Split/Croatia – Elbasan/Albania

There we are, back down to sea level, in Thessaloniki/Greece, as guests of Mary and her friend Christina. It is Sunday the 12th of November 8:45pm and about time to write some lines about our way from Split to Elbasan…

But before I start, I want to say thanks again for all the nice comments – we did not know so far that we had to approve some of them first – so now they are all there to see. It seems that it is a very good way of sharing our thoughts – no matter if they are critical, challenging or philosophical – we are happy about your comments and will also answer questions, when you have some.

So lets rewind, back to Split/Croatia: We stayed there for one night in a hostel and spent the following day taking pictures, doing laundry, enjoying the colourfull markets and the sunset on the sea side before leaving the city on our way South. This is most of the time not as easy, if you are with a bicycle and demands all your concentration, even more if it is getting dark. But you also get used to that and this night we found this wonderful spot for our bikes and the sleepingbags and it was still warm enough to write some lines in my journal! The next morning we continued our way along the coast. The afternoon brought us the first raindrops, while we were enjoying some fresh citrus fruits. Then there is a small strip of Bosnien terretory you have to cross, before you get to the southern part of Croatia. The weather was windy and wet, so we had to put up the tent for the first time, had some diner and were hoping the best for the next day. Then it was still very windy but fortunately no more rain. To get to Dubrovnik from the north you have to cross a long white suspension bridge and because of the strong wind not an easy thing to do. We had to push the bikes slowly forward and also down, over to the other side, where a sign informed you about the wind speed of 95 km/h…

Dubrovnik is well known for its touristic quality and definetly worth a visit, but we stayed there just a few hours. The night was coming… On the border to Montenegro we got our first stamp in our passports and were surprised to pay our breakfast here in Euros again. It is the worlds youngest nation and with about 0,7Mio people also one of the smallest. They celebrated their independence from Serbia just about 5 months ago, on the 3rd of June 2006 and somehow you can feel that they are doing fine. After a pleasant break in a nice park we pushed the pedals again and spent the night next to a beautiful orthodox monastry after asking one of the inhabitants. On our second day in Montenegro you could see, that even a small country like this has its diversity. We left the seaside, a smaler street lead us up the hills and further south, we saw the first donkeys, the first minaret and in the distance snow covered peaks. Albania. Over there, on the other side. It is always a very special feeling to pass a border and this time even a bit more. There they are, 4 soldiers, the backs towards us, patroling and blocking the street, but smiling when we were passing them on our strange vehicles. Then the actual check point. A lonely place with some simple buildings, not really well kept. For this stamp we had to pay – 10 Euros. But now, let’s see what it is like this country, which is for many just known from the news for the Kosovo conflict and the immigrants to Italy. Also for us it was somehow still a mysterious country on the european map, although we grew up on the former socialistic side of Germany. The first city, Shkoeder, is not far, we need money and something to eat for tonight. But we needed some more time to adjust to what we saw, cycling through the outskirts of the city, crossing the river and looking for the centre, a bank, a cash mashine. It needed the first contacts with the people there, the kids, coming closer when I stopped, first loudly, then slowlier, respectful, wanting to shake my hand, what we did, and just have a closer look. Or the woman in the little shop, or the one who sold us some fruits on the street, maybe these first, very positive contacts gave us already a different, a more relaxed view, when we were leaving the city and a little later were looking for our first albanian ‚campsite‘. On Sunday we arrived to Tirana, the capital. On the way we were passing countless unfinished buildings and remarkable many furniture shops. You see almost only german cars and almost only Mercedes, also from time to time very expensive cars, passing a donkey-wagon, or passing slowly the mud holes in the side streets or sections which are ‚under construction‘. Well, these are images, still in my mind, the contrasts between the ones in these cars and behind these furniture shops and the kids playing in the rubbish, the socialistic monuments and mosaic, with a woman holding up a gun and all this damaged trash containers without wheels, the chaotic but still somehow safe feeling on the streets, the many radar controls and policemen in general and very important, the friendly, respectful and helpful people we met. In Tirana we were also looking desperatly for a place to shower – but neither in the sports palast where there were a judo tournament and a woman volleyball match, nor in the hotels where we asked we were successful. So again, after a quick internet shop stop, we left the city to find a place for the night. And this time we decided to ask somebody. Thomas did it. It was already dark and after a while there was a friendly man, who could speak english and also some german and he lead us to a ‚church‘ how he called it, where we finally were invited to stay for the night, to have a shower and some diner together as well. Wow! I was a bit overwhelmed about this change and about the opportunity to talk to some people from here. The headmaster was a friendly man, a missionar from South Korea, then there was Lisa a young albanian woman, two young albanian men and two japanese sisters sitting with us on the table. Afterwards we got a short introduction in their relgious beliefs and their work as a peace organisation and had the chance to exchange some thoughts and opinions. They are part of the Moon movement, founded by Mr. Moon and his wife in South Korea in 1954 and maybe known for their international and interreligious mass weddings, which, I told them right away, looked a bit scary to me and reminded me first hand at the communistic idea of equalization, which does exactly the opposite, it erases individual and cultural differences, which are so important! Wouldn’t it be at least possible to have these mass weddings much more colorfull? Where everybody wears the clothes, which reflect his cultural and religious background? Well, of course Thomas and me exchanged some of these thoughts later on and also got some more information from the world wide web (wikipedia) But again, not to get a wrong impression, we enjoyed our stay there very much and are greatful to these people, who were welcoming us openly.

