36ml. I have a day off to go up to Valbona valley national park within the Albanian Alps. It’s 17.5ml up to the road ends from Bajram curri but well worth the effort. Great scenery all the way. I couldn’t stop taking pictures.
64ml inc 20ml on ferry. Early start from real hotel at Bajram. Arrived at Fieza for the ferry which takes you down a very scenic narrow komani lake. Beautiful scenery on the 2hr journey. After getting off the ferry it’s about 32ml to Shkoder. The road is lumpy for 20ml and surface is loose stone in places. The garmin temp gauge reads 40* so it’s a hard slog. I arrive in Shkoder around 5pm and book into backpackers hostel for a few days off.
37ml. I decide to head into Albania instead of going to Macedonia. I ride south to Ponashec and turn right to head to the border. It’s a gentle climb up to 560m. Through the border and head to Bajram curri to see if i can find info about the best route to Shkoder. I meet a group of tour cyclists from Belgium who are on a supported guided tour and their guide advises me to take the Komani ferry from Fieze, 16kms down the road. I’ve missed todays so i book into Real hotel for 15euro B&B. What a meal in the evening wow. I decide to stay 2 nights and go to see Valbona national park the day after.
71ml. After leaving my accommodation this morning I cycle to Peja. Quite a flat route here and Peja is a bustling little city. I try the only 2 guesthouses i can find, Saroc and Stonebridge and both are full. I try Hotel camp Karagaq. They have a room but it is 35 euro. Wow but even the dorm beds at the guesthouses were 30 euro. So i decide to take the hit as i’m knackered and can’t be bothered to find wild camping further down the road. Well i go for a look around town and it’s really busy but a great little place with lot’s of bar’s, coffee shop’s, eateries and even night clubs. I have to say though, accommodation expensive yes but you can eat full meals for 2 euro’s and beer is 1 euro so happy day’s.
50miles. Eventful day, followed mapsme up a 10ml mountain towards Peje. 2 hrs later I’m heading down and the road folks ontian even shitter dirt road. I pass a house with a flag flying outside and wave to the man outside. Little did I know this is the kosovan border. Next thing a Jeep comes and tells me to follow him. We go back to the house and he rants passport, he takes me in a room and we can’t understand each other. He’s fuming. He goes and gets someone who luckily speaks English. I have to turn back this is not a crossing you can use. Ffs, all the way back to Novi pazar and start again. Now it’s raining ha. Just my luck. I end up having to go to Raska then through the border heading for mittovice. I only get about 10miles through the border and have to check into only motel as it’s pissing down and dark soon. I check my route for tomorrow to Peje and it’s same as if I was starting again ha. Day lost but loved it. In hindsight, it was a good thing as when I tried to exit Kosovo I wouldn’t have had a entry stamp and could have been in trouble. Happy days.
24mile. After the early start from Priboj i climb a never ending hill. when i reach what i think is the summit at Nova Varos i head for Sjenica and it rises up again to 11% for about a mile. I’ve nothing left in my legs and i see a camping sign only 4.5kms away so i call it a day there at camping Zlatar. It’s only 1.30 so i set up the tent and shower then clean all the slug marks off my mat and sleeping bag. Feel better now. It’s a lovely camping place in a back garden really, of somebody’s house and after tea time the heavens open for about 2hrs so i go in the kitchen and mess on the phone to try and plan my future route which i’m still not sure about. Great scenery today but sore legs.
52miles. Waited for the sun to break through the cloud so as to dry the tent. Thats the problem when you’re high up. Thought i’d be downhill for a while today which i was at first then seemed to never stop climbing again. Finally got to sjenica and after a look around town and getting a Burec i carry on into a small village and a 16yr old lad on a bike stops me to speak English. He tells me he loves cycling and the next 20mile to Novi Pazar is downhill, which i take with a pinch of salt. After saying goodbye i set off down a steep hill and boy was he right. I had to shelter from the rain for about 45mins on the way down but about 5kms from the city it starts to rain again but Wien hostel is on my left so i pull in and i decide to stay here for 10 euro.
