Chantil and I look forward to October each year because we start putting together the yearly viajarMOTO Overland Motorcycle Calendar. We pour through hundreds of our favorite photographs and make the painstaking process of widdeling them down to just a cover photograph and twelve others that capture the natural beauty of the countries we visit, and the adventure of traveling on two wheels.
Each of these photographs was chosen from our travels in 2021 and has the magical ability of pulling us back into the moment. The memories, feelings, and senses are flooded as we are transported back in time. We hope you enjoy the photographs that we’ve chosen and feel inspired to purchase one of our calendars for yourself.
January – Mount Çika, Albania
As we traveled along the Albanian coastal road of SH8 we were surprised that the road continued to climb higher and higher into the snow-capped mountain range. With each switchback, the weather changed from sunny and mild to cloudy and cold. After reaching the top of the Llogara Pass we found a gravel dirt road that climbed even higher. My eyes widened as I wondered where it would lead to. I told Chantil, “I’m going to ride up this dirt road and see where it leads.” Unfortunately, the dirt road didn’t go far, but it did provide a chance to capture this photograph of me riding down the steep gravel with the snow-capped Mount Çika in the backdrop.
February – Berat County, Albania
On Google Maps there is a road that intersects Berat County in Albania. It winds along like a long and skinny snake from north to south. It didn’t seem to have a name and there was no Google Street View footage making it a perfect road for exploring the backcountry of this beautiful country. Albania is full of these narrow dirt roads that are often bumpy, rocky, and sometimes muddy. We are extremely glad that we ride motorcycles designed for navigating these types of roadways.
March – Mesi Bridge, Albania
Just northeast of the hustle and bustle of the city of Shkodër is the picturesque Mesi Bridge. This arched stone bridge, built during the Ottoman period of the 18th century, is quite beautiful with round slick stones and thick green grass that grows between the rocky walkway. We enjoyed a sunset walk from our nearby Airbnb that was peaceful and quiet except for the hushed sounds of cicadas, nearby sheep, and an occasional barking dog.
April – The Atlantic Road, Norway
If you Google “The Atlantic Road”, chances are there will be many pictures of the iconic Storseisundet Bridge that looks like it climbs to near impossible steepness. This is a wonderful bridge and is definitely worth driving on, especially for the views. However, our favorite memory of the Arctic Road is finding a remote wild-camping spot along the coast between the towns of Ersholmen and Bud. We rode the motorcycles up a dirt road that ended at a picnic table and benches with a perfect spot to pitch our tent and enjoy the incredible sunset over the Norwegian Sea. Being able to wild-camp in Norway was just one of the many things we loved about this wonderful country.
May – The Monastery of St. Naun, North Macedonia
On the southern shores of Lake Ohrid, near the Albanian border, is the magnificent Monastery of St. Naun. This Eastern Orthodox church was established in 905 A.D. by St. Naun of Ohrid. The highlight for us was watching all the beautiful peacocks that seemed to enjoy showing off their technicolored tail feathers to the delight of tourists and photographers. These incredible birds are not only beautiful but also symbolic. In Christianity, the peacock represents resurrection, renewal and immortality.
June – Trans Euro Trail, Sweden
Many people warned us that riding through northern Sweden was going to be boring with just rows and rows of pine trees for days and days on end. However, we didn’t feel this way because we rode a majority of the 1,740 mile (2,800 km) Trans Euro Trail. Sure, there were a lot of pine trees, but the trail seemed to be full of adventure with gravel roads, wandering paths, herds of reindeer, wonderful wild-camping spots, and fun memories like pulling ourselves and our motorcycles across a river using a small hand-pulled cable ferry.
July – Bolvilla Reservoir, Albania
There are two roads from Krujë to Tirana. One is a paved route and the other is a dirt road that winds around through the backcountry. Which one do you think we took? On our way to the dirt road, we came across a local Albanian who was driving an SUV and warned us that the road was rough and the rocks would damage our motorcycles. We decided to continue anyhow. It turns out that the road wasn’t that bad at all – There were some sections that were rutted out by 4WD vehicles that had driven through fresh mud, but that was about it. Sometimes its good to take the advice of locals and other times its good to make your own judgment. Our judgment turned out to be the right choice as we enjoyed some incredible backcountry roads and wonderful views of the Bolvilla Reservoir.
August – Lappland Province, Sweden
Sweden was memorable in so many ways, but our favorite was experiencing 24-hours of daylight, and being able to camp in the forest just off of the Trans Euro Trail. In Sweden, people have a right to outdoor access where they can “walk, cycle, ride, ski and camp on any land with the exception of private gardens, near a dwelling house, or land under cultivation.” The Swedish call it “Allemansrätt” or the “Right of Public Access”. We found plenty of areas to pitch our tent and enjoy a quiet sleep, like this wonderful forested area right next to a gentle river.
September – Trolltunga, Norway
Some memories are worth parking the motorcycle, lacing up your hiking shoes, and hitting the trail. In the southwest of Norway are three incredibly epic hikes that are easily the most visited and photographed. Pulpit Rock, Kjerag, and Trolltunga offer world-renouned hiking with spectacular vertigo inducing viewpoints. This is Trolltunga or “The Troll’s Tongue”, and this incredible view requires a 12.4 mile (20 km) round trip hike, and a bit of patience, as you wait in line to snap the epic photograph.
October – Divjaka-Karavasta National Park, Albania
Taking a boat tour on the wetlands of this diverse estuary felt like being transplanted into another continent. The scenery felt reminiscent of National Geographic photographs of central Africa, that we half expected a hippopotamus to surface under the fiberglass tour boat at any moment. After our boat tour, we rode our motorcycles to another lookout tower, where we spent the afternoon marveling at the wide variety of birds to include the endangered Dalmatian Pelican.
November – Lago di Braies, Italy
The Dolomite region of northern Italy is full of incredible natural beauty. Lake Braies, with its wonderful crystal clear, blue, emerald-green waters has earned the name the “Pearl of the Alps”. During our visit, in the late afternoon, the near calm winds created an impressive reflection of the imposing rock face of Seekofel which is still covered in winter snow. This is just one of many places we enjoyed in this mountainous region of northern Italy.
December – Vallaviktunnelen, Norway
No, we where not abducted into some alien space ship from the Close Encounters of the Third Kind! This is an elaborate tunnel that is so large that it features it’s own roundabout that connects this 4.7 mile (7.5 km) tunnel to the Hardanger Bridge. Just north of this tunnel is the world’s longest road tunnel at 15.2 miles (24.5 km) long – The Lærdal Tunnel. It’s so long that it has three sections where blue and yellow lighting is used to simulate the rising of the sun to prevent driver sleepiness.
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