A Travellerspoint blog

Europe, Summer 2013

Croatia

sunny

9th July
Across the border from Montenegro, we entered Croatia by bus late morning, arriving into the coastal town of Dubrovnik by midday. The trip along the coast gave us wonderful views of the azure waters of the Adriatic and then of the old walled town of Dubrovnik. We had booked into a place with a balcony overlooking the old town - spending a little more than usual for this experience. However, on arrival our hostess informed us that the apartment was double booked - and we were there 2nd. She helped us find someplace else that was run by a little old lady who seemingly had never heard of the internet and wanted an extortionate amount for the small room at the top of her house. We thanked her and eventually, 3rd time lucky, we found a place up Obodstar St with a balcony and overlooking the old town for much less than the original place - so all worked out in the end.

We went for a wander into old town first of all. It had a very real feel to it - there were shops, cafes, bars and hundreds of tourists for sure - but there were people clearly living there and carrying on their daily business as they have for many years. Cobbled, narrow alleyways criscrossed the town in a higgeldy-piggledy fashion with cafes spilling out onto the wayfares. Washing hung on lines above, cats played in the dark alleyways and the smell of gorgeous food drifted around the town. Occasionally we reached the edge of town, knowing the blue waters of the Adriatic were just beyond, but the huge wall encircling the town prevented us from seeing over. Up on top of the wall people walked with cameras permanently trained on the picturesque town and the sea beyond. So, we paid the fee and went uptop.

The wall walk is a 2km round walk that became quite crowded (Dubrovnik has certainly become a fixture on the Eastern European tourist route). But it was stunning. At one point we came across tables laid out in preperation for a wedding or some such event. A glorious setting and recognised by the couples as they streamed by, no doubt enviously recollecting their own wedding locations in comparison.

It is easy to spend a whole afternoon in the town and so it was that when we came off the wall it was time for dinner. We picked out one of the many passageway eateries and tucked into the local food and local wines and beer. Of course, Dubrovnik is no longer a cheap night out, but still, it had been a good day and we felt like heammoraging a bit of cash in celebration - or so it turned out.

10th July
Real coffee for breakfast - not a Starbucks in sight, in fact there has not been a MacDonalds or any of that rubbish either since we touched down in Skopje anywhere we have been.
Then, we hopped aboard a boat bound for the famed 3 island cruise.

Posted by Patrick H. 11:54 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

Europe, Summer 2013

Montenegro

32 °C

(Photos to come later)
5th July
Arriving into Montenegro across the border from northern Albania, our taxi driver suddenly and surprisingly took it upon himself to deliver us all the way to the capital – Podgorica. Whilst this was very kind of him, especially considering the charge of 10 Euros was very cheap for the 90 minute trip, we didn’t actually want to be there. A bus was going only minutes later though, and before midday we were in the small town of Budva on the Adriatic coast. Our hotel (Vlidovak) overlooked the old town of Budva from up on a hill and our balcony afforded great views of the old Roman and Medieval buildings as well as the blue sweep of gorgeous ocean.
We went for a stroll round the old town, in and out of narrow cobbled alleyways, dodging other tourists and excitable kebab sellers. This was certainly a town built before the invention of the car. The beaches outside the walls housed sun-seekers crammed into every available nook and cranny. Generally speaking the locals were all a very good looking bunch of people.
After a kebab and an ice cream we traipsed back up the road and up the hill to the hotel. We then spent the next few hours relaxing in the hotel, down by the swimming pool and checking the exam results that had just been emailed our way.
As the sun set and the lights lit up the old town and the sky behind the hills turned orange and pink we descended again into town. Huge boats worth tens of millions of pounds were moored off shore, their owners relaxing on deck. We had a drink at Hemmingway’s and then decided against paying far more than we needed to for food and went along the waterfront a little before arriving at Porto Restaurant. The food was much better than the service and we had a little pond next to us containing lobsters. Occasionally, on the behest of a hungry customer presumably, a waiter would come over to the pond and scoop out an unsuspecting lobster effectively delivering its death warrant.

