After spending two days taking in the stunning vistas of Meteora in central Greece, we made a beeline for the coast. The mercury was still topping 25+ degrees by day but the night chill in the mountains was something I was keen to shake before I remembered it was very nearly Autumn. On the way to Meteora our motorway route had skirted mountains, flat plains and retail parks so we were keen to try something new. Actually, there was one highlight, one such park was home to this smashed up fighter plane for no apparent reason.. obviously we stopped to take a picture! The fibreglass ‘bomb’ was hanging off of the right wing and after a quick shake it became apparent that the whole thing would soon succumb to rust so we refrained from jumping into the cockpit and hit the road!
The ride was supposed to be a short 70ish miles (in a straight line) however it ended up being 190 miles with an ‘altitude component’. This included many tunnels, freezing temperatures, dirt road and a large hydro-electric dam!
I have to say, despite the views, I was not feeling the ride that day. I was cold, the going was tough and the hours on the bike stacked up with every new road-resurfacing fiasco and bovine blockage.
Shortly after popping out the other end of this tunnel, the ride improved somewhat. By ‘the ride improved’ I mean, we stopped for lunch. A no menu, no english, mountain cafe with €5 souvlaki for two was pretty much the answer to all my wants and needs. It was all uphill from there (it was actually downhill) and Camping Nautilos made an ideal base to relax and soak up the last of the days rays before one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever seen.
By the morning, I felt refreshed and ready for the day. Unfortunately, the owner of the campsite had Rich’s passport as a deposit and was nowhere to be found. After a 40 minute search, we managed to track him down (doing a spot of DIY) and retrieved the documents which we would certainly need to cross into Albania in a few hours time. We chose a direct route through the mountains to the tiny border crossing of Quafe Bote near the town of Konispol.
Despite me forgetting where we were and going the wrong way around the roundabout at the entrance, our border crossing was smooth. The staff were friendly and hastily checked our documents. Albania does require you to have valid insurance for your vehicle but if you don’t, the green card is available and costs just €16. We were wary after being ripped off at the Bulgarian/Turkish Border (read about it here) but here the staff were friendly and helpful and the schedule of green card fees was clearly printed on the wall of the office. So, no problems there! It was another day, another country and Gjirokaster waited on the horizon…