Odyssey Day 17 Mostar to Tucepi 60miles 1250m

Leaving Mostar’s bustling tourist trap you are quickly into quieter residential areas. Large new churches vie for attention. Strangely the housing becomes more ‘western’ and new industrial units are dotted around. It’s also noticeable how the weather affects the terrain: from yesterday’s lush broad leafed woodlands to today’s rocky scrub.

Entering Croatia, it’s welcome to the EU. Immediately more traditional Christian: we haven’t seen one mosque thus far. The sparkling Adriatic arrives and we descend to our sea side overnight spot. Apparently people come here for holidays: you couldn’t tell!

Odyssey Day 13 Shkodra to Nicsic 74miles 1400m

Leaving Albania and it’s northern regional capital via a reasonably quiet highway, shepherds were replaced by single men looking after their cattle, well cow.

Border crossed, the rain caught up with us. Driving seemed to improve but that was soon dispelled by the car crashes. The almost immediate appearance of fences to mark off land was in stark contrast to Albania’s relative open land. Montenegro feels a little more prosperous though. Vineyards appear (and later prove that Montenegro wine is not that bad!)

After lunch we ascend, then ascend some more, weaving with a railway track. The numerous monuments and crosses dotted around hint at turbulent pasts. Nicsic feels ok: smoking still very common place.

The return of snappy dogs: Albania’s win out so far for the best behaviour.

Odyssey Day 12 Tirana to Shkoder 62miles 245m

Negotiating Tirana traffic kept the adrenaline flowing. No apparent rules for vehicles, bikes nor pedestrians. Just go: the code was eyes shut or open. Most of the morning was through fairly ‘industrial’ areas and then towns. After lunch opening up into more countryside. It seemed more populous than the south of Tirana though perhaps that’s just development along a road corridor.

Last full day in Albania. It’ll be interesting to return here in a few years: lovely varied country, including the people. Patisseries and coffee bars galore to explore!


A fast developing city which feels young, vibrant yet traditional. Patisserie vie with the coffee bars. Wide boulevards absorb the traffic with ease. Colourful, a throwback to tbe communist days. Modern global brands are apparent though do not dominate. We’re can learn from their cycle lanes and pedestrian crossing systems.

Families enjoy Sunday lunch in tbe restaurants. Perhaps forgetting that not so long ago they might have been spied on: the House of Leaves Museum is a chilling reminders of the controls of the former totalitarian state (cf we welcome GCHQ et al as protection of freedom for its modern eavesdropping).

Why didn’t I know that Mother Teresa comes from here? Just a square, no statue. Tbe generosity of the Albanians extended to sheltering Jews during WW2.

Then back to our hotel rooftop bar to bring up the average age.

Odyssey Day 11 Berati to Tirana 56miles 1650m ascent

A reminder about the generosity we’ve experienced. Stopping for an ice-cream and biscuit, the lady waved us away when going to pay: a gift. We see that on the smiles and waves of the people we pass: universal greetings that transcend different spoken languages.

Today we saw the remnants of a communist industrial complex which once covered 145 hectares and employed 12000 people (1962-91) and now clings on. Colourful graveyards decked in flowers. Subsistence farming evidencing crop rotation we learned in school. A turkey herding her chicks (or is a brood of such chicks known as a kebab?). Nodding donkeys, both in the flesh and priming the oil fields.

Then we find Tirana: a bustling capital city with hordes of bars, coffee shops, barbers; restaurants are harder to find. To explore tomorrow.