6th July
Breakfast by the beach – despite the early hour, sunbathers already lay on the sand in front of us risking skin damage in an effort to achieve temporary tans. We walked along the coast, through tunnels, over bridges and via a couple of drinks and fruit stops (the raspberries and peaches were delicious). Eventually we arrived at a beautiful beach which was relatively empty and therefore in stark contrast to the packed coastline we had up to then encountered. Wandering cheerfully on we were soon met by a lifeguard who gave us a big beaming smile and then told us it would be 75 Euros for a beach lounger. We promptly left and soon found out that the beach belonged to the Aman Hotel group. This hotel had also bought the iconic island of Sveti Stefan just yards offshore and connected by a walkway. An old settlement of 15th century terracotta roofed buildings rising impossibly close to one another with cobbled lanes weaving in between. Unfortunately this place has become fairly exclusive and only if you’ve paid the 1000+ Euro a night room rate are you allowed to venture onto the island. The beach just beyond was still public property and so we parked ourselves there and read books, swam in the sea and generally relaxed in the shadow of the glamorous island for the remainder of the afternoon.
The walk back took nearly 3 hours and was mostly uneventful except for the 10 man brawl we happened upon spilling out of a beachside bar. Back at the hotel we calculated that we’d walked about 24km in the day. Wearily, we traipsed into town one more time for a kebab and then enjoyed some wine on our balcony. Below us in town the raging party was just getting going when we decided it was time for bed.
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7th July
Further round the Adriatic coast is the incredibly picturesque beachside old town of Kotor. A short taxi ride over the hill and down the coast gave us a glimpse of the town as we then turned a left and went to Muo 2 km away. The Hotel Ferri was our home for 2 nights. This little property backed straight onto the bay and overlooked the old town across the water. The castle above the town was clearly visible in the mountains behind. A stunning setting. Leaving our bags, applying sunscreen and putting on our walking shoes once again, we set off to the old town. The walk itself was lovely although the cars and bikes fairly thundered around the twisting narrow road almost forcing us into the water at times. Little swimming bays were often full of families enjoying the clear water and hot sun. Small fishing boats were crammed into tiny marinas adding to the overall charm of the area. The old town was in good condition and as well as all the tourist shops and bars and restaurants, it was clear there was still a thriving community of people living there – unlike Budva for the most part.
Marsha was excited to discover a children’s theatre festival was taking place and we (she!) agreed we’d return later in the evening. We carried on past the old town and walked for a couple of hours all along the shore-side. Old ruined buildings of grand stature stared out to sea – just waiting for a new owner to come along and look after it. We checked online later and found them to be ridiculously overpriced – either fortunately or unfortunately depending on how you look at it. We stopped for food, carried on walking and then caught a bus back.
After watching Murray win his 4th championship point at Wimbledon we showered and returned to town. The piece of theatre Marsha most wanted to see was a puppet show entitled ‘Marsha and the Bear’. My guess is that the name of the leading lady (puppet) probably had something to do with the interest. Anyhow, we watched for about 20 minutes and Marsha found it all quite worthwhile. For me, it was about as entertaining as the other night when I awoke with insomnia and spent 8 hours staring into black nothingness.

There were various art exhibits up and around town which we wandered past. Then, pizza in front of an ancient church in a small cobbled square in the open air accompanied by a glass or 2 of wine was a lovely way to end the day. It was only momentarily spoiled by some dance, drama, theatrical type students who descended upon us determined to ‘entertain’ us. Unfortunately they were so self-involved they didn’t notice the utter lack of interest from everyone eating and badgered us for ages until someone eventually gave them a couple of Euros which they all thought was the most fabulous thing ever.

8th July
After breakfast at Villa Ferri we walked along the road again into town and up to the castle in the hills behind. Brilliant views from the top made the arduous walk more than worthwhile. We could se all the way down the coast where we’d walked the day before. The Old Town also stretched out below us as did the harbour with boats lazily chugging into port. We spent ages up there simply enjoying the view and taking pictures.
After a coffee and a bite to eat we returned to Villa Ferri and had a swim off the patio and then welcomed evening with a glass of wine.
For dinner we walked the other way down the coast. It was just as beautiful with superb swimming inlets and fishing boats and cafes overlooking the water. We eventually stopped at one next to the water and had a really nice seafood meal.
Photos from the Kotor region:

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9th July
Our brief stay in Montenegro by the beach was over. We had done a lot of walking over the previous week or so and were quite happy to sit down on a bus for a few hours and head north to Croatia - next stop... Dubrovnik.

Posted by Patrick H. 01:16 Archived in Montenegro Comments (1)

Europe, Summer 2013

Corfu, Greece

sunny 30 °C

(Photos to come later)
20th June
A travel day. Bus to Prizeren on the border with Albania. A dodgy taxi into Albania with a fella in an old Mercedes with a cracked windscreen and no English speaking skills. The border crossing was odd – one person carrying out the passport procedures for both leaving Kosovo and entering Albania. The trip to Tirana was quicker than we had thought it would take and so we decided to carry on to the port of Saranda. Apparently there’s no central bus station in Tirana, and I’m still not quite sure how we managed to stumble upon the only bus going there at the side of the road just a few minutes before it departed. 7 hours later we arrived into Saranda and checked into the Epirus Hotel by the sea. Lovely people running the hotel and they gave us the last room available at a cheap rate. Before crashing into be we had a couple of drinks overlooking the bay.

