Monday, 2013/09/09

We are leaving today with Kosovo as our destination. First, we are looking for a breakfast. We are still too early (before 8 o'clock) and therefore we still have to stroll along the quay.

We get a modest breakfast. The cappuccino is not comparable to an Italian one. And for the sweet pastries I only try them once. The waiters in touristic places usually are very bad, and Ohrid is such a touristic place, without question!

First we ride along the lake and then decide on a minor road to the Mavrovo-Nationalpark. Once again we have a great route with many curves and a lot of riding pleasure. We ride along some huge reservoirs, which ensure the power supply of Macedonia and because of their importance you're not allowed to take pictures in some places (bridges or dams). We stop at a dam and are immediately waved off by a guard.

In the middle of the national park we take lunch at Mavrovo Lake. We have pita, a puff pastry casserole with cheese or spinach filling. We also eat a baklava for dessert and drink a very yummy yogurt.

Soon after the Mavrovo National Park we take the highway for the rest of the route past Tetovo towards Skopje. We take the detour via Skopje, because we do not know if the very small border crossing at Jazhince is open. That would probably be the nicer route, but would also mean considerably more time. We have to pay some toll on the freeway but we are making much faster progress this way.

Northwest of Skopje, which we bypass on the highway, we turn off on the road to the border between Macedonia and Kosovo. For Kosovo our two green insurance cards do not apply, so that we are sent back from the border control to an insurance agency in front of it, where we each buy a 15-day insurance for 15 euros. Unfortunately, we can only pay with Euro and so we get not rid off our Macedonian denarius (about 30 euros), which we have not used up despite a refueling stop in front of the border and the lunch. That's why we head to the first store after the border and I ask (in English) if I can get the denarius changed. No problem. I even get a very acceptable course and to our surprise I get Euros. The Euro is also the official currency here, same as in Montenegro, although both countries are not members of the European Monetary Union.

Basically, in most cases you can pay with Euro. However, we have always preferred to have a supply of the national currency. But if you go for it, you will also come along with euro and a debit card through the countries visited, only perhaps affected by some unfavorable exchange rates.

The shop operator probably heard my fellow rider talking to someone in front of the door in Italian or saw the license plate of his motorcycle, in any case, he asks me if we come from Italy. I call my fellow rider in. It's his turn again to have an Italian conversation. He learns a lot about the frustrating conditions in Kosovo. The change of political systems seems always go in hand with corruption and mafia structures. Already at the border station we saw a sign with a phone number to report corruption.

The journey through Kosovo is rather depressing except for the stage through the Šar Planina National Park towards Prizren. The dirt everywhere, the poverty and the chaos on the streets here seem even more obvious than in other countries on our journey. In addition, something is being torched everywhere in the fields.

Perhaps it is also because we have the first day with clouds and now and then a few raindrops.

But first we come through the Šar_Planina National Park and once again we have beautiful views of mountain landscapes. At one point we make a brief orientation and I take a picture of a cow approaching my fellow rider's motorbike. When I also want to take a picture back from the landscape, I get out of balance ... well, if almost 300 kilograms start to tip over there is only one thing to do: take feet and legs out of the way. Getting up the bike is quite easy thanks to the help of my fellow rider. Alone it would have been harder. Apart from slight scratches on the cylinder cover, nothing seems to have happened on the bike.

The cowherd who guards the half-dozen cows running around, approaches curiously to us and then asks "Deutsch?", which means German. I approve and ask him if he speaks German. But he denies it and turns away again. You can see he's living in poverty. Unfortunately, we do not get into conversation with these people. It would be interesting.

Nearby Prizren we pass through a quite impressive valley with some short tunnels cut into the rocks.

A highlight in Kosovo is Prizren, which we only pass through. The streets are lined with trees and you can observe a very lively bustle of mostly quite young people. But it's to early in the day to stop here.

So we continue our ride with a view of the mountain ranges in the northwest, which form the border to Albania and Montenegro. It's a boring and rather ugly route to the north.

The pass just before the border to Montenegro is the highlight of the day. The route is great, but unfortunately we can't find accomodation for the night here. So we have no choice but to ride over the border to the first larger town Rozaje, in which there are hotels, so the information we get from the border officials. The pass down to Rozaje we already ride at dusk and on arrival of the town sign it is already dark. First, we are looking for a signposted "Hotel Ambassador", the name does not sound bad. The signage leads us however into a kind of industrial area. We ask people there and they confirm that this is the hotel, but we quickly decide that we will not stay here. On my navigation system I can also see that we are not really in Rozaje yet. We ask again at a shop, where we are meant to go a little further. So we arrive in the center and ask again for a hotel. A helpful, a bit German-speaking local points to a building and accompanies me into the hotel lobby. The hotel lobby is really furnished as such and has a proper reception. With 60 Euros for the room per night, this is our most expensive night, but it is already late and we do not want to continue searching. We can park in the parking lot of the hotel. The receptionist shows us the room and asks if we still want showers. We affirm. He says that it takes some time for hot water. Apparently, first the hot water supply has to be started, which unfortunately takes a long time, so I have to ask again, because after the promised 10 minutes, no hot water from the line.

Meanwhile, my fellow riders notes that the TV doesn't work either, but the receptionist can not explain why. Well, but they are trying.

After the evening showers, we agree that we definitely do not have dinner in this ghost hotel, but look for a restaurant in town. Unfortunately it started to rain and we have to use my fellow rider's umbrella. So we go across the square to a bar, where some people still sitting outside. We ask a man about restaurants. But he does not speak Italian, English or German. Ok, we do not try his Chinese. But suddently he has an idea and goes into the pub. I follow him. He speaks to a young man in the restaurant who tells me in English that it's best to go outside because it's too loud for a chat here. It quickly turns out that he also speaks fluent German. He lived in Braunlage in the Harz for 12 years and even can hear from my German pronunciation that I'm not born in Hamburg.

He recommend a restaurant to us, the restaurant "Gold", and asks us to come back to the bar at any time, if we had any problems, he unfortunately has to continue working here.

The service in the restaurant "Gold" is again extremely friendly, but unfortunately none of the languages we know are spoken, although the waiter nods after my question "German?". Fortunately, there is also a young English-speaking guest in the restaurant who helps us to get the dinner ordered and he even helps me to access the WIFI so I can communicate with Brigitte during dinner. Very nice!

Satisfied and tired, we then bend over the map to decide about the route for the next day.