Published: October 16th 2010October 13th 2010
You know youve been on the road a long time when the stray dogs start following you around, looking at you with pity in their eyes.We're a bit frayed round our material edges now,Tati's sandles are more glue than fabric, my shorts are more patchwork than Elizabeth Taylor's face and the less said about our underwear the better, but its all good round the world character.Some of the cyclists we see now are a fresh faced, clean panniered lot straight out of the autumn 2010 bike catalogue, where as weve taken on the more sylish cardboard box, hobo look,which by the way takes a lot of fine tuning.I just wish the local dogs would stop offering blankets and a kennel for the night.Our own kennel was renamed some time ago the ''favela'' for its run down look and added extra's as old pieces break and tear.Hopefully it holds onto its title of Typhoon 200, as we press on into Northern Europe and test its flagging capabilities.
Another border ,another puncture.Macedonia is country number 28 and you can times that by at least ten for the punctures.Tati's front tyre is nearing the end but for a second hand bargain from
Laos it has travelled 11 000 km and outlasted all profesional opinions and done better than any of our numerous new ones.
After our brief outing to the EU we are now back in more familiar territory,people stare a bit more,buildings are run down and the prices have become resonable again.We passed through the concrete of Bitola and made our way up into the mountains of the South West.The leaves in the Oak and Beech forests are beginning to turn colour as autumn creeps across the land. The air was fresh as we climbed towards a 1100m pass and decidedly cold in the shade.With the weather on the turn we made camp on a lucky bit of flat ground just off the road.Are there bears in Macedonia?
I heard Ohrid has 365 churches but on closer expection it seems to have more like 3.65.After reading the small print it looks like the magic word was it has HAD 365 churches.Thats a bit like saying London WAS a quiet place back in 533 AD come on over and see for yourself.Its not a bad place though, just a little over hyped.I mean the castle on the hill is impressive,St
The wrong way
quiet for a border road
Clements church is spot on and the lake itself is a corker,even better on a clear day I imagine.Maybe it was the rain.It pissed down for the whole weekend,is this the start of the bad weather we wondered.We felt Ohrid just was'nt all that.I suppose the racist's did'nt improve matters much either.
Loud and proud racist's too.One in the market telling us how nice it was to live in Indiana 'where there were no damn blacks' and later on that evening the guy who tattooed my arm.Could'nt really argue with him.Well , you would'nt anger your dentist before a filling or take the piss out of the chef before he made your fondue would you?Ask a black foreign footballer what its like playing fotball in this part of the world and you'll get an honest answer.Im starting to wish I did'nt have such a tan.He was pretty outspoken my tattooist,he did'nt like American's, Brit's (oops),Blacks, Greek's, Politician's, (fair enough) or Albanian's.Dont even get him started on Kosovan's.I bet he doesn't even like christmas. AND im too old to have kids.
For an idiot though he did a good job of my tattoo, which wasnt a swashtika but a
cardboard housing,near Albania
lovely little chinese symbol which (hopefully) means to 'wander'.
Theyre not all racist though (Macedonian's not Tattooist's), mostly very open and friendly, although they should hone theyre driving skills a bit.Not that were staying here long though,we only clocked up 130 km from Greece to Albania.We even took a detour past the fairly ugly town of Struga and took what we thought was the quietest, smallest road to any border crossing in the world.Our suspicions were confirmed when the dirt track around the lake fizzled out in front of customs gates last opened when Tito ruled the land.
Beautiful ride though,much nicer than the actual main road to the actual border, which was hampered by a steep uphill and heavy rain showers.We really dont do riding in the rain,we just dont have the gear for it.Sometihing we need to address sooner rather than later as our chances of never ending sunshine are dwindling quicker than a pocketful of change in a Greek village shop.
The sun was about to come out for us in Albania,just long enough to see what all the fuss was about.