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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
Kotor

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë August 22nd 2013

We're here and we are chugging along quite nicely. Leaving Corfu was a breeze. Up early, grabbed a taxi to the new port with our tickets in hand, through passport control and onto the ferry. The boat was a hydrofoil, I think that's what it's called, and it raced across the short channel between Corfu and Sarande in no time - about 30 minutes. Our first view of Albania at Sarande was of a bland townscape, many low multi storey and apartment blocks over looking the port and climbing the hills behind the port. The usual "don't mess with me" types walking the wharf. Port workers seem meaner somehow but I am a bit of a wuss. We could see our van on the other side of fence. We had to go through passport control again ... read more
Balkan Road Trip
Butrint
Roads

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

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Europe » Albania » North » Shkodër July 8th 2013

Shkoder > Theth > Valbona > Lake Komani > Shkoder And so here I am, in Albania, a place I have wanted to visit since I first came to Europe in 1990 and already surpassing all expectations – in a good way ofcourse! It is culturally quite different to the former Yugoslavian countries I’ve been visiting and I am still trying to adjust to the change. Ofcourse they share common traits too, how can you not when you are neighbours, but for one, the language is very, very different – to my ears a hybrid of Turkish/Italian intonations. All of a sudden I am absolutely bamboozled by everything it seems. I can’t understand not one word, nor make myself understood. And a very pleasant surprise is the attractiveness of the men (and women) here. Fairer hair, ... read more
On the way to Theth
Buni i Thores Pass 1786m
Buni i Thores Pass

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana July 5th 2013

www.theredquest.com url=http://www.amazon.co.uk/Balkan-Odyssey-Travels-Yugoslavia-oh-ebook/dp/B00DQ6V324/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1372689617&sr=1-2&keywords=the+balkan+odysseyThe 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
Tirana
Tirana
The Balkan Odyssey

Europe » Albania » South » Gjirokaster July 3rd 2013

Albania 1 to 3 July 2013 Our 1st stop in Albania was Gjirokaster after driving through some magnificent country – rugged mountains which would be snow capped in winter (it was still 30-35 degrees during the day now), green with many sheer cliff faces and river valleys and lots of tunnels. We spent only 3 days in Albania and we could clearly see they were trying to make a go of tourism after years of government-enforced isolation. We saw many updated roads, houses and commercial buildings and shopping complexes which heralds the country’s new found prosperity. Yes, they have a bit to catch up but yes, they are clearly progressing. Their currency is the Leke which is 105 Leke to $1.00 AUD. We found the people to be very friendly. We also spoke to a number ... read more
Gjirokaster Old Town Albania (2)
Gjrocaster Castle Albania (9)
Durres Albania (9)

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë May 24th 2013

What a difference a good night’s sleep can make! We woke to bright sunshine on a sparkling Ionian Sea. What a shame yesterday hadn’t been as fine and sunny as we had come down that mountainside from the fog as we might have had a different impression of the scenery that the guidebooks had raved off.However, it looked like at least today we will see the better side of what the views of the coast in the vicinity of Sarande has to offer. The apartment we have is quite spacious with a separate bedroom, bathroom with HOT water!(we both had l o n g showers this morning) And a well equipped kitchen opening out to a small terrace from where we get a peak, between a couple of finished but not furnished apartment blocks of the ... read more
Sarande city in the distance
Sarande
Cafes on the promenade,Sarande

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë May 23rd 2013

Gelato off the menu today,too much else to think about,but did have an ice cream similar to a Trumpet but half the price! Gretchen thought she had dreamed last night that she was back living in Wellington, such was the strength of the gale force wind in the night.And I slept through it all!At one stage she thought the sign on the roof of the hotel was going to crash down.She reckoned too that the building creaked in the tempestuous wind and wondered what might happen if the building fell apart!It must have been bad.And to add to it all the power went out as well.! It was still fairly breezy when we both awoke at dawn and the there were showers coming across the city below us.Not a great day,if it stays like this for ... read more
These types of hotels attached to petrol stations on the highways are everywhere
Arriving into Fier
Lookalike McD's sign at takeway restaurant,Vlore




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