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Published: August 2nd 2011
On our travels our intension was always to go through Albania. Several years ago when it was communist country, it was one of the most isolated Iron curtain countries, there was no way you would be allowed in, you would have been shot!
On researching our journey through Albania, we started to worry about the state of the roads,(we need to take care of Bongo, there’s a few thousand miles to go!) and possible documentation worries. So we had planned to drive back to Dubrovnik, take the ferry back to Italy then another to Greece, by-passing Albania. However, we never like going back where we have just been and the thought of 24hours on ferries was not appealing.
Fingers crossed, we chose the border crossing that leads from Montenegro’s Capital Podgorica to Shkoder in Albania. We thought this would be the best crossing as we would need to buy Vehicle insurance, as ours was only for EU countries. As we left the last village in Montenegro the road got narrower and narrower ¬¬, bearing in mind this should be main route, until it was a narrow track. We followed several large articulated lorries who did well to navigate such roads.
This single track road went for several kilometres where it opened up to the border crossing. As expected we needed insurance and was directed to the insurance office, who promptly charged us a minimum of 90 Euros - we only wanted 2 days worth! We later found out that a motor home that came across another border was charged only 35- do they make these figures up?
The roads were bad and dangerous, roads with no markings, instead they do like to use rocks in the middle of the road, dual carriageways that have no barriers between them except a two foot drop. It’s also the first time we’ve walked across a bridge to see if safe to cross in the car.
For approx 30 kilometre the road was a gravel track, the best way was to follow a tanker who seems to have done the route several times, to find the safest passage, the Bongo was covered in dust but at least it got us to Shkoder.
Fortunately roads improved and the countryside wasn’t half bad but the towns are a shock and seem chaotic and dilapidated. We were aiming for the town of Durres on the coast,
where we hope to find a campsite. Although we knew Durres was a beach resort it was not any more appealing than the town we passed, we thankfully saw the signs for the campsite, but again went past many run down houses for several Kilometres and we didn’t have much hope for our Campsite.
We were wrong it had a pleasant view over the sea, good toilets and shower, restaurant, and a pontoon that had a bar and straw umbrellas. If you half closed your eyes it looked a little like the Maldives.
The host who spoke better French than English was very welcoming and proud of his campsite.
We felt no wish to do more than just drive through, so headed north through the capital Tirana across the mountains to Macedonia. We have never seen so many petrol stations and car washes in our lives. At the last village on the hill up to the border there must have been 50 car washes, mostly young lads with a hose connected to a mountain stream. Needless to say we thought we’d give the Bongo a smarten up.
The Albanians seem to have had a bad deal for
decades, but they were very friendly, to us and we are pleased we took the trip.
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