Day 2: August 5, 2007.
Ioannina to Kotor
(click on above pic to view it larger. It will open in a new window).
The Yellow line is the route we did.
This was probably the largest day of the whole trip. We were on the bikes at around 6.30 am. We arrived at Kotor at 9.30 pm. After more than 500 km. The road from Ioannina to the border is quite good, with long sweeping turns, wide and with very good visibility, so you can cover ground rather quickly, there. Upon entering Albania we had a choice of two ways: Either the coastal road or the inland road, which we took, because everyone warned us that we "should stop every 200 meters and push the fallen rocks off the road" on the coastal route!
In fact we had a third alternative, as well, but you can read the theory about it here.
At the Albanian border we were quite lucky to pass with just a nod. In fact there was a 3 km long queue of cars waiting to get to Albania. Some people had spent the night there, in their cars, with their families. Remember, it was the first Sunday of August and everyone was going on vacation.
The Greek side as seen from the neutral zone, near the Duty Free shops.
Girokastr. The first big city on the road. Notice the Greek EKO gas station. They were everywhere in Albania! Also of notice: The bus is an ex-KTEL one (Greek Public Bus Co.), and the grey Merc too: It used to be an Athenian taxi at some previous life!
From Girokastr to Tepeleni the road was under construction. The traffic was huge and everyone was driving at or below THAT limit (in km/h!). You really could NOT drive faster! What was most interesting was the way locals were overtaking: First they honked lightly, then started passing as many cars as they could, during the twisties... If they noticed someone coming the other way, they tried to enter somehow into the passing slow queue, while the guy from the other side slowed down (from 30km/h!) to allow for the manoever!
Near Tepeleni. We stopped for some water. Thankfully the weather was mildly warm, not hot.
Wherever we stopped, the locals were more than helpful. They would notice our Greek license plates and come talk to us. In Greek!
We had a few more "moments" in Albania... At one time, Stelios, leading the group, on a lefthand slightly downhill turn of the road saw a bus coming up the other way, only to be passed at the same time by a furious Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, which was heading straight onto Stelios! Needless to say I slowed down, even though I was 5th in the group, while Stelios miraculously avoided the touch with the sideways Pajero! When asked later, he said his heart was about to break at that time! Ditto, Vasso's!!!
Then, at a straight and narrow road, while we were trying to pass a few cars, we saw this disabled man sitting down in the middle of the road! Crazy! It seems everyone escaped him, too!
Being a Sunday when we traversed Albania, we witnessed at least 20 to 25 weddings in the making: Almost all the brides rode on the passenger side of a cabrio car, preferredly a Mercedes SLK, while a camera man carrying a huge TV-News style camera wa hanging from the side window of a preceding SUV; Most likely a Porsche Cayenne!!!
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