Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Day 32 (Albania): Koplik - close to Mamuras

today’s distance: 81km
total distance: 2656km
riding time: 3-4h

The curtain opens: The door flies open with a loud bang … in comes Ujk’s wife and wakes me up. It was 5:45 am. Thought that I had dreamed about sone noise beforehand, but that was real. Slumbered off again for a bit, but 20 minutes later I was up and we just hung out watching the sun come up behind the hills, Ujk taking care of the horse and then taking a silent and smoke-filled rest.


I bid my farewells from the family … I owe so much to them and couldn’t really give anything in return. All I can say is a big faleminderit. Off I went to return to the bad roads and I am in Shkoder in no time. Meet a German biologist looking for a rare species in the nearby lake and wonder around looking for an internet cafe with the bike in view.

Enter the stage: Sven. He asks (in English) what I am doing and whether I have some time to talk to students at the university, 30 minutes or so. I thought: “Sure, why not? Fun places, those universities.” Off we strut and lug up the bike and the packs two flights of stairs. Little reminder of Venice on a bike. The students look puzzled. Sven leads a project on how to market bike tourism of any kind in Albania and is quite optimistic about it. So I introduce myself, say why I am doing this and where I am going and the like. Talk about bike touring and what I think is good and necessary, what people may be looking for and so on. It was a great half hour or so.

Then two students organize a country map and a fast internet connection for me and we agree to meet for lunch with Sven again. For some reason we didn’t meet up until they were halfway done with food and so Sven and I take a wander in the Marubi museum with a faculty member of the Economics faculty. The pictures were nothing short of amazing … showing life in Shkoder from 1850 onwards. Very good insights into the life back then and how Albania was part of the big power game.

(garlic as good luck charme in an internet cafe)

Sven and I eventually end up in a cafe and chat about biking (he’s an avid cyclist himself) and possible routes through Albania. Finally I head out, aided by a big bad wind from the North. I was eating miles quickly in the late afternoon sun and just had a good time flying along smooth roads with a good amount of traffic, almost all of them giving me an extraordinary amount of space.

Enter the stage: Anders (for those reading Swedish). A touring cyclist coming the other way, heading from Athens to Sweden, where he will run a marathon, head over to the US to make an East-West crossing, fly to Hong Kong, bike north and eventually take the Transiberian Railways to Moscow. All of this in seven months. Seems like I am somewhere inbetween Anders on the one hand and Julia & Holm from, who are on a very leisurely pace.

We both move our ways and after stopping briefly in Lezhe I bike on for another hour or so, covering roughly 65km in under three hours of riding. Great tailwinds helping me along. Then I start to get tired, hadn’t eaten much all day. Started looking around for a spot, couldn’t find anything. Started talking to two old men, they didn’t really know what to do with me … My Italian was too weak to explain things properly to one of the guys who had been circling me. There were about 6 or 7 kids on bikes as well. Not a good way to go somewhat undetected.Enter the stage: Alex. All of a sudden this big shiny black Mercedes comes along the narrow side road and the guy speaks perfect English. Alex. He eyes me and asks what I want. I told him I was looking for a place to pitch my tent. He says, just follow me … He translates what I wanted to the others and they all offered to stay at their homes after having looked at me suspiciously. I pedal behind Alex and we arrive at his place and he says: “You’re staying with me tonight. Not a problem.” A big thank you goes out to Alex, for putting me up for the night, to his sister for great slow food cooking (the lamb meat cum potatoes soup was amazing) and for his father for being a good sport about fixing his bike. And for good conversations about Albania and how things might work out in the future.

The curtain falls and Markus slumbers off.

1 comment

1 Sven Christian { 04.30.08 at 11:36 am }

Alles Gute für deine Weiterfahrt! Andriela Vitic hat deinen Artikel gelesen:
Ihr Email Text: I though you may want to see the text in today’s newspaer in Montenegro about Markus whom we met in Sckodra. Sorry that it is on Montenegrin (available on:

Schön wars! Ahoi Sven

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