Time for an update.
After waking up early I headed out towards Macedonia,
after a couple text with Volker, one of the germans I wanted to meet up with for a couple days,
my goal for today was getting to Lake Ohrid on the Macedonia/Albania border, because that's where they figured they'd be heading.
FYI: There wont' be pictures for some time, once again.
Thing is, at first I managed to really cover some distance,
I suddenly encountered flooded roads in Skopje, which confused me, to say the least.
After all it didn't look like it rained, as the street was partially completely dry?!
On my ride through the city I encountered more stuff that got me worried, though.
Partially flooded roads with over 2 feet of water in the deep spots, uprooted trees......
Bad News: A huge thunderstorm was ravaging basically thorugh all of Macedonia.
Around 8 PM it got pitch-black and started raining.
I pulled into a gas station and tried calling Volker. Tried.
So, not being able to reach him and being "only" about 120 km away from Ohrid,
I decided to go on. Of course, no more than 30 minutes later it started to absolutely bucket down.
Time to pull into the next available gas station, order some coffee and try calling the others again.
No luck, though, couldn't get a hold of them, again.
It wasn't all bad luck, though, first of all the gas station attendant was a really nice guy and spoke some english (thanks for the free candy bar and the cheerful talk
While trying to figure out what I was gonna do ( camping was an option, but considering the current weather and how ridiculous dark it was, not really a good one, but I was in the middle of nowhere, so not too many hotels around, either) a car with german license plates pulled in, one of them born in Albania, they'd recommended me to actually go the remaining way to Ohrid and check in one of the many cheap hotels there.
There we go, fill the tank up and head out to Ohrid.
I must've arrived there around 10 PM, after a short ride through the city (where I met the guy from recommended me to go to Ohrid again ),
I wanted to ride a bit further out of the city and find me a cheap motel.
As soon as I turned around it started pouring again, surprise, surprise.
After another 30 to 40 minutes waiting out the worst at a gas station and some croissants and more coffee.
Must have been around 11:30 when I arrived a good motel, I was one of the few guests, they had a wedding in their hall this evening, but I didn't care.
A warm, dry bed, a TV and a warm shower and all that for 18 €. I was a happy man, after this long day
The next morning I had also finally managed to get a hold of Volker,
who told that they'd pretty much left out Macedonia and went into Albania further south instead.
We came to the conclusion that we'd best meet a bit north of their position towards the end of the day.
You know what that meant?
Lazy day for me. I didn't get out of bed before 11 AM, because I only had to go around 150 km that day,
to get to our meeting point (which was changed a couple times, as their plans changed; I had no fixed plans after all, so I didn't really mind).
The first good thing on the road, shortly after entering Albania:
We ended up agreeing on the city of Berat as a meeting point
and I went through Elbasan and explored the city a bit further before heading south to Berat.
I took a pretty small route alongside a river down to Berat, which turned out interesting.
In between clay-like mud for about 3 kilometers which kept me busy, partially it was being prepared for asphalt, by using those annyoing fist sized pebbles as a bedding
However, I enjoyed the ride, but after a while I came to a fork in the road,
one way seemed to lead me over the river, the other seemed to go away from the river.
So I tried crossing it, even though I saw no bridge,
after riding almost 120 m into the riverbed (It must carry a LOT of water during the snow melt) I discovered that there was no way for me to get through that river, too deep, too fast and the embankment on the other side didn't look good either.
Time to try the other way (looking at my maps would be too easy, wouldn't it??),
this is where I met that guy right here:
He pointed me the direction of a bridge across to river, which would also directly lead me to Berat,
perfect, many thanks
Once I arrived there I tried contacting Volker, but again, no luck.
No worries, they are probably still out riding,
time to go explore the city.
Did I mention that they got a pretty sweet old castle in Berat?
(click for greater resolution)
After riding a bit further, my phone suddenly rang.
It was Volker, telling me that I just rode right past them in front of their hotel
I turned around and -yep - there was someone waving
After moving into our rooms, everyone took a quick shower and we ordered some pizza,
we were the only guests in the hotel and had the balcony for ourselves, where we ate dinner and had some beers while watching the streets below.
There were quite some things to see,
from not-so-cheap cars driving down the road over and over again,
Mercedes, Hummer, BMW, you name it
to kids throwing old tires on the street
More to come, soon