Monthly Archives: October 2013

VLORA TO SARANDA PART III (the final chapter)

I didn´t want to leave Dhermi, after a big climb up to the “highway” (minus the cars). The scenery turns spectacular again.

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I´VE TAKEN MORE PHOTOS HERE THAN ANYWHERE ELSE.

20131030-124021.jpgALL THE VILLAGES I PASS THROUGH ARE AMAZING, THEY ARE JUST CLINGING FROM THE MANY HILLSIDES.

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20131030-124304.jpgALBANIA HAS SOME OF THE MOST DRAMATIC AND SAFEST BIKING I´VE EXPERIENCED ON THIS WHOLE TRIP.

20131030-124527.jpgALBANIA HAD SO MANY ISOLATED BEACH RESORTS.
It´s getting late and I need to find accommodation.

20131030-125113.jpgI PHOTOGRAPHED THIS FROM THE NEW BRIDGE.

20131030-125228.jpgTHIS LOOKS LIKE MY NEW TOWN
I check a local hotel (free wifi on the sign), they want $40. No. I ride to the beach and there´s some grass shacks on the beach and a olive orchard. I pick the olive orchard. I started to set uo camp and I heard this snorting sound, I look over and see 3 pigs running by. I´m thinking their wild boars (they attack).

20131030-125631.jpgSO I SET 2 PILES OF ROCKS NEXT TO WHERE I SLEEP, JUST IN CASE!

20131030-130011.jpgSO THEY NEXT MORNING I´M VISITED BY MOMMA PIG, 300LBS, 150KG HUGE!
As I lay there, a local farmer is herding his 20 sheep by me. Then the cows are eating there way by me too. I was visited by pigs, sheep and cows, I´m feel like I´m doing a home farm stay.

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BIG MOUNTAINS AND SANDY BEACHES (doesn´t get any better)
The google map shows that if I follow the beach road there´s a road up to the highway at the end. I find a cafe and plug in my phone, just as the power goes out. It goes out everyday, nobody knows when it will come back on. I got a coffee just in time. I find out the road doesn´t go through.

20131030-131517.jpgWHILE ENJOYING MY SEASIDE COFFEE, IN ALBANIA, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.
I grab my phone and head back to get up on the highway.

20131030-131902.jpgIT TOOK ALMOST 2 HOURS TO GET BACK TO MY “SHORT CUT” SPOT ON THE HIGHWAY.

20131030-132051.jpgNICE POWER POLE

20131030-132146.jpgTHOSE DARK DISKS ON THE TABLE ARE FIGS, I BOUGHT MY SECOND ONE HERE. THE AMERICAN FLAG IS EVERYWHERE IN ALBANIA.

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I stop for lunch, since there´s virtually no cars eating on the road is a good option for simplicity.

20131030-133159.jpgIN ALBANIA, ANYONE OR ANYTHING CAN WALK BY,
They are so causal about using the “carfree” highway.

20131030-133424.jpgYOU CAN SEE THEY TAKE THE WHOLE ROAD ON A CURVE, NO PROBLEM!
The biking on this route has been great, but Saranda is getting closer and I´m glad. That road from Vlora to Saranda was tough.
The last 10km was pretty flat.

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Traveling in the off season has so many advantages, the weather, no crowds, and

20131030-140059.jpgI GOT THE HOTEL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PHOTO FOR $20.
Food is so inexpensive here, I´ve been carry food for a month, it was cheaper to eat out than cook.
ALL THE ALBANIAN  PHOTOS CAN BE SEEN HERE
THANKS FOR READING, AND GO RIDE YOUR BIKE BECAUSE IT´S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
JEFF
NEXT: KASMIL AND FINAL THOUGHTS ON ALBANIA

VLORA TO SARANDA (Part II)

I didn´t wanr to leave my little cabin on the mountain, but I must keep moving

20131027-131211.jpgI HAD TO TAKE THIS FAREWELL PHOTO
I´m at the top and it´s all down hill (walking). I wonder if disk brakes would work in these hills?

20131027-131943.jpgSTONE RESTAURANT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE OVER LOOKING THE OCEAN.

20131027-132150.jpgSOME OF THE BEST VIEWS ARE OCCUPIED WITH THESE MEMORIALS

20131027-132806.jpgI TOOK LOTS OF PHOTOS ALONG HERE, IT WAS STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL.

20131027-134212.jpgTHE VIEWS ARE AMAZING
The traffic has dropped to nothing, sometimes it´s twenty minutes between cars and the road is in nearly perfect condition. The temperature is 75f, 25c, perfect biking weather.

20131027-135240.jpgI LAND AT DHERMI BEACH
There is suppose to be the ECO-HOSTEL here? I can’t find it. So I ask someone and she shows me a beachside cottage for $15 a night.
.

20131027-140523.jpgI STAY THREE DAYS AND GO SWIMMING EVERYDAY, I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE
I could only find WIFI at the HOTEL SPLENDOR I sat there for 6 hours working on a blogpost.

20131027-191734.jpgSO I ORDERED THIS SALAD WITH GRILLED CALAMARI TO HELP RELIEVE MY GUILT FOR SITTING THERE ALL DAY.

20131027-192507.jpgTHE HOTEL SPLENDOR WAS PRETTY AMAZING: POOL, HOT TUB, SAUNA, WORKOUT ROOMS, AND MASSAGES AVAILABLE.
Traveling in the off season is not only super cheap but,

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YOU GET A NICE PRIVATE BEACH RIGHT OUT YOUR DOOR

20131027-193750.jpgTHIS IS THE BEACH DOWNTOWN DHERMI TAKEN FROM A LOCAL RESTAURANT.

20131027-194022.jpgYES,THIS IS MY MAN CAVE!

