The plan was to reach Tiranë in Albania today which involved crossing a few borders. A lot of people we have spoken to have expressed concern/caution regarding Albania and advised against traveling in the dark. My guidebook said otherwise, but still we thought it prudent to to leave early, make sure the radios were working, stick together and get there in the sunlight. So we got up and had a quick breakfast in the sun at our apartment in Dubrovnik and admired the stunning view with our host Mario. It was less than 10 steps from bed to sea and we were a little disappointed that the snow had meant losing our day off here as taking a small boat around the nearby islands for the day would have been fantastic. Next time, eh.
We left at 11 (we were aiming for 10 and are at a loss as to where that hour went) and took the road South which twisted past the airport and up around the cliffs and mountains but we soon left the familiarity of those surrounds and reached the border with Montenegro. We had to purchase some more motorbike insurance there, but it was no problem. As I waited for Ed to re-emerge from the building a border official told me to stop looking at my atlas for some reason. Very odd.
The Montenegrin people appeared very happy as we rode through - lots of waves and smiles - and the scenery was stunning too. Shortly in we took our first ferry a matter of a kilometer or so to avoid a long out and back. 1 Euro 50 each, not bad!
Stopped for lunch at a cafe with a friendly woman blasting out soft rock classics and said hello to a passing German motorbiker who had just come from Albania and gave us some tips. The roads after that were hard going - lots of regeneration work meant that at times our side of the road was just 6 inches of tarmac and 10 foot of gravel!
Around Ulcinj near the border with Albania we had trouble finding the correct road across. It turns out the road on our map doesn't exist anymore, but we asked some help from a guy digging up the pavement and got pointed in the right direction. The few clouds in the air looked like extensions of the mountains against the peachy sky - very nice but getting late!
The tiny road to the border was pretty desolate, felt like it was going to end any minute and was rather uncomfortable really as we knew we had the hassle of the border plus another 130 kms or so. We finally reached the Montenegrin exit barrier and the guards were very jovial. They liked our bikes and got us to rev them a bit. They even wanted us to tear through the border as fast as possible, so we took a little run up and obligingly gave them a show!
Then followed 20 metres or so of gravel road. Thankfully this was just the no-man's-land between the two countries and the Albanian entry border was quick to pass. Our first impressions - no streetlights! Pitch black with people wandering about on the side of the road and flat intercom batteries, great!
Despite this we made good progress at one point passing over a rickety old wooden bridge that wouldn't look out of place in an Indiana Jones film. Albania was (I understand) an isolated communist country until the mid 90's and only party officials had cars really. This means most people have been driving for 10 or 15 years and let's just say that the driving standard is quite a sight. Everyone was wandering across the central line, blindly pulling out, flashing all the time as well, half the time for policemen with speed guns who lurk in the shadows in the dark at the side of the road.
We got to Tiranë safely though and the road up on the outskirts was pothole-arama, but we got to the centre of the city and met up with a relative of Ed's workmate and his friends - Zylfi and Burel - who took us to a hotel and out for some food. We followed their cab to our hotel and the first thing it did was go up a one way street the wrong way!!
244 miles then and we're bushed.