Albania

A little country in Eastern Europe. Not a member of the EU, our passports get quickly stamped, we are welcomed and we pedal our first kilometers on Albanian ground. The mountain scenery which we were used to from northern Greece continues while we roll down a valley where the villages are located on the hills to the left on it. Concrete domes with rectangular slits in long lines pop up on the fields next to us, bunkers. Right, not long ago the enemy was close by.

Gjirokaster, listed as a Unesco World Heritage site, is one of these villages on the hills. The castle overlooks the village as well as the whole region, to its feet the old village itself, a nice place for a quiet day in a historical surrounding.  We explore the museum inside the castle, enjoy the views and are guided through one part of the museum by a historian. Due to her age, she grew up and studied when the times had been different in Albania. Her English which she said she had learned from the tourists is very good.

A bit more informed about Albanian history we continue our route northwards and meet friendly people who are always interested in a talk with the tourists. The EU sponsored roads are only partly finished on our way towards the coast. Back in European climate, the rain pours down from the sky and makes us stop in little bars where we can witness that the Italians have at least  left their Espresso culture. Not only the caffeinated hot drink is served frequently, the other favorite is a half full water glass with quite a shot of Raki. 

Along the coast the holiday areas become visible which seem to have been here for quite some time. The roads are newly paved and the area gets ready for the tourist season which might start in a couple of weeks. Mostly Serbian, Macedonians and Italian will come here, tells us a local.

And again we hop on the night ferry which will bring us this time to Bari in  neighbouring Italy.