21st June
We organised a ferry to Corfu for later in the day and then visited the old Roman site of Butrint. Recorded in Ovid’s Aenead, this old Roman occupation had a stunning setting by the water. Its old walls and churches crumbling away still gave us a good idea of what it used to be like. The old theatre was surrounded by water in which frog eating turtles lazily paddled around.
It was absolutely baking hot, and, after finally visiting the more recent castle at the top of the hill we returned to the ferry port and travelled to Corfu town staying at the Dalia Hotel.
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21st June
There were no taxis waiting to meet the ferry at Corfu Town despite several of us wanting one. We threw our packs on our backs and eventually managed to hail one down as we walked. After checking into the Dalia Hotel we walked into Old Town Corfu. The sun was setting bathing the castle dominating the top of the town in golden light. We found ourselves a vantage point overlooking the marina and the castle and had a very pleasant, albeit expensive, couple of drinks watching the boats come and go and the changing light as evening turned to night.
It would have been a very imposing entrance many years ago for would be invaders. The castle was built on a rocky outcrop high above the clear blue water. A little later we wandered into the maze-like alleys of Old Corfu town and resisted temptation to buy all manner of tacky tourist bits and pieces: plastic chickens, jewelry, t-shirts, baklava etc etc…
When in Greece… Kababs for dinner for me, ice cream for dinner for Marsha.

22nd June – 29th June
The reason for coming over to Greece was to meet up with friends (Dionne and Pete). We had a villa booked in Kassiopi for the 4 of us. Dionne and Pete met us in the morning and together we drove up the coast in a hire car to the port town of Kassiopi and checked into our villa. Very nice… A private pool, a view of the ocean, and very comfortable. This was our home for the next week. We unpacked, well, put bags in the rooms, and then wandered into town which was about a 15 min walk downhill. The town itself was very quaint and picturesque nestled next to the water. Beautiful beaches and bays stretched down the coast and the sun beat down relentlessly. It was gorgeous.
Over the course of the next week we managed to find time to do very little… Perfect! However, we did get out and about and explore a little of the island as well. We drove north one day and passed many lovely bays looking out to sea and across to Albania on the horizon. Although we popped into many places we felt that Kassiopi was actually the pick of the bunch.
Marsha and I also hired mopeds one day and travelled south and then west across the island. People were helpful and polite and appeared genuinely pleased to see us wherever we went. Our motorbike excursion got us as far as the stunning town of Paleokastritsa on the water’s edge with the amazing castle of Angeocastro overlooking the water high up on the hill nearby.
Food was sometimes had by the pool at the villa with Marsha’s homemade Sangria complementing the salads, sausages, kebabs and fish. On other occasions we ate in town, more often than not at the Grill and Chill Kebab house. Huge portions of tasty meat and salad in pita bread washed down with Mythos beer. The waterside restaurants and cafes were absolutely delightful.
We ventured into the sea on a few occasions. It was a good temperature – not too cold, but refreshing enough to cool us down after hours in the sun. The beaches were a mix between sand and pebbles which sometimes meant we lacked a little gracefulness getting in and out of the water. In the afternoons the wind tended to pick up a bit and often signalled our return to the villa.
One evening we took a boat over to Corfu Town and wandered the pleasant alleyways in the evening light before gathering at a waterside café overlooking the castle just as the sun set. Apart from the interfering pigeons with designs on our bowl of crisps it was all very nice. However, on the boat ride home, with the sun down for the evening and the waves picking up, things deteriorated slightly and we arrived back in Kassiopi a little wet and very cold.
On the morning of the 29th we all reluctantly left the villa. Dionne and Pete returned to the hospitality of Newcastle and we caught a bus to Corfu Town where we had decided to stay one more night in Greece before going back to Albania. Once in Corfu Town we checked into Hotel Atlantis – a place that resembled an old hospital. The man behind reception could probably have done with some treatment as well, as he seemed confused about the whole issue of guests arriving and staying at the hotel. After several misunderstandings and apologies we got some keys and laid down our bags. I went in search of a place showing the British Lions rugby – but to no avail (unlike Kassiopi which had large screens in almost every café, bar and restaurant). Anyhow, the wrong team won and so it was probably best not to have watched.
Marsha shopped and wandered the pretty lanes. We met up later to have coffee and a snack and then we went separate ways again. Later on we visited the castle overlooking the water. Once again it was getting a little chilly once the sun went down and so we found ourselves a fantastic little eatery in town. A place that changes its menu every night – it was really good. Greek food is excellent anyway, but the food was superb here.
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Our villa and view from it...
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Masha playing with bees...

