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Author: Maria Zehentner / Translation: Elke Weninger
Beitrag vom: 26.01.2017

Montenegro – Albania – Kosovo – Macedonia

December 2016, January 2017

The barren landscape of the furthest Southern part of Dalmatia which seemed dreary and bleak extended in a wide arc as far as Montenegro. We were aiming towards South and reached Perast in the evening.

This town, due to its geographical location in the bay of Kotor, is known for most hours of sunshine a year. However, on our arrival we were greeted by such a strong wind that I occasionally got sea-sick in the lorry. When entering the village we found a suitable spot for Akela, climbed out of the driving cab and started strolling through Perast in the dawn.

The town looked moony and dreamy with its small archways and mansions. We went to a small restaurant and enjoying fish and mussels let the evening fade away. Lennox had mussels for the first time in his life and liked them!

At nine o'clock the next morning and being in a very good mood we left the spot after a quick breakfast in a small ferry boat taking us to islands off the coastline. 
Whereas on one was a cemetery, the other one was the home of a monastery with museum. 

 

At lunchtime we returned to Akela on the road and then spent some time driving along the coastal road. We left the main road and drove into small villages every now and finally spotted a great space to stay which was located at the sea. If only the wind would stop howling around our ears! Quickly we put on the warm winter jackets and went down to the beach. We got the glimpse of a water slide, latched stalls and closed restaurants,...in the summer it is definitely busy here with a lot of swimmers. After a gusty night the men were eager to go outside and find adventures there.

Some time later Lennox hastily came to the truck, appearing nervous. I should get dressed and join him as quickly as possible. When I saw what they had discovered, my heart was in my mouth. A steep face, a climbing wall, leading into a small bay. If one wasn't careful, one might drop 3 to 4 meters. Yet, they had managed to do it!

The plan was to stay at this charming spot for a few days. Lennox had a wonderful natural playground at hands, around us was enough space to work on Akela, which was constantly necessary. Unluckliy our plans were thwarted by the weather. As the wind had literally blown us out of our shoes, we spontaneously decided to drive on and leave this place. Our destination now was Skopje via Albania and Kosovo, without any planned stops there.

 

The roads were in a good condition and the truck was rolling down kilometer by kilometer without any serious problems.

We could cross the border to Albania without any problems as well, sadly none of us didn't really know a lot about this country. We had faint ideas and images of various news from the media in our minds and buzzwords such as war, poverty, corruption...had anchored there. And this is exactly how this country appeared to be. Dull plains, characterized by collapsed houses, from which smoke was rising. Only the Albanians themselves didn't seem to be like that. Each of them driving a Mercedes, be it old or new. If only we had known that before ;-)

Apparently Albania has a great coastline and in the evening we arrive in the city of Shkodra. Skutari, as its native name is, is the fifth largest town in Albania and has always served as adminstrative centre. We find a quiet spot in a park for the night when entering the city. The night turned out to be quiet! However, though not to our disadvantage, early in the morning we were woken up by the prayer of a Muezzin. Consequently, we hit the road early in the morning and kept going through the Albanian countryside. Somewhere - in the middle of nowhere – Leander noticed that Akela wasn't going as fast as he should. Something was definitely not the way it should be! At exactly that time an up to then well oppressed bad feeling regarding our fuel tanks became stronger and stronger. Already at our departure we had feared to get problems with one of our two diesel tanks. Still at home we had bought a new diesel tank, had it fixed and mounted by a professional company, yet unluckily it hadn't brought the desired result. And at the beginning small problem brought – in the long run – more and more problems. Time and again bits of dirt were getting into the tank, which resulted in a blockage of the diesel filter. Something which was not good at all. Unluckily we hadn't been able to get this problem sorted out in a way that everybody was happy and so we had left with a malfunctioning diesel fuel tank. 

We stopped at the next filling station. Though the sun was shining it felt very cold – something like -5°C – Leander changed into his work clothes. It was the first proper repair job he had to do on Akela since we had left Austria. He had a rough idea of what might have to be done. The prefilters had to be cleaned and I helped as much as I could. He seighed with relief when Akela was running smoothly as he should after the work had been finished.

We kept going on the well-paved roads, passing Lezeh and Lac. Even though the country appears to be shabby and dirty, none of the people we came across and met were like that. We were always helped when required and everyone was friendly.

 

I experienced the border to Kosovo as terrifying. There were many men in uniforms, dogs barking loudly were kept in small dog kennels, probably drug dogs. The inspection of our papers and documents though ran smoothly and nothing could stop us any longer to travel to our sixth country, Kosovo...

