Albania 2018 Day4 Korce.

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May 21st 2018
Published: May 21st 2018
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Albania 2018 Day 4.
Pogradec to Korce 63km, 600m ascent.

Luckily the weather forecast was wrong yet again and we awoke to glorious sunshine after another great meal last night. We started with the usual comprehensive salad and cheese, of course since I cannot eat cheese. Roast vegetables and the specialty Koran fish, which is only found in the nearby lake of Ohrid. I don’t know if should say this but quite a few of the group are now drinking red wine.
At 8.30 we set off to ride along the lake to Macedonia to visit the St Nahum Temple. First of all we had to tackle the border police and get our passports stamped as we left Albania. Thinking I was then in Macedonia I rode around the corner only to be confronted by another border post to go through the whole rigmarole again. We had to do all this again an hour later on our return and my passport is filling fast. The Temple was on the edge of the lake in a very nice location and is well worth a visit. The buildings were in extremity good condition obviously been restored relatively recently. Inside is a different story, the walls were covered in centuries old paintings and timberwork of excellent quality and there was a high dome with small round windows spreading light below in a most delicate fashion. I am not really a temple person but this one stood out due to its small nature and high quality.
Whilst the weather was still good we stuck with Plan B and went back to the hotel in Pogradec and headed south east towards Korçë along the main road which still had a big hill or two in it but worst of all was the headwind. Some of us joined in a train to make use of draughting and luckily enough we found a strong rider to do most of the work in John F. I would have spent more time at the front if I wasn’t such a wimp. There was a great deal of primitive farming going on today with many jobs being done with mules and donkeys pulling trailers etc. Some farm buildings on the hillsides were falling apart and manure was being carried in a wheelbarrow and then spread with a fork. Grass was being cut with a scythe, shaken out by hand and then the hay was transported by pony cart and forked into the small barns. The floor of the valley was massive and ripe for some big tractors and machinery but it was being farmed in quite small strips for crops such as potatoes, onions and barley. Again some worked by hand and others with very small tractors, the largest being the size of a Massey Ferguson 65. Room for someone adventurous here to make some progress. Despite this there are a lot of big 40 tonne articulated lorries about carrying goods and many small ones, usually old Mercedes. I would say that most cars are Mercedes with a sprinkling of others such as VW, Audi, Ford and the off Renault and Toyota. Many of the Mercs are quite old models as are many others. No coffe stop today so some of us were in withdrawal by lunch time at 50km where we had another splendid meal which had salad and cheese plus meat dumplings, vegetables done in fried breadcrumbs and looking like faggots which were delightful. We have that much variety I often forget what we had for all these superb meals. There was a magnificent display of wines at the lunch stop but we resisted the temptation. Do you have red? Back out into the highway and 5 km after lunch we hit Korçë with a great tail wind and went the wrong way down a one way street for the second day in a row. Oh! You are awful. (Sounds like Dick Emery, for those of you old enough to remember). The town of Korçë looks very splendid and modern and the ’Hotel Life Gallery’ is very nice with good rooms and, would you believe it? Feather pillows which is pure luxury after those sponge bricks of the past two days. I have been resorting to sleeping on my folded sweatshirt to relieve my poor neck pain. So far the WiFi is useless so we will see when this blog appears.
A walk into town to take a few photos of the splendid looking cathedral and the Archaeological Museum near the centre. I encountered some large statues of past leaders and freedom fighters but could not establish all their names. There are many restaurants and bars which looks like a busy place at night.

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