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)

2 thoughts on “VLORA TO SARANDA: MOST CHALLENGING AND SPECTACULAR RIDE (PART I)

  1. Mark Bernards

    Wow Jeff, pretty spectacular. Why aren’t people on the roads once you get out of a town? Tourist season over or not many tourists in Albania? Looks awesome.Ride on Jeff!

    Reply
  2. Pingback: ALBANIAN COAST & BEACHSIDE APT. PART III | Jeff's Bike Tour

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