The map helped us to find our way through Prizren, a small and ornate town with a lot of building sites and traffic not obeying any visible or logical rules. Therefore, rather quickly after shaking various power cables due to being nearly 4 meters tall with Akela, we got stuck! Behind us – dead end road – turning left or right impossible and without any chance as the roads were far too narrow.  Ahead of us at least 5 cars were blowing their horns wishing to get by. But how? We could neither move forward nor backwards. Thanks to Akela's loud signal horn we managed to stop people's wild gesticulations and hooting and the jammed up cars made way for us to leave the chaos behind unharmed. 

Once again night set in and after a long day we were still driving. We had planned not to drive on such roads at night, yet we didn't seem to learn from our mistakes. We had to pass mountains on a rather narrow and partly not well-paved road. Akela's headlights – hand in hand with the beginning snowfall did not help at all to improve the driving conditions. On top of that Lennox started to grouch.

He had been spending many hours in Akela, but now he has had enough. I took him back to the alcove while Leander was driving on sitting on his own now in the front. At some time he shouted up to us that he might have to mount snow chains. I couldn't grasp anything anymore as I was really tired and so my eyes closed as well as Lennox'. Close to the Macedonian border Leander woke us up. Lennox and I climbed happily and relaxed down again into the driver's cab to Leander, who, admittedly, did not look relaxed at all. The driven kilometers over and through snow capped mountains had definitely tired him out.

 

At about 6 o'clock p.m. we arrived in Skopje, the capital and at the same time biggest town of Macedonia. Due to occupations of various different peoples (Christians, Ottomans...most recently Bulgarians and Albanians) Skopje prides itself with diversified scenery. Buildings of various styles are lineded up next to each other, just like its inhabitants are of different ethnic backgrounds. 

Leander had got to know Skopje on a former trip there with Fabian Lentsch – www.snowmads.world – and so he steered Akela with great certainty to a car park in the old town of Skopje. We had a view of the historical walls of the city – what else could we ask for?!

Having arrived there we had arranged to meet Ivan and Goce, who Leander had also met the year before. Since we were all hungry, they took us to a typical and traditional Macedonian restaurant. We were served with splendid salads, spicy stuffed peppers, incredibly tasteful bread, wine and other glorious delights. In the course of the evening many other friends joined and it turned into a very joyful and social evening. Hospitality is of great importance in Macedonia and within a few moments we were invited to a New Year's celebration on the next evening. We smiled happily and wondered if such a quick invitation would be likely and possible in our cultural background as well.  We left the question unanswered and were looking forward to the approaching days.

We celebrated New Year's Eve in Gorn Sonje, just outside of Skopje. We were able and allowed to celebrate with wonderful and outstanding people in a beautiful old stone house. We were speaking, exchanging experiences, and at midnight hugging each other, wishing all the best for the year 2017.

Just as it is done at home. Pretty unusual, however, is the Macedonian tradition of having a barbecue all night long for the sake of having a barbecue and obviously outside. Unusual it was, especially due to the horrendously low temperatures. Rakia was drunk, a lot of Rakia, just as it has to be done. Bearing in mind this evening, I still remember how cold I was and goose pimples start coming up again...

 

After a warm good bye from Ivan & Co, we were heading towards east the next morning, namely to the city of Veles, which is about 60 kilometers off Skopje. We were already expected there by Dejan and his family. Dejan and Leander were both Stocksy photographers and knew each other from a Convention in Berlin – www.stocks.com.melkin. Dejan had already invited us three years before,  should our trip lead us through Madeconia, and we were very glad to follow his inviation now.

The three days spent in Casa Ristovski we were pampered at a great degree. Cvetanka, the lady of the house, repeatedly cooked finest Macedonian dishes for us each day and Dejan accompanied these meals with finest Cafe Latte and Lennox happily found playmates in Nicola and Melanija, the couples' children. Not only could we use their house as if it were our own, Dejan and Cvetanka also helped organising an appointment at the dentist which unluckily had to be arranged and accompanied us to a hairdresser, organised an electrician to take a close look at Akela's driving cab, we had free internet and so on...

Many thanks to the four of you. You are great and amazing! It was wonderful meeting and getting to know you. We are looking forward to seeing you again. After a final Cafe Latte in company of each other we started the truck and were looking forward to Greece.

 

One issue which is of importance to us is definitely to bring across that the past 4 weeks have not been only joyful, funny and free of stress. Many people out there might regard our trip in Akela as a  “long term holiday”. Something which we would love to to be, yet unluckly this has not always been true.

Since the beginning of our trip we have had problems with the independent diesel vehicle heater, which a company named **** had mounted the incorrect way from the very beginning on. At this very point a big THANK YOU to Eberspächer for the subsequent help and great support! Thank you, Richard ;-) There are temperatures below zero outside and a well functioning heating would bring us so much relief. All attempts to get the thing working have failed so far, you already know from earlier about the catastrophe regarding our fuel tank.