20131027-194121.jpgYEP, ANOTHER AWESOME SUNSET
I shopped at the “local” store. I think I was their best customer? Yogurt only comes plain, the white feta cheese and sausage were cut what you need, olives were bulk, only apples, potatoes and onions for produce. In America there are too many choices, I actually enjoyed the simplicity of not so many choices. I liked not having to make a choice, this is it, “take it or starve”

20131027-195422.jpgTHIS IS A PICTURE FROM THE HELP YOURSELF COOLER. (that’s the cheese bin on the right)
It was super steep riding down from the main road to the beach. I knew the walk up wpuld be hell. I asked a couple people for a ride up in their truck, but no one was going all the way up, I walked (good boy)
I´m going to make a part III, there´s too much for one blogpost.
REMEMBER T WERE NOT GETTING ANY YOUNGER GO SEE THE WORLD SO YOU CAN SHARE IT WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD!
THERE ARE MORE SPECTACULAR PHOTOS OF THE ALBANIAN COAST HERE
THANKS FOR READING AND COMMENTING?
JEFF
NEXT? VLORA TO SARANDA PART III (visited by every farm animal)

VLORA TO SARANDA: MOST CHALLENGING AND SPECTACULAR RIDE (PART I)

I´m sitting here in SARANDA, Albania thinking about what I just rode. The Tirane Hostel warned me that it turned mountainous after Vlora. I´m thinking how bad can it be?

20131025-072803.jpgTHE ROUTE CLIMBED 3000m (10,000ft) I WALKED MY BIKE ON EVERY UPHILL.

20131025-073207.jpgTHE ROAD STARTED OUT HUGGING THE COAST.
I´ve got a10 day weather forecast of 25c (75f) and no rain. As I pedal out further from town, the traffic drops off dramatically. A couple, from Turkey, I met at the Mosque yesterday, drove by and offered me a ride. The weather and road conditions are too great, I decline their offer.

20131025-073850.jpgTHAT´S WHERE I´M HEADED, UP AND INTO THE MOUNTAINS.

20131025-074054.jpgSTILL WORKS!
The few cars that passed me, in both directions, were constantly honking, waving and giving me a thumbs up. I´ve never felt so welcome in a country.

20131025-074722.jpgTHIS IS THE BEGINNING OF THE MOUNTAINS.
There were fruit stands selling just honey and some dried herbs. Were in the middle of nowhere and there´s no traffic, I have no idea who they´re selling to?

20131025-075515.jpgI FOUND THE SOURCE OF THE HONEY, THESE BRIGHTLY PAINTED BEE BOXES.

20131025-075831.jpgI PASSED VERY FEW VILLAGES, THIS HILLSIDE VILLAGE WAS BEAUTIFUL.
The road for the most part was in very good condition.

20131025-083046.jpgSOME SECTIONS OFTHE ROAD WERE MISSING, BUT THE VIEWS WERE STILL AMAZING
I never saw anyone working on the roads. As I rounded the bend I saw a sign that indicated “road work ahead”, I got a little excited!

20131025-083652.jpgTHE ROAD CREW WAS SLEEPING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY. ONE GUY IS LAYING ON THE GROUND (behind the van) AND THE OTHER WAS SLUMPED OVER IN THE DRIVERS SEAT OF THE VAN.

20131025-101844.jpgI FINALLY MAKE IT TO LLOGARAJA PASS NATIONAL PARK.
These next photos are of the bay looking back to where I came from, as I climb (walk) the mountain.

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I get to what I think is the top and have 2 coffees. The owner brings me some clear “fire” water. I took a sip for him, but I´m a non-drinker, it was super strong. I felt bad but I left it on the table, I couldn´t choke it down, not even for him. I thought I was done climbing, no.

20131025-151605.jpg ANOTHER 45 MINUTES AND I´M AT THE TOP! (FINALLY)
I need to find some accommodation, camping or hotel, whatever, the sun is going down fast. I have been eyeing all these half built hotels and apartments. thinking they would make for some interesting stealth camping. Just down from the pass is

20131025-153250.jpgTHIS UNFINISHED HOTEL WITH CABINS, THAT HAVE MY NAME ON THEM
I clean-up one of the cabins and make a nice sleeping area. I can´t believe where I´m staying

20131025-153632.jpgTHE VIEWS ARE FANTASTIC FROM THE UNFINISHED RESTAURANT.

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20131025-154008.jpgTHIS WAS MY CABIN.

20131025-154346.jpgTHIS IS THE SUNRISE FROM THE RESTAURANT.

20131025-154539.jpgVIEW OUT OF THE CABIN.

20131025-154648.jpgI´M THE BLUE DOT.

20131025-154956.jpgINTERESTING MORNING IMAGES
I consider for a moment staying another night, but water is a problem. I can carry enough water for 1 day of meals including coffee.
I need to break this blog segment into several parts, there´s too many photos and stories for one post.
SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE
AGAIN THANKS FOR READING AND REMEMBER TO RIDE YOUR BIKE, WHILE YOU STILL CAN!
RIDE ON,
JEFF
NEXT? VLORA TO SARANDA: MOST CHALLENGING AND SPECTACULAR RIDE (PART II)

VLORA: MUSEUM CAPITAL OF ALBANIA? (maybe)

I arrived and searched for a hotel. It´s the low season and hotels are cheap, most campgrounds are closed. The weather is perfect for biking, 75F or 25C. I´m waiting out a rain storm in town, perfect for musueming. The Lonely Planet Guide book really talks up the museums here.
VLORA is a coastal town. Packed with people in the summer and vacant now.

