Wednesday 19.8.2015 Countries:11 416km Total:3215km
We decide not to venture in to Skopje (the capitol of Macedonia) since there really wasn't anything we wanted to see there and I was way to early (100kms) to spend a night there.
We therefor mosty transit through Macedonia down to Lake Ohrid which according to my trusty Lonely Planet guide is the most scenic area of Macedonia and home of the most visited tourist attraction, the church of St. John of Kaneo.
The traffic culture in Macedonia isn't much better than Albania and we travel mostly on the smaller road network so even though the riding is very nice we make very slow progress.
The GPS-coverage for this are is completely hopeless and to make things worse the streets are usually named "street something somethingelse probablyaname somethingmore finish" so trying to get a route is practically impossible.
I get the feeling that the general attitude towards tourists is that they don't give a f**k about you, your money or your vehicle so there aren't a lot of helpful signs (in any language).
We therefore overshoot our target by a longer distance but since we eventually end up at a very scenic lookout point so it didn't really matter all that much.
We head into town Ohrid to give it one last shot of locating the church and judging by the bikini-density this town is a tourist trap of enormous proportions.
I've finally managed to find something in the GPS that seems to correct so I am now a man on a mission, I will follow it blindly, so blindly in fact that I deliberately ride against one way streets.
By now we have already ridden 200kms and the sweat is just pumping out of every little pore so I pretty much gone into a fuck-it-all kind of mood.
This isn't exactly unheard of in these parts either so no one seem to mind until we get to a single lane tunnel and meet a local.
He points and shouts franticly that he has the right of way.
I try to calmly try explain to the gentleman that I may be an idiot but I'm an idiot without a reverse gear so unless he wants to get out of his car and help me push the bike he would to better to reverse and let us through first.
He relents (obviously under violent verbal protest) and lets us through but since this was sure to happen again we decide to leave the bikes at a restaurant and continue on foot.
We actually do manage to find a church but it turns out it's the Church of St. Sophia and not the Kaneo church.
This is one of the oldest churches in the world dating back to somewhere in the late 800 and with the frescos completely untouched.
If this had been a plan b it wouldn't have been bad at all, as complete freakish coincidences go this was stroke of pure luck.
At the church we meet a small group of Irishmen who very friendly and helpful but gives us completely wild directions to Kaneo which I know beforehand that I'm never going to be able to follow but at least we now know we're not even close to it.
It's now almost 6pm, we're pretty beat up from the riding thus far, we haven't eaten dinner and have about 130kms further to Tirana.
We didn't really even need to discuss it we knew just by looking at each other that we'd given up on Kaneo by now.
Instead we decide to enjoy our surroundings and pay our way for the parking by eating dinner, due to language difficulties I managed to order a chicken drowned in cheese but by now I'm completely starving so I eat it anyway and will most likely have to deal with the consequences of that decision later.
We leave the beautiful Ohrid district behind us and head for the Albanian border. If the Albanian traffic culture is the mother of chaos the Kjafasan border passage is no better.
All in all it will take us an hour to cross and by 7pm you would think this isn't exactly peak hour.
A less than professional border police waves us to an empty lane and then promptly leaves without indication where the hell we were supposed to go from there.
After queuing for about fifteen minutes we get told told that we're in the wrong queue like it's the most obvious thing in the world and he doesn't even give us directions until specifically asked to do so.
By the time we get to where we're supposed to go they have opened up the line where our motorbikes are now blocking vehicles that have already been cleared thus causing a bit of a ruckus (not to use the term riot).
The riot begin working for us though when a pretty aggressive Albanian gentleman states that if I don't move my motorcycle immediately he would do it for me.
I politely inform him that it would be very rash and unwise decision that would have some undesired consequences.
He rethinks his decision and instead goes onto full on attack mode on the border guards on our behalf to get them to give us priority so we'd get the f**k out of the way and he is immediately joined by others whose path we continued to block.
He and we get the desired result but by the time we get through into Albania it had already gone dark.
We immediately hit a pretty steep decent and the further down we get the darker it gets due to the surrounding hills and there is not a star visible in the sky.
This is a whole new level of dark, I'm talking coal miners ass crack dark. Completely pitch black.
The difference between high and low beam is so big it's like when you take a bearing for the bed and turn out the lights by the door and then sort of fumbles your way.
But instead of heading for a soft mattress, here you're most of the time heading for a hair pin corner with no guard rails separating the road from a precipice.
We kept descending for what felt like an eternity which felt pretty strange since Ohrid definitely didn't feel like it was up in the mountains.
I have since learned that in total we descended 900m from Kjafasan so the feeling of going down an endless slope wasn't that far off.
Albanian street names are hopeless so I feed in the coordinates of the hotel, or at least I thought I did but unfortunately they are obviously incorrect.
The first guy I ask for directions point in one direction and the female police officer I subsequently ask points in the exact opposite direction.
The gut instinct to trust the rozzers proved correct and we finally get to the hotel, the time is not 10.30PM and the least 2-3 hours riding has been so insanely intense that I almost was afraid to blink.
We check in, get a shower and head down to the bar to try and get the pulse rate down from survival-mode to some thing resembling resting heart rate.
Jim Beam understands my needs and pretty soon my eyelids feel like lead.
This was so recent that the motor of the truck was still running. Luckily everone was unhurt and eventuelly the cut the fuel line to kill the truck.
A pretty strark reminder that traveling by road in these parts of the world is not without its hazards.