction at Doboj already because of a map mistake, losing another half an hour in vain. I was getting savage, but there was nothing to do, this day was all like this. We find the road at last, and to sunset we were going at full speed to Maglaj, at 7:45 pm where we were asking for a place to stay before the holiday-house of an Italian family, and we got it.

We had plenty of sleep to do, partly from our last night, so we went to sleep early, we only heard the night song of the muezzin half asleep. No problems, at 4:10 am he started it over! :)

Third day Maglaj-Pazaric /closed distance: 164 km/

I felt perpared for everything after the day before that, but this one was calm and plain, (Translators note: PLAIN?! YOU CALL THE BASIN OF SARAJEVO PLAIN?!) we were enjoying the journey the whole day laying back in our seats.7:50 in the morning we were ready to go, and set off to the valley of Krivaja. It was a good decision to come this way. The road was trafficless, but still useable with bicycle. The traffic of the road 17 was frigthening on that nearly 20 kilometers where we got the chance to travel on it after the border. So at Modrica we crossed it, and went on the left coast to Zavidovici on a far more pleasant route, where we turned to the valley of Krivaja.

The way continuosly raised until Olovo, but it wasn’t so much of a problem, because the elevation was paralel with the height of the river, so it didn’t slowed us down in a great deal. Between the high cliffs we went further, beside us the river, sometimes with fishermens’s standing in it to the waist. We rarely met people in general, this is true in whole Bosnia, the population is quite low, and in the hot days the people rather fint a shadow for themselves. No one is hurrying with one’s work, everybody is calm and happy. The cars sound the horn before overtaking everytime, and even if they come from the front, to show their sympathy. This was annoying at first, because in our country the horn is only blown from anger, and when we hear it, we know that we are just an annoying element on the hungarian roads. But here it isn’t true, no one is annoyed, even the wood-carrying truck comes after us in peace for kilometers until a good place to overtake, what he does, after a short hornsound. This is how we arrived to Olovo, where at a petrol station we check the air pressure int he tyres, but everything is all right and after some questioning we continue our journey on road 18. Here a 7% elevation for 13 km length we started, of course at noon, the hottest part of the day. This took a lot out of me, I had to sprinkle a few water on my head once in a while to put up with the temperature, it took one and a half hour to reach the top. Practically, form here to Sarajevo the route is downhill. We arrive to the capital at late afternoon. For our luck, we didn’t had to go inside the maze of streets, we never got a positive answer from the CouchSurfing, so we continued by the edge of the city. Even so, the traffic is a nightmare. Sarajevo is simply not prepared for bicycle traffic. On highways, on sidewalks, and even one kilometer on highway we went, because we had to. In the tunnels between the trucks we were in the way for everyone. We found our way again, and celebrated it in a pizzery. The waiter spoke english, but the pizza was not what I like, the size was right, but the pasta was thin and crounchy, like the one the hungarian housewives used to make for soups. But it was not that bad that we left even a bite of it ont he plate. There was only one hour to the sunset, and we left. The track elevated slightly, and we were seeking through the houses by the road. At Pazaric, driven by a sudden idea I knocked in a house with beautiful grassy yard, and it’s design were very similar to our own; so I deduced its inhabitants should be the similar too.

A little girl opens the door and when I greet her with „szia”, she ansers just like that. The house belonged and still belongs to Enes Džinić and his family. Enes is a military officier, plays gituar and answers to my asking for place with excellent english. He has two daughters, an 8 and a 12 years old, and the whol family is very kind. At evening Enes comes out for us, and even offers some electricity for us, if it is nessesarry. I had only one telephone, wich I could easily charge with my bike, so we didn’t take on this offer. We prepared lunch and and quickly got inside our tent, because the air cooled down with the speed of a lightning. After some listening to the local muezzin, we slept again.

Fourth day Pazaric-Oputzen /closed distance: 164 km/:

Int he morning we woke up to terrible cold. The house is flowed around with a little brooke, and from every sides there were high mountains.

Yesterday Enes told us about that this region held the winter olympics not so long ago. So in coldness around 10 °C we are packing up the wet tent, because it seems hopeless to dry it this time, quickly making a tea, and departing at 7:10 am. We left a note on the windscreen of our host’s car, in wich we said thanks for his hospitality, and told we were thinking about returning here on the way back. We warmed up fast during the routing, not only because of the sun, wich was raising quickly, but because we were climbing up the Ivan-pass (Translator’s note: Wich was named by us from the Ivan-tunnel on the top); and after going through the tunnel we had a downhill road to the sea.

