After passing through Croatia, we arrive in Montenegro, a country that is full of bikers. We take a trip around the Bay of Cattaro and spend the night in Lastva. After waking up, we head toward Montenegro’s inland area: through beautiful landscapes we reach Žabljak, where we expect to see the wonderful National Park Durmitor with the Black Lake. We sleep in a hostel.
The next morning, on the headland, we admire the Tara canyon sitting on the edge of the ravine and we climb up steep roads, through a breathtaking nature.
Another day, another adventure: after loading the bikes we head to Plav. After spectacular fields we find winding and potholed streets, and one of the Kawasaki loosens the headset. Tools in hand, in twenty minutes we solve the problem and continue the journey. We stop in a small town, where a local approaches us and is exhited as a child when I rev up my bike. What a dude! Finally we arrive in Plav, a beautiful lakeside town where we eat well. Taking a stroll is a must, with a stop by the deck and chat with the manager of the Lake Views camp site who speaks Italian well. We park here, and spend another night.
We wake up at 8, Albania is waiting for us! Already on the border the road begins through rocky mountains, green valleys and blue rivers lead us to Shkodër, the cradle of Albanian culture, chaotic and charming, where we take a motorcycle insurance for 15 days for only 12 €, we fill up on petrol and kebab. A road full of potholes and goats, sheep, horses, donkeys, cows, pigs and other animals, leads us to Lake Kuman. We have dinner in a campsite restaurant constructed under a bridge, in the company of Italian campers and a Slovenian couple on an Africa Twin. The next day we cross the long and branched lake, and guess who exceeds our ferry? A bus welded on a hull! In three hours we reach Fierze and we join 2 Poles, with whom we continue north to Valbona, in the Albanian Alps, along a beautiful creek. Then we begin to descend towards the plain, and even dodge a turtle on the road, then we stop in Kukes to sleep.
In the morning we start our journey to Tirana: we face an unpaved 50 km, I am standing and pushing on the accelerator, Luca has a softer style. The headset slackens again, but an old man comes out of nowhere and lends us a 27 wrench to tighten the lock nut, amazing! We pass a semi-abandoned military road overlooking the valley, and in the evening we reach Tirana: here there’s half a Kg of pig with fries waiting for us, and a monumental digestion while strolling around Skanderbeg Square.
After the night in the hostel, relaxing day: shower, lunch at the bakery at 130 Lek, a fresh cut at the barber’s and visit to Enver Hoxha pyramid that looks like a spaceship out of Star Wars. We climb to the top and toast with two Americans and a beer. We spend another night at the Tirana Backpacker Hostel.
We awake at 40 ° C and off we go, on the highway to Durazzo. In Vlorë the bikes go through the car wash, while we enjoy the beach until sunset and then have dinner in the city center near the mosque.
The next morning, we leave towards Saranda, on the border with Greece. We pass a high pass with stunning views and go back down to the coast. Coming out of a curve, I fall: That’s because of the smooth asphalt, smooth like marble! The only damage is a set of tears on the left saddlebag, so we get back on our bikes and reach Ksamil, famous for its crystal clear sea. After a night in a tent, we reach the border.
After reaching Greece we park by a beach to eat some byrek (quiche) and drink dhallë (buttermilk), then we take the highway and in a moment we see the majestic cliffs of Meteora appearing at the horizon. After a round-trip in the nearby town of Kalampaka, in Meteora we follow the ring road to all the monasteries and see the sunset from a viewpoint: simply magical!
The next day we visit two monasteries and save the third turtle from the road, then at around 3 PM, we pull on the freeway for 500 km to the port city of Alexandroupoli, where we stop to eat pizza and a boy recognizes us: “But are you the guys going to Japan “? That’s crazy! In the evening, we park the bikes under a surveillance camera, we place the tent in a lawn near the beach, and good night.
We leave at 11 and at noon we are by the border with Turkey.
Once in Turkey we begin to grind km after km of roads in the countryside, only stopping to refuel. After a few hours, we begin to see dozens of white tower blocks, and we enter the crazy traffic of Istanbul’s ring road: these days they celebrate the religious festival of Şeker Bayramı or feast of sweets, and they all travel to go to sea. Once in the centre of Taksim Square we go up and arrive at the hostel, then we do a tour in the old city: police everywhere, armoured vehicles and the tension is palpable, but we can admire the beautiful Blue Mosque!
The next day we stop in Bolu spa for lunch, but when we leave the highway traffic is jammed again. We go out to Gerede, and here we buy some sweets from a nice baker who shows us an alternative route on Google: we follow it along the coast up to Sinop, where we find a place to sleep well after 9 hours of travel.
In the morning, we enjoy the waterfront of this friendly town by the Black Sea, then we face 200km of treacherous asphalt streets between countryside and mountains up to the isthmus of Sinop, home to Diogenes. The centre is jammed packed, campings are full. To sleep we have to settle for a porch, 2 mattresses, a blanket and a concert of seagulls and dogs. At least we will remember Sinop’s boss, a twelve year old who ran around the city on a super-low motorbike with forks and 2 giants horns: after taking some pictures of his motorbike, he immediately added us on Facebook.
The next morning we continue east to Ordu, on a new and empty road that allows us to go up to 120 km / h. After a hundred kilometres we fill up on petrol, we empty a bowl of ice cream, I fix an indicator and Luca tightens the screws of the plates which he was in danger of losing. We travel all morning, and at 2 pm we stop in a village where we get to know a respectable and very kind gentleman, who offers us tea at the bar, nice pastry and a feast at his house: omelettes, cheese, barley, melon, grapes, baclava homemade by his wife, chocolates, coffee … we will never forget him and his family. When we leave, we realize that the sea is brown, like the rushing river that runs along the motorway. Once in Ordu we find a campsite and we enjoy the flashes lighting up the sky and the sea, beautiful! During the night the rain arrives here, we disconnect all devices for all safety reasons and we try to go back to sleep … despite the thunder. When the alarm goes off, we have to wait for the rain to stop, then we climb into the saddle and drive up to Trabzon with its large port, where traffic and red lights to no end make us go crazy! But it is not over. We have to face another big shower on our motorbikes, up to the village where we stay overnight. We hope the weather improves: tomorrow Georgia awaits!