20131024-101657.jpgIT´S JUST AS NICE WITH OR WITHOUT TOURIST.
I rode to both ends of town, my bike was dirty. Albania has more car washes than cars! Not Really, but let me just say, I´m biking in the middle of nowhere and there,s a car wash not one but several. Are Albanians obsessed with a clean car or what? Yes and the roads are rough and dirty so to speak. Anyway my bike needs a cleaning, I toothbrush the chain with detergent. They then spray my bike with soap then power wash it.

20131024-102252.jpgNICE AND CLEAN AND READY FOR SOME CHAIN LUBE (red).
I head for the Ethnographic Museum first.
The Ethnographic museum is built in a traditional Vlora house, the construction of which dates back to the middle of 19th century. The collection of this museum consists of about 300 objects of authentic values like clothes, wood-works, metalwork, carpets and ceramics. In the great number and variety of objects we may mention: the shirt and waistcoat of Kanina, 150 years old, women clothes, more than one century old, rugs, carpets worked out 80-90 years ago, filigree works, utility wooden objects worked by handicraft masters of Vlorë region.

20131024-102637.jpgTHE CARPETS WERE BETTER THAN ANYTHING I SAW IN MOROCCO.
They had a small pile of them, I tried to buy one, NO. It must be a lost art, I tried to find a shop selling them but no again.

20131024-103000.jpgTHESE SHOES WERE MADE FROM A CAR TIRE.

20131024-103124.jpgTHIS COW HORN WAS CARVED INTO A SHARK, PRETTY AWESOME
Next I head to the HISTORIC MUSEUM
The Historic MuseumIt was founded in 1962 and is located in the city center. There are historical and archaeological items of the entire district of Vlora. They date back beginning from the Bronze Age to documents of recent years, and include objects and relics from the medieval, renaissance and modern times. They had a mix of everything, Roman Columns and machine guns. It was being remodeled but I was able to take a quick walk through.

20131024-103709.jpgALBANIA GOT IT´S INDEPENDANCE IN 1912 AND THIS IS THE STATUE TO SYMBOLIZE THAT EVENT.
I´m off to the Independence Museum
Independence Museum is placed in the building where the first Albanian Government worked in 1913. It is a urban two-stores Vlora building and it was declared a cultural monument. This museum consists of eight rooms equipped with original 19th century furniture. Many authentic objects and relics, documents, editions, works of art, etc. are exhibited in this museum. The most important parts of this museum are the office of the first Albanian Prime Minister, Ismail Qemali and the Provisional Government Conference Room. Should be mentioned that the government of the first Albanian state worked for six months in the Independence Museum building.
Many original documents and items of the time like flags, correspondence of the period prior to the proclamation of independence and other objects of cultural and historic value are displayed in this museum.
The U.S.A. sent a peice of art to help them celebrate their state hood.

20131024-104131.jpgIT´S A CARVED SHELL FROM THE USA, REMEMBER IT´S 1912!
The art was great to

20131024-105338.jpgI REALLY LOVE ALBANIAN ART

20131024-105609.jpgCHECK OUT THE ALBANIAN FLAG CARVED INTO CHAIR.
The museum employees invited me for coffee after the tour.

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Exploring a city by bike is the best. I capture more images than I ever would walking. Like these 2 women weeding the plaza with shovels.

20131024-110552.jpgIT´S AMAZING, YOU CAN ACTUALLY GET RID OF WEEDS WITHOUT USING ROUND-UP.

20131024-110730.jpgA PICTURE OF VLORA TAKEN FROM SOUTH OF TOWN.

20131024-110905.jpgTHIS GUY WAS SELLING SOME KIND OF EEL? BY BIKE!

20131024-111015.jpgTHIS IS THE EXPRESSION AFTER THE PERSON YOU ASK TO TAKE A PHOTO DROPS THE I-PHONE ON THE SIDEWALK.
VLORA was a great place to wait out the storms, the museums were high quality (not quantity). Being the birthplace of Albanians Independence, made it an important place in Albanian history.
It´s time to go, I´ve got a 10 day forecast of 75f or 25c and no rain!
PHOTOS CAN BE SEEN HERE
Thanks for reading and remember to ride your bike!
Jeff
NEXT? VLORA TO SARANDA THE MOST CHALLENING AND SPECTACULAR RIDING OF THE WHOLE TRIP

TIRANA: WHAT HAPPENED TO STALIN AND LENIN?

I take the bus from Shkoder to Tirana, usually the road between to major destinations is busy, this one is no different. Good decision, the road is narrow, fast and crowded. I board the bus and grab a seat, then i inspect my seat choice.

20131017-182953.jpgTHE BUS WINDOW IS FILLED WITH WATER.
I can´t see out the window, as the bus empties I move to a view seat. I spot a couple cycle touring, doesn´t look too fun. The bus drops me off, I don´t see one cyclist on my pedal to the Hostel. I left Shkoder too soon, TIRANA is the capital and very busy.
I chose the TIRANA BACKPACKERS HOSTEL because of their bike knowledge. So I got my directions for the museums, farmers market, gypsy camp, and an awesome restaurant. I go to the Art Museum first.

20131017-203807.jpgALBANIA TRADITIONAL DRESS, ALL THE “LOCAL” ART WAS OUTSTANDING (check Albanian photos for more art paintings)
But this next photo is a part of recent history. In December 1990 the last Stalin statue in Europe was pulled down.