Sometimes in a grade of 9%. This neither was a pleasant experience, bacause at the speed of 50 km/h we started to feel cold again, and even more damaging to our knees, chilling it down too much by the wind. At Konjic we reached the Neretva, mort precisely its lakelike widening. A sight was amazing, but when we reached the real Neretva-valley, it became more and more wonderful. The river breaks a way to itself througs huge cliffs, we felt ourselves small among these measures. My son told here: „We in our home not even know what a ’mountain’ is.” He’s right, our eyes, wich are used to hills saw these measures enormous. The green coloured Neretva meandered peacefully beside us. It was still One o’clock int he afternoon, and we had already met our quota for today, we have reached Mostar. „Most” means „bridge” on the language of the locals, so Mostar most certainly translated „Bridged”. This city has one very famous monument: the medieval bridge in the Old City. Of course we wanted to see it, we had plenty of time that day, so we turned to the directon signed by the „Old City” sign. There were no place to step in the Old City thanks to the many tourists. It was a hard task to push our recumbents through them; on the shiny old pebbles my feet weren’t stable in the SPD-shoe. We found the bridge, below it the deep green Neretva.

It was certainly beautiful, but not as much as the fuss about it, and my agoraphobia was strengthening, so after some photos and the „must have” souvenir we ae hurrying out of the city. The was burning. We found a shadow for ourselves by a tavern. One hour later the owner chased us away. Our only bad experience ont he way foth and back. I don’t hold a grudge on this polutocrat, I really pity him for his twisted feelings. After crossing the Croatian border, in Oputzen we asked for water from a symphatetic older lady, and he told us there is a camping nearby, 7 kilometers from the main road. We were quite happy about it, because night was slowly faling. The only thing, that gave us more happiness was when we could glance on the sea, because it showed us that our goal is nearby.

The Rio Mare camping was pleasantly still. We made dinner, during that we stood up our tent, wich was still moist from the morning haze. The bath int he sea was more than pleasant. We were statisfied. It took for days to reach the sea, even with our second day not as effective as it should have been.

Fifth day Oputzen – Slano /closed distance: 94 km/

This day was promising an easy time. Our family starts in the dawn to catch up to us, and somewhere near Dubrovinik we will meet, wich was not far from there.
In the planning of our journey I was marginally noting the road on the peninsula wich was taken by Árpi’s team, nothing more than an alternative route. Now we decided that instead of the heavy traffic of the coastal road number eight we choose this one. For this, we must had pedal to Ploce, where we boarded a ship, after that crossed the peninsula to return to road number 8. We found the harbour easily, the ferry waits just for us. While I bought the tickets, the ship began to unhitch. We managed to catch it int he last minute, and started distancing from the harbour. This is our first time riding a ship on the sea.


We were enjoying the nearly half hour-long trip. Meanwhile I called the family, who were travelling by car, who were still far from us, the speed limits and the traffic jams in Sarajevo slowed them down quite a bit. After reaching the coast, the fact that this peninsula is one big mountain hit us like a cold shower, and there were no flat roads. The road from the harbour for starters was a five kilometer long 10% uphill, and this pace keeps up for the whole day. To tell the truth I could look on the map, wich shows clearly that this is mountain terrain. Too late. Whole morning and first part of the afternoon we were fighting the elevations. In exchange we got wonrerful sights, on the other side of the peninsula the open sea and the bays form paradise keep our eyes entertained.

Some time later we arrived at the city of Ston, and we were passing by the walls built incredibly high, and finally reaching road number eight again. The family this time was around Mostar. We started to search for a camping, but in the first three was full, certainly was not enough place for a big tent and a car. The road was high, the campings were low, and it was tiring to climb down and up by every single camping. It started becoming hopeless, when we rached Slano, where the camping near the church we found a place for ourselves. 212 kuna for 6 person, a big tent and a car, two bicycles, this means at about 7600 Ft (25,3 EUR), in this year. Quick reconciliation with the family, and half an hour later we happily celebrating each other. We are only 30 kilometers far from Dubrovnik.

