Day 232 – ALBANIA and MONTENEGRO: From Lezhe to Ulcinj

Today’s distance / 今日の走行距離: 104.42km
Average speed / 平均速度: 13.8km/h
Time on bike / 走行時間: 7h 32m
Total distance to date / 今日までの積算距離: 844.97km (plus 8400km)
Ascent / 上り: +415m
Descent / 下り: -360m

Another day, another country.

The side wind was fierce this morning. I battled it while trying not to be pushed into traffic. The non-existent paved shoulder didn’t help. The surroundings were open and bare, the road straighter than I have seen for a long time.

Straight roads near Shkoder, Albania)

Albanian drivers seem to be a fairly nervous lot. They will give cyclists and motorcycles a toot before overtaking. Perhaps bad driving is expected, therefore they want to make sure the bad driver cyclist knows that they are coming.

I arrived in Shkoder, a dirty, dusty city near the border of Montenegro at noon. The roads in Shkoder are something out of a serious third world city. Litter lines the streets, buildings are in disarray. I sought asylum from the madness in Hotel American, a small Bar/Restaurant/Hotel. Inside the restaurant were two customers who spoke good English. One had lived in the US for 10 years before being kicked out after 9/11, and the other has been living in England for 10 years.

They helped me order some food. Rice, yoghurt, and a beef soup goop that was like a runny version of the filling of a good Jimmy’s Pie. The hotel owner then insisted that I take a shower at the hotel and have a rest for a few hours, at no cost to me! A big thank you to the owners of the American Hotel in Shkoder.

Hotel owner let me have a shower and a 2 hour nap in Shkoder, Albania

After a solid nap in a comfy hotel bed, I was on the road again to Montenegro. The border crossing was straight forward. The first thing I noticed once in Montenegro was the amount of trees everywhere. It was a quiet rural area, with folks just going about their business at their own pace. This was in start contrast to Albania where everything is hustle bustle. Everyone wanting to get in on the development. Montenegro takes a step back, and people seem to be content with their lot.

Quiet farming roads near Vladimir, Montenegro

I do see fewer smiles here however. There seems to be a tough skin on people’s faces, and a suspicion of strangers. People will stare at me and my bike (as always), but when I wave in reply to their stares, often I will get a look of surprise, or no reaction at all.

Fishing in Ulcinj, Montenegro

Ulcinj is a coastal town, so I headed for the beach for a spot to sleep for the night. I found a spot in front of a beachside summer cafe, and slept soundly until 12:30am, when a security guard doing the rounds woke me up and told me to get on my way.

“No sleeping here.” he said.

Nice enough guy, and he led me to another, more dilapidated cafe, a few hundred metres away. I slept OK, apart from the sound of some form of rodent scratching at something wooden not far away…

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