Monday 2016/05/09

From Shkodra to Plav in Montenegro


After breakfast we pack and are already expected by our old host. He wants to say goodbye to us personally. For the farewell we get each a rose, which we stick to the handlebars. For this day I have the rose scent in my nose. The rose will accompany me back to Hamburg.

This farewell is also the first farewell to Albania. Today we want to leave Albania via Vermosh into the direction of Montenegro.

We or better our navsys selects the route via Zagorë, which sends us to Goraj already on some kilometers off-road. After arriving at the SH20, we have a well-paved road to Tamarë, thanks to the commitment of the KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau), which also supports the further expansion project up to the Montenegrin border. From Tamarë to Lepushë, however, the road is still a partially quite wide dirt road, which is occasionally interrupted by construction sites. How fast these construction sites proceed, who knows? The construction site seems to have been quite similar in 2015.

Because of the dust, today we are riding with some distance to each other. At the construction sites, where the road is temporarily closed, we meet again. On one construction site a drainage pipe is laid across the road and we have to wait about half an hour together with the oncoming traffic.

In Lepushë there are two small restaurants and we decide to take a rest there. We still own enough Lek we want to get rid of. The communication with the innkeeper is not easy as he barely speaks English, just a little bit of Italian, but he gives us a look at the sausage in the freezer and we agree with him that he should just make us something of everything. A few minutes later, we already get a great meal that lacks nothing. Simply great. The innkeeper sits down to our table. There's nothing to do for him now and we try to communicate with him. At some point a 15-year-old boy comes along, who wants us to take him to the next village. He can speak a bit English, which obviously displeases our innkeeper, since he is now out of focus. We decide not to take the boy with us. You never know here how the streets will turn out and in the worst case, if you drop down the bike with a young person without protective clothing as pillion, you will be in a real mess. Fortunately, he is not too upset about our denial.

From Lepushë to the road from the Montenegrin border in the Vermosh valley, the road is still in very poor condition. Good decision that we did not take the boy with us. Close to the border, the number of typical one-man mushroom-type bunkers in Albania is increasing again.

We'll make a detour to the Vermosh Valley, but we return soon after the first part off-road, as we do not think it's worth the effort to ride much further.

From a farmer in the Vermosh Valley, I buy a bottle of home-made raki with our remaining money, which turns out to be pretty hefty stuff at home.

We get a bit sad at the border. The people of Albania were so friendly to us that it's hard to leave Albania now.

The border crossing here is really tiny and contemplative. With a barrier that is opened by hand. Very nice. Same at the Montegrinian side.

We talk to the Montenegrin border official and let him recommend a hotel that we have already heard from other travelers. It is beautifully located at Plavsko jezero, the Plav lake, the hotel Kula Damjanova, where we check in. This is where the Paragliders and other cool sports people meet. The national team of paragliders from the Czech Republic stops here, on their way to Vlorë in Albania, where a championship is to be held.

They recommend a route up the mountain where one has a nice view down to the lake. Since it is still early, we set off to try that track. At the beginning it's easy, but then it gets muddy and slippery. Even with Markus bike it's no fun, so I give up on a slope, where Markus already had to struggle hard, and signalize him that we might better turn around. Here the studded tires do not help anymore, because they clog up quickly and you don't have any grip at all.

Our motorcycles have become very dirty from this excursion. Well, we like that.

At dinner we decide that ride through the nature reserve Durmitor the next day to Sarajevo, which Markus does not know yet. I have no problem to visit it a second time after 2013. I liked it there.