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Anybody been touring in Albania and Macedonia

jimcameronjimcameron Posts: 199
edited April 2009 in Tour & expedition
Hi guys,

Just wondering if anybody has been touring in Albania. I'm going in June to Balkans and for a few days will be in Albania. I can't wait but i thought i would ask to see if anybody has any recommendations on possible routes, where to go, where to stay, maybe essential gear etc...anything really.

Cheers
Jim

Posts

  • guineaguinea Posts: 1,177
    I'm just back from Albania. I was a passenger in a car from the entire time, but saw a good deal of the country. I have good and bad news for you...

    The good.

    Very nice welcoming people. Beautiful countryside.

    I saw some fantastic roads. From Gjirokaster to Sarande there was a lovely pass over the mountains. Some serious hill in Gjirokaster too. It would be a fabulous place to ride.

    From Sarande to Vlore on the coastal road includes a wonderful climb to around 1000m from sea level. With alpinesque switchbacks and fantastic views it looked awesome.

    The bad.

    The roads are too unreliable. For 10 of km at a time there would be permanent road works with no road surface at all. Sometimes it was only 2-3 metres wide. The dust is unbelievable even in a car, on a bike you'd be in trouble. Some villages have never had tar.

    The driving is crazy. Not just a little it crazy, but full on mental. Very dangerous. There are cycle lanes, but they are used to turn a normal A road into a motorway. Use these and you will die.

    I was warned against taking a bike here and I'm glad I took the advice. There are places I'd like to do, some of the climbs in particular. However, the only way I'd do them is to be driven there and back. There is no way to get around the country on a race bike. It makes Paris-Roubaix look like a walk in the park.
  • guineaguinea Posts: 1,177
    I should add two more things you must know.

    There are no maps.

    There are no roadsigns.

    You'd have to take a preloaded GPS with you.
  • tim_ftim_f Posts: 12
    Made a tour in 2005 starting from Corfu across to the mainland and up to Kastoria in Greece and then across the border to Korce in Albania and then via GJirokaster to Sandre and then by boat back to Corfu.

    About 10 days cycling about 5 days in each country.

    Road conditions were actualy worse in Greece because our route used dirt roads and roads that were being rebuilt.

    In Albania we stayed on tarmaced roads, that were rough in places. Not very much trafic (in 2005) in this part of Albaina.

    Obtained maps before we left UK.

    some photos at http://www.timothyjfield.free-online.co.uk/ganda/index.html

    Albanian photos from 9/24/2005 onwards.
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