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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sometimes your the Wheel Sometimes your the Road

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Today was brutal. I drove 14 hours to get to Greece and I still didn't make it to Thesaloniki. The first 300 kilometers took nine hours and the second 300 kilometers took four. The route I took through the mountains of Montenegro and Albania were sick. I thought the roads in Croatia were small and twisty, but the route through Montenegro was not much more than a goat path.

I made it though, and after waiting an hour to get through the border into Albania I was rewarded by getting lost in Tirane. I took me forever to find a street that was never more than three blocks away. I had to stop at the side of the road as the heat was getting to me. A man approached me and asked if I needed help and I asked him, "How do I get to Elbasan?"

"Elbasan?", he looked puzzled.

"Elbasan.:, I replied.

"Oh... Elbaaaasan", he worked his way through my poor accent.

He tried to explain it to me in Albanian, German, Italian, and French but I wasn't having any of that. I knew gouche meant right but that was it. Now in hindsight I know hat le duexieme feu means. The second light the turn gauche, right. no left. Right! Wrong. My puzzled look sent him in search of his boss who speaks English.

The gentleman invited me inside his cafe and sat me down. He asked if I would like a coffee and I accepted. It was a small price to pay to get me back on track. He explained that he lived in Ireland and England and that's where he learned English. I was so grateful to sit and talk to someone. When you spend many hours inside your helmet you start to go a little crazy.

He wanted to see pictures of my family (a common theme in this part of the world) and I obliged him. We talked about my trip, which I embellished a little for effect, and he drew me a map showing me two traffic lights and a left. How easy! I asked him for my bill but he was having none of that.

"I invited you to my cafe and offered you a coffee and some water because I thought you needed it. I would not expect you to pay for that."

The kindness of people never ceases to surprise me. All the stereotypes of Albania and Albanians have disappeared in my world. These people are friendly and hospitable.

So I continued to Elbasan and before I knew it I was in another mountain pass. I knew I was in trouble when I saw the goats couldn't make it over this one. I took alot of video ust to document my last moments on this planet and I let'er rip. It wasn't until I reached Podgorec that I became completely unnerved and truly scared. It was pitch black with no moon out and the road had disappeared along with everything in my bladder. The route twisted down the mountain and turned every thirty meters on a dime. On top of that I shared the road with oncoming traffic. It was frightening and I never want to do it again. Off roading in traffic is not right.

When I hit the flats the road to the border didn't get any better. As I passed a hotel I saw a KTM parked in the lot. I guess he had more sense than I did.

I pressed on to Greece and the border was a snap. I love being Canadian! Once I got into Greece a saw the most beautiful thing... paint on the roads. Black asphalt! Dotted lines. Signs! Yes my god I have made it. I now know how Moses felt after wandering the dessert for all those years.

I got on the freeway and hammered as far as I could. I found a small hotel(where I'll be leaving in about ten minutes and I make my way east.

On the Freeway.

1 comment

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