Days 1-3 - Glasgow to Hungary
- 6500 miles – 10460 km
- 17 days (13 – 29 April 2018)
- mostly camping
- 1 girl
- 1 bike (Honda CBR 900RR 1998 Fireblade)
Glasgow – Dover – Calais – Belgium – Netherlands – Germany – Czech Republic – Slovakia – Hungary – Serbia – Bulgaria – Greece – Italy – Switzerland – France – UK – Glasgow
It was nearly a year since my last European trip on the bike and I couldn’t wait to get away again. I really wanted to ride all the way to Greece and ride through the countries that I haven’t been to yet, like Hungary, Serbia and Bulgaria. From Greece I wanted to take the ferry over to Italy and ride back to UK through Italy.
My biggest trip so far was around Scandinavia – 7000 miles in 15 days. At first it was looking like this trip to Greece & Italy could be even bigger, but in the end it was 6500 miles in total so slightly less.
I booked 2 weeks off work and set off on Friday 13th April straight from work.
Here’s a short summary video of the whole trip:
The plan was to start work early, at 7am and finish at 3pm instead of normal 9 to 5. Since I wanted to head to Dover straight from work, I packed the bike in the evening before.
I had to wake up around half 5am to make it to work for 7. It was raining in the morning – not a great start.
The day was dragging very slowly. I couldn’t wait to get on the road.
Weather was still not ideal, but hey, I was heading to Greece where it would hopefully be nice and sunny.
I left work and started heading to Dover for the ferry. Much easier option from Scotland is the overnight Newcastle – Amsterdam ferry but it’s expensive and need to book it long time in advance. I don’t like Dover – Calais ferry because it’s so far away (500 miles of boring motorways) but it’s much cheaper and don’t need to book it far in advance, in fact don’t need to book it at all, can just turn up and buy the ticket there.
Got to Dover around midnight and had to wait around an hour for the ferry. I didn’t mind waiting as that way I could get some rest.
Ferry took couple hours and with 1 hour time change, it was early morning when I got to Calais in France.
After couple hours of rest on the ferry I felt ok at first when leaving Calais towards Belgium. But it was still dark at half 4 in the morning and with temperature being low I soon found myself struggling to stay awake. I was taking longer stops more often, and after around 9am I started feeling more awake.
Belgium all misty in the morning:
The plan was to ride through the whole Germany that day to get close to the border with Czech Republic. I wanted to get to Greece quickly so that I could spend more time there, but at the same time 3 days of constant motorway miles would be really boring, so I wanted to take some small detours such as Bohemian Switzerland in Czech Republic.
After Belgium I had to ride through small bit of Netherlands and then through Germany. Mist has cleared up and it was nice and mostly sunny for the rest of the day.
I kept riding through Germany for the rest of the day and got to Dresden in the evening.
This was the route I did that day:
It was getting late when I got to Dresden so I started looking for a campsite.
Found a campsite called Kleine Bergoase, right at the edge of Saxon Switzerland national park in Germany (only 20 minutes to the border with Czech).
As it was getting late, the owner of the campsite was no longer there. One women approached me and tried to help to sort me out. She tried to phone the owner but signal was very poor. After a while someone came, I paid them and set up my tent. Went for a shower and went to sleep.
It was a third day already and I still had quite a long way to go to Greece – through Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Bulgaria. I wanted to get to Greece quickly so that I could spend more time there, but at the same time I didn’t want to spend riding 3 or 4 days on motorways only.
I wanted to ride around Bohemian Switzerland national park in Czech just after the German border before continuing further south. It would make a nice break from the motorways and hopefully some nice views.
I did a bit of reading about Bohemian Switzerland before the trip (normally I don’t do much preparation) so I knew that I would need to stop in some places and walk to see the rocks. I didn’t have much time though as I wanted to keep going to Greece. To see the best rocks I would need to walk for at least half an hour or an hour (or more), so I decided to only see the rocks that were 10-15 minutes of walk away.
As I crossed the Czech border and got onto the country roads of Bohemian Switzerland, roads were in quite a bad state.
After couple hours of riding I got to Hruba Skala and stopped there. There was a car park which was quite busy with people coming in and out. One of the guys who was trying to control the way in which cars were coming to and from the car park waved me through and told me to just park behind the tourist information kiosk, so that my bike was a bit out of sight.
It was really warm so I left my jacket strapped to the bike, took the valuables (sat nav etc) and went for a walk to the rocks. There are several walking routes but I only went 15 minutes away from the car park.
Although it was just a short walk, I was all sweating because it got really warm.
Got back to my bike and set off again. Next I wanted to stop at Prachovske Skaly, about 20 minutes away.
Got there and parked my bike at the car park. While there was no fee to do Hruba Skala walk, I had to buy a ticket for Prachovske Skaly. I didn’t have any Czech koruna, only Euros and bank card. The only way to pay was by Czech koruna. They wouldn’t accept Euros as a payment and no way to pay by card, so I had to skip this one (I should have prepared better).
Started heading towards Slovakia. When I first got on a motorway it was actually really fun – it was very twisty for a motorway and bends were really fun. After a while it turned into the normal boring long straight sections though.
Video from Bohemian Switzerland:
I wanted to get at least to Hungary that day. I just kept going through the rest of Czech and through Slovakia, with only one “touristy” stop in Slovakia at the Devin Castle.
It was late in the afternoon already. I could stay on the road maybe for another couple hours and then find some campsite near Budapest. After Devin Castle I just stayed on motorways until I got to Budapest. It got dark not long after I crossed from Slovakia to Hungary.
I wanted to ride through Budapest as I thought it would be really nice at night – and it was.
Here’s a quick video from my ride around Budapest:
As it was late in the evening, I wanted to find a campsite quickly. I managed to find one not far past Budapest. When I got there, there was a reception building with all lights switched off. But the gate was open and there were lamp posts switched on all around the camp site. I didn’t see anyone so just followed the path to the end of the campsite. Only when I got to the end of the path I noticed the only camper van there which was at the end of the path.
I started setting my tent up when a woman came out from the camper van and started talking – asked about my travels and talked about theirs (she was with her husband). They offered a torch but I had my own which was enough. She then went with me to show me where the toilets are.
Eventually I went to sleep. In the morning the same couple offered me a tea or coffee, but I wanted to get on the road quickly so thanked them and refused.
Part 2 coming soon.