Monday the 3rd of March at 9 a.m. having got all the necessary paperwork together here in Turkey for their journey. The day before the trip was very busy arranging for both front tyres to be fixed after discovering nails sticking out of both of them.
We headed out of Didim to Canakkale to catch the ferry which goes to Eceabat. On the way to Izmir the road was closed and they made a detour and got totally lost and 7 hours later arrived at Izmir just in time for the ferry. The ferry trip was made all the more pleasureable by a school of dolphins in the harbour. Once in Eceabat we headed for the Greek border and arrived in a place called Alexandapolis at 7 pm, by now it was quite dark and finding a hotel took ages, finally a hotel was found near the harbour next to a fabulous fish restaurant where we enjoyed a meal and then went straight to bed exhausted.
An early rise was necessary for the next part of the journey and to get some diesel for the days journey, we found a 2 pump station just around the corner from the harbour only to find a puncture in the front tyre. The man in the filling station let us change the tyre in his service pit which apparently was quite a feat itself, the man stood and watched and was transfixed by the skill of an Englishman accomplishing this amazing task. When they had finished he pointed to a tyre shop 100 metres down the road who would have done all the work for next to nothing. Keith thought if this was Didim they would have helped us before we struggled to do the job, but of course this was Greece, the puncture cost us an hour or so and we finally set off at 9.30 am.
After reaching Thessaloniki we got totally lost following signs to the airport and soon realised we were driving in the wrong direction, what a state to get in! So we soon turned around and eventually got out of Greece (yipee) and headed to Macedonia which we drove through in a short time and arrived in Albania. We booked into a hotel which was like something out of “Psycho”, the only thing missing was the chair lift and Alfred Hitchcock, however it was clean but very basic.
The only European restaurant open was a pizza place so we went in there, problem was they only spoke Albanian, the English language was at a distinct premium, so there we were really hungry and now trying to describe in sign language what we wanted to eat. First came the impression of a chicken and Cath ended up flapping her arms and making a clucking noise, however the waiter shook his head indicating that nothing had been understood, Next came the impression of a lamb with Cath making baa baa noises, this also proved equally useless to the waiter who then uttered the word “boof” so we ordered boof. It arrived on a plate and was 4 inches long and a millimeter thick and came with a lettuce leaf. Keith had a Pizza which he thought was Salami but it turned out to be Cheese and Ham.
The next morning we continued our journey through Albania and spent the whole journey navigating the endless amount of holes in the roads, as a great amount of the roads are dug up with earth moving machinery all over the place. The tyres felt as though they were going along a corrugated roof with all the shaking going on. On the roads and mountains it seems everywhere was covered with rubbish that had been disposed of by local people. There were a lot of gun turrets still remaining from the Second World War.
The City of Tirana was a problem also because now we were lost and Keith got out the car with the map and found an Albanian man and asked him the way to Vola by pointing to the map and the car, the man by contrast pointed at the map and himself to say he would show them the way there. Keith thought that was a good idea and they both got in the car and off they set for Vola.
As they traveled along the Auto Bahn, they passed a sign for Vola and the Albanian got out the car and wished them well and after a short while Vola came into sight, what a relief we thought. Montenegro was the next destination and it was difficult to find a hotel at night and not knowing where they were driving, Keith and Cath eventually found a hotel and went for a meal in a Pizza place.
An early start the next day saw Keith and Cath now heading for Montenegro with the prospect of looking for yet another hotel in the dark, a 5 star hotel came into view but the price each for one night was a hefty 190 Euro’s. This came as an unpleasant surprise after traveling for hours in the car. Somewhere cheaper was now the objective and a hotel sign was soon found, but where was it? One hour later the hotel was located down at the sea, the landlady was a very pleasant person but announced that the hotel was closed and offered them the staff quarters instead. A quick look around revealed they were clean and had a bathroom, a cost of only 50 Euro’s was readily agreed upon with enthusiasm. A good nights sleep was enjoyed with pleasure, but still a long way to travel to the UK.
Onwards and homewards
We were now heading for the Croatian border.
Once over the border there was only a short drive to cross into Bosnia, another short drive and we were back again into Croatia. The country is lovely and has many rivers, one of which we were now headed towards to cross the bridge. “There’s the bridge” says Cath eagerly, the bridge in fact was closed with diversion signs plastered all over it.