20131017-205549.jpgTHIS IS WHERE LENIN AND STALIN SIT NOW, BEHIND THE ART MUSEUM, COVERED!
Walking the street offers opportunities that biking doesn´t like the

20131017-205758.jpgAPPLE BICYCLE CART, PRETTY COOL
I go to the HISTORY MUSEUM rumor says it´s not great, but actually i saw a couple interesting things. The huge stamp collection focused on historical periods in history, there was a large bicycle series.
I head the the open market, It´s actually pretty interesting

20131017-213519.jpgHUNDREDS OF UN-PAIRED SHOES, EVERYWHERE.

then I saw this fun bike shirt

20131017-213818.jpg“CAKEWALK YOURSELF” (they only had it in a small)
I bought everything I needed to make a dinner, prawns, tomato, broccoli, onion. Every time I buy something, they always give me something extra. I bought a melon and later he waved me over and gave me a cucumber. When I bought a shirt, she gave me a key chain. I was given post cards. This is from a country that pays their teachers $300 a month.
The last time I got fresh ground coffee was Barcelona (Starbucks), I was giving up. The poorest country I visit has fresh ground roasted coffee.

20131020-104709.jpgAMERICAN DUCK TAPE GETTING THE JOB DONE AT THE HOSTEL
The cyclist I saw from the bus show up at the hostel.

20131020-104929.jpgTHE FUN PART OF CYCLING, FIXING A FLAT AND GETTING GREASY!
I sometimes read about the Roma/Gypsy being moved, well this is where they end up

20131020-105252.jpg THERE ARE MORE PHOTOS OF THE ENCAMPMENT IN PHOTO GALLERY

20131020-110138.jpgHOW ABOUT A LITTLE BBQ GOAT/SHEEP? HEAD FOR LUNCH?

20131020-110319.jpgTRYING TO RIDE OUT OF TOWN, THE BIKE LANES ARE USED AS PARKING, EVERYWHERE
I´m riding to Duress on the coast, an easy 40km. The road is so beat up, I´ve been mountain biking on trails that are smoother than the roads here.

20131020-110739.jpgONCE YOU GET 5-10 KM FROM TOWN THE TRAFFIC DROPS OFF.

20131020-111032.jpgI CAN´T FIND THE CARD, BUT THE HOTELS ARE $15-$20 A NIGHT ON THE BEACH. Off season has it´s advantages
.

20131020-111651.jpgTHE BACKROADS OF ALBANIA CAN BE CHALLENGING

20131020-111806.jpg THIS GUY WAS AWESOME, CUSTOM MADE WOOD FIRED PIZZA ($3) I had one both nights in FIER, Albania.

20131020-112245.jpgI MUST HAVE SEEN 10 DIFFERENT PEOPLE HERDING THEIR TURKEY´S. Turkey is my favorite meat, I´m looking to order it, but can´t find it yet?
I kept seeing these stuffed animals hanging from houses under construction.

20131020-113449.jpgTHE STUFFED ANIMALS ARE USED TO WARD OFF EVIL SPIRITS.
I decide to take the scenic route along a lagoon and avoid the traffic.

20131020-114243.jpgTHERE WERE THESE AWESOME CEMENT WITH STONE INLAY TABLES AND CHAIRS. Some one should import these?
The “highway” fruit stands were awesome.

20131020-114656.jpgTHEY WERE SELLING POTATOES FOR 16 CENTS A POUND.
I took the taxi out to visit APOLLONIA.

20131020-115243.jpgIT´S SAID THAT JULIAS CEASAR HUNG OUT HERE IN THE DAY
More interesting than that was Albania’s leader ENVER HOXHA built 700,000 bunkers.

20131020-120105.jpgTHIS IS AN EXAMPLE OF MILITARY WASTE, THEY COULD HAVE USED ALL THOSE RESOURCES FOR HOUSING OR ROADS (which they need)

20131020-120343.jpgTHE STONE MOSAICS WERE AMAZING

20131020-120527.jpgTHE DIFFERENT COLORS ARE SORTED COLORED STONES

.

20131020-143346.jpg RIDING INTO VLORE, ALBANIA.
There is so much to write about, but I´m going to end it here for now
TO VIEW THE ALBANIA PHOTOS CLICK HERE
THANKS FOR READING
RIDE ON
JEFF
NEXT? VLORE, MUSEUM CITY OF ALBANIA?

20131020-144459.jpgCOFFEE SHOP PHOTO (didn’t load the first time?)

FINALLY “THE ALBANIAN STORY” (I´m dying to tell it)

20131012-200929.jpgI HAD NO IDEA HOW WELCOMING IT WAS GOING TO BE.
I rode from Ulcij, Montenegro to SHKODRA ALBANIA. It was a beautiful day. I´ve said before, you cross the border , you enter another world (country). Albania was more different than anything I´ve seen on this trip. While riding the the road kids would cross the street to “high five” me.
The photo images were many:

20131014-102215.jpg LISTENING TO AMERICA COMPLAIN ABOUT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION? TRY RIDING THIS TO WORK.
ALBANIA is a country in transition. This photo really helps show that.

20131014-102639.jpgTALKING AND DRIVING? IS THIS SAFE?
Recycling seemed non existent here. Then I pass a father/son recycling team. They were picking up plastic along the road.

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I PAID THEM A LITTLE MONEY FOR THIS PHOTO.
I meet the Spanish cyclists, again, at the bridge to Shkoder. We agree to find a hostel room to share. We bike into town and a French couple joins us looking for a room too. Now I´m “leading” in the search. A car pulls over and offers us a room. Thank you for saving me. We follow him through town, but I make a wrong turn and it takes half an hour to regroup. The Hostel is awesome, a brand new place called the UNIT HOSTEL. I take a walk downtown and take this special photo.

20131014-105923.jpgI GOT THIS PHOTO ON MY FIRST NIGHT OUT.
The Italian Hostel guest wanted to cook dinner for everyone, we let him!

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NO ENGLISH BUT A LOT OF LAUGHING, WITH A LITTLE SPANISH THROWN IN.
The other cyclist all left in the morning. Not me, this is a great place, I start noticing all the cyclist riding around town.

