Km done: 495 km
Daily Average: 71 km
Days in ALB: 7
Days on the Bike: 6
Altitude climbed: 6589m
Average Altitude: 1098m
nights in the Tent: 7
nights in Houses: 0
Breakdowns: 1 Flat Tyre
Daily Average: 9,57€

Albania, after decades of Isolation on it´s way back to Europe

24.09.2014 - 01.10.2014

after the 2 intensive Days in Montenegro and the Time before that i needed a day off. And so i stayed for 2 Days on a Campsite near the City of Leihe in the North of the Country. The Landscape there is mainly flat, what dosen´t fit to the roads... First tme since Romania cycling is bone shaking again. The Road to Lezhe leads us over secondary Roads and that was a pure 30km Pothole-Road.

On my way through the Country i decided to cycle the more remote areas to visit the villages and Mountains... The richness in Hills came to my Ears before and so i was not really astonished to cycle from one Hill to the next with a Valley between. It is tiring when you never reach the top at the End.

At the Branch to the minor road a few people want me to stay on the Mainroad. So i asked until one answered that it is possible! And so i went up! 2km after the branch the Asphalt stops and i did not catch a glimpse of it for two days...

The road was winding up into the Mountains and after i passed the last Settlement i followed a Valley up the Hill. Short before the Pass which i reached after 4 Hours of climbing (and just 15km of Distance) my backtyre explodes. My first break down on this Trip. Not a wonder on this Surface...
On the other Side of the Pass it´s going down, but on the Albanian Way, means up and down... The Conditions of the Road stayed bad and normally at Home i would not ride a track like this without suspension (and without Luggage). After 45km i felt from the bike almost dead. Short after i crawled in the Tent sleep came to me...
In the Morning it was not Easy to motivate me again. The road seams to be the same then yesterday and the up and down went on... 30km later i reached the asphalt again... From this Point on the Valley came quick. This Trip will keep in my mind, not just for the Effort but also for the superb views on the Way... WOW

On my enquiry for the way the people again told me to stay on the Mainroad. This time i listened to them and so i rode up to Lake Ohrid on the Mainroad. The Lake that is shared between Albania and Macedonia is Part of Cultural and Natural-Heritage of UNESCO, but the Sites are all on Macedonian Side. So it´s just a quiet and wonderful ride along the Lake on a partly totally new road.
At the Southend of the Lake the road leads up into the Mountains (surprisingly) and then i stayed on a Highplateau until the City of Korca. It´s a lively little City with a colorful Basar and in the moment it´s one big construction-Site. Traffic broke down and the Air was filled with dust... Spontanously it reminded me of Asia and i had to smile... very Nice!

After that i crossed a Pass into the Backcountry and followed the Borderline southwards. There i crossed it at a place 7 Years ago no road was existing...

So a interesting and eventful time ended. I met the Albanians, talked to them (mostly with hand and feet cause the most of them could only speak italian) and enjoyed their hospitality. Had to smile about their Love for Mercedes Benz and about the countless Car-Washs in the Country. Here they call them Lavasz...

From communistic Times remained mostly the Bunkers. After the Isolation of the Country the Defense was Mainissue of Policy and so they build about 700.000 Bunkers in the Country. After the Communism ends they destroyed everything that remains of that time but the bunkers could not be cracked....

Life in Albania is cheap (for us, definitely), you can eat here proper for 1 Euro. Mostly Barbecue, like in every Balkan-Country Meatsticks (they call them Kepabc). Byrek, meat/cheese or Spinach-filled puff-pastry is very dellcious and was as often as possible on my list... You pay something around 30 Cent for a piece, almost nothing...

Good that i have been there. Behind the Border Europe welcomed me with perfect streets and the Supermarkets are 10times as big as in Albania and full of Things... But this will be another Story...