Drive Around The World (Australia)

One family, one car, one year, one planet

Albanian Roads and Greece, by Maddy

Albanian Roads and Greece

By Maddy

The roads in Albania are really chaotic. Overtaking is almost like fully driving on the other side of the road when you’re not meant to. Some cars when overtaking try and do as many cars as possible but then don’t realise there is a big diesel truck about 150 metres in front of you, so what most cars do, is stick to the sides of other cars (driving on the lines dividing the two ways) until the truck passes.

Every two kilometres or so, a half constructed building passes, with only a few concrete beams sticking out at odd angles. When we arrived at Vlore, Albania, we almost got killed just trying to find a room for the night.

On the main highway, everyone is supposed to be going at only 50 k’s an hour, but I think that is one of the reasons why people turn instantly into maniacs by flying around aimlessly on the road. Even dad went faster than the designated speed limit.

From Montenegro to Albania, we decided to take a sub-highway, thinking that it would be quicker because it was almost pitch black and we were trying to get somewhere reasonable to sleep for the night, and yet it wasn’t even 5 o’clock. Anyway, we realised that after about 10 minutes of trying to put up with crazy Albanian drivers, no, it wasn’t even a proper road, it was basically a one – way street. The barely-paved-truck-invaded road was unbelievable. At one stage, there were a series of trucks trying to squeeze past each other and one truck driver obviously thought he was so smart because he drove onto the side of the road, and then realised that there was a car coming the other way, then realising that he couldn’t get back into the right lane again. A whole kerfuffle.

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(The first stage of the “kerfuffle” from Montenegro to Albania)

Dad found out that almost every single car (literally) is a Mercedes Benz. They zoom around at almost a gazillion kilometres an hour, thinking that they are oh so cool, trying to get around other vehicles without ripping their bumper bars off with success.

Given that the country is so poor, it is probably really hard to get hold of those Mercs, even if they were second hand from Germany or Switzerland.

Today we were on the road for about seven hours. The ridiculous thing was, is that we only drove for 220 k’s! The reason we took so long, was that we drove over the mountains, so windy, but so pretty.

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(Just one of the views of the mountains)

When we were driving through a group of houses (it wasn’t exactly a town), a kid waved so close to mum’s window that he could of easily punched it. I asked dad why the kid was waving so close, and he said that the boy wanted money, and lots of it. I can’t imagine some total stranger pulling out a wad of cash from his bag and giving it to the kid. Poor people.

A couple of days ago (22nd November), we were driving through the mountains again, and it must have been really cold the night before because there was snow on the side of the road! Even though it was warm inside the car because we had the heating on, I could just imagine my self out there turning into an ice block. 

I’m now writing from the Turkish Customs, from Greece. Greece was so cool. The food was absolutely amazing, most of the people were really friendly, and the towns and the cities were fascinating. Our first stop in Greece was in a small town called Konitsa. We stayed at the Grand Hotel Konitsa. (“Kóvitoa” is approximately how you spell Konitsa in Greek, but the computer program didn’t have all the exact letters). The couple that ran the hotel also had a guesthouse and a restaurant down the road and so that is where we went for dinner. Ioannis and Katerina were very helpful and warming. The only problem was that for every second of the day Ioannis had a cigarette dangling out of his mouth! Anyway, for dinner that night, Raffy was obviously in a carnivorous mood because he had a bowl of chicken soup and a couple of cutlets of Greek style lamb. He said that “it was so good, that I couldn’t finish it”. Even dad thought it was highly a winner. Mum was full for about three days because the chicken soup that she got was so filling. Dad and I got salty fried fish and that, was so good. As we where leaving after a really decent meal, Ioannis took us to his own little kitchen where there was a big barbeque and another different open-fire cooker. He started talking and it was kind of hard to escape his trap. Once mum and dad had broke out laughing for the third time, we left.

After a pleasant night’s sleep, it was time to hit the road again. Breakfast consisted of crunchy bread, coffee, juice, feta cheese, jam and some other every-day (or should I say “every-morning”) condiments. After a brief card swapping, brief good byeing few minutes, we all piled into the truck and once again left for our next destination.

Albania and Greece were both really interesting, both in good and bad ways. The two countries have their own culture, food and history. I thought that Albania was trying to do too many things at once to boost their economy. For example: building hundreds of new buildings and half way through the construction, the builders realised that they haven’t got enough money and so they forget about that and instead of waiting a few weeks for some more money to complete the building they had started, they go and start a new one. Like I said for Brugge, Belgium, when I’m older, I want to come back to Europe and have another look around.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my blog post on Albanian Roads and Greece.

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4 Comments»

  auntiefranny wrote @

Hi Maddy and Raffy, sounds amazing! Your blog is so colourful and interesting, it makes me feel like I’m really there too.
Raf, I know it’s your birthday next week and we want to wish you a fanastic day, may all your wishes come true!
Looking forward to reading more…have lots of fun and lots of laughs
Fran and family xxx

  Gaby wrote @

Darling Maddy,
Wow, this is an amazing description of your travels in Albania and Greece.
I must admit I am so glad to know you have arrived safely in Turkey, where I hope the roads are better than in Albania. Just reading about the driving made me nervous…..even if I know your Dad is a brilliant driver.
Have you made a birthday list yet? Will you be in Istambul for your Birthday?
Has Raffy made a list ? He is the first on the agenda…tell him to hurry.
It’s great to read you, so until next time,
love & hugs,
Nana

  David Taylor wrote @

Hi Maddy, very interesting to read your blog. All the while, I’ve been thinking that Merc drivers must be the same the world over. I think most of them in Melb are crazy. Anyway, I’m glad you liked Greece. I think your experiences in Albania, would have made Greece seem like paradise. Kepp well & Happy,
Luv & Peace, David.

  Hilary wrote @

hello maddy
terrific blog – thankyou – i enjoyed it very much. albanian roads sound like real life dodgem cars. were you as unnerved as your dad? i don’t envy him driving there. your insights into what’s going on there – too much attempting to catch up in too short a time – are probably spot on. i wonder how they got a seat in the EU? greece must’ve been heaven after that.
reading other people’s comments i see it’s your birthday about now. hope it’s a happy one, celebrated in a unique local style.
love
hilary


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