20131014-110830.jpgTHEY ALL BIKED TO THE HOSTEL, NEVER LEFT, RODE OUT IN THE MORNING.
I´m so done with constantly moving, Shkoder is a town worth visiting for awhile. The large amount of Cyclist has caught my attention. I learn that Shkoder is the BICYCLE CITY of Albania. The first bicycle in Shkoder was brought by a Swedish diplomat, first called the “devil´s cart”, then widley accepted. (read the link).

20131014-120444.jpgI READ THEY HAVE A 25-29% BIKE USAGE AND WITHOUT ANY BIKE INFRASTRUCTURE TO SPEAK OF.
The first order of the day is to get a SIM card for my phone.

20131014-120843.jpgMISSION ACCOMPLISHED AND WITH STYLE!
There are basically two must see attractions here the MES BRIDGE and the ROZAFA CASTLE. I choose to ride to the bridge first, since it´s suppose to rain tomorrow.

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THIS IS PART OF THE ROAD TO THE MES BRIDGE, I RODE THE SIDEWALK, (watch out!).

20131014-121938.jpgTHE BRIDGE WAS BUILT IN 1780.
I decide to keep riding further from town and find this restaurant, in the middle of nowhere, over looking the river.

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THEY HAD WIFI AND I CALLED A FEW PEOPLE, HEY LOOK!
I got numerous photos so I had to pick?

20131014-122635.jpgWOULD YOU PARK YOUR CAR HERE? (me? NO!)
There are many “unfinished” houses, the owners are sometimes overseas working and return with more money to finish.

20131014-123430.jpgTHIS IS JUST ONE OF THE HUNDREDS I´VE SEEN.
I ride back to town and visit the old bridge and fishing spot. They were pulling up BIG Carp.

20131014-123859.jpgTHE GYPSIES/ROMA live “on the other side of the river from town” at the end of the bridge.
I like taking sign photos and bicycle images:

20131014-124347.jpgTEA IS THE COMPANY NAME AND SHITE MEANS “SALE”, “sale & buy Insurance” but TEA SHIT works.

20131014-124618.jpgRIDING IN THE RAIN

20131014-124710.jpgI´M HAVING THIS PHOTO PAINTED BY A LOCAL ARTIST.

20131014-124938.jpgI LOVE THIS IMAGE.

20131014-125132.jpgTHIS IS THE ALLEY I WALK TO MY HOSTEL, WELL LITE!
Attention Portland beer consumers, this is an interesting way to have “cold” beer at your table.

20131014-125700.jpgTHERE IS AN ICE FILLED TUBE THAT RUNS DOWN THE MIDDLE TO KEEP THE BEER COLD. 100 LEKE = $1.
I buy a chicken for dinner, when I get home, the Italians are cooking again! I de-bone the chicken and put it on the cutting board and pasta with cheese!

20131014-130126.jpgI´M HAVING SO MUCH FUN HERE, I DON´T WANT TO LEAVE! (I did all the dishes, they liked that)

20131014-130552.jpgTHIS BIKE ART SCULPTURE WAS ON A MAJOR ROUND-ABOUT IN TOWN
I love the bicycle vibe here in Skhoder.

20131014-130842.jpgI DIDN´T HAVE THE COURAGE TO ASK FOR A FRONT SHOT.
They LOVE America here, when I tell them I´m from the USA, they always say “America #1”. W. Bush visited here in 2007, they named a street after him and had a STATUE made too. I heard there was a museum where they had stuff like the chair he sat in. OK? They love America here as you can see.

20131014-133007.jpgNOTICE THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE COLOR SCHEME “ALL AMERICAN”
The Unit Hostel is a huge project, there was always something going on. I spent my last night working on the Blog. The lights were flickering on and off, so we chased down some candles.

20131014-134249.jpgNENSI AND LLVA CAME BY SEVERAL TIMES TO APPLY MULTIPLE COATS OF PAINT ON THE RECEPTION DESK.
I´ve done most of what this town has to offer, ordered a painting, it´s time to get down the road. I don´t want to leave it feels like home and Shkoder is a charming place.

20131014-141121.jpgTHE GIRLS STOP BY TO CHECK THEIR DRY PAINTING PROJECT AND TAKE THIS GOOD-BYE PHOTO.
I pack my bags, load the bike and ride to catch the bus to Tirana. The “bus stop” is a spot along the street, no official bus station.

20131014-200950.jpgI LOVE THE MANY BICYCLE IMAGES IN SHKODER, I´LL MISS THIS PLACE.
TO THE PEOPLE WHO WRITE EMAILS TO ME “THANK YOU.” I am so busy traveling and writing this blog I rarely have time to respond, I hope you understand and aren´t discouraged from writing me again. I spent 9 hours writing this blog post.
They ride their bike here without any bike infrastructure, so can you (get a mirror).
So Ride Your Bike
Jeff
ALBANIAN PHOTOS CAN BE SEEN HERE
NEXT? TIRANA: WHAT HAPPENED TO STALIN AND LENIN?

24 HOURS IN MONTENEGRO (not enough)

I´m feeling the pressure to get south, the year long trip is in fact only a year,. not forever. I rode the bus out of Dubrovnik because of the narrow roads and the bus/truck traffic. I took the bus to Budva, I wondered around the bus station trying to figure out what to do. The weather was excellent. I still have a case of the travelers blues, I ask “when is the next bus to Albania?” “10 minutes” I´m in. I load the bike on and off we go.

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PHOTO TAKEN WHILE LEAVING THE COUNTRY.!

20131012-065810.jpgTHIS PHOTO IS TAKEN WHERE THE ROAD WRAPS AROUND THE BAY.
So everyone is off the bus except me, we have maybe 15 miles to go. I decide to sit behind the bus driver for a great picture window view. There is the ticket collector and the driver, who is talking on the cellphone. INo one speaks english, but I make it known that driving and talking is no good. 30 seconds later BAM!

