November 10, 2005 GMT

The current situation for bike travel in Albania is this: Stay away from the border region to Kosovo as youíll have a fair chance of being hijacked and robbed (they might even take your bike). Arrival from Monte Negro is hassle free if you choose the border crossing west of Shkodra. And never drive after dark. In fact, for your own safety you should stay inside after dark unless you are accompanied with locals. On border arrival a biker must pay a 10 Euro entry fee, and on departure an additional fee of 1 Euro (the latter said to be road tax).

This look like a scene from Vietnam, but it is Northern Albania

Albania offer a wide range of road animals, including cows, sheep, goats, horses, pigs, dogs and hens. A widely used mode of transport is wagons pulled by donkeys, something you might expect in the countryside but not as much in the streets in the capital. The number of aged cars with broken oil gaskets is uncountable, so keep you visor shut when driving behind e.g. trucks. Other drivers will give bikers no space of comfort on the road. But hey, the traffic situation is not as extremely bad as they say (though it is close to). If you wish to park and leave the vehicle, then park in a secure parking lot. A good and easy to find parking option in Tirana is in front of Hotel Europark. Take the south end exit from Skanderbeg Square, drive 500 meters, and youíll see the hotel on your left hand side.

Tirana is an excellent place to get asthma

Now, if you can live with all this, then youíre in for a good time. First of all, just entering Albania gives you a good feeling of doing something adventurous. Secondly, the rumor saying that the roads in Albania are awful it is not true. The drive north of the capital was made on a two lane freeway, while the south side offered windy roads through spectacular mountain sceneries. Petrol is widely available, and people I met en route were nothing but helpful and friendly.

Albania has some of the nicest and most entertaining roads Iíve ever driven

Posted by Erik Saue at November 10, 2005 11:36 AM GMT

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