Saturday, April 20, 2013

Final Day

Day 16: Kotor  – Dubrovnik 
Time: 3:54:34
Distance: 73.54 km
Average Speed: 18.8 km/h

We raised our glasses to Lance Armstrong with Ross, who works in the hostel before setting out on our last day of the trip. I think we drank Raki. It looked like some homebrew spirit. The first few kms are beautiful cycling alongside the Bay Of Kotor. We crossed the border again with no hassle and did the last few kms of the day on very smooth Croatian roads. On entering Dubrovnik we took a small road with dozens of cats walking around. Within the city walls there are cats everywhere too. Tonight we'll have a few celebratory beers in the hostel before going out. It's been a great trip.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Rest Number 2

Day 15: Rest Day, Kotor 

Kotor is a beautiful town. We walked up the 1500 steps to the Fortress built into the steep hill behind Kotor.  Great views of the bay down below. I'm not sure why but there are very few boats in the bay which makes it look even better. I ate twice already today in a butcher shop (Mesara) where he grills the meat for you before you leave. We brought the bikes to a car wash place where they let us use their power hoses for free. Tonight we will have a Sangria party in the hostel before going to club Maximus.

Back in Kotor

Day 13: Shkodra  – Kotor 
Time: 5:48:39
Distance: 110.24 km
Average Speed: 18.9 km/h

Of all the cities we have visited in the last few weeks Shkodra has the most bikes. The city has a long pedestrian street with many bars that was full of people walking up and down all evening. We arrived at our 2nd last border crossing and once again passed through with no problems. The border crossings had worried me a bit before the trip but there were never any problems. My passport is covered in stamps from them. The other concern was about whether these countries would be safe to travel in. Every night we've walked around and been made feel welcome by locals and I've never felt in any danger. They are usually a bit surprised that we are covering so much ground by bike and a lot of the time they ask us our views on their country. The Shkodra to Kotor route passed Bar and Budva, 2 other Montenegrin tourist towns on the coast which made for a beautiful day of cycling with the sun shining and views of the Adriatic to my left. It was tough too. We had around 5 or 6 200m climbs to make which gradually wears you down. Kotor is now my favourite city in the Balkans and last night we had a big party on the street outside the hostel drinking Raki (homemade Montenegrin brandy), Montenegrin wine and beer. We then moved on to a pub called Evergreen where you can get 2 pints and 2 shots for just 4 euro. Most places sell pints for less than 2 euro here. Tomorrow is another rest day and then we have a 80km cycle to Dubrovnik to finish the trip.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Wasps and Cigareshites

Day 12: Tirana  – Shkodra 
Time: 4:32:08
Distance: 94.61 km
Average Speed: 20.8 km/h

Tirana is one of the best cities we passed through on this trip. There is a kebab shop there with a tree growing from the floor that goes through the roof. We went out with Dutch Sam to a great bar called Radio. He had cycled from New Zealand to Holland and Canada to Panama. On this trip he was backpacking. The almost 100km cycle to Shkodra was mostly on straight flat roads through industrial areas and into the wind. A forgettable day in the saddle. There is no hostel in Shkodra so we looked around for a few hotels. Outside one I got a wasp sting in my finger. We decided not to stay there. Shkodra is buzzing with people walking up and down the pedestrian streets. We've been told it is the bike capital of Albania.