I chose the road along the southern side of the Shadarsko Jezero Lake to get to Albania. But it wasn”t as easy as you might think. It was above 40 C and quite hilly, so I sweated a lot that day. But the scenery was pretty so it was worth every single drop of sweat.
Crossing the border wasn’ t exciting at all, I did not even get a stamp,
The first night I was really lucky, I was invited to stay with a family. It is always nice to see how people live.
For breakfast they gave me chips, veggies and meat. Delicious.
After saying good bye I pedalled east heading towards the mountains, to the town of Theth. At the beginning it was a smooth bitumen road but further on it turned out to be a rough rocky track. Luckily the track leading up to the pass at 1720m was still rideable all the way, at least something positive.
It was a Alpine scenery, pretty but not gorgeous.
A long descent to Theth came next followed by a long ascent to get back to Shkoder.
It was piping hot, the road was a shocker, but the worst thing on that day was that there weren’ t any shops, restaurants or even a house where I could have asked for food. Normally there was always something to get, sadly not on this track. I was really hungry. I spotted a Jeep, a German number plate, one quick thought and I asked for food even if I felt embarrassed. They gave me pasta and tomato sauce and water, woohoo.
While the pasta was boiling I must have bumped the stove. The pot fell over and the pasta spilled onto the soil. Super. I could have killed myself. One by one I put them back into the pot, added some tomato sauce and ignored the stony chewy moments.
Later that day I reached the next pass. At the top I met three Austrian motorbike riders. They gave me bread with caraway seeds and sausages. Caraway bread is something I would never eat at home. But on the road things are so different, you just eat what you can get.
A storm broke over, hail, thunder and lightning. Super, it was just great to feel the cool air for a while.
The sun came back and the colours were so bright and beautiful. The descent was fantastic. Along steep mountain passes the road finally ended in a deep gorge. Wonderful.
Before it was pitch dark I spotted a camp spot right at the bottom of the canyon. Perfect. With hungry thoughts but good memories of the day I fell asleep.
There is a high unemployment rate in Albania. Like in Bulgaria, men are sitting in the Cafe all day. Everything is really cheap. The food is the same everywhere in the Balkans. Cevapcici, chips and tomato salad. I must admit that I start to be annoyed about the same food over and over again.
It took me nearly two days to get to the East.
In the area around Kukes, I cycled to the town of Shistavec to get to the wild side of the country.
I had a great night with a warm hearted family in a yurt high up in the mountains. They live here for six weeks in summer and share the tiny hut with the whole family, the food and the livestock.
They had a great time watching me pitching my tent, looking inside my paaniers and trying to find out who I am and where I am from. I needed to put my bike inside their yurt because they kept on saying that someone might steal it.
They offered fresh jighurt, hot milk, fried capsicum and fresh baked bread. For breaksfast they spoilt me with burned corn and plain pasta. They sent me back to the road with warm wishes for my trip. It was a wonderful experience.
In hindsight the short visit back to Macedonia wasn’ t a good idea. The lake and the city Ohrid was boring and way to touristy.
Back at the border to Albania the officer stamped my passport this time. It probably all depends on the mood of the officer if you get one stamp or not.
Another invitation into a home of a family of ten. It seemed not to matter if there is one more that night. I spotted a washing machine and I couldn’ t hold back asking them if I could wash my clothes. I felt so embarressed with my dirty clothes full of dust and sweat of the last weeks. The fresh smell of the washing powder followed me the whole following day. Great.
The southern part of the country wasn’ t so special, so I kept on going south and crossed into Greece, my last country before I am leaving Europe.
I enjoyed Albania a lot. Great barren scenery, really friendly people and a not a lot of traffic. If I had to mention something negative I would say that there is way too much litter. Funny was, by the way it was the same in Bulgaria already, that you shake your head for saying yes and you nod for meaning no. Quite confusing sometimes.
Greece was a price shocker. Everything is as expensive as it is in Germany.
The heat was getting less, it doesn’ t get above 35 C anymore and there is quite sometime in the morning where it is possible to cycle in cooler temperatures and even at night it has some pleasant temperatures for a good night sleep.
I crossed the Vikos-Aoo National Park and saw old stone bridges, canyons and cycled along really quite country roads in a romantic landscape to get up to the highest pass of the country. Katara Pass 1690m.
People warned me a lot about the agressive shepherd dogs in the northern Albania, but nowhere else before the dogs were so cute and calm like there.
But here in this area of Greece they are really scary. They attack you in a pack of at least five, bark at you, chase you, show their teeth and protect their sheep as good as they can. Just stones, shouting and hoping let you survive.
Meteora. Great rock scenery, wonderful setting of the monasteries but smaller than I expected. Awesome.
The rock is conglomerate and a paradise for every climber.
I was sick of the hills so I chose a flat stage for the next day. Headwind and traffic was the downside that day, well it seems like you can’ t have it all.
Delphi lies up on a steep mountain and I already thought that I hope that this old stones are really worth the effort to get there. The location is gorgeous. Limestone rocks, olive trees ans Souhtern European flair.
I spotted the sea for the first time. But the breeze was way to much that day that’s why it took ages to get to the bridge which leads to Peleponnes.
Greek people are not good in hosting foreigners. No one ever let me stay in their garden, they always send me to the sport fields or the churches. I found this pretty sad because you can’ t get contact to the locals and their way of living.
I am leaving the country earlier as planned, I am not feeling really welcome. It is expensive and the landscape is less impressive than I expected it to be.
The traffic on the way into Athens was chaotic and not a lot of fun. Finally I reached my warmshower host late in the evening. I will organise a few things in Athens, get some parts replaced, plan my up coming road and would like to have some days off.
I am a bit nervous. From now on I will cycle through moslem countries. So far I always had great experiences with moslems, especially with their hospitality which is unbeatable, but still it is different to cycle through Poland or Greece.
But I am looking forward to get to more exotic places and to get to know different cultures and different ways of living.
Asia I am coming.
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