On the road for about 9am and enjoyed more fantastic Croatian coast road riding. Then passed through the Bosnian coastal stretch, all 8.5 kilometres of it, and on to Dubrovnik. The border checks for Bosnia were cursory to say the least. A girl guard looked at my number plate and just waved me through. On to Dubrovnik...
After Dubrovnik, the road up to the Montenegro border crossing was being re-built and was a nightmare. I nearly came to grief a couple of times and the tyres I had on really struggled. The checkpoint was a formality and there was no entry charge.
The view from the mountains back to the Montenegro ports is stunning and the riding was great.
I reached the capital Podgorica fairly late and was determined to press on to Albania. It was a shame to blast through Montenegro and I will definitely go back for a longer visit someday. Two great guys that I met at a set of traffic lights in Podgorica went out of their way to help me find the road to the Albanian border.
I had a bit of a disaster on the way to the Albanian border and was lucky not to drop the bike. The road was being re-built and some sections were very rough. At one point I had to take the luggage off, dig the bike out, ride it further on and walk back for the luggage.
Border crossing was no problem and I finally arrived at the Albanian town of Shkoder around midnight. I wasn’t too keen on what I saw so I got a hotel for the night for 30 Euro. At least I got a good breakfast, but I can’t afford to do this very often.
Wednesday 9 May, Day 6 – Albania – Macedonia – Greece
Had a bit of a nightmare trying to get out of Shkoder, the signs are non existant. The town is an eye opener and the traffic laws seem to be completely random. You can see on this picture that bikes are going in both directions around the roundabout.
Headed for Tirana and passed a couple of touring cyclists on the road who I beeped and exchanged waves with. 5 mins later the bike started spluttering and came to a gradual halt. Oh s**t! Gave her a look over but could not see anything amiss and she start up no probs. Set off again and 5 miles down the road it happened again with a more abrupt loss of power this time. I coasted to a halt outside a roadside restaurant and got off. Took all the luggage off, seat and panels etc and started to have a good look at her. She started up again no probs and I couldn’t see anything wrong so decided to press on and try to get to Tirana. Three Albanian chaps came over and offered to help any way they could but I said I would push on. They did say that the fuel in Albania could be dodgy and as I had just filled up I hoped this was the problem.
Then the cyclists I had waved to earlier arrived and turned out to be French lads from Bordeaux heading for Istanbul. Amazing! We had a good chat and they wished me luck and moved on. I set off again and fingers crossed the problem has not re-occurred so it seems likely there was some c**p or water in the fuel.
I intended passing straight through Tirana but as usual got lost trying to find the road for Elbasen. I ended up in some dodgy slum areas but the people were spot on and very helpful. Eventually found the road and had some great riding through the mountains. I stopped to buy some cherries at the top of one and had a laugh with the women on the stall who was a proper giggler.
Reached the border of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M.) and crossed with no problems and no charges. They did however ask for my insurance and the green card I had picked up in Altrincham did the trick.
The roads in Macedonia were a bit rough and concentration was needed to avoid deep pot holes. I pushed through the night and entered Greece between Bitola and Florina. A sign said 585 kilometres to Athens. Had some really bad weather and decided to keep pushing to try and get through it. Snatched a couple of hours kip at the side of the road and kept moving south towards Athens.
Thursday 10 May, Day 7 – Through Greece to Athens and on to Paros
A long ride down through Greece and finally arrived at Athens around midday. Made some lunch on the side of the road outside the port gates and got myself a ticket on the 5.30 boat to Paros. Ticket was 55 Euros with the bike. I enquired about getting to Turkey from Paros but was told I would have to come back to Piraeus. Dam!