Sixth day

Resting day. We enjoyed the mediterranian summer, the sea, and try to survive int he incredible hot weather. 7 o’clock in the morning it was already 29 °C, at noon it reached 45 °C, and even in night it did not cool down fast. I, who does not react too well to the heat, could hardly sleep. But in the morning I started in the sea, so I knew there are worse things in life than camp by the sea. :)

Seventh day

Resting day. Today half of the team went to see the castle of Ston. 

Eightth day:

Sightseeing in Dubrovnik with a car. Dubrovnik is beautiful. Even the introduction, when we spotted the huge bay, and drove through the bridge over it, was amazing.

The Old City was something like Mostar, only bigger in measure. The tourist were swarming, and everithing was about servicing them. A throng of souvenir shops, and hosting units. All of that on rather crippling expenses. Through the narrow alleys we neared the coastal fortress. 

From the inside, I heard quality music.

He sat on a gitaramplifier, in his hands an electro-acoustic gituar, around his ankle a rattle, around his neck a harmonica. And he played, and played very good! As a matter of fact, he was my favourite part from the Old City. We were walking aruond, shopping discretly, after that going back to the camping. Because there was six of us, this could only be made with two rounds. Me and my son remained back for the secound turn, meanwhile kept ourselves busy with finding camping gas-pack, because we exhausted the ones we brought form Hungary. It was not as simple as it sounds, because there were not any Tescos, and int he Konzum there only grocery products, and not even in the Hypermarket’s sports equipment class did we find any camping equipment. We began to give up when passing by an urban petrol-stations shop-window I had a glance of the much wanted bottles. Moreover, they are half the prize as the ones back home. I take some of them instantly in my custody, and by walking through the dockyard we had been reaching the bridge before the city when our fare has arrived.

Ninth day /closed distance: 60 km/

The purpose of the tour was to reach Dubrovnik. With bicycle. It was not possible to not reach it with recumbents also; so in the next morning we set out once again, this time without the packages. After one hour and a half we were once again at the bridge of the now familiar bay, and happily photgraphed each other at the sign in the beginning of the city.

Tenth day Slano-Oputzen /closed distance: 61 km/

This was the first day of the way home. Our idea was to return to the Rio camping, this way spending one more day with our family, and we be only four days far from our home. We ran through this 61 km quickly, in the meantime laughing on how much easier it was than climbing mountains on the peninsula the whole day the other way aruond. As an interesting fact I must tell that the camping now costed exactly the amount with the car and six people as with two people and two bicycle. It’s true that we didn’t get a bill in eihter cases, and not even the prices are hanged around anywhere.

Eleventh day Oputzen Pazaric /closed distance: 165 km/

We started early, it was only 6 am when we glance last time on the sea. Tis depart was a bit sad, because the sea was and will be here forever, but we only meet with it only a several times on the course of our life. It is somehow fatal, like every depart, I felt the same way this time again. We speeded till Mostar like an express train, where our family catched up to us. This time we said goodbye to them for real, for some days we have not seen them at all. Meanwhile not even the sun gave itself a rest, and the heat was growing into greater measures. At Jablanica the elevation started, wich got serious not long after, so we had to come down and push our bikes for several kilometers. By this time we had already passed 100 kilometers, and with the infernal heat combined with the altogether 92 kg heavy bicycles and the 9% elevation made it impossible to rout anymore. Meanwhile we asked for water several places. In one of the houses we also got orange juice. At last we reached the Ivan-tunnel, wich is know to u sas the top of the mountani ridge, and also the end of the uphill, because on our journey to the sea this was the starting point of the downhill run. We reach the house of Enes relatively early, where they host us as and old aquintance. We had a dinner, and went to the tent fast, this time preparing the warm clothes, because we knew well that the mornings in these parts are rather cold.

Twelveth day Pazaric – Maglaj /closed distance: 164 km/

We departed at 7:25 am, the usual cold, hazy Pazaric morning surrounded us. Enes also sets off to work, to find him easily on FaceBook. We had a good pace on the downhill to Sarajevo. This time the traffic was not so hectic, and not even we were annoyed by our way ending in a highway, nobody yelled at us, even though we had no right to be there. Maybe the locals also knew that we had no choice, and maybe had some pity on the two unlucky traveller without any knowledge of this terrain; anyway, we got out of the city without a problem, and we start to elevate once again. I had never been waiting a city that much as now I was waiting to see Olovo.