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30th June
We departed Greece by ferry to Sardona in Albania. Possibly the world’s most unhelpful and rude woman (except the nun in Peja) gave us our ferry tickets and waved us disinterestedly in the wrong direction to the boat. Fortunately other passengers pointed us in the right direction as she stood idly by smoking and scowling at everyone and everything.

Posted by Patrick H. 01:12 Archived in Greece Comments (0)

Europe, Summer 2013

Albania

sunny 35 °C

30th June
We departed Greece by ferry to Saranda in Albania. Possibly the world’s most unhelpful and rude woman (except the nun in Peja) gave us our ferry tickets and waved us disinterestedly in the wrong direction to the boat. Fortunately other passengers pointed us in the right direction as she stood idly by smoking and scowling at everyone and everything.
Ferry to Saranda, bus to GjiroKastra and straight to the Hotel Gjirokastra with a taxi driver with whom much needless haggling over a price took place.
The town of Gjirokastra is the birth place of the dictator Enver Hoxha and the famous author Ismail Kadare (we are both reading a couple of novels by him as we travel, one of which is about his childhood in the town). Situated on the side of mountains overlooking the Drina valley the streets of Gjirokastra have seen much history and a huge number of changes of ‘ownership’ (Germans, Italians, Greeks) in recent years as well as world war 2 bombardment by the British. The cobbled streets and quaint alleyways are impossibly steep. We dragged ourselves around the town visiting the castle looming above that was quickly falling into disrepair and needing a facelift of sorts. We wandered around Hoxha’s childhood home and saw Kidare’s childhood home as well. The views were outstanding and the sense of history was all around.
Dinner at the hotel would have been that much more enjoyable had we fully understood the quoted price which was considerably less than we initially thought.
Photos from Gjirokaster:

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1st July
Breakfast at the hotel consisted only of mounds of salty cheese – or at least that’s what I remember. There was probably less cheese than I remember and some bread and coffee involved and maybe an egg thrown in somewhere, but they do like their salty white cheese in this part of the world.
A travel day. Bus to Tirana. Taxi to where the bus to Shkodra was departing (again, just a bus on the side of the road – no bus station!). Then up to Shkodra in Northern Albania staying at Tradita Hotel – a crazy place that used to be a museum. Our room had 3 mannequins, a desk on top of which were huge porcelain pig and cat’s heads and a gun.
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After a quick wander around town and a drink we returned to the hotel, booked travel arrangements for the following day and ate at their brilliant restaurant. A huge open fire in the corner of the room served as the BBQ and the food was excellent.

2nd July
An early start – 6-00am. A minibus in town took us north to Lake Koman. The road gave fantastic views of the Accursed mountains and eventually of Lake Koman. We caught the 9-00am local ferry, a boat that could comfortably seat about 20 passengers. But, no-one sat inside. The views outside throughout the 3 hour journey were spectacular and everyone collected on deck to watch the scenery pass by. Put simply, this was the best boat journey I’ve ever been on. The lake, formed by a damn from which the boat departed meandered through the stunning gorge. It twisted and cut its way through nature’s rocky skyscrapers looming above us. It was impossible to take a bad photo. The boat would turn another corner and we’d be faced with yet another panorama of stunning beauty that would make us smack our foreheads in disbelief. Snow topped mountains in the distance climbing high above rugged mountains and tree lined slopes dipping into the quiet waters as we peacefully glided by kept us entertained throughout the 3 hours.
On occasions we’d park up and drop a local man off on the edge of the lake. Behind him was an impossibly vertical cliff face with a ridiculous path stretching up hundreds of metres above. On one occasion a man that had just been dropped off turned and gave a forlorn wave as we backed away from the bank. It was a wave that suggested he’d not see civilisation again for many months – as indeed he would probably not. Carrying his gun, he then started the long climb up.
The boat ride cost $5. As word of Albania’s beauty in the north of this country spreads and the tourist industry subsequently grows, I can only imagine what price future sightseers will be paying for the privilege of taking this boat ride. The thing is, whatever the cost, it’ll be worth it.
The other end of the lake we were met by another minibus, more haggling, and eventually ourselves and 3 Czech fellas were taken to the area of Valbona. Once again, the journey was stunning, a blue crashing river accompanied us upstream, as did the towering mountains overhead. Eventually the road simply came to an end; there was no further for it to go as ahead lay an amphitheatre of mountains each with snow still on top despite this being July. We checked into the hotel alongside the end of the road and had a salted cheese based lunch. After admiring the view for some time, we walked back down the road for about 7km. We passed several concrete bunkers (as we had seen throughout Albania) built by Hoxha to defend against whomsoever wanted to invade. The walk took ages as we constantly stopped to take photos of the raging river and the rocky scenery above. We stopped somewhere for a drink and then walked back.
The cold shower wasn’t great but a small price to pay for one of the most aesthetically pleasing days I’ve ever enjoyed. Dinner for me was a trout pulled from the streams that passed only metres from where we sat.
Photos from the boat journey and arrival in Valbone:

