Albania, Montenegro, Croatia

We can’t say we were glad to leave Greece but we were definitely glad to be back on the road with Old Rusty behaving herself again. This week its been a bit of a whistle stop tour of the Balkan coast…

First stop was Albania, where we decided we’d treat ourselves to a campsite after the stresses of the previous few days!

Crazy 'Blue Eye' thingy on the road to Sarande

Albanian surf with Corfu in the background!

The Southern Albanian coastline is quite like Greece in many ways, currently not very developed but there are new (not so pretty) buildings going up all over the place… Shout out to Denis at Camping Kranea who gave us a great welcome.

The view from Camping Kranea

Making our way North towards Durres and Tirana we passed tonnes of beautiful beaches and saw a few strange sights…we also learned a lot about Albania drivers and roads. The Albanian’s it seems, understand neither the meaning or purpose of a roundabout and seem to embark on each journey with the aim of getting as close to death as possible. There are a lot of memorials by the roadside… fortunately ours won’t be added!

Moped? Wheelbarrow? We're not sure!

Tirana itself was a real surprise. The city centre has some really nice squares and little tree lined pedestrian streets as well as a massive market area and some of the best and cheapest souvlaki we’ve found yet!

One of those nice streets in Tirana

A crazy fountain thingy!

And the Berlin wall... why not!

From Tirana we headed on towards Montenegro eventually making it through the crazy border control queues and finding a nice spot by the beach to park up for the night.

The day after we drove the whole coast of Montenegro (it doesn’t take too long) which is full of really nice seaside towns (perhaps more tastefully developed than Albania) and amazing scenery. Then there was Kotor, set in a fjord, it is pretty spectacular, quite small and very walkable. Unfortunately it was raining so we skipped the walk up to the castle, which must be great in good weather, and walked ourselves straight to a pub for the afternoon – for internet usage purposes of course!

The walls of Kotor

And the setting...

In the end, as the weather was bad we decided to make some more progress and head into Croatia. Here’s a tip, don’t cross a border after you’ve had a beer… we got the major third degree from the border guys who it turned out thought we’d been smoking something illicit. It didn’t help we’d just been through Albania and were driving a very rough looking van I think! The parking spot we found that night made up for the hassle though!

Croatia spot number 1

Dubrovnik was next on the hit list… like Kotor it’s a stunner. The only drawback is the throngs of tourists, can’t imagine what it’s like in peak season. Never the less, we had fun wandering round and trying to spot all the backdrops to Game of Thrones…now we understand why it’s always sunny ‘Dooooon Soooof’ not exactly London is it?!

Kings Landing.... I mean Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik Walls

The whole coastline of Croatia is breath taking, and we drove pretty much all of it, making a brief stop at Split, which is less touristed than Dubrovnik but is also really interesting with a crazy mish mash of buildings built inside and around the old palace.

The same goes for the northern Croatian coastline above Zadar. There’s no massive hotels here like there is in the south, but some amazing coastline with these barren islands just offshore and mountains rising up from the sea.

Split

Bed with a view!

Till next time x

Athens & The North

Well, it’s been another packed week and a bit in Greece, we really could have done with 9 or 10 extra days!

After Corinth we spent a very quick day and a half in Athens and packed in as many sights we could manage, loving the free student entry in Greece! We also managed to spend some time in down town Athens which we didn’t get to see last time… more importantly… we finally got our first souvlakis in!

Temple of Zeus & the Acropolis

Sunny Athens

Looks like some of the locals aren't in to Alina's art...

From Athens we went to the island of Evia, home to more mountains, crazy beaches, lots of death roads and even a few km of off roading for old reliable Rusticus.

Still not bored of these sunsets

Gulp!

The next day we did the first of a couple crazy zig-zags across the mainland and headed towards Delphi, staying the night next to the sea at a little town called Kirra.

Temple of Apollo

Athenian Treasury

We hit Delphi the day after, before cruising on towards Volos and some of the best beaches we’ve seen since the Peloponese, including a little village called Damouchari that was used in Mamma Mia**! Cathy was most impressed!

Rusticus in an action movie...

Cathy doing some research

Damouchari

Trev on a Greek snow patch

From Volos we had yet another crazy journey all the way to Thessaloniki particularly as we were trying to avoid the extortionate Greek motorway tolls! We arrived in Thes’ on Good Friday just in time to witness loads of candlelit processions taking place.

Thessaloniki

Rather than face into another serious journey on Easter Sunday we decided to leave Thes’ a bit early and make some progress towards Kalakamba. We stumbled across Veria, a little town and managed to take part in some of the craziest Easter celebrations ever. There was soldiers, a marching band, fireworks, yes fireworks, and of course some orthodox priests.

After all that excitement we spent the following day hiking around the crazy hilltop monasteries at Meteora, meanwhile the Greeks had cranked out the BBQs and the lambs were on the spit!

Meteora

The following day we started to make our way north and then it happened….

🙁

Yes…..it happened….it might have been the death roads it might have been the dirt tracks, it might just be fate but all of a sudden we were stuck in a strange little village home to a dog with reverse erectile disfunction and a helpful if a bit strange guy and his many friends. After one failed rescue attempt (lorry too small for Rusticus) we accepted that we were staying the night.

The day after with some help from Yorgos we managed to get hold of a tow service and spent the whole day waiting in the garage while the mechanic did laps of the carpark in Old Rusty and the bill ticked up. Finally, after overnighting behind the garage with a significantly lighter wallet we were back on the road HOORAY! Unfortunately for Old Rusty she’s got some work to do before she regains the title of Rusticus Maximus!

Next up Albania!!

** p.s. sorry to anyone who we’ve ever told Mamma Mia was filmed in Santorini it was filmed on an island near Volos oops lol!