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Tirana to Ohrid (Macedonia)

Leaving Tirana meant no more breakfasts at this delightful establishment. Put it on your “to do” list when next in Tirana. The Cappuccino without chocolate was as close to the best flat white I have outside of Australia. The croissants weren’t shabby either. Speaking of which the bread in this part of the world has been an unexpected surprise find. Quite outstanding.

Leaving Tirana we immediately followed a valley floor with a steady climb up onto a plateau where the Macedonian / Albanian border splits the two countries. The land looked fertile and there were corn fields a plenty. Without exception it all looked as though all work was being done manually without any mechanical assistance whatsoever. Think “horse and plough” when trying to mentally picture the scene.

“Only 10 Minuiti for koffee and make toilet “ the driver barked as we pulled into a road side service. 45 minutes later after he had enjoyed a full breakfast, smoked 5 cigarettes and had his bus washed the journey towards Macedonia continued.

There was once upon a time a rail service that ran this route from Tirana to Skopje. The engineering I have to say is a pretty impressive sight as you pass rail tunnels bored through massive mountains and long river bridges. The trains stopped running shortly after the fall of communism when it was discovered that western world buses could do the same trip in half the time.

At the Albanian / Macedonian border we were all ordered off the bus and both ourselves and our baggage physically searched. The bus then was x-rayed. And this all occurred on the Albanian side BEFORE we had left to enter Macedonia. Go figure. As always this one is a little circumspect about taking photos at border controls when there are sullen looking guards with automatic weapons hung loosely over their shoulders. Here the crowd looks on in fascination as the bus gets gamma rayed.

As always, regardless of the surrounding destitution and poverty, there’s always still enough money to ensure the religious building is the grandest one.

Next time you’re thinking life is tough try selling home made trinkets for 50 pence a throw in a biting wind on the edge of a lake at 2,100 feet altitude at age 125.

One of supposed 365 churches in Ohrid. The town is subsequently regarded as the “Jerusalem of the Balkans” and is also home to the holiday residence of the Prime Minister of Macedonia. Some also go so far to call Ohrid the Macedonian Riviera. Interesting bias and small exaggeration me thinks.

The Zavast 750. A 35 hp / 749 cc engined automobile of Yugoslavian design but produced in Columbia. If you think it looks familiar it might because they stole the design off the Fiat 600. Cute nonetheless.

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