This blog post was copied from www.travellinghewitts.com – the blog I maintained between 2015 and 2018 with Lena, my now ex-wife who I was travelling with at the time. I have no intention of going through the old posts to update them – the past is what it is and doesn’t change. Apologies if some of the context seems a little strange as a result!
Following the more “adventurous” time in Albania we’ve had a more relaxed week. We spent a few days by Lake Ohrid in Macedonia – a truly beautiful place. Crossing the pass from Albania triggered a genuine “wow” – it’s stunning. If I was ever to come back I’d probably not choose to stay in Ohrid itself; whilst not quite as bad as your typical seaside resort town it does have that feel – the main high street is tourist trap hell. The smaller towns around the lake would probably be nicer to stay in. We had some easy days, good food and flew over the lake with Paragliding Ohrid. Video to follow, when I get a new cable for the video camera. Paragliding seemed incredibly dangerous, although only to my bank balance – I could get addicted.
Special mention goes to the wonderful family who looked after our bikes while we were there, arranged by the inimitable Vladimir from the guesthouse we were staying in. Thank you to Boris, Blondina, Simona and Marija! All they asked for in return was a “sedate” spin around the block for Marija and Tiggs and I were more than happy to oblige.
The ride up to the capital, Skopje, was easy – good roads and great views. Less views of Lena’s topbox as well – her pace is improving. Skopje itself was an interesting stop – it’s an odd city; the old buildings don’t seem too well looked after but a lot of money seems to have been spent on a very new centre. The shiny-new government buildings had received a nice improvised coat of paint from the “colourful revolution” political movement though, which jazzed them up a bit. We stayed in the most horrendous hotel; breakfast consisting of packaged bread and those awful cheese slices people with no taste put in burgers. Oh, and Lena fell sick.
Very sick. I shan’t go into the details but she was pretty wrecked the morning we planned to go on to Kosovo so I did a few bits and bobs on the bikes and found her some pills. Later that day she decided it was time to go on; despite barely being able to stand. I politely suggested this was a bad idea but never one to insist against someone’s will onto the bikes we went. All the way to the second petrol station where Lena promptly collapsed on the floor. A kindly security guard, a ride back into town and a nicer hotel gave her another night’s sleep and she was back to form. I had the pleasure of visiting the Archaeological Museum of Macedonia – not worth the visit; a huge collection of wonderful stuff utterly lacking in any context.
Proud of my hearty constitution and manly good health off we went over the border into Kosovo for a long, long ride to the Rugova National Park. After a scary wrong turn where I rode one motorcycle up a very steep track and two motorcycles down that same steep track we arrived at an isolated little guest house in Drelaj with the most amazing host, who insists on speaking French to all of his guests – regardless of it’s effectiveness. Showing off my robust gut I made a good effort at the mountain of food they gave us, I figured needed the energy for cycling with Erton of Cyclistes Sans Frontier the next day. Still feeling hale and hearty I showed my vim and vigour on the bike, outpacing Lena at every turn and having a really enjoyable day riding around mountain villages and getting a bit of a feel for the history and national character of Kosovo.
At about 0500 the next morning my constitution failed me, feeling a little groggy I put a bucket beside my bed and promptly filled it. Following which I promptly filled my pants. Still, I can be fairly proud of my mighty manly constitution – I was back on the road by 1200 that day. As were my freshly washed pants* – clipped to Lena’s pannier like an ugly, stripey flag. We had a touching goodbye from the family at Shqiponja who gave us some home grown and dried tea to help stabilise our guts.
Lena’s talked about the gentle stroll up Bobotov Kuk, so I won’t say much about that – the pictures say everything there is to say. The only thing I will add is that I am amazed at how quick that little single cylinder bike of hers will go when it’s raining and she’s desperate for a nights sleep!
*Lena, that’s one all at this stage of the game.