Not many people know much about Albania, us included. Hopefully we know a bit more now! We had been told that it would pretty different to the Europe we know and had just come from. And we felt the change almost straight away as we crossed the border. It was absolutely stunning where we crossed over, and the people, the buildings, the roads were all different. We were given a great first impression though as so many people said hello, in English, the area was beautiful with a lot of rivers and lakes in the first 30-40 kms. Of course it always helps when the sun is shining too, which it was. Then getting into Sarande the owner of the hotel we stayed in was super friendly and welcoming, the port area was nice and it was just a great start.
February 24th to march 4th. 338km
The coast road north of Sarande immediately started climbing, and this set the tone for the next two days. As with most of the other beautiful coast roads we’ve ridden, we had to earn the good views. We headed slightly inland for the first couple of hours with the signs showing a 10% gradient. But the signs only ever said 10%, they didn’t seem to have any other numbers. In reality some were less, but a lot were more! Most of the land was dedicated to orchards, oranges I think, with the mountains in the distance hidden in the clouds. We reached a few hundred metres altitude and then had an equally steep downhill taking us back down to the sea.
February 20th to 23rd. 203km
We haven’t done much since our last update. We’re into Albania now after a really lovely final few days in Greece. We were lucky with the timing of our rest day in Paleros, thunderstorms and heavy rain coming down all day outside our hotel window. It’s nice when it works out like that. It was still overcast when we left on the 20th, but it stayed dry. Our route took us inland up towards Preveza. There is a big lagoon in our way, with the option of passing through a tunnel, or taking the long way around the inside of it, adding about 100km. It’s a no brainer, the one issue being that bikes aren’t allowed in the tunnel. We stuck to our tried and tested method of ‘winging it’, hoping that smiling and playing dumb would work. Unfortunately, once we got to the toll booth, it was immediately clear that they wouldn’t let us pass on our bikes. But, they told us to wait beside the road, and that we’d be taken through in a service van. Perfect! We didn’t fancy riding through the tunnel anyway.