to Prizren, Kosovo (via Albania)
A common nighttime theme on this trip seems to be the very load frog mating calls; I can roll over onto my deaf side, though PP is ever increasingly an advocate of the famous French cuisine!
After a good night’s sleep I woke around 04h00 local time; I’d realised that we had switched zones at the border and was contemplating a doze for another hour, when the bass boom of techno music started!...a party boat on the lake was moored around 600 meters from the coast and was now waking up the entire camp.
Powerless to do anything and now wide awake, we leisurely struck camp and we’re ready to hit the road by 06h00. Then came the fun of recovering our passports from reception...
...the night watchmen didn’t speak English and expected us to pay...which we had already done the evening before. I got a little ‘shirty’ and he called up a nice local English speaking guy, who managed to resolve the issue. He himself was waiting for an ambulance as his buddy had broken his leg in a drunken exploit on a moped. The ambulance arrived and passports returned, we headed out.
All this before before 06h15; we rode to Ohrid and pulled over for fuel and a well needed coffee!!
A short ride around the north of the lake and we head into an amazing gorge, that beyond a dam, turns into a canyon - temperatures dropping from over twenty to thirteen degrees in the shade. Not sure why I had imagined that the river ran south into lake Ohrid, though to the contrary? The river narrows here and starts to expand as we head north.
Passing through a small village I am dive bombed by a parental stalk from atop his telegraph pole perch. Continuing on we see our first prominent mosque, the local children waive as we ride by, up to the border with Albania. We’re through before 09h00.
We stop to get insurance on the Albanian side and a pleasant old man comes over and says hello...I think he’s impressed by our bikes. A money seller tries to sell us some local currency though I explain that we’re only in country for a few hours.
In terms of road surfaces, riding the few miles into Peshkopi is like the worst of Romanian roads...pot holes, bumpy and uneven. Lots of slow vehicles make the going tougher in the climbing heat. Peshkopi itself reminds me of some Moroccan towns; no rules regarding driving, dusty, bustling, awful roads, mangy dogs, obviously poor inhabitants (Sat Nav took us on a detour).
Pushing in however, the roads even out, except for the odd patch where the tarmac simply doesn’t exist. The countryside opened up and the mountains delivered twist after twist after twist...perhaps the most arduous so far.
We pass lots of horses and donkeys at the roadside; on one bend, PP Newley collides with a very large hay bail making its way up the mountain, with a donkey’s head protruding!
Very few inhabitants, the villages that do exist are small, generally made up of farmsteads. Work in the fields seems to often be by hand, cutting the hay with scythes. Very pretty nonetheless, with drystone walls and little farm outbuildings.
We pass another tortoise, this time stopping for a photo, before continuing on into the mountainous landscape.
Eventually dropping down to the valley floor, the heat kicks in once again; jointing. A major road to the border with Kosovo. No Albanian exit check, just the Kosovo passport control and the well organised Insurance desk.
Only fifteen minutes from the border, we are soon in Prizren and after doing three circuits of the side streets, find the Hotel Centrum and underground car park. Very welcoming, we’re shown to our rooms and take a couple of hours to shower and chill before heading out.
Prizren is really sweet - cobbled streets with a river running through the centre, beneath an old fortress.
We grab a salad and coke around 15h30 and jump on a tourist train that meanders the streets and sights for a little over an hour. It’s a friendly town, that feels safe and relaxed.
Taking cover from the heat, we head back to the hotel, for a little bike TLC, before heading out for a nice evening drink and meal around 18h30