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Published: July 11th 2015
But before we get to Macedonia there is Kosovo.
We had discovered a new road that is not shown on our maps as it has just been completed. Known as the Patriotic Highway, this is one mean piece of infrastructure.
We joined the highway at Lezhe in Albania and headed towards Pristina in Kosovo to link up with another major road toward Skopje in Macedonia. When completed it will reach to the Albanian port of Shengjin.
Toll free and 4 lanes for 99%!o(MISSING)f the route, with a major 5.5klm tunnel it rises through challenging climbs and visually striking vistas to a height of 1850m. Its cost is reported to be about E1billion – 250%!o(MISSING)f original budget.
Talk of corrupt payments linked to the building project is given some credence when you see the failure to complete the last few kilometres taking the superior raod right to the Albanian port of Shengjen (which would really allow this bit of infrastructure to deliver dividends)
While the speed limit is up to 130 klm per hour in parts, we took it easy to take in the scenery. Its simply brilliant. Many of the viaducts would be engineering marvels in their own right. Unfortunately it did not seem very busy on the day of our passage. For the investment I would hope for significant use to deliver wide reaching benefits. When we mentioned this particular highway to travellers in campsites, some seemed wary of it citing incompleteness, border uprisings and lack of belief as reasons for not considering its use.
But in less than 2 hours, we were at the Albania Kosovo border.
I had observed that our Green Card Insurance covered all of Europe. I saw that Russia, the Ukraine and Turkey are included and so assumed all of Europe. The Pommies comment that their insurance doesn’t work for much of Europe and so they have to buy (3rd
party only ) insurance at commercial kiosks at many border crossings. So I proceeded to the border gate without a thought of insurance. Then it was pointed out that we do not have cover for Kosovo.
Bad luck – had to buy it just like the Poms.
Continuing along the highway onto a plateau of productive looking farming land. Wide open plains – all being well worked.
Then we got off the Patriotic Highway to work our way toward Skopje. Towns that we passed through were busy. You might not call them prosperous – but there was definitely an air of business and activity. The people looked like farming types – in town to get some machinery parts or farm supplies. Their cars and houses all looked tidy and well loved.
It might have been nice to have taken some photos to display here. But we had been warned not to leave the paved road. Travellers have been killed and injured by treading on land mines when they stop beside the road for a pee break or to take a photo. Many mines remain undiscovered after the homeland wars. And flooded waterways have washed mines into locations previously thought safe.
Pat was relived to leave Kosovo as the insurance bought at the border was restricted to 3rd
party. So on to Macedonia.
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