Odyssey Day 10 Radhime to Berat 59 miles 615m

Relatively short day also tiring. Lots of concentration needed on the road. The poor surface was one thing: the driving quite another: a free for all directions. Apart from the heavy lorry drivers to be fair who took care when passing.

Most of the scenery was working towns and farm land. Vlore was being regenerated before your eyes and it looked for the people that lived their, not the tourists.

Cheeky kids were abundant: curious and knew enough English to attract attention.

Berat is another proposition: a medieval town nestled in the valley of the river Osum. Awesome!

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Odyssey Day 9 Dhermi to Rhadhime 23miles 1000m

Short day in distance, long in perspective. That’s an up of 1000m in 10k, taking in honey sellers at the zig-zag corners and admiring the skills of the heavy lorries navigating their way down.

Noticing in Northern Greece the lack of cemeteries, in contrast Albania has more, though not as bright as the Grecian ones. It would have been impolite to photograph the village turnout at the funeral procession; slightly weird to be overtaken by the empty hearse as it careered down the hill.

The Tour Albania cycle race thundered by to make short work of the hill we’d laboured up.

Odyssey Day8 Sarande to Dhermi 43 Miles 1524m ascent

Shortish cycling day: just as well with the undulating road we were on. This is the main coastal highway north and thankfully relatively quiet today. Albania is a country that is growing dependent on its tourism with the infrastructure coming a way behind putting pressure on local services on peak season. No difference to gone then and things line the NSCR500.

Rapidly leaving the developing sprawl of Sarande behind, the landscape becomes more that of a developing nation: what looks like subsistence farming (which were may all end up back with to solve global warming). Small goat and sheep herds nestle the road side with a shepherd near by. Donkeys and horses with wooden saddles graze. Older people with tanned skinned, slightly shrunken faces and dressed in black for the roadsides. Like Greece in the cafes men sit and chat. The sound of manual labour breaking stone in quarries.

More obvious signs of foreign visitors with A D and H number plates on mobile homes and motor cycle groups.

What were staying looks like it’s being redeveloped: the sound of building is in the background.

We all hide from the hot sun.

Sarande (rest day)

The Albanian Riviera. Still being built with the smell of fresh paint among the sea front. The taxi driver (10euro is the standard rip off price up to the castle) good is the population grows from base 25k to 300k at peak season with 300 days of sunshine. I’m not sure why done people come here to then go to Corfu, but then again we’re not experts on sea resorts!

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At the castle (now a restaurant) great views of Sarande are complemented by a wonderful display of spring flowers. The walk back down illustrates real life, from scrap yards to garages to new building. A fast developing town!

And happy 25 Anniversary to us!!

Odyssey Day 7 Elati to Sarande 60miles 1240m

The last 50k on Greece was through lush woodland with even more flowers.

Then into Albania. Anticipation of difficukt border crossings proved false: far smoother that UK.

Almost at once the differences, on the surface, were apparent. A different plateau with only scrub on the hills. Mercedes seem to dominate.

A common theme is ascending a hill with steep drops. Then finding the next valley is different again. Back comes the trees and irrigation channels. 1€ for two coffees sets us up nicely for the chunky ascent to reach Sarande.

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