Saying goodbye to everyone and leaving everything behind for a year has been a road trip on itself. The last few weeks before the start of this adventure weren’t always easy. The impulsive decision we made three years ago, to cycle to Japan, suddenly became really real!

The final decision for the start was to begin in Italy, for these reasons:

1. Shorten the total length with about one month of cycling distance
2. Still have a fairly easy beginning, meaning a relative flat route for the first 800km so that our untrained bodies could get in shape for the heavier routes to come.
3. Saying goodbye to our Italian friends in Vignola.
4. And also for the warmer temperatures (which turned out to be an illusion, it was snowing the day before we started)

Even the best of plans change and we actually only spent 6 days following the Italian Adriatic coast, good for about 300 km’s instead of the planned 800. We started day 1 with a temperature just below zero and non-stop rain, the days after that we were spoiled with blue sky and sunshine! The coastal road however wasn’t very nice to cycle and it was very difficult to find a free place to sleep. Maybe it was because we weren’t yet into our routine for finding that kind of hospitality from the Italian people or maybe the cold made us choose for the luxury of a warm bed and hot showers instead of our tent. Anyway, at the end of each day we opted for a ho(s)tel. We also had 1 great warmshowers experience in Cesena at Giancarlo’s place.
Arriving in Ancona the idea to leave Italy earlier than planned via the ferry port quickly seemed a more favourite plan. Why should we still cycle 500 km’s on a busy/bad conditioned road in cold temperatures, while we could take a ferry to Durres (Albania) and start the real adventure? So within an hour we decided to leave Italy much earlier than planned. Before boarding the ferry we stocked up on Italian groceries as much as possible and then prepared for the 19 hour ferry ride across the Adriatic see. We slept like a baby for at least 12 hours and awoke in a completely different country.

Welcome Albania!