Until this point in my adventure I knew something about all the countries I’ve cycled through and Albania was the first that I had no idea what to suspect. Yet again the scenery changed dramatically as I crossed the border. The huge green mountains continued but all around the terrain became more rugged. Lots of trees, bushes and definitely different cultures.
It took me some time to get to the first city but enjoyed the crazy quiet rolling hills road. The first feeling I got was that they are much poorer than the other countries I’ve been to but all the people was smiling at me and greeting. Children running next to my bicycle and chatting to me in Albanian. People selling small rabbits and chicken and I had to take a close look to see if they are still alive as they hold them by the ears or feet. One guy stuck a rabbit literally into my face as I cycled past. I was laughing out load and right there I knew Im gonna love this country.
On my first day in Albania three different police guys stopped me next to the road. I cant explain how friendly they were. Each time they stopped me I just had a big smile on my face and they gave me one back. After explaining my adventure to one policeman he offered to buy me a coffee at a roadside cafe 🙂 I told him I really appreciate it but have to get back on the road. All of them spoke very limited English but at least they tried and they tried with huge smiles on their faces.
My first day into Albania I managed to cycle 126km with all the stops and finally got to one of my biggest milestones…. my first 10 000km!!! Man I waited such a long time for this moment 🙂 After I crossed that milestone I continued to look for a place to sleep and found an abandoned house about 10km from Tirana and had a very good night sleep after a long day.
I cant help to say again on how friendly all the people is! I love it when I cycle past someone and they greet me back with a smile, shouting something or just saying something in Albania … All with huge smiles
Cycling through Tirana was a small adventure on its own. Tirana is Albania’s biggest city and the traffic is crazy! At one point it felt like I was back in South East Asia. Drivers doing whatever they want, some driving in opposite directions and the road not the best I’ve seen. The crap roads mean that everybody (including me) swerve from side to side, dodging the potholes. The whole Tirana driving through experience was awesome 🙂
They expected lots of rain and thunderstorms on my second day in Albania. I decided to cycle between the rain storms and if I do between 50km and 60km I would be very happy. I could never do very long sessions because when the rain came down, it came down hard. Luckily there are fuel stations almost every kilometer or some cafe were you can pull in. My longest time I waited for one of the storms to pass was about 3hours. At the end of the day I cycle 65km and were very happy after all the rain during the day.
I pulled over at one of the fuel station with a cafe next to it, because I wanted to draw some money, just in case I need it. Ive been in Albania for a day and a half and still had no cash. So as I finished at the ATM I walked past the coffee shop and the guy that worked there came out to talk. We chatted a bit, as he could not speak the best English, and then he invited me in for a coffee. He also asked if I wanted Wifi and then he turned his phone into a hotspot so that I can have internet 🙂 So as I was about to leave I told him I want to pay and he said… No no no… Coffee on house 🙂
The mountains passes have started again and had a very nice long climbs. After one that was about 7km I got to a tunnel. I scanned for a no cycling sign through the rain, but could not see any, so I was very happy to get out of the rain and into this very long tunnel. I was about 500m into the tunnel when I heard this siren… Beeeeep beeeeeep pause….. Beeeeeep beeeeeeep pause….. It continued and I just had a feeling that this siren is for me. But I cant turn back so I just continued. About 3minutes after the siren went off, a police car pointed to me and ask to cycle to them on the other side of the tunnel. As I approached them, I kept saying… Please dont fine me, please dont fine me… So when I got to their car they pointed that I should cycle in front of them. So for the remaining 3 – 4km they escorted me to make sure I get to the end of the tunnel save!! How freaking cool is this! I ask them to open their window and thanked them and they pointed in what direction I must go to get to Elbasan.
My last 30km I pushed through some of the rain storms to make up some kilometer as I still wanted to get to my goal I set. So on 65km pulled off the road at a fuel station to fill my water and ask the guy if he knows where I can camp. He laughed and said no camping close, then he stood there and I could see he was thinking about something and then he pointed to the side to the fuel station… “don’t worry, you can camp there and my father will look after you tonight” i just smiled thank him and start to pitch my tent.
This was by far the friendliest day I had so far on my adventure. Earlier tonight I could see some stars… The first in a very long time. But now its raining very hard and can hear all the rain drops falling onto the tent… But at least I’m in the tent and this is going to make me sleep like a baby 🙂