20131012-070454.jpg< A CARPULLS OUT OF NOWHERE AND THE BUS RAMS IT AND SENDS IT FLYNG ACROSS THE ROAD.
It is totally the car drivers fault

20131012-070731.jpgNOTHING REALLY HAPPENED TO THE BUS, THAT IS THE CAR DRIVER THAT CAUSED THE ACCIDENT.
So the police are called to file a report

20131012-070917.jpgYEP, GOT MY MONTENEGRO POLICEMAN PHOTOSi
I flag the traffic around the accident while they try to sort everthing out. After an hour they direct me to remove my stuff. Another bus should be along, soon. 10 minutes later the bus pulls up, the door opens, I point to my bike and gear. He shakes his head no, closes the door and drives off. OK, so I put the bike together and ride off. There´s virtually no traffic, it´s sunny, life is good. But it´s late so I stick out my thumb, score, I get a ride to town. I talk with a travel agent, I tell her my crash story, I tell her I should get a refund (yea right). So I go ask at the bus station. I´m told I would have to go back to where I got the bus and ask, that´s not going to happen. I just wanted to see what they would do? nothing.
The travel agent said there was camping just out of town. I ride out, the season is over, it´s a ghost town.

20131012-074632.jpg I FIND THIS NICE CAMPING SITE, IT´S GETTING DARK (AND COLD) BY 6:30, AND I´M IN MY SLEEPING BAG

20131012-075032.jpg
NEED TO HIRE A LANDSCAPER FOR A DAY?

20131012-075148.jpgI TOOK THIS PHOTO, THEN THE FARMER WENT IN AND GOT ME AN APPLE, PEAR AND GRAPES FOR THE ROAD.

20131012-075353.jpgTHE FRUIT STAND LADY SAID LOTS OF CYCLIST PASSED BY HER, EVERYDAY! AWESOME

20131012-075541.jpgNEARLY CAR FREE ROADS.
Nearly every car that passes me, in both directions waves and honks, with a thumbs up! I´ve never been anywhere where people are so friendly. It was absolutely amazing and heart warming. I´m regretting my decision to bus through the country.

20131012-080008.jpgHERE´S A CARPORT WITH THE BIGGEST KIWI FRUIT I´VE EVER SEEN.

20131012-081512.jpgOF COURSE I BOUGHT SOME KIWI FOR THE ROAD

20131012-081648.jpgSPAINSH CYCLING TOURIST I MET WHILE HAVING COFFEE (TRYING TO USE THE FREE WIFI THAT DIDN´T WORK)
Montenegro is on my short list of countries I want to visit in the near future.

20131012-082027.jpg
THANKS FOR READING
NEXT? SHKODRA, ALBANIA THE BICYCLE CITY OF ALBANIA (I can´t wait to write this piece)
RIDE YOUR BIKE!
JEFF

20131012-083043.jpgTHERE WERE POLMAGRANITE TREES/FRUIT ALL ALONG THE ROAD WAYS

FINAL THOUGHTS ON CROATIA

Croatia was one of my top destinations that I was really looking forward to visiting. Croatia lived up to my expectations, perfect weather, miles (kilometers) of beaches, affordable accommodation and yes, very appreciative and welcoming hosts. English was spoken, nearly everywhere, I was never frustrated trying to get my needs met. I rode with TWO WHEEL TRAVEL Carolyn and Tyler, again. It’s great to travel with experienced touring cyclist, that being said, I still prefer to travel “alone”. The freedoms traveling alone like choosing your accommodation, food, riding distance, basically everything is in your control (as best it can be).
I crossed into Croatia late in the day and stayed in a casino hotel, as their only guest.

20131008-123546.jpgLAUGHING WITH EVONNE IS SOMETHING I’LL NEVER FORGET,
It’s amazing that such a simple thing as crossing a border can change so much: the people, landscape, food, customs. Croatia was definitely it’s own country. I camped at one of the many “NATURE CAMPS”, (nudist camping). It was the closest camp to town, so twist my arm? If you want to see old men who’s balls hang lower than their penis (I looked), then this type of camping is for you.

20131008-125413.jpgTHIS CAMPER HAD ONE HUGE BALL, LOOKED LIKE IT HURT!
My laid back attitude towards biking long and hard has caused some discomfort. Like the day it turned dark in Rovijn and I had to sleep along the road with a street light in my eyes all night. But it also encourages you to get up early and have breakfast on the pier. I thought Rovijn was one of the nicest cities I visited in Croatia, wish I had stayed longer there.

20131008-130326.jpgTHIS PICTURE FROM ROVIJN IS MY FAVORITE OF THE WHOLE TRIP, SO FAR (that doesn’t have people in it).
The traditional stone huts of this region of Croatia were awe inspiring.

20131008-130721.jpgI SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN “STONED” INSIDE (next time).
The roadside fruit stands were super and when I say that, it was the people who operated them, always super friendly.

20131008-131105.jpgWHEN I LOOK AT THIS PICTURE IT PUTS A SMILE ON MY FACE 🙂
In America there’s a long running joke that Duct Tape is going to save America from falling apart

20131008-131428.jpgAPPARENTLY AMERICA IS GOING TO HELP SAVE THE WORLD FROM FALLING APART TOO!
All types of tourist make Croatia their destination, I couldn’t resist taking this photo of this guy from England.

20131008-131810.jpg I THINK HE’LL GET NOTICED NOW!
After camping with 6 other touring cyclist in Trogir, I headed to Hvar Island. I stayed at DINKS PLACE

20131008-133715.jpgDINK TAUGHT ME A NEW HAND SIGNAL
I rode to Stari Grad, which I learned is a UNESCO designated town as being one of the oldest cities in Europe.

