As we near Dubrovnik, we need to answer the question: where to next?
Leaving home, our plans were only: one month to Vienna, one month to Dubrovnik, one month to Istanbul. The first section of the route was easy - follow the Rhine and Danube. Arriving in Vienna, we started to daydream about ways to get to Croatia.
We consulted our guidebook and the internet, especially bike touring forums. For a few days, we considered continuing along the Danube river to Hungary (the easy, flat path) and other detours that would mean we had to bike long days. But we finally decided that we really wanted to see some of the Alps, and planned a route south to Slovenia then along the coast in Croatia.
The route is definitely not set in stone. Advice from a fellow cyclist in Slovenia convinced us to climb Mount Zavizan rather than just continuing along the Croatian coast. And finding that we could not take our bikes on the high-speed ferries changed which islands we would/could visit.
Even on a daily basis, we stay flexible. Each morning, we set a goal, typically about 60-80 km away, using our road maps, and GPS (loaded with bike-specific maps and campsites). The GPS can show us the hills we’ll face that day, and we can try to find ways around them if we want. By mid-afternoon, we can decide on a new destination depending on our progress.
So… planning the route to Istanbul… We can consider routes starting in Bosnia or Montenegro, then Macedonia, Albania and/or Serbia, then Greece and/or Bulgaria… And only a couple days left to decide.