Albania

The road across the mountain from Kosovo to Montenegro felt like one of the longest I had ever travelled. It was narrow, twisty and seemed like it would never end. The only thing it had going for it was a complete lack of traffic, not a single car did I see. It took most of the day to do the short distance across the mountain then the road opened out a bit, becoming much easier before I reached Podgorica. There was still a week or so before I had to head for the Horizons Unlimited meetup in Montenegro, so after spending the night in Podgorica I headed south across the border into Albania.

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How can anyone be so stupid? pt 2

My insurance doesn’t include cover for countries not part of the EU (e.g. Kosovo, Montenegro, Albania) so when entering these countries its a legal requirement to purchase nominal ‘insurance’ cover at the border. I was so keen to do this when entering Montenegro after having my passport checked by the Kosovan border guards that I headed straight for the first hut displaying the ‘insurance sold here’ sign. I paid the €10 and in return received my new insurance certificate, interestingly it looked a lot like the Kosovan certificate I had bought a couple of days ago.

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Rugova Canyon

I eventually had to admit defeat and gave up looking for my keys, I guess it really is ‘BMW Keyless Ride’ now. I was heading towards Peć in the very west of Kosovo near the border with Montenegro. The weather had cleared and the journey was pretty uneventful. The scenery is not overly exciting but the roads are quiet and well maintained. Arriving in Peć things change very quickly though.

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How can anyone be so stupid? pt 1

The next morning the rain clouds still looked threatening and the forecast didn’t offer any positive encouragement to hit the road, so I decided to stay an extra day in Laplje Selo. It was a nice enough if very small village and it had a pizzeria. I walked the length of the main street which seemed to be where all the ‘action’ was, and that over I went to the cafe for a coffee.

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Kosovo

Crossing the border into Kosovo from Serbia was painless unlike the stories I had heard about crossing in the opposite direction, authorities in Serbia don’t consider the designated crossing points from Kosovo to be official ‘international’ border crossing points. There were a long line of coaches coming the other way but only a couple of cars in front of me. I showed my passport and was then directed to a small hut at the side of the road to buy insurance. This is mandatory for all vehicles but only costs €10 for two weeks and you do get a nice souvenir.

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Sofia back to Serbia

Melina and David were also heading west in the general direction of Sofia so as David had been having problems with his bike I suggested we travel together in case of further issues, though he was pretty sure the problem was now fixed. We weren’t in a hurry so we took the scenic route through the Central Balkan National Park. The road was fantastic, long twisty corners and short straights with hardly any traffic. As we got higher we passed through patches of low cloud before arriving at the summit.

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Motocamp

I finally left Buzludzha after spending most of the afternoon wandering around and chatting with a Belgium biker doing a similar thing. The gravel track didn’t seem to be so long on the way down and I was soon back on to the main road to complete the remainder of the Shipka Pass. Cruising around the curves admiring the views it’s amazing how quickly the temperature reaches 35°, and how much more draining it seems to be.

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Shipka Pass

Continuing north I bypassed Kazanlak on the E871 then turned right towards the E85, otherwise known as the Shipka Pass. The 13km mountain pass rises to a height of 1150m, links the towns of Gabrovo in the north to Kazanlak in the south and was the site of many battles with the Ottoman Empire during the Russo-Turkish war between 1877 and 1878. It’s a great road, very twisty and very little traffic. There are some great views of the area and climbing up the mountain the temperature drops to much more comfortable levels.

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Hello Bulgaria

I crossed the border into Bulgaria in the mountains at a place called Makaza, just north of Komotini. It’s a small crossing but was quite busy. It would be very picturesque if not for the river of rubbish running along both sides of the road. It was proving very difficult to get any scenic pictures without including a mountain of plastic bottles, bags and miscellaneous nondescript wrappers.

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Goodbye Greece

There are hundreds, if not thousands of these shrines along the sides of the road. All different sizes, some new, some old and weathered, some plain, some fancy and some completely dilapidated and abandoned. It’s like an allegory for the rest of Greece.

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