There is a lot of work behind simply getting from A to B. Diesel filters have to be cleaned at regular times, the compressed air chamber needs to be looked after, measureing the oil level, checking tyre pressure. We have had to fight against humidity in the cubicle, always have to have an eye on the amount of water and energy having been used. We have to find supermarkets, bakeries, , doctors, filling stations, roads and routes. Tasks and transactions which at home get done without spending a great amount of time or brain take quite a long time on such a journey as everything is new and unknown to us. All the amazing and wonderful pictures Leander has been taking on our trip so far evoke a feeling of holiday and freedom in many of us. And this is what they should do – awake emotions!!!

However, these pictures also include a hell lot of working hours. Working hours, necessary to afford this tour in Akela. In order to upload pictures we have to look for a really good hotspot. Enjoy looking for one...;-)

Every now and then the so much desired and hoped for feeling of freedom and independence can be sensed, yet should be much more in our view.Though I have to admit that we are responsible for that very feeling ourselves. Not every single day can be of great importance and/or have a highlight, and mostly things do not happen the planned way anyways. This bears chances and possibilities to explore new things. We stay in a positive mood and do as the Romans did – carpe diem. 


PS: Whoever wants to see more, or buy some or give them as a present,.....;-))

The link: www.stocksy.com/Nox/gallery/worldtrip 

 

 

Comments (5)

  1. Philomena und Familie
    Philomena und Familie at 06.02.2017
    Hey ihr 3!

    Wir hoffen, dass es euch allen gut
    geht und ihr trotz den Turbulenzen,
    die ihr hoffentlich gut meistert, ein wenig
    Spaß habt und viel von der Welt sehen könnt!

    Alles Gute und schickts ma amoi a Koatn ;D
    Philomena und Familie!
  2. gaby
    gaby at 07.02.2017
    Wünsch Euch weiter alles Gute und vor allem schönes, warmes Wetter! Das habt ihr Euch inzwischen mehr als verdient... Und vielleicht sollte ich Euer Auto in meine Abendgebete mit einschließen :-) Bussi!!
    1. Maria Zehentner
      Maria Zehentner at 08.02.2017
      Hallo Gaby,
      vielen Dank für deine liebe Nachricht.
      Ja, das mit dem Wetter ist so eine Sache. Wir sind immer noch auf Kreta, bereits seit 3 Wochen! Auch hier schlägt der Winter gut an.
      Unter tags herrschen zwar sonnige Temperaturen, 15-20 Grad, aber es weht ein eisiger Wind, was uns aber nicht davon abhält, ins Meer zu springen.
      Werden vermutlich morgen auf das Festland zurückfahren, dann gehts weiter in die Türkei, und da herrschen eisige Temperaturen. Es kann aufjedenfall nicht schaden, unseren Akela in deine Abendgebete einzuschließen...;-)
      Es freut mich, dass du unsere Blogbeiträge verfolgst, ich hoffe, du hast Spaß beim Lesen
      Viele liebe Grüße
      ML2
  3. Maria Zehentner
    Maria Zehentner at 08.02.2017
    Hallo Ihr Lieben,
    eure Nachricht hat uns total gefreut, vielen Dank.
    Uns geht es allen gut, Lennox hat sich die linke Hand gebrochen vor 2 Wochen, und heute waren wir noch einmal zur Nachkontrolle im Krankenhaus. Mittlerweile kennt er schon sämtliche Krankenhäuser in Griechenland ;-)
    Der Spaß läßt noch ein bisschen auf sich warten, aber wir bemühen uns. Es ist für uns alle 3 eine große Umstellung.....
    Derzeit sind wir auf Kreta, werden aber höchst wahrsch. morgen mit der Fähre zurück nach Piräus fahren, dann gehts quer zurück durch Griechenland in die Türkei. Da fängts dann vermutlich an, ein wenig ungemütlich zu werden, eisige Temperaturen.
    Philomena, eine Karte schicken wir dir auf jeden Fall, versprochen...;-)
    Alles liebe an dich und deine Familie, ich hoffe ihr lest alle fleissig mit
    Liebe Grüße und dickes Bussi an alle
    ML2
  4. Peter
    Peter at 15.02.2017
    Eine Standheizung wird nur im Winter kaputt! Bei mir ist die Motorvorwärmung(Wasserstandheizung)abgraucht....Habe in Mittersill bei minusgraden eine neue reinzangelt... Im Frühjahr gehts immer bessser..
    Jeden Tag eine Sache erledigen reicht auf Reisen..
    Liebe Grüße aus dem August, Peter

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