June 28, 2013
Distance: 27.6 miles Climbing: 1292.7 feet
The morning brought the reality that we had to leave Albania, no matter how much we liked it there. We had 10 miles before the city of Shkoder, where we planned on spending the last of our Albanian currency before heading to Montenegro. We ended up having a lot more money than we wanted to spend in one day, so Chandler went into a bank to exchange some of it. As I waited outside with the bike, a man approached and asked our trip. I noticed his appearance we very similar to my own, sweaty looking, super tan and clearly a foreigner, another biker!
He was travelling in a group of three, all cycling from France to Istanbul. With almost the same route in reverse, we had a lot to talk about. One thing led to another and we found ourselves at a café enjoying coffee and figuring out where to get pizza. We have meet quite a few other cyclists on the road and don’t always end up connecting with others, but that was not the case with this group. We had to keep making progress but considered taking another rest day just to be able to hang out more.
After several hours, it was getting on to 330pm, we forced ourselves to say goodbye and get back on the bikes. We had a few miles to travel before reaching the border. The views were beautiful, but we didn’t take time to stop besides to snap a few photos.
We experienced another quick and uneventful border crossing. The Albania guard looked at our passport, handed it off to the Montenegrin guard, who stamped it and handed it back. The was a long line of cars waiting, so two bikers didn’t attract much attention.
We pedaled to the nearest gas station to purchase drinks and refill our tires with air. We discovered that we had reached a country which uses the Euro, meaning things would be expensive.
When Chandler finished filling his tires, we headed into the hills. We had been told that the route through the mountains was beautiful and not to be missed. We made it about a miles up the first hill before Chan noticed a camping spot in a pasture hidden by trees.
We made the usual dinner of pasta before setting up the tent and inflating the sleeping mats. As soon as it got too dark to read, I was ready to fall asleep. Chandler was reading with his headlight next to me when I heard a sound. I asked Chan if he was making the noise, when the heard it again, footsteps really close to the tent. Expecting someone coming to tell us to move on, Chan opened the tent. Outside in the grass, only a foot away, was a small and cute little hedgehog staring up at us. We scrambled to get the camera, but were too slow before the hedgehog turned around and walked back into the brush.
We heard a few more of the little guys, but were no longer concerned and I could sleep soundly.
so how many country stamps are in your passports by now?
Quick survey says 35 right now from 16 countries. There is no border control within the EU so we haven’t been stamped since Slovenia, bummer.