My name is Sydney, I am currently moderately training for a charity bike expedition I will be going on this summer from Istanbul, Turkey to Lisbon, Portugal. I am set to leave May 17th for Istanbul and will be there for about a month training and waiting for my partner to arrive. The timeline for my expedition will be May 17th - August 22nd. Our plan is start in Istanbul and bike through Bulgaria, Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Slovenia, Northern Italy, Monaco, France, Spain, and end in Lisbon.
I am writing to get the community's opinion on my route and timeliness of planning, advice on how I can better and more effectively raise awareness and donations for my cause, and perhaps any contact information for education organizations in the countries I will visit with my partner en route.
I'm very busy with school right now and haven't really had that much time to plan for this trip. This will be my first big bike expedition, so I want to know how far in advance experienced bikers usually plan for a trip of this distance? ANY advice at all would be great and much appreciated. I don't know many other bikers personally, so everyone who I've told about this trip thinks I'm absolutely insane! haha.
Hope to hear from you all soon!
I heard it might be difficult to cross from Kosovo to Serbia, because Serbia still claims that Kosovo is a part of it, and when you are then in Serbia, you'd have entered the country illegally. But it's already 2 year ago that I got this information, maybe it has changed now. You could also go via Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro - a bit more of crazy Balkan feeling there, but I love it.
Generally, I can't see anything insane in that trip. I'd avoid the Southern French coast in the summer - just crowded and expensive. Just a bit further inside the country, you'll find one of Europe's most spectacular sceneries - google for Gorges du Verdon, Gorges du Cian, Col de Bonette etc... Also, Po Valley in Italy is pretty boring in my eyes, really flat all day. Think about the alps, really nice in summer.
The only problem I see - if you wait 1 month for your partner in Istanbul, you've only 2 months left. Might not be enough for that distance.
That information about crossing border between Kosovo and Serbia is not valid. There is not any problem to cross that border.
When you arrive in Serbia, around Belgrade, send me mail, i can probably help you to find accommodation (I am on a long tour, currently in Turkey, but i will write to some of my cycling friends in Belgrade).
The problem is not crossing that border, but leaving Serbia later via another border, because Serbian authorities don't give you an entry stamp when you come from Kosovo, but request one when you leave (unless you leave through Kosovo again). I've been warned by another traveler some years ago and according to the travel advice page of the German foreign ministry the problem still exists. You are Serbian, so the problem will of course not affect you.
I've been working in the region for 13 years, and I am very familiar with this issue. As a foreigner, you need a stamp upon entry and exit for Serbia, and you cannot get that at the boundary with Kosovo. One could detour around Kosovo, of course, but the other solution [and one that I've done on the bike several times] would be to leave Bulgaria to Kumanovo, Macedonia, then enter Serbia towards Presevo, then enter Kosovo to Gnjilane and up to Prishtine. From there, you can take several routes northwards...back up through Serbia, straight up through Bosnia, or to the northwest and Montenegro. I've ridden most of these roads, and you'll find them challenging but also spectacular. Good luck!
Hey,how is it going?
I wish I could join you guys for even some part of your trip but probably I'll be busy working at this time..I'll see if can get some days off..
Anyway,,,...on your way through Bulgaria you'll probably pass by my hometown Plovdiv.If you do so,you are than welcome to stay in my home.
Have fun and safe trip
you can see on http://www.piste-ciclabili.com/ all the cycleroad in Italy, so you can prepare your travel in our Country, if you need, you can send me your roadmap and I can ask to my friends in Italians bike forums to help you on accomodation and road.
Of course you'll be welcome in our house!