Friday 2016/04/29

Von Krujë nach Elbasan


Today's route takes us some part on the opposite direction of yesterday's route. First we have to pass Tirana again. To Tirana we choose the street of furniture shops again.

Tirana is quite a mess. Sure, it's an interesting city, but we want to ride off-road and not do sightseeing, even though riding through Tirana is a bit off-road. Our navsats want to bypass Tirana what we don't want to do and in the middle of the city the satnavs are going crazy again. So we passing areas of Tirana, where it actually becomes necessary to have some off-road experience. Some flooded roads, power cables with bare wires hanging down to the road, the usual potholes and of course a pretty chaotic traffic. It's a nice experience, but not what we're looking for today.

Tirana: Better to duck under the bare wires that hang over the road.

Soon we come out of Tirana and decide to take a slightly different route as yesterday. It's great to be able to change plans so spontaneously.

At the beginning the road still is asphalted. A river crossing is partially washed away. After a while in a pretty beautiful valley we are going back to off-road. This road is quite steep and with a few tight bends on quite bumpy rocky underground. I'm sweating. The adrenaline and the physical exertion makes we sweat fast. Markus remains quite unimpressed.

On a small plateau, we take a short rest before we ride on again.

On the next section we pass through a forest and there are still many puddles on the trails. Again and again I have to fold down my visor. Trying to avoid the puddles you're getting branches of the trees into the face, if you don't duck behind your front cover in time. It's damn lonely here. We don't see any settlement and are very happy when we meet a 4WD vehicle (where do they actually head to?) and are passing a sheep meadow with a hut and a vehicle parked nearby.

If the Albanians come here with their cars, we should probably find a way too.

Fortunately, the trails are not too greasy despite the wetness and therefore riding is reasonably well except for a few places. Once I plop with my GS into a fairly deep puddle and just can keep me on the bike and luckily maneuver it out of the water hole.

The track on this day makes a lot of fun. But we are glad that after about 55 kilometers we are back to a paved road. It is not far to Elbasan, where we want to stay this night.

Elbasan is a nice place with a city wall around the old city center. At one corner there is tower containing a café next to the Hotel Guri. With the friendly receptionist I can talk in English and after looking into the beautiful room, I decide to stay there for the night immediately.

Offroad stays off-road and city should stay city too, please!

The only question left is where we should park our motorcycles. The boss of the hotel explains me that somehow you can ride around the tower into the yard of the hotel. The entrance I came in leads 6 stone stairs down. But when we want to move our bikes to the supposed other entrance, the boss waves us to the stairs. We should get down there. Nope, not with me! Down maybe, but how can I get my GS up there again? Offroad stays off-road and a city should please stay city too! The problem is solved quickly. The boss of the hotel asks the boss of another café besides the hotel and we are allowed to park the motorcycles in its inner courtyard. Things are easily solved in Albania!

The hotel is a very good choice. After the usual and always necessary shower we go first to the tower next door, where, however, not much is going on and unfortunately the coffee is out. One of the few times that we are disappointed with the service in Albania.

Gender segregation at the cafes?

In the evening, the main street and the sidewalk cafes are getting busier. A part of the main road is even temporarily blocked. We walk around a bit in search of a restaurant. Despite some restaurants listed in my guidebook we don't find most of them. In some of the listed restaurants there's no guest inside and it does not look like there's any food at all. So we go down the main street again, but apart from the crowded cafes there is no restaurant. Markus notices that in one café only women and in the other only men are sitting. We develop the theory that those cafés with green synthetic grass carpets outside are reserved for women. The theory is already refuted a few cafes further on.

Shortly before starving, we give it up to search for a restaurant search from the guidebook. I asj a young couple on the street. They can not really speak English, but they see a friend nearby who can and to whom they immediately explain the situation. Of course, he knows what to do, because a friend of his is working in a restaurant nearby. He immediately calls him, if a table is free and leads us there. This is how it works in Albania and we are fascinated by this helpfulness.

Now finally we are in a restaurant, which also is listed in my travel guidebook, but which we wanted to avoid, as it seemd not very authentic Albanian to us. Well, authenticy or not, we are hungry and Robert, the waiter, which was called on phone before, receives us very emphatically.

We actually order way too much, but then we eat quite a lot of the delicious food. Then we have a café and a raki at a bar on the main street. A habit that we have been practicing since the first evening in Shkodra.