February 24 – Vlore to Saranda – part 1
It was a lovely sunny day as I headed off from my luxury appartment in Vlore. Google showed three routes to Saranda and I chose the coastal route (see map in photos). The plan was to get to a little place called Dhermi where I would stay the night somewhere, then complete the journey the next day. 60 km a day didn’t seem unreasonable.
The first 20 km were nice and flat; then the road turned inland and started to rise continuously. I passed by a small park with youngsters dancing in a circle to music. Dancing in a circle seems like a common thing to do in Albania. Up ahead was a snow-capped mountain and the gradient got steeper and steeper. The road got more and more twisty and I finally had to admit defeat and get off and push. Pushing a heavy bike up very steep hills is quite painful. And this hill did not stop. It was getting late and I knew that I wouldn’t reach my goal for the day. After a few km of this I found an isolated place that offered food and I had some soup. They recommended a place to stay just up the road, so I booked in and sorted myself out. Apparently, I still had a way to go until the top of the ‘hill’. It looked like it would take me three days to get to Saranda.