Okay, at the base, we arrive at the Albanian border not necessarily motivated to this country... People in Montenegro have told us that they are the fools of the wheels and need to be wary of them...
We actually discover a population very warm and smiling and everyone fit we tell her "hello" or "ciao". The Italians were quite present in the history of the country and many people speak Italian here. Damage, we can speak English, German, and Spanish but not Italian! On the roads, traffic is quite correct. Forward quietly until the first metropolis Skhoder. It does not stop to look around us: the environment has really changed, we are completely disoriented! Houses are often half-finished (only the DRC is finished, the second remains outstanding for example), they are all on the roof their water supply, women are sometimes veiled; and especially we left the mountains, it is in a vast plain.
Shkodër, it meets a young Albanian who spent a few years in Belgium and therefore pretty much speaks french, but with a Belgian accent (it's funny).
Over coffee, he says that life is hard in Albania, and it wins € 40 per day about and works even on Sunday morning. He found that the country is progressing and it tells of their desire for integration in Europe.
He helps find a hotel for the night, and negotiated even a little the price for us. We spend the evening strolling in the city; Note the little woman in the street: indeed, there almost as guys!
We view with great pleasure the cost of living: eat a good fastfood of seafood for € 5 each!
Passing through a small road to Hill the next day (Sunday, 26 October), there's the very rural hinterland. We cross cows, goats, sheep, hens, and even pigs in freedom on the road. The coating is sometimes very good, but sometimes also full of holes or rendering to a dirt road where mud puddles give a new design to our bikes.
But the hardest this day was the gusts of wind that Pixie us and made us make differences. It continued until the nightfall, and began to wonder where one could find a corner away to sleep. Albano-Italian advise us a church where to sleep a little later. Arrived outside the Church, a papi done us great signs to invite us to ask the tent in his garden. At this time, we hesitate a bit, it seems far too easy, and one wonders if this is not a trap (saw that Montenegrins have told us to beware)... The arrival of his wife reassures us a bit, we plant the tent. An hour after, it decides to return to see them, to make our own idea and hunt our prejudices. We approached the cabin that faces at home, where they appear to be. The grandmother opens: it is actually a bar! 5 minutes later we are seated with their friends to drink a glass of home-made Rakhi. We arrive to discuss a bit in English and is a very good evening. The police landed in the middle of the night, everyone moves around us, we wonder a bit what is happening... They stop in fact because they need water for the radiator of their van, everyone laughs!
We feel that this couple of grandparents wants to show the hospitality of the Albanians: late in the evening, you get home (it is all comfort, big contrast with the somewhat dingy bar), they insist to make a Skype with our family and are very friendly with us. The next day, they offer us fruits of the garden for the road, adorable!
We arrive in Tirana Monday evening after a sunny day. We view Tirana Backpacker Hostel, a hostel where there is full of musical instruments (guitar, bandjo, djumbé..) available, the decor is great, there's a bar in the spacious courtyard behind, with a Mandarin and many other plants across. The home is simple and cool. In short it feels hyper well away. If you go to Tirana, go absolutely!
Do also in Tirana: the Free Walk Tour. The guide is a history buff and makes us sightseeing with striking personal anecdotes, of the birth of Tirana to today. He did not hesitate to describe his youth under the Communist regime and how the country closed on itself and was cut from the world (like the North Korea of today). It is hyper informative for us and it helps us to better understand what can be seen in the country. In addition, you can meet others whose Australian, Scottish, and German; is a super nice evening together, to share our experiences.
The next day, it's a little hard to leave these new friends for an evening: it's crazy what you can share an evening with people who look like us!
We attack the steep!
Wednesday, October 29, it climbs in the mountains, to the South. The landscape is breathtaking, we see several chains of mountain in the distance; the weather is cloudy and staining of enlightenment occurs everywhere, the atmosphere is great, Thomas feasts with the camera, it goes without saying! This road through the mountains between Tirana and Elbasan is truly splendid: to make if you spend a day there!
The next day there are other mountains, or rather of the gorges. It is pretty nice too: one has the impression of being in the high mountains while 150 m above sea level. But there must not be many tourists here: when we stopped in a village for a few races, men (because there are men in the streets, women must surely stay home) look at us a little funny. It is one of the rare times where it has not felt very uncomfortable...
The evening found Albanian sympathy with a young farmer who opens his field to ask the tent and we agree to make a fire: the cold arrived with the night so it's great to make a fire!
Friday, hard climb... It really worth. We arrived at the top, at 700 m above sea level overlooking a huge Lake and of the mountains covered with snow on the other side. The thermometer does not exceed 15 ° but it is superb. One has the impression of being at the edge of the sea. There are small sellers of fish across the side of the road, then the midi you buy two trout still live in their aquarium! And they will cook it on our stove, Yes, Yes! Yum, it was really too good!
Evening there is a desire for a good hot shower (we can't get rid of the smell of fish for lunch, on a cold...), then it is hotel! Yes we pay this luxury for €10 per person: it's really not expensive the Albania! It is Halloween and children also here roam disguised by selling sweets.
Saturday on file to the border and 60kms more far we are in Greece! We win 1 h Sun evening with the time change, it's cool, it was getting hard to find a place to put the tent from 16:30...
Some other stuff that have marked us in Albania:
-They buy English cars because they are cheaper. But the steering wheel is right!
-Almost all 100 m there is a "lavazh": car wash area. It'll simple water hose (very often) to the most advanced washing station. They take care of their cars!
-Much less cool: they used to throw their waste anywhere and especially in rivers. We even saw a guy come to the River with a large garbage bag and leave without... Good level ecology, y'a really work to make ca that's for sure!
-Almost everywhere in the country, we see bunkers that are remnants of communism and the war. It in was built 700,000 to Communist-era! (According to our guide's free walk tour in Tirana)
-There's really the world everywhere... A small road that seems to lead nowhere can bring up someone. It is a bit tiring sometimes finally...
-Several times, people wanted to pay us coffee, no particular reason. The home was really super.
In short, it was hyper pleasantly surprised by this country. We recommend! Plenty of beautiful places to discover, life is really not expensive and people want to show the best of their country.
Then, the Albania, your next holiday destination?