Belgrad -Kragujevac - Mitrovica (Kosovo) - Pristina - Leskovac (Serbien) - Sofia - Drama (Griechenland) - Thessaloniki
The journey in 2012 from Vienna to Split (Sopron - Slavonski brod - Sarajevo - Mostar - Split) was so amazing, that we planned this tour together with long-time friend Markus,
Serbia by bike was super nice, rather flat. I often felt more like an "outsider" with the touring bike, bicycles on the streets outside the cities were not common (...in 2015), and more the exception. The people were quite considerate, ...if they saw us 🙂
We crossed the border from Serbia to Kosovo near Leposavic unexpectedly quickly and without problems, it wasn't dangerous! The people of Kosovo were very friendly, contrary to the "sometimes" unfairly bad reputation, I didn't notice any aggressiveness. As bicycle tourists from Switzerland, we were politically neutral. Sometimes I had question marks, see the picture with the army vehicle, ...do they mean it as a caricature, or is it black humor..? Pristina was rebuilt everywhere. There seemed to be no unemployment, everyone was at work, completely contrary to media reports in the West, ...but this is my personal opinion and impression, ...just at this time, see picture "Road construction in Pristina".
In Bulgaria, in 2015, it really took 50 years to get back. Bulgaria and EU, ...that this is possible, surprised me, and still amazes me today. We have an economically dominated Western Europe. If there are problems, there are immediately many newspaper reports, ...Greece, Italy, Spain etc. But if a country in Europe is not ticking economically, then Bulgaria, ...perhaps except the capital Sofia. This is, of course, a subjective perception again. And I think that is quite positive, the economy-dominated world is not happier! The people in Bulgaria (outside Sofia) were mostly exclusively farmers, who often worked with horses and wagons in the fields. On the bike we met smiling satisfied people, ...more often than here in Western Europe.
On the other side of the Rhodope Mountains - mountains in the south of Bulgaria on the border with Greece - I was increasingly concerned about the heat. I got circulatory problems, a new problem I never had in previous tours in the South. I realized that I was no longer 25 or 30 years old, I couldn't bear the enormous effort at about 40 degrees in the saddle. That’s why we started early in the morning - it had already about 35 degrees at 11 am - ...finally I made it to Thessaloniki.