63mile. After saying bye to Harris in the morning as i’m packing up my tent, I head to Gorazde and take a look around the town then i head for Visegrad. Lot’s of tunnels through the cliffs skirting the river so have to put the lights on. It’s early when i get there so decide to press on after a look around the town. It’s been very hilly again so when i arrive on the outskirts and find a wild camping spot, I’m disturbed by some young undesirables so i move on in to the city where i look for a Hostel. It’s late and dark now but the Hotel ask’s too much so i wild camp in someone’s garden. Not ideal as i’m hidden under some trees but decide i’ll leave at 1st light. I awaken after a bad nights sleep tp discover i’m covered in slug’s as i slept on my mat in the open Grrrr. I pack away fast and set off into the cool mist heading for Sjenica.
41mile. After 6 days rest in Sarajevo to watch the world cup and be disappointed when England go out in the semi’s, Its on to Serbia. I head for Gorazda but on the mountain top before dropping down, I have a problem with the back brakes just as the rain comes down. I shelter under a tree and remove all the panniers and the back wheel. Disc pads are gone so i replace with my spares and Harris walks by, a local farmer tending his sheep and ask’s if i’m ok. He speaks good English and tells me where he lives if i need any help. After repairing the brakes i decide to wild camp on top of the mountain and Harris comes back and says i can go foe coffee if i like. I set up tent and after the rain stop’s i go to his farmhouse and have some coffee and homemade cheese and bread with home grown tomatoes that his mother prepares and speak about lot’s of thing’s. If everyone was like him, the world would be a better place. A really nice man and his mum also.
68ml. After 4 nights at the cycle camp outside Mostar i set off for Sarajevo. At Potoci village i take the right turn over the mountain to head for Konjic. It’s a 9mile climb to start with but i chose this route as the E73 route is a bit narrow and the main highway so quite busy with trucks. When you reach the summit and start going down the road turns to loose gravel so it was slow going for about 15km but the views were fantastic. At Konjic i’m advised by a local that the road isn’t so bad over to Sarajevo so i take this E73 otherwise it would be a night camping out as the other way would have taken me too long. There’s 2 tunnels going this way, the 1st is only short but still advisable to put lights on the bike. The 2nd tunnel is quite long so i decide to take the pass over the top which isn’t so bad as you already have a lot of height and never saw a car going this route, then it’s downhill all the way to Sarajevo.
I stay at a warm shower host’s, Selim, up in the hills about 10ml from Sarajevo old town. The morning after we talk and have coffee before i go to old town Sarajevo and book into the Doctor’s house hostel as it’s world cup football and I want to see the games.
15ml. Just a short journey today, into Mostar to look around and take photos. A beautiful old town which was badly destroyed in the 94 war. Even the stari most ( old bridge) has been built back to its former glory after recovering stones from the bombed bridge which lay in the river below. Then 7km north heading to Sarajevo, to stay at Zemljani cycle camp. A great host, Bambi, a chilled out guy who has a project going with great vision of the future. Great to talk to and a kind, helpful guy. Was a pleasure to meet him and Emir the bike mechanic.
48ml today. After packing up I’m hit straight away with a 5.5ml climb over to trpanj. Took me 1hr and then a nice long downhill into trpanj for the ferry to Ploce. I find a quiet road heading for Mostar which runs parallel to the main highway. I spend the rest of my kuna in a supermarket before crossing into Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s mark here which is 2 to 1 for the euro. It’s mostly flat all the way to Mostar and I decide to camp at Buna on the river as it’s 18.30pm and it’s been a long day with waiting for the ferry 2hrs. My intended stop was Zemljani cycle camp 7km north of Mostar but I think it’s better to sightsee Mostar in the morning on the way there. Beautiful camp at Buna and the owner Gaga is a real friendly guy. I set up the tent and go to a nearby bar to watch world cup football.