; };Just Riding - Lake Ohrid to Korce To Sotira Farm To Petran
 

Just Riding - Lake Ohrid to Korce To Sotira Farm To Petran

We rode to the town of Korce, it was very easy 51 km, and when I say easy, I mean easy for me on an e-bike. We had a tour of the town, and had to stop for Raki, the local liquor, at one of the quaint but numerous bars. Our American family had to try all eight flavours. We didn't have to try any, we are far more mature than that!

Riding in Albania is fabulous. Kids and people wave and look happy, and the cars give us a wide birth. We are travelling on main roads, as there aren't that many roads, and not that much traffic either. The scenery is fabulous, with a mountain range always in view.

Yesterday was quite a hard day for the non-e-bikers - 68kms and 1100m of up. There was also roadworks, so we had about 6kms of gravel. Just par for the course on Australian tracks, but the others found it a bit tough. We spent the night at a farm, which had camping and cabins, fish, sheep, many dogs, geese, ducks and the ubiquitous cats. 

This morning we left the farm, rode up a bit, then enjoyed a magnificent 14 kms of descent with the most stunning scenery. We even managed to ride on the border with Greece. We arrived at our guest house about 2pm, and could then visit some thermal springs, about 5 kms down the road. There is also a pretty impressive gorge attached to the springs. It seems to be a magnet for German tourists and campers. 

Currently I am sitting on our deck looking over a valley at the sun setting on the distant mountains. Pre dinner drinks beckon. All is good with the Albanian world.

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Riding out of Lake Ohrid, (it's usually up into the mountains) we can get a good impression of what we are in for for the rest of the tour..

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Looking up a country lane into the end of a mountain. What was surprising was the general high quality of the roads throughout the country.

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We've made it into Korce, one of Albania's major cities. Mountains as usual, but check out the "monument" on the left.

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Here is the Orthodox Cathedral in Korce built in the 90's after the fall of the communist regime.  During the communist years all religion was banned and the church was demolished. My mother's family was brought up in the orthodox church and this cathedral reminded me of the local "St Clements" church in South Brisbane, even though it was much smaller and more modest.

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The Cathedral from the outside. No you are not mistaken, those are a collection of mini cars parked near the church, ready for youngsters to hire them and learn the finer points of driving in Albania.

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The "Red" monument, built around 10 years ago to symbolise the country they hope Albania will become, now that they have their freedom.

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A rolling hills day out of Korce still has plenty of hills on offer.

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Some of our crew at our Morning tea spot along with "Barto" and his van with all our luggage in it along with a couple of spare bikes. If you didn't want to ride any segment, you simply waved Barto down (he was usually following the group) and he would load your bike onto the trailer and you would jump into the van and ride in silence with Barto, who could not speak English.

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Zane, a young American tourist from Texas took this shot on our "gravel day". There were roadworks going on on the road to Soltira Farm, so we just had to grind through the gravel and on to our destination. Zane, who was travelling in Albania and decided to do the tour on a whim, got a shock with the intensity of the riding (he was on a regular bike), but managed to hang in there and made it to the end. I lent him my spare of cycling gloves, but he knocked back my offer of padded cycling knicks. He must have had an arse of steel.

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We are finally back on the tarmac and riding through a pine forest when Sean, a 72 yo Livapudlian who speaks exactly the same as Phil Ligget, the cycling commentator, overtook me in a pine forest on one  of the steep climbs. We had been yo yoing all day with me overtaking him on the gravel sections and he overtaking me on the hills. My excuse was that he was riding a 7kg, $10,000 road bike and I was riding a 17kg, $1000 hybrid bike. I hesitated to tell Sean he sounded like Phil Ligget because I thought he would have been getting comments like that for years. Instead, he said it was the first time ever, that anyone had pointed that out.

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We have arrived in the countryside at Soltira Farm, welcomed by the geese, the dogs and the sheep.

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Quite a few fish here as well, although some of those in the picture may have been served up to us for dinner. They were delicious.

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There is always room for a picture of a cute puppy. (with its toy)

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There seems to be a pattern. Leave our lodgings and start climbing. That pattern was repeated today. Luckily we didn't have to climb those mountains.

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Our fearless leader, Arjun, rides out ahead on the first coat of bitumen of a new road. They seem to know what they are doing when they are making roads. We came across quite a number of gangs working on the roads today.

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You can see the snake like road in the distance that we will be on very soon as we are about to go down into the valley and follow a river along. It was a pleasant ride.

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We have not quite reached the valley floor, but we are now riding alog beside the river and will soon be at just above river level. The water is incredibly blue and clear. The mountains are incredibly rugged.

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A bridge built by one of marauding hordes across the river ???? which comes out of a chasm. Most of the water here is from a spring and you can see one of the thermal pools created by springs, below the bridge.

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The bridge leads over to this main pool, where the temparature was around 25 deg C. We had a dip. This was about 7klm from out guest house.

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From the balcony of our guest house was this typical country scene. A shepherd with his goats. The only thing that you cannot see is the mobile phone of the shepherd. Shepherds are not what they used to be.

 

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