My legs still felt the elevations yesterday and the pushing, and I was not even tolerating the burning sun. The elevation is 20 km long, and ends in a 7% uphill. Ont he top of the mountain pass and ice-cream wagon waits for us with a young couple beside it; and the girl gave us both an ice-cream totally free, simply from simphaty. That’s how these scary Balakan people treat the passerbys. We accepted gladly that the climbing part of our tour had ended. The valley of Krivaja from Olovo constantly drops height, the valley of the Bosna is nearly plain, after that the Croatian part to home is not a challenge either. Among the mountains the water was not a problem, the clear, cold springs, wich had been built by the locals for the hungry travellers, were quite frequent. We also used these places to replenish our water supplies.

We reach Maglaj before 5 pm, in theory we could easily go further, but the last two days had sucked all of the energy from me, so I did not want to go any further. The next day I was really sory for this, but this time I thought this was the right decision. We made a camp by the known italian family’s garden. They are very good willed again, this time we got tomato and mineral water too. They also offered beer, but we do not dring alkohol. It was a shame that we could not talk, but only the children knew a bit of english, the adults only spoke italian. I tried to tell them using signs that I am a musician, and only know how to sing on italian. I even performed a part from L’Italiano. We used the word ’gracie’ most of the time. In the evening they barbequed for long, for this time we talk to each other, and after a cold water shower (Translator’s note: from a sink) we fell asleep to the voice of the muezzin of Maglaj.

Thirteenth, last day Maglaj – Szedres /closed distance: 292 km/

This day started easily, we packed up, and set of at 7:25 am. Our distance from home was nearly 300 km, we knew this is not a tiring distance in two days on plain grounds. We didn’t count that many problems slowed us down on the way here; and this time without the mechanical accidents and the faliures we will speed up drastically. At 11 am we were at Modrica, wich was only 20 km from the Bosnian-Croatian border. We spent our supper in a restaurant we knew from earlier. I tried the cevapi, wich is meat between two scone-pasta with some onions and sauce. It was interesting and tasty. After the supper we passed Samac, where I changed our Converible Marks to Euro, and we reached the border. After that we went further in a great pace. The time showed us, that we will stop in a village somewhere near the hungarian border. 7:30 pm already passed, and we are not delighted with any of them, when we routed through the last one of them. We stopped 5 km before the border, and come up with a heavy decision: we had dinner than routed further. It was too great temptation for both of us: we are only 75 km from home, it did not matter that wealready done two hundred and our legs are tired, we decided on moving along. We prepared our sausages, and after eating them we start instantly. After the heat of the day it was pleasant to roam further. Form home we got bad news, a storm has reached Hungary and by the time was raging over Sopron with a wind of 100 km/h. This scared us a bit, but there was not much we could do about it. After the border we changed to a terrific speed. The muscles in my leg nearly broke form it, but I didn’t care about it: at home many things await me: the house, my bed and She. Before Várdomb the rain started to fall, but it was not that hard, after a few kilometers it stopped. After three hours we reach Szekszárd. I looked at the night city as if I have seen itt he first time. It was somehow unimaginable that we were there. At noon I had been two countries fruther, and dining by the base of a minaret. I had not imagined the last part like this, I had thought we would rout around nicely as some deductionwith many restplaces. In reality it was a great sprint. At the end of Szekszárd, a stormy wind caught us, and did not lighten until we reached home. We advanced step by step, very slowly on the road 63, the slowness of the kilometer-signs was endless. We counted back: only five more, four, three, two, one, and turned into our street, stopping before our house.
We are home! As if it was not two weeks, but years wich have been passed form our departure. Inside everything is strange. The light was too strong, the object were too shiny. We were not in a house for two weeks, did not even see a light this strong from close. We cycled 1484 kilometers, from this 1424 in a time period of eight days. This means regularry 178 kilometers. It is a strong possibility that we are insane. :)
This was the tour in facts, but it’s only half-ready. Next time I will write about my thougts, my impressions and the people we met, and about ourselves, how the journey affected ourselves.
More photos on: My Picasa 

Translation by Atomnyúl. ( My son)