Day 17 – Shkoder to Bar

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Awake at 6:30. The breakfast was a continental style one, already in the bar fridge (the hotel’s restaurant doesn’t open until the end of May, when “The Season” commences) Good pickings though – 350 ml of milk, ditto OJ, 4 yogurts, two doughnut thingies, full of sugar, with a jelly/jam type of filling which tasted vaguely of fruit, and made me hyper for the first couple of hours –  I’ll give it a 4.

Showered, dressed up – showers forecast all day, so wet weather gear handy, then off, back towards Tirana for 3 km, then a right over the bridge across the river BunaBuna, and a sharp left following SH41, also known as the E851.

Sign

Nice sign.

It’s Saturday. so not much commercial traffic – just as well, as the road to Monte Negro is a narrow, twisty goat track, that threads it way though tiny villages in the North East of Albania. Again – no traffic stress; they just wait till it’s safe to get by.

At about 15km I caught up with a row of cars – at first I assumed there’d been a crash, but I overtook them, and after a km or so found the border post. I must have passed 3-4 hundred vehicles 🙂 As a cyclist, I went straight to the front of the queue – gave my passport to an Albanian official, who scanned it, then passed it through a hole in the wall in front of him – I moved forward a metre, saw the Monte Negran official scan it, and pass it back  to me. Don’t laugh at the idiotic rigmarole, Alan; it keeps a few of them off the streets. And off; past the hundreds queuing. Can’t be many words with 4 vowels in a row, I thought to myself…..

Not often you enter a country named after a Canberra landmark – but they had the wrong flag..

Flags

Dunno the third one down.

OK – so I’m in Monte Negro – Albania was just Greece with contemporary ruins, but Monte Negro seemed determined to show a prettier face to the world; the road was new, curbed, and smooth, and litter free. For the first ten km anyway, then it gave up pretending. Still litter free, but at a roundabout in the middle of nowhere ( a cafe and a bakery – no named village) The road North, direct to Bar, was a goat track, and the road West, towards the Aegean, ditto. I had a coffee, and decided it was time to see the ocean; so left, towards Ulqin.

A good choice.  A road that followed cracks in the hills

Road

down towards the coast. I found my first tunnel –

Tunnel

this one not so scary as it was only a 100 metres or so; some later in the day were up to 300 metres; loud, slightly narrower than the road elsewhere, dark, and very, very noisy. On those, I pushed my bike in the dark, hugging the right hand walls. Lucky I had a backlight on the bike – but hey – maybe I’m just overly nervous….

Some ups, but mostly downs. Ulqin was a disappointment; the showers that had threatened were turning into reality, but I’d only travelled 40 km, and it’s not a picturesque sort of place; I took the climb out Northwards, slow and steady, up the coast.

Green

Other than tunnels, they do great bridge. Hard to photograph, but some were over 300 metres long, ensuring a relatively level ride for cars – not so level for bikes; some hard going up steepish pitches here and there.

I stopped at another cafe for coffee, and asked a youngish lass who had walked out of the attached shop, how far away Bar was. She said less  than 10 km. I complemented her on her English, and she said it was her native tongue – she and her mom and dad where visiting relatives…….. she was from Wisconsin.

Into Bar. The old town is up the hill, away from the coast for some reason. Big ferries at the dockside, but no room in the only visible hotel – 10 storeys high, but full of bus tours and others waiting for the morning ferry. I wandered a bit, and stumbled on the Hotel Pharos. 30 Euro, and I have an en suite, cable TV ( in several languages I don’t understand) and internet. Breakfast included. As I booked in, the intermittent showers turned into heavy rain. Good timing.

The rain stopped a while back, so I cycled back to town and found a market (they’ve shortened the word supermarket, but maybe not – there’s not much super about them} I  bought a couple of cheese and cucumber rolls, an apple, and a 500ml bottle of local red.

With hotel, coffees, and now dinner, I’ve spent less than 40 Euro today. Cheap travel.

My bodies holding up well – now I’m leaving the nightshades alone, the aches and pains have gone; legs are full of riding, and I’m settling into the groove. Up the coast tomorrow towards Dubrovnic – I don’t expect to get that far, as the road looks like my Gran’s varicose veins – but that’s the general direction.

See you down the road.

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