DAY 4 FORGET ALBANIA, HELLO ITALY

How cold is it sleeping at altitude when you are only prepared for warm weather?…….Colder than a Penguins dick in winter !!  Woke up early today, about 04.30, neither of us could sleep because of the noise generated from our teeth chattering and limbs shivering, we were so high above sea level last night that I think the moon actually did scrape the top of the tent as it passed over.

We packed the gear and started off at 06.30, we had to find a town beginning with the letter “K” near a lake to meet up with one of the bikers to collect maps and return his Thermos flask, neither of us could remember the towns full name, and my note book had several towns and villages beginning with the letter “K” written inside, we had no maps of the mountain region because I never intended going there !  We gave up looking after a while because there were three or four villages with “K” the ones we went too were not by a lake, so change of plan,  get out of the mountains and find the motorway E90 A2 and carry on the way I intended to Albania.

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From 06.30 to 10.00 it took to escape the clutch of the mountains and find the E 90 again, this nightmare short cut was now finally over, we were now exactly back where we started yesterday, low on fuel after hundreds of KMs in the mountains, we stopped at the very same petrol station and cafe where Linda took over navigation, I said “Go in and order some coffee’s while I fill the bike up……and don’t ask for any directions”

After coffee and breakfast we set off on the beautiful E 90 for 50KMs then the motorway was closed for roadworks and we were diverted over the mountains……..BUGGER, AGAIN !!

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We were up in the clouds yet again with no cold weather clothing heading for Ionnia, we climbed so high we reached the snow line, it was too cold to take our  gloves off and take photos properly. This road was incredibly twisty and I know many bikers dream of these kind of Alpine  like roads, but this was my second day of it, I live in the mountains in turkey, flat would be good.  Paranoid about no petrol, I filled up both spare fuel cans, now with two gallons weight on the back the old girl was getting very skittish on the many sharp bends, hairpins and switch backs, we had a few heart stopping moments.

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We had to keep stopping for a ciggie to warm ourselves.

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After a few hours of dire cold misery interlaced with spectacular views, we finally started to descend in to warmer air and wider roads.

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At the first signs of Humanity we stopped to ask directions from a group of Greek truckers parked up on the hard shoulder, they  were great, they got all their maps out, but also pleaded with us not to go to Albania for our own safety, they also told us some horror stories about themselves and fellow truckers, they said as your both blond haired and blue eyed, you will stand out as Western Europeans and will and stand a higher chance of being robbed. That kind of clinched it really, no sense being silly about it, with continual warnings the past two days we decided to give Albania a miss, and get a ferry from Igoumenitsa to Italy, Linda was very relieved about that.

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All the road signs were in English at the port for the benefit of travellers, we are a little sad to be leaving Greece tonight on the ferry, all the Greek people we have met (many not shown here) have all been so kind and helpful to us, we cant wait to come back to Greece again.

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~ by travelswithmymotorbike on May 4, 2009.

33 Responses to “DAY 4 FORGET ALBANIA, HELLO ITALY”

  1. Konitsa?

    • Not sure, could have been, it begins with a “K” so why not lol..

  2. Bloody hell! Albania? Are you taking the scenic route?

    I’m still jealous.

    • Hi John,

      Heard too many bad stories about Albania in the past 2 days, going to give it a miss, I have booked a ferry to Italy leaving today, going to Boligna and Venice instead, perhaps Croatia Dubrovnic, not sure yet..

      Cheers

      Dave..

  3. Good to know that Greek truckers are nice to Brits on a Turkish registered motorcycle!
    Are you taking the ferry to Venice or Ancona? It’s supposed to be quite nice passing through the Grand Canal!

    • Hi Nikos,

      We took the ferry to Ancona, a very, very nice ship, could not believe the luxery of it, was a nice suprise !!

  4. I think you probably did make the right decision to move on..NO heater in the tenet?

    • Hi Berge,

      Yeh…Dam cold high up, could have lit a big fire with all lindas perfumes etc…lol

  5. I hope you found easily the ferry to Italy from Igoumenitsa. Have a nice trip and enjoy your journey.
    I am the guy on the picture with the truckers. Is funny to see myself on a website:) …
    Nice to meet you…

    • Hi Antonis,
      Thanks very much once again for your help, yes we got to Igoumentisa no problem and I had a nice 9 hour sleep on the boat..

      Cheers

      Dave….

  6. dave & Linda: at least you made it to the ferry terminal. I was sitting on the edge of my chair hoping that you didn’t run out of gas. I also remember a time where my Navigator took the wrong turn and we ended up miles out of our way, but as you say, just keep your mouth shut and laugh about it later. Lucky think you brought “extra” gas

    • Hi Bob,
      Yes gas is not something one normally has to think about but when it does happen to you, you realise how vulnrable you are !!

  7. Hi Dave,
    I’m checking your website everyday. Have a nice trip…
    Boris (Africa Twin)

    • Hi Baris,

      I wanderd what happend to you, thanks for the good wishes mate, its turning into a little asventure and we are meeting great people along the way, yuo will have to plan a trip to Greece, you will love the roads there..

      Cheers

      Dave..

  8. Sir, I am disappointed to hear of your decision to bypass Albania, particularly on the word of a Greek. That’s like avoiding Scotland because of the fears of a pantywaisted London toff. You missed out on some of the best roads, best food, and nicest people in the world. I hope you’ll pass this way again and disregard the fearmongers and come to Albania. I guarantee you’ll not be disappointed. Ten years, off and on, have made me a fan of this fascinating little country (and no admirer of Greek xenophobia).

    • Hi Steve,
      It was many people who advised us to avoid Albania, including internet research, so we decided on balance that it was just too much of a risk.

