After just the one night in Shkodër,looking around the lake today we’re heading from Shkodër to Durrës. As we were packing the bike the owner of the hotel invited us for coffee at the nearby servo. Watching the news late last night we heard that two people had been shot and killed when their car had been held up at gunpoint. Michele was a bit concerned but I didn’t think that it would affect us as we’re travelling on the main road from Shkodër to Durrës. It’s been quite surprising how friendly people have been to us since we’ve arrived so a lot of the rumours I’ve heard about Albania seem to be unfounded.
We headed to the beachside town of Shenjin for breakfast. Recent storms had given the beaches a bit of a battering and there was lots of rubbish all over the place but we managed to find a nice spot for breakfast. It was a little family business with mum cooking and the son waiting tables. The food and service was great and we enjoyed an omelette with cream cheese, fresh bread and homemade jam. Despite being a little more expensive the price was still as cheap as chips.
Heading along the main highway from Shkodër to Durrës it was quite surprising how much farming land there is. Back in the days of communism Albania was an agrarian state surviving on farming but since their switch to democracy there’s been an upsurge in the service industry. It’s still a very poor country with lots of people selling produce on the side of the roads in very humble stalls. Also since the fall of communism private ownership of cars has been allowed so there’s now thousands of Mercedes.
“I don’t know why everyone was complaining about Albanian roads they’re not so bad!”. No sooner had the thought crossed my mind when we hit some road which had been poorly built and was starting to disintegrate. Then we came upon a bridge which had some show stoppers. Potholes which were so deep that if you hit them on a motorbike there would be a chance of damaging a tyre or being thrown. Luckily I was paying close attention.
Once we found the turnoff for Durrës the road was much better. The road connects the capital Tirana to Durrës and has a speed limit of 90 kph, (although nobody travels at that speed). We were quite surprised at some of the speeds people travel at on the road from Shkodër to Durrës. It was just crazy.
Arriving in Durrës we rode into the heart of the city before Michele turned the satnav on. Of course we’d come the wrong direction so we had to navigate our way out which led us to a dead end. Trying to pick up the next street I decided to cut across a park, much to the amusement of diners in a nearby cafe, only to find the gutter a bit high. I headed down the footpath dodging people hoping to come off a ramp at the end, however a car had parked across it leaving my only option of a deep gutter about two foot wide. A pizza delivery guy saw our predicament and rushed across, removing a board from the steps of a nearby shop which he placed across the gap. Cutting across the board we were soon down off the gutter and heading back in the right direction.
After a few more wrong turns with no clear sense of direction from the navigator we found the street we were looking for. Using a picture of the Troy bar we soon were at the hotel with Klodi waving to us. After unpacking the bike we parked up outside the Troy bar next to Klodi’s two bikes and the big Harley Davidson sign. We really like the look of the bar and the staff seem really friendly so I think we’ll be spending a few hours here over the next few days. After a drink and lunch we headed down to the beach which was just on the other side of the road and down about 100 metres. Everybody was out walking along the beach at the high tide mark. Judging by the amount of cafe’s, restaurants and beach umbrellas this place must be packed in summer.
We found a nice cafe to catch the last of the sun as it sank into the Adriatic Sea before heading back to Troy Bar. They had a really good menu and it was so nice to have a steak.
Tomorrow we’re heading into Tirana for a walking tour which we’re really looking forward to.