By crossing the border from Greece to Albania, we entered a new world. Both the mosques and the countless small, well-kept farmlands changed the landscape. On the roads we saw horse-drawn carts, the family cow and countless Mercedes cars of all ages and conditions. By the way: Officially Albania is the country with the highest Mercedes density! Our non-representative traffic count one morning indicated that about 2/3 of all cars are Mercedes.

Aktiviere Karte Deaktiviere Karte

Our first side trip to Albania took us to the lively town of Korçë. Through the beautiful Prespa National Park we reached North Macedonia, where we wrote the last post at Lake Ohrid. Because we like the inland and the mountains better than the coast and the sea, we wanted to cross the green border to Kosovo via Mavrovo National Park. According to our internet research, the border crossing was possible over a gravel road and would be open seasonally (whatever that means). The road leads over a 1900m high double pass, with the border on the ascent at about 1400m.
When we passed the last police post in North Macedonia at 7:00 in the morning, the policeman didn’t even want to see our passports. We should continue, “no problem!”. Probably we disturbed him during breakfast and his coffee got cold 🙂

So we dragged our heavy bikes up the dirt road to the border. We found the Kosovar border post to be a run-down sheep shed and only a new Kosovo flag marked the national border. Without any concern we continued towards the pass. Almost at the top, we were met by a Land Rover with four Kosovar policemen. They wanted to know what we were doing here and where we were coming from?! The border was only open in July and August. We would have to return!

Our expression showed that we were not very enthusiastic about a return on a 20 km gravel road followed by a 2-day detour… Yes, that was a problem, “I have to talk to my commander”. Because they had no cell reception here, they would have to go back to the other side of the pass. But we were allowed to pedal on. When a wonderful asphalt road awaited us on the pass, we didn’t even want to think about returning. We were already on the descent and hoped that the policemen had forgotten us when they showed up with the boss’s nicer SUV. A policeman announced with a big smile: “You are lucky today!”. We were allowed to pass and should not mention that we had come from North Macedonia when crossing the border into Albania. Happy and relieved, we enjoyed the descent to the only village we passed through in Kosovo at all. There we ordered two cafés each (One café = 0.5€) and went shopping in the Migros :-).

EA few kilometers later we were already back in Albania. Via Kukës we rode to Fierzë, to take the ferry across the Koman lake. Some years ago, this connection was an insider tip, in the meantime the “commuter boat” (old boat with welded SETRA coach on top) at 6:00 o’clock in the morning is probably the only possibility to enjoy the boat trip in peace.

From the humid heat in the region of Shkodër (28° at 7:00) we fled back to the mountains of Montenegro. The very beautiful Durmitor National Park was to be the westernmost point of our trip for some time. David found a beautiful shortcut thanks to, which leads on about 40km gravel road through the “Montenegrin Tibet” to Žabljak. Indeed, the route was beautiful, but took us especially to the mental and physical limits of well-being. All the material was also severely stressed by the intense shaking. On the stony road, we often had to push our bikes and progressed on average with barely 7 km/h. Although we had food with us for two days, we wanted to leave the lonely karst landscape as quickly as possible due to the thunderstorm clouds in the back of our necks. As soon as we reached the asphalt road, we turned our attention to our crumbled Güetzi, crackers, apples, Haribos, etc. with great relief.

The next day we treated ourselves to a bike ride without luggage on Panoramic Road #2 through Durmitor National Park.

On the way to Serbia we visited another national park, Biogradska Gora “primeval forest”. Thanks to incense and bug spray from Dutch campers, we were able to enjoy our stay here despite millions of mosquitoes.

Yesterday, after a heavy thunderstorm in Rožaje, we rode through many Montenegrin tunnels (they are known to be completely dark…) to Novi Pazar in Serbia. Here we stay in a private accommodation, let the rain pass by and pay some attention to our bikes and the blog.


Cultural Diversity in Southeastern Europe

On our journey through Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia we passed through places with people of different ethnicities, religions and nationalities. The following non-exhaustive list should give an impression:

  • Albanians (Muslims and Catholics) live in Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia, among other countries
  • Gorans (Muslim minority in Albania)
  • Greeks (Orthodox minority in Albania and North Macedonia)
  • Macedonians from North Macedonia
  • Montenegrins from Montenegro
  • Serbs live among others in Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia
  • Roma and Sinti

This cultural diversity is fascinating and interesting, but also difficult for us to understand. While researching, we came across the following informative lecture notes (in German) from the University of Graz (Center for Southeast European Studies).