Pedaling from the Black Forest to the Yellow Sea
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Day 35 (Albania/Macedonia): Hotolisht - meadow underneath Zavoy

today’s distance: 81km
total distance: 2851km
riding time: 6h

It was a long night, I slept for over 9 hours after a hard day of riding and not much sleep the night before. I bid my farewells after a hearty breakfast with the family and set out. More winding road and then an uphill to get to Macedonia. The type of mother-of-an-uphill. You turn the corner and you see it and it’s the I don’t like it kind of uphill. Switchbacks alright, but steep ones. Lots of traffic. It was 45 minutes of work, grades being mostly in the double digits. Good fun though once you’re up. The views were amazing. Then it was time to say goodbye to Albania. I hope I’ll be back some day. I had been treated so well and the bad rep is not deserved as far as I am concerned. Maybe I was lucky. Could be. But the people I did meet were extremely open and forthcoming, even if they didn’t have much. Try to give something tangible back and it’s hard to do.

Macedonia greeted me with a downhill, rain and 10 degrees lower temperatures.

I was now at 1000m altitude but while warm on the Albanian side still, it was freezing in Maceonia. It soon cleared up and I arrived in Struga, the first town on Lake Ohrid. I was lucky again. I stopped to ask directions for an internet cafe - not knowing that I would have seen many had I continued just a bit more. The store owner said to continue on when Jetmir came around the corner and the store owner said something in Albanian (both are ethnic Albanians) and for the next few hours Jetmir and I talked about everything imaginable. I changed money, hopped on the web and we had a bite to eat. He beat me to paying and wouldn’t hear anything when I protested. He had been an exchange student in the US a couple of years ago. Things in Macedonia make a lot more sense to me afterwards (as much as they can), politics and religion included. Jetmir happens to not care about ethnic lines in a country where this is the norm more than the exception. Schools are divided, sometimes being used by one group in the morning, by the other in the afternoon. Macedonians in Struga protested to have a separate school by not showing up for class for a month. Flags are burned, the situation seems to be a bit ugly at times. But I found his stance to be admirable given the situation at the moment. We walked towards Ohrid, which was not his direction at all and continued our conversation. Jetmir, all the best to you.

Finished the day off by visiting Ohrid, left when I saw this ….

and continued on for another 20km or so finding a peaceful spot near a little stream to have dinner and turn in for the night. The ride was perfect with the sun throwing a gold glow on the surrounding hillsides and the forest I was pedaling through.


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