      • I can understand your being shy of Albania after what the Greeks told you. I found it fascinating to discover how much all these countries fear and distrust each other. So I went to Albania anyway, ’cause I’m awkward like that. And I’m so glad I did. Maybe I was one of the lucky ones. I didn’t have the missus to consider as you did. I might have thought twice had I been two-up – but I’d almost certainly have gone anyway. Like Steve, I’d strongly recommend the country. Also, by riding up Italy, you miss Montenegro and Croatia. And a stunning coast road. Maybe on the way back? Hopefully by then you’ll be feeling a bit braver? 😉

        I said “Go in and order some coffee’s while I fill the bike up……and don’t ask for any directions” Heh heh!!

        • Hi Andy,

          The Mrs, was the deciding factor, I was 50/50 and thought fill up with petrol in Greece so I had the option of not stopping if I felt anything iffy, but Linda was 90/10 against it, and as all married men will understand, you sometimes have to do things for a quiet life lol..

  9. I think you made a wise move avoiding Albania, I have read a disturbing thing or two also and if my wife was at all unhappy with going there, then I would’nt go, there are too many wankers on bikes these days looking for stupid dangers and cheap thrills, have you seen the website http://www.advrider.com its just full of knobs who think they know it all.

    James

    • Hi James,

      LOL..yes I know the website, I used to post on there but have got bored with it now, it was good a few years ago but now its just mostly 40 year old Americans on Beemers, they have taken over the site.

      Cheers

      Dave..

  10. I dont envy you up the mountains with just summer clothes, Ibet you were bloody frozen !!

    J

  11. we have albania peoples in russia some is good some is rob you all

  12. Nah, just roll on, why look for dangers when there are plenty enough all around…..

    • Hi Del,

      As you say, there are enough dangers around, why seek out more…

      Cheers

      Dave..

  13. Hi,
    I feel sad to hear that you skipped Albania. I was born and raised there, and can better attest to the warm welcome of the Albanian people towards tourists, regardless of skin-color, race or religion. It’s true that past robberies and misfortune has had some negative effect on its reputation in the past years – due to a changing political environment and lack of state enforced police, but let me assure you that those times are long gone. Today, Albania is as safe as travelling thru any country in Eastern Europe. With little effort and research you will discover that Italian, German, British and various other European nationals are visiting Albania to enjoy it’s splendid nature and discover the lost gem in the heart of Europe.

    As an avid motorcycle rider myself, allow me to assure you of the following: 1) a new highway extends from north-Montenegro border to south-Greece border, 2) this highway passes thru some of the most amazing cliffs along the Ionian and Adriatic seas, 3) along this highway you will be able to stop in over 50 little-towns and villages, and discover from secluded beaches, to mountain-top rest areas with proper gas, food, and lodging facilities, 4) you can enjoy everything and more for a fraction of what you’d be paying in Greece, Italy, or in any other EU member nation…

    In conclusion, I ask that you please visit my beautiful country on your next trip in the region. Please give Albania it’s share of visit, and I am sure you and the mises will be very pleased. We are not savages or unruly people as some of our bitter neighbors might call us, and nor do we think that way of them. We stand proud of our culture and traditions and welcome all, from tourists to investors alike. Albania is the only country in Europe where Christians, Muslims, Orthodox, Jews, and minorities live in full harmony with each other. This is the place where you will discover churches next to mosques, next to monasteries. This is the place where people like Mother Teresa were born and bred…
    Kind regards,
    Endrit

    • Hi Endrit,

      Thank you for your very well thought out counter argument to the negative views of Albania. Before I started out on my trip around Europe I researched the lesser known countries that I thought I might like to visit such as Kosovo, Croatia, Serbia, Albania, Romania, Russia and Bulgaria.

      All the above Eastern Europe countries have some negative reports from travelers, some more than others, a lot of travelers report robberies, corrupt border guards and police corruption as still being a problem in Eastern Europe. People can only judge from their own experiences, from all the Eastern European countries that I wished to visit I only went to one, Croatia…….and guess what Endrit??…Ripped off, I planned a week in Croatia but turned back after 3 days, every cafe, petrol station, restaurant and camp site owner that I met was a thief!!!!

      So how do we quantify experiences, by people like me who were ripped off, were we just unlucky??? Were the people who had a great time just lucky??? When a country has many negative reports from previous travelers they are normally true, and only fools ignore them. However I do take your point that times are changing in Eastern Europe (Not Croatia lol) very fast, and what was true 5 years ago may not be so now.

      Despite all the negative reports on the internet, I would still like to travel around Eastern Europe, guess that makes me foolish lol. I probably will travel through Albania one day, I am curious to see your country!!

      Cheers,

      Dave…..

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    • hi, just thought i’d say my bit as a women, i have travelled through eastern europe and went through Albania, never had any problems only excellent memories, greece was not a good experiance for me, would not go back, and like the other guy said, they are very racist people, not just agaist abania, but everone, even there own people! choice given, i’d go back to albania anyday x x

      • Hi Marie,

        Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience, have you by any chance traveled through Serbia (Another place with a poor reputation) a friend and I will be driving through there next month.

        Cheers,

        Dave…..

  15. Hi All,

    I just wanted to share with you this cool video that BBC’s Top Gear shot in Albania. The video was shot in Vlora, the second biggest seaport in Albania, and also my most beloved city since I grew up there. The half part of the video was shot in Llogara, which is an amazing curvy ride up and down the mountain, especially on a motorcycle. Finally, the clip takes you to the southernmost city in Albania, Saranda, which boarders Greece and can take you there by ferry. Enjoy!

    Best,
    Endrit

    p.s. if anyone is planning on doing this trip, I would be glad so suggest some places, beaches, hotels and restaurants where I have many friends. I visit Vlora every summer for wakeboarding or kitesurfing and love the people and local atmosphere…cheers!

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