Blogs from West, Albania, Europe


Europe » Albania » West » Elbasan July 12th 2014

Hiya, We have been here for 10 days now and it has been action packed. We have been staying with The Purver family who have been very hospitable to us. Thank you Dawn, Tim, Aaron and Phoebe, you allowed us to see the "real Albania". Simon: When we crossed into Albania, we immediately had to buy car insurance from a small hut at the roadside. While I (Simon) paid, April was rather mobbed by begging children who swarmed around the van and tried to climb in the windows. An early reminder of the poverty which is present. We then ventured on with a little trepidation after what we had read and been told about the Albanian driving. On a main road, the driving style soon became apparent. Go at whatever speed you want and don't let ... read more
View from one of the worlds most dangerous roads - Tirana to Elbasan!
View of Albania from a mountain pass
View from the mountain

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana May 8th 2014

6.15 Frühstück, 7.00 Abfahrt, da weiß man gleich, was bevorsteht: eine lange Strecke, die auch noch schwierig ist. So war's denn auch. Der Tag begann mit dem Abschied von Tony Mac. Er war von London aus mitgefahren, hatte die ersten beiden Tage nur gefroren, aber weil er ein Mann ist, ist er nicht auf die offensichtliche Idee gekommen, dass er irgendwo anhalten könnte und sich was Warmes zum Anziehen kaufen könnte...... Am dritten Tag ging's ihm noch schlechter und ab Bled war er dann im Van mit einer schweren Erkältung/Bronchitis. In Trogier wurde er zur Untersuchung/Diagnose ins Krankenhaus gebracht, am nächsten Tag in dubrovnik nochmal. Von dieser schweren Erkältung war sein Herz angegriffen und er entschloß sich, das MR im Hotel in Dubrovnik stehen zu lassen. Er selbst flog heute Abend heim nach England. Plant aber, ... read more
albanischer Bunker

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana September 4th 2013

Albania via Pogradec > Korca > Erseke > Leskovik > Permet > Gjirokaster > Livadhja > Butrint > Ksamil > Borsch > Dhermi > Vlore I’ve been reunited with Dragana (the bike) and have to say my heart skipped a beat on seeing her. And now we’ve been together again for just over a week it’s like no time has passed between us. Actually, that’s not totally true. After an absence of bike riding for over a month, whilst I still knew how to still ride a bike, the going was er, a little tough. Riding along Ohrid Lake was nice enough but not like the gorgeous road around Skardar Lake in Montenegro. But as first days back in the saddle go, this wasn’t a bad one. And the monastery of Sveti Naum, just near the ... read more
Summer's over at Pogradec
Playing Dominos at Pogradec
The Road to Korca

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana August 25th 2013

Ah yes, my first day in Albania has come to an end. Where do I begin? Well for starters my girlfriend was less than happy that I was being dropped in the middle of Albania at 4am without a place to go. The bus was less than exciting, hot with no air conditioning but with an assortment of drunks. Even so I eventually fell asleep and in doing so ended up in Durres instead of in Tirana. The bus company was kind enough to get me right though. The benefit of this was two-fold, for one I arrived at 8am instead of at 4am. Secondly wasthat I got to asee a beautiful sunrise over the Albanian mountains. On the bus I got in touch with Cleon who offered to host me. We decided to meet at ... read more

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana August 24th 2013

Berat to Tirana - out we went on the same roads we came in on until we headed off to Tirana, the capital city of about a million people. There are some highways built in Albania so we had quite few k's of smooth riding on four lane motorways in between the lesser roads so a better ride than yesterday. Tirana is bustling, busy, bullish - on the surface anyway. We got the impression of a city in a hurry but still with too many men looking as if they had no job to go to. There are some impressive buildings in a style different to western eyes - almost a mix of eastern, western, communist and capitalist ideas struggling for supremacy. The mausoleum that Enver Hoxha, the communist dictator , had arranged for himself in ... read more
Unfinished houses
Rural Albania


Europe » Albania » West » Krujë July 11th 2013

Lezhe to Albanian Border near Blato Macedonia Ugh, I can’t believe it. I’ve just looked at my day diary and see that it’s only been 2 ½ weeks since I left Albania when it feels more like 2 ½ months. How does time manage to do that with one’s senses. And given that it’s only been 2 ½ weeks I really ought to remember what I did! Oh dear. Here goes…this little goldfish will try. And it's a bit of a long one so apologies in advance. Last time I wrote I was in Lezhe. A small town, not much for a tourist to see (or rather, it’s probably best to say I didn’t see much). There is a castle, a memorial to Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu, a national hero and a couple of churches, ... read more
Birds in Kruje
Bazaar in Kruje
Albanian Traditional Costume

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana July 5th 2013 url= Balkan Odyssey Getting to the Albania border was as straightforward as the man in the bus station had said it would be. Ulcinj turned out to be another deliciously pretty coastal town, but all Michael and I saw of it was a cafe in the bus station. With a goal of reaching Tirana before nightfall, we decided to get straight on with the journey. After a quick cup of coffee, we jumped in a taxi to take us the short distance to the border. Once stamped into the poorest nation of the Balkans, we considered our options. There were a few minivans waiting nearby, as well as three taxis. "How much to Tirana?" I asked the first taxi driver. "Two hundred euro,"... read more
The Balkan Odyssey

Europe » Albania » West » Durrës May 22nd 2013

Gelato flavour of the day - Chocolate (back to trying to something basic and this one not too bad) With just a local tour of the city planned for the day we weren't in a hurry to get up for breakfast. Again there was no hot water so it was a quick splash just to ensure we were both passable from a hygiene point of view. 'Dolores'was ready with our breakfast and we had a repeat of yesterday.Today she had her hair 'fluffed'up and a green dress on and looked like she was going somewhere important after she had finished with us.Gretchen paid her a compliment on her 'look' but there was no point asking her where she was going as her command of English has a long way to go especially to understand the Kiwi ... read more
Square ,Durres
Just part of the cafe scene,Durres
The better looking part of the beach promenade,Durres

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana May 21st 2013

Gelato flavour of the day - Blueberry (quality has gone downhill in Albania,this one not true to colour or flavour) We had read there were train services between Durres and Tirana, 38km away and although they could be unreliable for being on time they would at least take us to a point in the city that we could get ourselves back to when it was time to head home after some sightseeing. The buses we had read were another thing and although there was likely to be one bus station in Durres, the departure points in Tirana changed often, or so said the guide books. This was because there was a long ongoing dispute for business between the buses which we think are ‘Johnny come lately’ compared to the furgons who were probably as close to ... read more
Main boulevard,Tirana
Central square,Tirana
Palace of Culture,Tirana

Europe » Albania » West » Durrës May 20th 2013

This morning dawned beautifully fine and clear filling us full of good spirit in anticipation of the drive ahead to the border of Albania and beyond to Durres which will be home for the next three nights. Of all the countries we planned to visit, Albania was the one that had given us the greatest fears of testing our adventurous fortitude. Even though we had read quite a bit about the country that had been in isolation to the rest of the world (not unlike North Korea is today) for 45 years between 1946 when Hoxha, the ‘dictator’ who ran the country until 1991, we were unsure what to expect. Would it be like the other countries we have passed through so far where we have tended to slip seamlessly across borders without noticing too much ... read more
Looking towards Ulcinj,The 13km beach
Towards Albania,The 13km beach
Mojito Bar shack,13km beach

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