20131008-145745.jpgTHERE WERE SO MANY SPECTACULAR IMAGES IS THIS TOWN, I HAD TO PICK ONE (this one).
The ferry system needs to re-engineer itself and be made more bike friendly.

20131008-150144.jpgTHEY CAN BRING BOATS ON A BOAT WHY ARE BICYCLES SO DIFFICULT?
It was a long ride from Karcula to Dubrovnik, after many failed hitchhiking attempts it finally pays off. It only took 6 months to get my first ride. I had heard so many good things about Dubrovnik I could hardly wait to get there. But then the travel burn-out factor hit me hard. I felt like Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, I didn’t want to get out of bed.

20131008-151525.jpgCARRYING ALL MY GEAR UP THESE STAIRS WAS THE LAST BIT OF ENERGY I HAD (it’s twice as far as you can see)
I spent 4 nights in Dubrovnik, walked the city walls, bought my Pirate shirt and ate some great food. The chilly mornings are a reminder that I need to go SOUTH! Biking on the islands or country roads is fine, but big city traffic and a non-existent shoulder requires I take the bus out of town. For geography challenged Americans (including me) Montenegro is the next country.

I recommend visiting Croatia if you get the opportunity to. Especially if you like wine and olives, their everywhere. The history, people, climate and geography (biking, swimming, boating) offer something for everyone. I don´t recommend the causal cyclist attempt biking here unless their experienced.
ALL THE CROATIAN PHOTOS ARE HERE
Sorry if you feel rushed through the next couple blog post I really want to write about where I am now, ALBANIA
RIDE YOUR BIKE, CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL, ALL CURRENT AND FUTURE GENERATIONS WILL BE EFFECTED. LET´S LEAVE A SUSTAINABLE PLANET THAT ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD CAN LIVE ON.
NEXT? 24 HOURS IN MONTENEGRO (not enough)
THANK YOU FOR READING
JEFF

DUBROVNIK A CHARMING LITTLE CITY

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I was waiting out a rain storm on Karcula Island. One thing about old towns is the old sewer system. Sewer gas smells frequently permeate the air. My room had that, but with all the amenities that helped me ignore the occasional odor. I offered the landlady a little more than 1/2 what I was paying, she refused, the weather cleared so I caught the ferry to the mainland.

20131005-125150.jpg BRINGING A BIKE COST THE SAME AS A PASSENGER TICKET.

20131005-125339.jpgBOAT RIDES ARE ALWAYS FUN, BUT THIS ONE WAS ONLY 15 MINUTES.
I’m feeling the pressure (and colder weather) to get this show down the road. It’s about 100 km to Dubrovnik, maybe a full hard day of riding, it’s 2pm. The bus was the next morning. So I ride out of town and try hitchhiking, nope. So I ride (walk) several mountain passes.

20131007-140332.jpgBIKING ALWAYS PAYS OFF WITH FANTASTIC VIEWS

20131007-140430.jpgTHERE WERE VERY FEW CARS, YOU COULD TELL WHEN THE FERRY HAD ARRIVED, GROUPS OF CARS WOULD PASS ME.

20131007-140621.jpgTHERE WAS A TOWN I PASSED THROUGH THAT HAD MORE THAN 10 DIFFERENT WINERIES (grape sampling)

20131007-140923.jpg IT’S LOOKING LIKE RAIN
I stick my thumb out again, an empty 12 passenger van pulls over. He speaks no English, but we both agree Dubrovnik is both our destinations. Bike is loaded in the van and I’m just smiling as it’s pouring down rain. We drive by this walled city called STON CITY
THE STON WALLS are known as the Great Wall of Croatia, they are about 7km (4.3miles) long.

I’ve got my computer out, map out a Hostel and he drops me 2 blocks from the Hostel. I’ve been told if your staying in DUBROVNIK, you must stay in the OLD TOWN. So I move to a hostel that is in the old town. When I first arrived it was an easy walk on shiny marble, using the wheel chair friendly walkways. Then this happened:

20131007-143418.jpgIT TOOK ME 45 MINUTES TO SEPARATELY CARRY MY BIKE AND GEAR UP THE MANY STAIRS TO THE NEW HOSTEL.
It was worth all the work to move

20131007-143714.jpgHOSTELS CAN ALWAYS BE INTERESTING TOO.

20131007-143834.jpg THERE ARE MANY BOAT TRIPS TO THE LOCAL CAR-FREE ISLANDS.
Dubrovnik is a great city but I’m burned out. I just want to sit in my room, no castles, no museums, no boat trips. I’ts been 6 months and I have no energy. My brother asked me “do you ever take a break?” NOW.
I decided that I could muster up the strength to take a walk

20131007-144521.jpgTHIS IS A PIECE OF ART CALLED “SUMMER TIME” (yep, has bikes)
The old city has a walkable wall, the advice is to wait until the cruise ship people go back to their boat. The cruise ships can carry thousands of people and there are many cruise ships in port.

20131007-151528.jpgTHE WALL IS A NICE EVENING WALK.
I meet an American women, Leslie from Florida, while walking the wall. I pretended to take her picture while actually shooting this Japanese tourist.

20131007-151818.jpgHER OUTFIT WAS SO INTERESTINGLY HOT?

20131007-151954.jpgTHISIS A PHOTO OF A BOMBED HOUSE BY THE SERBIAN AND MONTENEGRO ARMY IN THE EARLY 90’S.
THERE’S A VIDEO HERE OF THE ATTACK.

