lower Balkans & Greece travel blog

lower Balkans & Greece

Premium Traveler
David travel blog
Our plan for this leg of our travels was to tour through Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro then Greece once travel partners from home join us.

The thing that connected all countries was water. Whether river, lake or ocean the water was always a beautiful blue-green.

We returned our Italian rental car at Bari which went smoothly but things deteriorated at the port where we connected with our Albanian ferry.

After a long delay we were directed with other passengers to a truck and asked to load our bags on the open tray and then board a bus. We followed the baggage truck for the unbelievably long distance of 200 metres to the ferry.
We were then off-loaded with no directions for boarding. Everyone stood around 'scratching heads'. It was not a great start but we eventually boarded.

The ten hour trip went well but what was remarkable was the non existent customs check upon arrival. No declarations, no anything. Anyone could have been carrying who-knows-what.
Not a great feeling.

Durres was our starting point and Tirana, Albania's capital, marked the completion.

We learnt early that Albania was almost totally a cash only society. Paper and pen were used to talley sales except in hotels.
And a receipt ? Never. Tax contributions would be interesting.

Initial concerns of aggressive Albanian drivers were totally unfounded for not only were they generally patient, they actually gave way to pedestrians. A total opposite to Macedonia and Greece where a pedestrian was fair game. Kosovo and Montenegro were relatively easy and pedestrians probably have a slightly better life-span.

Roads certainly varied. When good they were usually excellent but when bad they could be horrendous. Albania's were generally the worst while those in Macedonia and Greece were mostly quite good or excellent.

Scenery was generally very pretty. All the countries had beautiful mountain areas and great farmlands. We still feel that Montenegro along the border with Bosnia-Herzegovena is the most spectacular.

Most people were friendly especially when we said 'thanks' or 'hello' in their language which we tried our best to do. We usually stuffed this up somewhat but were always received warmly.

It was amazing just how lucky we had been with weather. Rain was rare, cold even rarer and temperatures hovered around 25 to 32 degrees C .

Somehow we came through quite well in the food department, especially given Davo's 'tender tummy'. Just a few minor issues got some sympathy.

We did not experience political issues although Serbia and Kosovo are definitely not good neighbours. Kosovo still isn't recognised on many maps and similarly there are issues with Macedonia and Greece. Such a pity.

Travels through Greece got underway with the arrival of John and Gayle our special 'drinking partners' from home who we met up with in Tirana.

Exploring ancient sites like Meteora, Olympia, Corinth and Ioannina were the aim. At one time we thought we had lost John to the 'Gods' when he posed upon a vacant pedestal at Olympia. He struck a fine figure.

Plenty of eating and drinking was part of the norm together with a reasonable amount of exercise while exploring the many sites.

All too soon it was time to unload J&G at Athens and for us to continue south through the Peloponnese. Thanks for your company guys and your Oz accents.It was great fun.

We found southern Greece a mixture of glorious coastlines, rugged mountains and fabulous ancient sites. Those included Mycenae, Mystras and Delphi. A drive to the old fortified town of Vatheia at the extreme southern end of mainland Greece proved interesting.

From that southern point we worked our way back north to eventually re-enter Albania to end this section of our travels back in Tirana.

Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Greece.....thank you for the memorable experiences.

Now for Turkey !

Order: oldest at bottom ( reverse )

 
32 
 
 
Tirana
 
31 
 
 
Berat
 
30 
 
 
Metsovo
 
29 
 
 
Delphi
 
28 
 
 
Klitoria
 
27 
 
 
Methoni
 
26 
 
 
Stoupa
 
25 
 
 
Kalloni to Poulithra
 
24 
 
 
Athens
 
23 
 
 
Korinthia
 
22 
 
 
Olympia
 
21 
 
 
Ioannina
 
20 
 
 
Meteora
 
19 
 
 
Tirana
 
18 
 
 
Utjeha
 
17 
 
 
Shkoder
 
16 
 
 
Theth
 
15 
 
 
Ulcinj
 
14 
 
 
Budva
 
13 
 
 
Zabljak
 
12 
 
 
Peje
 
11 
 
 
Prizren
 
10 
 
 
Lake Mavrovo
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