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Our room with a view
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The end of the road!
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3rd July
And today was even better.
We walked from our hotel in Valbona to the village of Theft. We left at 8.15am and arrived at our place to stay in Theft shortly after 6pm. We climbed to a height of nearly 1900m before reaching Theft which stood at 800m. On the way up we couldn’t work out how we would get to the other side – mountains surrounded us and we were heading straight for them. It was only about 2 hours in that we realised we would have to actually go over the top of them. We passed a makeshift café on the way up and enjoyed a drink with his family and goats (what an interesting existence). We passed alpine meadows with a sheepherder minding his beats. We climbed above the snowline – indeed, the sheepherder followed us up and collected his drinking water from the thawing snow. In the distance we saw the 3 Czeck fellas scaling a snow packed path up a distant mountain. Finally, passing more deep snowdrifts that collected and stayed in parts of the mountain we reached the Valbona pass and the signpost indicating Theft far, far below. Exhausted, but exhilarated we started the long track down. This time we walked through gigantic forests that again opened up into beautiful meadows. Throughout the whole walk we had a permanent smile of appreciation etched onto our faces.
In Theft there were no real roads, just tracks through the dry river bed that must change every time it rained. We stayed at the Harusha guesthouse. There was no power we were told and so we had a drink nearby and returned for food. Alongside mounds of salty cheese was hot soup and peppers which were very good. We were in bed and probably asleep before 9pm.

Photos of the walk:

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4th July
We walked to a nearby waterfall and back in the morning. The whole walk took nearly 4 hours but was mostly just following the river – I don’t think our weary legs would have coped too well with much gradient today. Even so, we got lost on the way and needed the help of a couple of goat-herding, wood carrying women to point us in the right direction. On the way back we stuck to the river and it was much quicker.
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The bus back to Shkoder was supposed to leave at 1.30pm but left a couple of hours late for some reason. Now, we have been on the Death Road in Bolivia which is reputed to be the most dangerous road in the world. I assure you, that the road out of Theft made that road in Bolivia look like a quiet cul-de sac in a sleepy little village in England. Treacherously narrow rutted tracks spiralled forever upwards. Rain started falling (our first in a month) and lightening occasionally lit up the sky beyond the snow capped mountains surrounding us. The ridiculous track up was accompanied by an ever present sheer drop of hundreds of metres inches to our left or right. Death has never been closer. Indeed, the track was littered by graves and crosses that served as a reminder as to the very real peril of the road. We climbed higher and higher. As our altitude increased my worry was that what fell as rain may soon fall as snow and that way lay as puddles of water may soon lie as ice and transform the already impossibly dangerous road into a skating rink. At one point another passenger in the vehicle hit his head on the side as we rounded yet another corner carved into the mountainside. Our driver turned and laughed maniacally at his misfortune and then worryingly continued to look, laugh and point as the bus drifted towards the edge of the track and certain death about 10km below once the bus would have stopped rolling. Fortunately, he turned his attention back to the track just in time, and on this occasion, we survived. A quick photo taken out the back of the van doesn't convey anywhere near how scary the whole thing was...IMG_0401.jpg

Of course, as these words have clearly been written later, we made it up and out and back down the other side. We encountered one other crash on the way – but not a serious one. By 7pm we were in Shkoder – unfortunately the Tradita was full but the owner kindly took us to a hotel nearby where we stayed. The door wouldn’t shut which wasn’t great. That is, unless you swung it with incredible force which is what I tried to do. In managing to shut the door I also managed to dislodge a window pane which crashed to the floor inside our room. Dismayed slightly, we cheered ourselves up with another meal at the excellent Tradita Hotel.

