During the first stage of our journey towards the East we explored the Balkans, moving slowly, wanting to discover the history of these lands so fascinating. We set off from Italy, and after an overnight stop in Slovenia, we headed to the Croatian countryside, diving in a nature that makes you want to park your bike and continue your adventure on foot.
First we learnt closely about the extraordinary reality of the Bear Refuge in Kuterevo, where young volunteers from all over the world take care of orphaned brown bears; then we moved to the Lakes of Plitvice There, walking by the water, we distanced ourselves from the crowds of tourists and we got to spend a day away from the noise. As a soundtrack, along the K route, there was just the water splashing about and the sound of unspoiled nature, despite our steps.
From the heart of Croatia to the heart of history – there were only 350 kilometres between us and Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, where we spent two nights and a day. On the bike we headed to Mount Trebevic, discovering the remains of the 1984 Winter Olympics. The bobsleigh track, now abandoned, is the symbol of something that no longer exists but that it is still able to exert a great deal of interest. For us the spur toward the trip is the curiosity: we love to know famous historical places and wonder at them thereafter.
Later we went exploring the other surrounding hills, and climbed up to the Hum Tower, which during the war was a radio transmitter and it represented the only great contact with the outside world. We got back to the city centre and wandered about Baščaršija, the beating heart of this city that from centuries represents the junction point between the East and the West.
Once Bosnia was left behind, we headed to Montenegro: there we spent a night in free camping at the Dormitur National Park. Then we went exploring the country again for a day, before heading to Serbia, and Bulgaria later on. Being based Sofia allowed us to visit this corner of the world and discover its fascinating outskirts: whatever is left of the Soviet domination is basically everywhere, and there are many the evocative localities that this nation reserves for the eyes of explorer riders.