With rain gear on again we went further east, high up the first mountain range and then down again to Elbasan, where we had the chance to post these pictures…


pictures to this article: Split/Kroatien – Elbasan/Albanien : Fotos

6. November 2006 - Maik | english texts | Kommentare :: comments :: comentarios | Inhalt drucken

12 Responses to “Split/Croatia – Elbasan/Albania”

  1. 1 nele 6 November 2006 @ 23:33

    tolle bilder! auch wenn die straßen teilweise schon ziemlich unpassierbar wirken…
    aber so ist man immer ein stück mit dabei. ich freue mich jedenfalls über eure berichte.

  2. 2 Stefan 7 November 2006 @ 14:27

    Hallo Ihr beiden,
    Wir hoffen auf baldige textliche Untermalung der sehr interessanten Bilder!!!
    Ich hoffe Euch geht es bestens?!


  3. 3 Jule und Karsten 7 November 2006 @ 17:42

    Hallo ihr beiden!

    Lasst das Rad rollen und erlebt so viel wie moeglich. Wir wuenschen euch einen sicheren Trip und das die gewonnenen Eindruecke hauptsaechlich positiver Natur sind.

    Jule und Karsten

  4. 4 hernan 8 November 2006 @ 7:30

    I had’t seem that is posible to do comments.I had been following you in the map, because I love travel, I like your adventure.

    23% in a way is difficult.The people in the foto “ Eiladung zum Abendmahl“ are chines? How they arriven to europe?. I am sorry for the question, but it was very particular to me.

    Many hugs for both, but of course one more to Maik.
    Well, good luck, we are with you.I’m sorry for my terrible english.

    Espero me entienda en espanol, abrasos.Muy buenas las fotos, sigan enviando


  5. 5 Maks 8 November 2006 @ 14:45

    Ill try to find E-mail from the Frenchmen.

    Have a nice trip,

    Maks Maroh
    Bitola(internet klub)

  6. 6 Flo 8 November 2006 @ 15:08

    Hey you our favorite mad giant!
    I’m so amazed and so excited to follow you along the way.
    I’ve already forwarded a few of your amzing pictures to my friends (I love the one of TOm @ sunset or sunrise, what a scenery!)
    I wish my German wasn’t so rusty though… maybe it’s a good reason for me to go back to it:)
    Good luck with the rest, and keep us dreaming with you.
    Much love,


  7. 7 Nadine und Oliver 10 November 2006 @ 2:52

    Na wenn das keine Augenweide für einen Architekten ist. Trotsdem funktioniert irgendwie alles,ist ja hier in brasilien teilweise auch ein wunder. Aber so ist die welt, schön,dass ihr beide seiten in fotos festhaltet.
    Liebe grüße von uns Dreien.

  8. 8 Salow 11 November 2006 @ 12:14

    Lieber Thomas,
    herzlichen Glueckwunsch zum Geburtstag und 1 – 2 schoene erholsame Tage in Thessaloniki, sowie weiterhin einen reibungslosen Tourverlauf wuenschen Dir alle Salower!!!
    Lieber Maik,konntest Du noch einen Geburtstagkuchen backen…? Heute waeren ja eigentlich Pfannkuchen angesagt: 11.11. Liebe Gruesse von Siegfried und Marlies.

  9. 9 Bastian R. 11 November 2006 @ 16:31

    Hallo Thomas!

    Happy Birthday und alles alles Gute für Dich, Euch und Eure Tour! Ich habe mich sehr gefreut, daß Du mir geschrieben hast und ich Euch nun „verfolgen“ kann, was ich auch fast täglich mache. Tolles Projekt, möge es Euch planmäßig und mit viel Spaß gelingen. Ein bißchen Neid meinerseits fährt auch mit ;-). Immerhin habe ich inzwischen endlich wieder ein neues MTB, aber ob es jemals so weit fahren wird?

    Ich freue mich auf weitere Berichte und Fotos und wünsche eine saugute Fahrt.

    Gruß, Bastian.

  10. 10 Aron 11 November 2006 @ 21:11

    So, da ich deine Emailadresse grad nicht zur Hand hab:

    Lieber Tom, alles, alles gute zum Geburtstag!!!

  11. 11 Tom 13 November 2006 @ 2:43

    Danke fuer alle Geburtstagsglueckwuensche. Pfannkuchen gab es keine, aber Kuchen (von Maik selbst gekauft) mit Kerzen. In jedem Fall ein besonderer Geburtstag.

  12. 12 Pepu 19 November 2006 @ 5:36

    Escaping the winter gives the chance to chase fruits. That is all about :)

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