Day 230 – MACEDONIA and ALBANIA: From Bitola to near Qukes-Skenderbej

What’s going on here? Another 100km plus day ends in Albania, pushed on by the wonderful gusty tailwind. I can’t comment much on Macedonia. I was only there for a day, and didn’t bother changing any money, since I had all the food I needed.

Bike seat (near Ohrid, Macedonia)

This was one of the few photos I took in the country.

The border into Albania is at altitude 1,000m. It was a stiff climb up to the border, but getting through was not an issue. As per the information I had gathered, a 10 Euro entrance tax is required, and a receipt is issued.

The descent down into Albania is impressive. Remains from conflict all too evident.

Welcome to Albania (close to Albanian border, Albania)

These little shelters were all over the border area, and can be seen throughout most of the country along the road.

Descent down to Librazhd, Albania)

The road descends steeply through a deep valley, flanked by massive mountains. It reminded me of Tajikistan, on a smaller scale.

I stopped in a small town near the border and had my first Albanian food. A warm fresh pastry with an onion filling. Cheap and nasty, but good enough. The locals in the cafe were a hospitable enough lot however. It was tough not to know the language, and conversation was limited.

Afterwards, I continued on down the road looking out for a spot to sleep. The pickings were thin, until I spied some scrap metal near the railway tracks, up from the road. I pushed the bike up the slope to the tracks and set up. A perfect place to spend the night, out of the still very strong wind.

Sleep spot near railway, near Librazhd, Albania

Sleep spot near railway, near Librazhd, Albania

I was too tired to play with the Coffee Can Stove Mark 2, so I cooked up some food with Malcolm’s MSR stove, and went to sleep, the wind lapping at the steel walls of my shelter.

Day 229 – GREECE and MACEDONIA: From Edessa to just out of Bitola

The strong tailwinds and flat(ish) roads continued today, with over 120kms logged. So much for the continental winds blowing from west to east.

Apparently Greece has not caught up on the latest developments in country names and borders. Yugoslavia does not exist any more. It is now three different countries. Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro.

What the...I thought I was going to Macedonia (near Macedonian border, Greece)

I spent a good part of the day pondering over how I could improve my Coffee Can Stove. A discarded piece of bumper grill on the side of the road gave me a brain wave. The stove now has a grill, raising the embers off the base of the stove, improving air flow.

Grill for Coffee Can stove Mk2 (found on road near Florina, Greece)

The grill is expanded aluminium. I figured that the heat of the stove might melt the aluminium, so I picked up a convenient piece of steel mesh further along the road to put on top of the grill to provide some protection from the heat, making it a two layered grill.

Grill cut out for Coffee Can Stove Mk2 (near Bitola, Macedonia)   Grill cut out for Coffee Can Stove Mk2 (near Bitola, Macedonia)

Grill installed in Coffee Can Stove Mk2 (near Bitola, Macedonia)

The idea was that the steel mesh on its own would not be strong enough to support the wood. The expanded aluminuim would provide some support.

The grill is supported by tabs cut in near the base of the can.

Coffee Can Stove Mk2 grill support tab (near Bitola, Macedonia)

The main base air intake has been made larger also, as has the exhaust hole at the top of the can.

Coffee Can Stove Mk2 air intake (near Bitola, Macedonia)

The end result was that it burned better than the Mark 1 stove, but the steel mesh over the aluminium grill clogged up with ash too easily, choking the stove. I still managed to make pasta and a tomato sauce on it in about 1 hour, but I think that the aluminium grill on its own will work better, and may even hold up to the heat without melting.

My pot by the way is now very black. Apparently if you put detergent on the outside of the pot before you use it, the tar and soot cleans off easier.

I was sleeping in a small pine forest, so there was plenty of small dry pine cones for fuel.