The evening before started with a mind blowing amount of seafood in Dubrovnik, followed by an evening drive to a slightly suspect ‘Autocamp’ in Montenegro (our first passport stamp), where Tom improved international relations with possibly inappropriate nudity in the very public showers.
The intention was to bash out a long driving day, through a chunk of Albania, attempt a slightly dubious border crossing with Kosovo, and into Macedonia. However, things didn’t quite pan out as planned.
Armed with some excellent stuffed croissants, brioche pizza, and fresh bread from a local bakery in a border town, we entered Albania with ease – so much ease in fact that, apart from a marked deterioration in road quality, we weren’t actually sure we’d crossed the border. It was in the town of Skhodar that we hit a fateful combination of heavy traffic accompanied by a complete lack of signposts. Two hours later, after many wrong turns, we finally asked for directions. Albanians, it turns out, are lovely, and were very willing to try and point us in the right direction. Apparently, the road we were looking for was ‘awful’ (loosely translated from sign language) and we were directed out of town towards Tirane, ironically, on the road with the heaviest traffic, and indeed one that we’d previously tried earlier in the day. Although delightful in general, all Albanians have a dark side that is reserved only for when they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. As a result, Tirane was mental, although with slightly better signage (we only stopped for directions twice). The mountain road across Albania to Macedonia was marked on our map as 21% inclines in places, which was why we’d aimed to avoid it, and so we approached it with caution. However, Albania appears to be in the midst of a road building frenzy, and just as we started winding our way up an increasingly bumpy road, the presence of a fast moving HGV vehicle (well, faster that us anyway..) declared a brand new tunnel under the mountains very much open!
Coby negotiated the remaining hills with considerable skill and a lot of verbal encouragement *Come the f&*k on Bridget” and after some stunning views, we deployed the women for the first time at a border crossing with great success. 50 Euros later for some international insurance, we entered Macedodia, our 8th country so far!