We entered the Balkan for our second time, this time arriving in Durrës. Since we had hastily decided to come here, sooner than planned, we started with a rest and prep day, staying in a hostel with a very chill atmosphere and some great American, French & Swiss travellers who were volunteering there during their winter stop. Time seemed to fly, the day was over before we realized and it was time to head out for our first mountains in Albania. Having been here in 2014 we couldn’t remember much of this country, however after just a few km’s cycling it quickly came back. Albania has great nature but unfortunately it is not being respected well by the inhabitants. Garbage everywhere you look and as for the infrastructure most of it is in a high degree of disrepair. It feels like this country was once a pearl but has suffered a lot in its political turbulent history.

The first day of cycling, from Durrës to Mullës, was an easy ride, though it took some getting used to the faster traffic and worser roads. On day two during our first climb, up to 800m, it was very cloudy and rainy. The trip went well with a gentle but steady climb, but we didn’t see much more than the asphalt in front of us. Day three took us along an up and down road following a river until we stopped for the night in Librazhd. The second climb to 1000m on the day after was just fun! Cycling for the first time on a sunny day, enjoying the ride, singing along the trip and being happy and smiling! The border with Macedonia was on top of the mountain pass with an incredible view over ‘Ohrid lake’. Descending to the first familiar place since we left Bologna, we were both excited to revisit one of the most ancient towns of the world (established in 4000 bc).

After 4 days of hilly roads and climbing we deserved a break. Enjoying the charming town of Ohrid, having a coffee with lake view and chatting with our new American and Japanese friends in the Sunny lake hostel, it was very relaxing. Oh and finally being able to wash our cloths, what a treat! Almost ready for the next 300 km in Macedonia before reaching Bulgaria! The weather forecast however wasn’t  that positive: snow or rain and freezing temperatures! We knew the start wasn’t going to be easy …. Looking forward to spring!