VACATION FAIR STORIES
During the vacation fair for special journeys in Breda, I met Doekele, who came to our stand and very enthusiastic about Albania, encouraged other people at the stand to visit Albania, because according to him it is a beautiful and adventurous country. He visited it in JUNE 2019. This led to me asking him to share his story of Albania. THANKS FOR SHARING, DOEKELE!
A NICE EXPERIENCE IS GLADLY SHARED 😉
I participated in the Albania Rally In 2019. It was the 15th edition! So there is quite a bit of history. For me, it was my first real rally !!! It is a well-organized rally, in which you can participate with a motorcycle, SSV or car. Everyone knows the famous ‘Dakar Rally’. The Albania Rally is slightly smaller, and still affordable for amateur rally drivers.
Albania was an unknown country to me. According to my imagination a country where you are guaranteed to having a great adventure. But also a country with a lot of prejudices. Many of my friends and acquaintances warned me during the preparations of the rally that I had to lock my bike, and that I had to watch out for scams … Let me start with the fact that none of those prejudices is true! I never felt unsafe, at least not unsafer than in Amsterdam! Tirana is a big city, and of course, you have the necessary problems there, but no more or less than in Amsterdam I think… Although you can of course only judge if you live there for a longer time.
So the rally started in Tirana! Where we stayed, at Te Stela resort (half a liter of beer is cheaper than a bottle of water ;-))! That is the hotel next to the Stela Brewery! Great place to sit for a few days, before the start of the Rally! What I also recommend is the Free Walking Tour that is available in Tirana! You get a really good picture of the history of Tirana, and the problems that the country has to deal with now! And you also realize that it is only + – 30 years ago that Albania was still cut off from the rest of the world. The story of the history student who guided us made a deep impression on me in any case.
Then the rally began! The start was at the big square in the middle of Tirana. Super cool to start from there for a short first internship, to determine the starting setup of the first real rally day (they call it and Prologue). The prologue was + – 6 km just outside Tirana.
Then the 2nd day… The real thing … We had a 380 km route over unpaved roads to Valbona! We drove the route on the ROADBOOK. That is, in addition to driving the motorcycle, also navigating according to the bullet arrow principle. You get the roadbook the night before the driving day… The first day I did about 13 hours! Very long, but what a beautiful landscape!
The 3rd day was in the area of Valbona! High into the mountains, where we even had to drive through the snow in June! In total a route of + – 200 km.
The fourth day took us from Valbona to Voskopoja.
Total 445 km! Again a tough day, but beautiful routes! The last part of this day I had to drive in the dark again! Exciting, and along deep canyons. Pretty dangerous as well! But that is part of this sport too. It is also a marathon stage… we are not allowed to tinker with the bikes!
On the 5th day, we went to Himara, on the coast. A very nice ride, at the end of which we also had to drive whole sections through a river bed. Very heavy, but very beautiful !!! THIS photo was made there.
And how wonderful it is to be able to dive into the wonderful sea after a hard day and to be able to eat in one of the fine restaurants.
The 6th day we drove in the area of Himara. We took a short rest so that we could recover a bit.
But then day 7 came… From Himara back to Tirana .. the toughest was saved for the last time. Again 445 km unpaved roads, 16 hours (!!) in total for me. I had to cross the last mountain in the dark… which took me a long time to complete, and I wondered why I even participated. But even greater was the feeling when I finally reached in Tirana at 11 pm in the dark and arrived at Le Stela again. What does beer taste delicious!
The last day, there was a short Epilogue, around Tirana .. With a prize award at the main square. And there was a small party too! The rally was incredibly heavy, but I finished everything! And I ended up 47th out of the 67 motorcycles. I’m very satisfied with that! Because of this rally, I saw a lot of your beautiful country. Though, I will definitely go back again to drive through it more calmly so that I can enjoy your beautiful nature and beautiful landscapes even more!
For motorcycle enthusiasts (also for asphalt) it is a beautiful country to drive through! For someone who loves adventure !!!