20131007-161313.jpg
KAYAKERS SHOT AT SUNSET FROM THE CITY WALL.
Leslie invites me to join her for dinner. One thing about traveling “alone” is eating dinner out by yourself, I HATE IT. So she’s vegetarian and that works just fine for me. It’s a Bosnian restaurant, I’m OK with that (I hadn’t seen the video of the war yet!)
There’s a performance of traditional Croatian Singing called KLAPA. Klapa singing is perhaps the most widely known type of traditional music from Croatia. Originating in Dalmatia and performed on the Adriatic coast and the islands, klapa songs celebrate subjects such as the sea, fish, wine, homeland, and loving Dalmatian mothers.

20131007-163623.jpgTRADITIONALLY NO MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS ARE USED ONLY SINGING. USUALLY MEN ONLY BUT THERE WERE QUITE A FEW WOMEN SINGING TOO (SEPARATELY!)
It’s time to leave Dubrovnik and get this show down the road. You can see the highway from the road, big buses and trucks and the usual no shoulder. Two Wheel Travel left a few days earlier by bus, I opt for that too.

20131007-164509.jpgI FIGURE LIVE TO RIDE ANOTHER DAY.

THANKS FOR READING THE BLOG, A LITTLE NICER THAN THE LAST POST? FOR THOSE WHO THINK I’M ON SOME EXTENDED HOLIDAY, THINK AGAIN, THAT’S SOME OF THE STUFF THAT HAPPENS TOO. I’VE BEEN NEARLY KILLED AND RUN OFF THE ROAD 4 TIMES. SO IF YOU THINK I’M LAYING BY THE BEACH WITH AN UMBRELLA DRINK, I’M NOT.
ALL THE CROATIAN PHOTOS ARE HERE
NEXT? FINAL THOUGHTS ON CROATIA
JEFF

TRYING TO GET A LITTLE HELP FROM AMERICA

I have season tickets to our basketball team back in Portland. I asked my next door neighbors son if he could take an hour or so and post my tickets for sale. After several failed attempts I tried one last appeal

Steven:
Your in a tough spot? So am I
You sent me an email and mentioned how much your Mom likes the post cards. You also mentioned how you enjoy My Travel Blog. Both of those things take immense time too. I’ve worked hard to do BOTH of those things. What I’m asking you for is a small piece of your time. I believe I’ve earned it.
I’m going to try and explain this one more time. I need you to list my tickets at a fixed price on the Blazer Site. You know the match-ups better than me. I don’t need you to check the website to lower the price. It might take an hour to do this, maybe miss one shoot-around at your Moms?

I hope this email hopes you see the light and you take that hour to list my tickets.
sincerely
Jeff.

THIS WAS HIS RESPONSE:
Fuck you, you fucking dick. I politely and honestly said I couldn’t be the main guy on this, and explained why I couldn’t, and then I offered you my help in some lesser capacity. It was an honest and sincere response. And you respond with that piece of shit response to me? You’re a fucked up loser.

How the hell do you think you’ve “earned” (your words) the right to have me work 41 days a year on your behalf? Your e-mail implies it’s your sending post cards to my mom and writing a blog that I’ve occasionally browsed. Please stop sending postcards to my mom and writing your blog if you think I’m benefiting too much from that. I don’t know how I’ll survive, but I’ll try. I’m so sorry to hear how HARD you’re working on “both these things” (the post cards to my mom and the blog). Wow, that’s a lot of hard work writing post cards while visiting Europe. While I’m slaving away at my work, I’ll remember that things could be much worse for me. I’ll remember that I could be Jeff busting his ass in the hell-hole known as Europe with the excruciatingly difficult job of writing about the cool things he sees every day and writing post cards.

You know very well in the past I’ve always helped you at a moments notice no strings attached with stuff at your house, your computer, giving you a ride to Blazer games, etc. Whatever, whenever. And even in this case, I offered to help in some capacity, but just couldn’t be the main guy on it. And yet you challange me on it?

Let me explain it to you one more time. I know for a fact that being the main ticket manager will mean trying to find takers for your tickets 2-4 days a week, week after week, each time they don’t sell……and they often won’t sell. I would have to do this management during my work day (not after work at 6:00PM when it’s an hour before the game when I’m driving around, but instead at 1:00PM, 2:00 PM, 3:00PM). That’s tough for me because I don’t dick around mowing one lawn a week and jerk off with pet projects each day trying feel relevant like you. Oh man I wish I had your free time. To be able to sleep in, paint window sill, play with big pieces of rusted metal, find another thing in life to bitch to the Oregonian about, go on bike rides, pick some weeds in my garden, and take off for a year to travel around Europe. Instead, every work day, 52 weeks a year, I leave for work at 7:30AM and get home at 6:00PM or later. I eat dinner and then I do more work at my house, and stuff for my kids and my wife, etc. I get fucking fed up with losers who have never had a full time job, don’t have kids, and who are not married and think that everyone has the same free time that that have. Yes, occasionally I shoot baskets at my mom’s. Thanks for reminding me. Do you see when that happens? It happens on the weekends and occasionally after work. Not during the middle of the fucking day while I’m work or during “school nights” when I’m tutoring my two kids 3 hours a night on school topics. The basketball is my solace. How can shooting less baskets on a Saturday afternoon help me generate the time manage your tickets Thursday afternoon while I’m at work?

Hang in there with your tough life man! I’m worried about you so on those extra stressful months of visiting castles, meeting cool people, eating delicious foods, and exploring some of the most beautiful places on Earth, keep an eye on that dreaded postcard load. I wouldn’t want you to get a hand cramp.

To quote your e-mail, I hope this e-mail makes you see the light.

SP

TO THE PEOPLE NOT FROM AMERICA, THIS IS THE REAL PRESSURE “TO LIVE THE AMERICAN DREAM”