Thru the Balkans………Albania

Ian must be frightened of Linda……….he wouldn’t phone her to say we weren’t coming to Turkey, so begrudgingly he agreed to ride thru’ Albania.  I stopped sulking 🙂

We then had to go back the direction we had come and past the Skadarsko lake – half of which is actually in Albania

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and inland thru’ the mountains to the capital city – Podgorica

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We rode around Podgorica about 3 times trying to find an ATM as we didn’t know how much they were going to charge us at the Border.  Eventually we found one

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The border area was fairly quiet, we weren’t quite sure where to go for visas, insurance and whatever else we needed and nobody seemed to understand English.  Eventually I just said , well let’s just go thru the border control and see what they say.  So we did. They stamped our passport and waved us on!  Nothing to pay – no visa – no insurance!

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Ian was worried about this and was convinced that the first police patrol we saw were going to stop us and ask for documents. We never saw any.  We knew about one of the few (only?) campsites in Albania from the internet.  It is run by a Dutch couple and is just outside of Shkoder. Most of the roads are ok, there were a few “dodgy” ones,  and there are various different types of traffic on them 🙂

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Everybody waved as we passed by – in the villages the children all run alongside shouting hello – they maybe don’t see many motorbikes, especially Tigers from England! This is Shkoder and the Rozafa Castle in the background

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We found the campsite easily enough – it wasn’t very busy, but we had some nice neighbours:)

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The couple who ran the campsite very kindly cooked us a meal of sausage and chips – which was well received!  They also told us there were no problems with police stopping you or with border officials, they said it was alot of scaremongering done by people who didn’t want Albania to have tourism.  Seems a shame really that the country has this reputation – it sort of reminded me of Turkey 15 years ago and will probably become more popular in years to come (is this such a good thing???) Anyway, when we left the next morning Ian was feeling more relaxed – I however left with 31 mosquito bites – and that was only on my lower legs!

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Riding towards Tirana I hadn’t really seen any “food” places where I would be able to get something “non foreign” (no McDonalds, KFC etc…..) so when we eventually stopped at a place in the mountains I was trying to plead “non hunger”. We had noticed on the way in a half  side of “something” turning on a spit.  We asked the guy for a menu – “no menu” – so asked what they had “lamb or cold meat” Ian then asked what the cold meat was “lamb”  – Obviously!  So lamb it was, for him then.  I had a plate of french fries! He had a plate of ……….bones!!! Looking around, everybody had a plate of bones too – so he got stuck in!

Some of the roads were busy, others not so

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Tirana

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I love the brightly painted blocks of flats

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I began to think the Ian was on some kind of mission – he was!  To my annoyance he said he wanted to be in Greece before dark, he was worried about the bike as we had no insurance and didn’t know where we would stay.  I wanted to go along the coast – he wouldn’t – made some excuse about the roads there being bad – I didn’t believe him – but as he was riding and not me, it was his choice 😦

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It was about 8.00pm when we reached the border, and fairly quiet.  We got thru passport control without a problem and then saw this guy waving a piece of paper at us.  I knew we didn’t have anything that looked like that, so fumbled around in the bag for a few minutes, chatting away and smiling at him all the while.  I found our V5 (vehicle registration document) and handed it to him saying this is what you need – he looked at it, looked at us, mumbled something in Albanian and waved us away!  I still don’t know what we were supposed to have, whether he was finishing his shift and couldn’t be bothered with a couple of English people who he didn’t understand or whether he was in a good mood and letting us thru, and I don’t really care!  So, to anybody that asks – no, Albania is not a problem, you don’t have to pay a fortune to get in and out and you don’t get stopped by the police.  They need to do something about them bones tho’!

Coming into Greece was not so good.

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5 Responses to “Thru the Balkans………Albania”

  1. Great post 🙂 love the photos.

  2. Thank you 🙂

  3. Bev:

    I really loved your photos too. You are such a good story teller and I don’t know how you do it, keeping all the names and places straight and everything well documented for us to enjoy. This was truly a trip of a lifetime, wish we could be there with you

    bob
    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  4. Albania is the most hospitable country that I have every been in my whole life. I have been around the world and I dare to say that they are more welcome than Japanese. They cooked me a whole lamb for me and even 3 chickens and I was in a family house for free 3 days and I ate them for free and the most important thing is that I found myself very well because they are very welcoming people as is part of their culture.
    Actually don’t even trust the others especially their neighbors as they are telling lies. I heard a lot of bad things and especially in Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece and Italy which are actually their neighbors and they told me alot of nonsenses that albanians are thieves and dangerous , don’t go there because albania is like africa and poor and albanians only steal and stuff like that which I was very surprised as I didn’t find those things but only a pure hospitality by Albanians.

    Go to Albania as is a very nice country with wonderful people and with a charming coastline especially go in Saranda or along Vlora coast is magic.
    Definitely is a worth going.
    Albania in the future will be a top destination for tourists regards their neighbors hate.

    Kind regards
    Josh

  5. Hi Bob,

    Thanks – I did take photos of alot of the roadsigns so remember the names that way! (I also cheat and look on the map! 😉

    Josh,

    Yes, we had heard about the hospitality of the people but we weren’t there long enough really to experience it as you did. I agree that Albania will become a popular tourist destination in the future if they want to. I wish we had riden along the coast but wasn’t to be this time. I’m glad we did go there tho’ and like you, would also recommend people to go there. 🙂

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