Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Day 5 - Albania

A quick blast across Montenegro saw the team arrive at the Albanian border.

Albania was a completely closed country until the fall of communism and the collapse of a complex pyramid scheme led to the ousting of the local dictator, Enva Hoxha.

It is still terribly poor with peasant farms and little in the shops. The only signs of economic activity are in the automotive sector. For such a poor country there a very large number of black Mercedes and Range Rovers with tinted windows.

To service them, every 1km there is a brand new petrol station though most have no customers or staff. Between the petrol stations every other shop is either a car wash or sells cheap wheel trims.

In contrast to the excellent car servicing infrastructure, the roads are patchy. By which I don't just mean inconsistent but literally full of holes. Driving standards are also variable. The horse carts generally keep to the edge of the Motorway with the sheep herds while everyone else does whatever they want.

Kevin tells us that this is good training for China.

The ride itself was hard. 13 hours on the road with long stretches at 30km/h up and down narrow hairpin roads.

Despite the challenge, Nigel, Peter and Brad decided to extend the day by doing an extra 50km off-road. They all claim that their GPS told them to go that way. I suspect that they have an extra routing setting. "Most Fun" alongside the standard "Shortest Distance" and "Fastest Time" options.

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