Touratech Crew Stories: The beautiful unknown
Touratech employees Volker Haller and Thomas Besch have travelled Albania together. They experienced a scenically overwhelming, multifaceted country between tradition and modernity.
The route goes downhill at varying angles, on both sides of the asphalt layers of rock break through the earth's surface like giant steps, built by giants. We have crossed the Muzina Pass, and before us the view opens up over a wide valley and the mountains opposite.
On the good old Super Ténéré I am on my way to Gjirokastër, Albania, behind me Thomas, a colleague of Touratech, and his wife Annette, they are two on the Africa Twin, then Jutta and Mitch in the Ural team.
They told me to go ahead, and slowly it dawns on me why. You never know what's waiting for you around the next bend: Cattle and wild animals are always to be expected, maybe a construction site or oncoming traffic on the narrow road. Yes, there are motorways in Albania, but sometimes the exit is already gravelled again. In the more remote areas, just before Peshkopia, sometimes 40 kilometres of dirt road are the order of the day.
In the very north of Albania we venture up into the Theth National Park, again endless gravel stages and the magnificent mountain world of the "Albanian Alps".
Mountains and bunkers, you really have many of them here. About 750.000 bunkers are said to have been built in Albania under the dictator Enver Hodscha and obviously the road construction suffered from that. Bridges and tunnels? No way! But that means again that the road has to follow every fold of the earth and so we have driving days on which we have already in the early afternoon felt a thousand curves behind us. And this nature! Again and again we stop and enjoy the view of mountains and lakes, look into deep valleys and canyons. The landscape is sometimes lovely, sometimes spectacularly rugged, naked and marked by erosion.
We spend the night with farmers on the meadow, in log cabins at a trout farm, in a small but nice guesthouse at Lake Ohrid and finally at a very nice campsite, the Lake Shkodra Resort.
Everywhere we get a friendly welcome, even more than that: We experience a hospitality that is second to none in this country. And yet the society is torn between new beginnings and tradition. Of course, it is mainly the young who are looking for a cultural connection to Central Europe. We have met wonderful people who do everything to be there for their guests.
Albania is wild and beautiful, it is a country that wishes to be discovered.