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Old 06-13-2013, 02:00 PM   #72
GuiltyParty OP
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Joined: Jul 2008
Location: London
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Albania contd.

We left our resort camp shortly after the crack of dawn to catch a pre-arranged ferry that ran up Komani Lake from Koman to Fierze and needed to be there by 10.

The road between Shkodra and Koman was utter crap, mostly sealed but with gaping pot holes all over the shop. I would prefer unsealed dirt roads than sealed roads with huge pot holes because at least the dirt is a little more forgiving on the rims than the edges of bitumen. After every cringe as the wheel took a pounding the throttle still had a habit of twisting though

Along the way we passed all forms of transport known to man, including a ferrari. Why they had a ferrari on some of the worst roads we've seen so far has me beat. Albanian mafia.

If your scooter is broken chuck it in the back of the horse and cart

Do you want fries with that sheep? A sheep market on the side of the road

Patty wasn't convinced we were on the right road when we came to this tunnel that looked half-finished and almost pitch black. The camera has done a good job in filtering what little light there was to get this shot. After a little reassurance there was no bears in the tunnel we pressed on.

Koman Lake is a man made lake for hydro-power and used to be a main ferry crossing until the highway was built. The passenger ferry still runs but the vehicle ferry has been shut down so we got in contact with Mario Molla ( who could ship the two of us plus the bike for 25 euro. Ferry takes about 3 hours and Mario's a really helpful guy.

He wasn't there when we arrived so while we waited we got chatting to the locals and took some snaps.

Love the Albanian flag

Some Israeli's joined us as they were going for a week long hike around Fierze and they came well equipped - Johnny Walker black label

The ferry took about 3 hours through some interesting gorges.

These houses were nestled up in the mountains and could only be accessed by boat

Not sure what happens on these islands, could be a nudist colony. On the left is a cross which according to the Israeli's is a church

We got off for a quick look. Fascinating stuff - a cross on an island

But we upset a seagull

So before the mother attacked we ran back to our ferry

We stayed the night in a hotel near the Kosovo border in a place called Bajram Curri and it's the first time in the trip we felt a little intimidated and unsafe, almost like we were unwelcome. We tried shrugging the feeling off but just wanted to get the night over with and get out of there. I also had my worries about the bike parked downstairs. The whole town saw us ride in and gave us the evils and even though it was in a locked compound I was still restless. I felt a little better when the guard dog emerged from his kennel which you can see in the foreground of this photo. This was taken from our room window - in the foreground is a blue door which is a tunnel leading to three bunkers near the trees in the background. It would have to be the coolest dog house ever!

Eager to get out of the town we climbed back into the mountains overtaking lorries spewing exhaust

We followed the Albania - Kosovo border down it's length on some endless twisty roads that even though they seemed new still had some interesting sections.

Endless mountains and interesting scenery

The main road had about 14k's of fast gravel and was a welcome break from the normal road.

With some incredible views

We sort of felt by this point that we had 'done' Albania so were keen to reach our next destination - Lake Ohrid on the Macedonian side.

Not wanting to get anymore Albanian money out we rolled into Macedonia with the fuel light on. We'd spoken to some locals who said there was a bank and fuel just across the border so thought we give it a shot.

We rolled into Struga on the northern shores of Lake Ohrid late in the afternoon and found a cheap hotel on its outskirts called Euro Hotel. It was one of the weirdest hotels we'd stayed in. It was a massive resort with tennis courts and all that jazz that I don't think ever reached capacity. There was furniture in the lobby and in our room but everything else was bare and was a little creepy but I kept my thoughts to myself, not wanting to scare Patty. It was a bit like a hospital but as we were the only guests in the whole place they let us store the bike in reception.

I dug out my second tick of the trip after incinerating him first with the lighter. This one had been feasting awhile, it was a biggin'

The next morning there was no running water and I quietly joked to Patty that they had shut it off to prepare it for demolition.

Lake Ohrid is split down the middle between Macedonia and Albania, and when we spoke to some Albanians they said to drive around it on their side because the Macedonian side was cliffs and dangerous. We'd also from others that the Albanian side was more beautiful and best viewed from Macedonia so we decided scenery took priority over danger and decided to ride along the 'dangerous' Macedonian side.

The dangerous part was running into the back of us as we stopped for all the photo's. The road was perfect.

Not sure what this is - maybe an old hearth - but the locals felt it was significant enough to cover it with a roof.

We weren't having any luck with the weather. So far we've been wet 9 out of 10 days, it just seems to keep following us. As we got near the top we stumbled across a lookout but the clouds were teasing us and blocking our view. They seemed to be moving pretty fast so we decided to wait it out and see how it goes.

It paid off, with a cracking view

We pushed on and stopped at a little roadside market for lunch and as we were about to start eating a guy on a Triumph travelling the opposite direction gave a wave and pulled in.

Robert was a kiwi living in Berlin who had been travelling for the past month through eastern Europe travelling as we were.

We broke bread, shared stories and as the threat of yet another storm threatening to unleash on us we hopped on our bikes and rode in opposite directions.

There was something really cool about that moment that I'll remember forever.

We took a little detour off the main road just to mix it up a bit as we headed for Greece

Triumph Tiger 800 xc
Walkabout in Russia and Central Asia
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