5th July
Breakfast was good at the hotel – lots of terrible cheese of course, but much more besides. The hotel arranged for us a taxi which took us north and across the border into Montenegro. We left behind Albania hoping that someday we’d return. It had been a fantastic place – surprising in the people’s hospitality and the stunning scenery. If you ever get the chance – go.

Posted by Patrick H. 01:08 Archived in Albania Comments (0)

Europe, Summer 2013

Kosovo

sunny 32 °C

17th June
A quick coffee in Skopje and a brief look around the centre to see if anymore statues had turned up overnight – there weren’t. Then, a bus across the border to the capital of Kosovo – Pristina.
This little nation bore the scars of its recent history. As with Skopje, it was a city starting over with buildings, walkways and statues all rising anew. We stayed in a lovely place called Hotel Prima and spent the afternoon wandering around. The NEWBORN monument announced the country as the newest in Europe. The National Library resembled something out of a sci-fi film. Islamic Call to Prayer filled the air at dusk and we had a few drinks before returning home via a cheap, but exceptional kebab house.
Pristina photos:

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18th June
After a really good breakfast at the hotel a bus took us to Peja – the 2nd town of Kosovo standing at about 500 metres above sea level. Set amongst the Accursed mountains that also border Albania, the snow capped peaks towered over the picturesque little town with a fast flowing river crashing a path through the busy streets. After waiting for the fella working in the Information office to return from his 3 hour lunch break, we checked into Hotel Chardak.
After walking to the edge of town up the Rugova Gorge we came upon Patriachate of Pec, an old church held in high regard by Serbians and a place of much contention in recent years. As such it was guarded by the UN and we had to hand over ID before being admitted. Marsha then realised she was wearing shorts and we asked whether this would be a problem getting into the church grounds. The guard phoned the resident nun who said it was fine to come in and that she’d just check out our attire once we were in.
Inside the grounds were huge. We eventually came to the gateway to the church area itself. Another guard/policeman advised that Marsha’s shorts might be a problem and went on in to consult the nun whom could be seen about 50 yards away sitting under a tree doing not very much. We stayed where we were for about 5 mins and then as everything seemed to be ok we cautiously made our way into the gardens. Immediately, the nun leapt to her feet marched towards us and angrily whistled and then aggressively gestured for us to leave. In short, she was very unpleasant. And, at the end of the day, surely it is the job of folk involved with the Christian church to spread their message and invite people to join. This nun had 2 strangers wishing to pay their respects at a church and she had angrily turned them away because she was convinced her God hated the sight of female knees. Still, I’m sure he was looking upon her favourably.
Near the church was a visitor centre which hired out bicycles. We took some up the road following the river upstream. We passed a part of the river where it seemed as though all the middle to old aged men from the town gathered to sunbathe, drink beer and play cards. It was hard work cycling against gravity but the Rugova Gorge was stunning with the rushing river thundering through it. After about 45 mins we turned around and free-wheeled home in about 10 minutes.
At the cyle hire place we tried to explain where we had got to and he informed us we had made it about half way to the village of Kuqishte. We had a great pizza at Sayonara restaurant by the river.

19th June
As we had apparently made it half way to Kuqishte the day before we decided to venture all the way over this time and then do a walk to a lake once we had got there.
It was ridiculous. Nearly 30Km straight uphill the whole way. It was shattering. We staggered into our final destination – a café overlooking the gorge below – nearly 4 hours later. The previous day we had gone only about 20% of the way. We were exhausted and had just finished the last of our water as we limped into the cafe. A late lunch revived us and we then managed our walk to the lake passing the snowline near the top. The lake stood at 1900 metres. We had climbed about 1500 metres in the day. The journey home was brilliant. We hardly had to pedal once and stopped many times to appreciate the view – something we hadn’t had the energy to do on the way up. Exhilarated by the ride back and thrilled by the fact that we had actually managed to reach our intended destination we went out and found a couple of bars and a nice café serving Mediterranean food.
Photos from the cycle and walk:

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20th June
A travel day. Bus to Prizeren on the border with Albania. A dodgy taxi into Albania with a fella in an old Mercedes with a cracked windscreen and no English speaking skills. The border crossing was odd – one person carrying out the passport procedures for both leaving Kosovo and entering Albania.

Posted by Patrick H. 01:03 Archived in Kosovo Comments (0)

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