Shqipëria (or Albania as we know it) is one of those enigmatic countries I knew virtually nothing about and a lot of people consider a difficult dangerous place worth avoiding , but someone somewhere had made a passing comment that I would be in for a good surprise. And so I pedalled in with their iconic flag (a black doubled headed eagle on a bright crimson background) hoisted proudly everywhere.
The first night's camping I just felt that I didn't need to hide away and camped amongst the local's fields. In no time I had a charismatic old dude sitting next to my stove having a lengthy charades chat, and he wasn't done yet, visiting at midnight to bring me a red bull (I think the kind gesture was to aid my fatigue, although being caffeine free it did present some insomnia issues!). And he was back at 6am on his scooter to show me his catch as he clearly wasn't content that I'd understood his 'Pesce' in Italian the previous night (I hadn't!).
Dragobia the ferry, was constructed by putting the top of a bus on top of a banged up old boat, which seemed like a novel cost effective solution to me, and at sparrow's fart she departed along this magnificent often sheer gorge with a lone tourist on board. The trip was a mesmerizing mix of sheer cliffs and verdant vistas interspersed with the bustling business of ferrying locals and goods from precarious and precipitous collection points that most city folk would consider too dangerous to venture near!
And so for two full days I roamed high and deep among these fabled peaks, often deep in snow, usually devoid of paths over sketchy terrain, and they were almost exclusively mine to behold - stoked was an understatement, I'll let the pictures say the rest.
And on return a partner in crime, as the legendary Anne Price (aka my mother) joins me to ride through the summer months.