2019-01-27 Day 138 Sun

We stopped at the water fountain we had seen last night and filled up with water.
 A quick easy drive to Korce.

 We thought the idea of putting the churches outline into the street was a great idea for remembering it and the past.

 It was easy to see where the flood had reached
 The yellow Road was very very slow, but interesting drive along the river.

We started seeing no canoe or kayaking signs which we thought were strange. 

Then we saw why. A dam wall was being built and the river was diverted through a small tunnel. Our road was diverted up and over the hill and we camped just above the dam wall on the down stream side in the dusk.


2019-01-26 Day 137 Sat

Further down the lake was a museum of “lake of Bones” . I gather from Wiki that there were many villages built out on piles and the remains of the animals they ate are on the lake bed.

 Came through a little more snow but the road had been cleared. We had wanted to travel across the hills to lake Prespa but the road appeared to be limited to 5m and 3.5 ton. It was also well above the snow line so we gave the crossing and the national park a miss.

Therefore we crossed back into Albania on ohrad lake. Very easy exit and only a few questions on entry. Green card needed again here.


We noticed a change, housing seemed less loved, and rubbish was not collected. We drove the length of Pogradec and up the hill a little then parked at the walking track symbol. As it turned out we could of driven up but we had a nice walk up. Not much of the fort left to see, so down again.

We wondered the main street looking for lunch. Most of the cafe’s had men drinking coffee and rakija as well as smoking. We bought some nice fresh veges and some strawberries. Finally found a little restaurant that would serve us lamb stew/soup. Came in a bowl with the fat cooling on the edges where it slopped. I managed to eat most of it except the chunks of fat. Not a very fancy meal, and sat rather heavily.

We traveled south east down the edge of a big plain above the snow line.

The plain was well farmed and houses had large quantities of corn for their animals

 To camp we turned up hill on a yellow and found a great spot near a quarry off the road in the snow. The potential for a good view


2019-01-25 Day 136 Fri

We followed the lake West to the dam wall. The overflow was a spectacular funnel sitting in the lake. 

It was snowing big fat wet snow flakes one could almost hear them splat against the wind shield.

We started making altitude, the snow was settling then it had a reasonable cover. Trucks were having trouble going up, others with chains were moving up slowly. There were tracks of vehicles that had skidded out of lanes. We were in 4x4 and had no problems just worried about the other drivers. I crossed the pass at 1000m 
and headed down. 

We stopped in Prilep and visited a supermarket to buy milk butter and a few other items. Johns napped this mobile wood saw…
It is sad that Albania has so much rubbish lying around.
Further on we noticed a line of trucks and a police car. We were waved on, another snowy pass at 1200m alt. The snow plough was coming up as we went down. 

The road side in places were the local rubbish dump

At an apple growing town we stopped at a road side stall, The lady had a little English as her daughter lives in Melbourne and she had spent 6 months over there…


At the touristic town of Ohrid on lake Ohrid (60km x 30km) we found our way up narrow streets to park outside the old wall. We walked down to the shore and found lunch on the waterfront. Then back up to visit St Sophia church for which we needed to pay and was a bit disappointing. Next back up the fort we paid the entry fee of 400 leke each (A$6) and had a wonder around quite impressive walls.

The lake’s shoreline was quite built out, but we managed to find a nice little spot near a locked camp ground.


2019-01-24 Day 135 Thu

Still raining gently, although the river banks are covered with bottles and plastic there were 5 guys fly fishing with very expensive rods. I think one may have caught a fish.
Instead of driving directly to Kavadarci and a winery we decided to do a loop on yellow. A wrong turn at road works and we sent 8km going the wrong way on a brand new freeway.

We visited a fort in Shtip at the top of a skinny road with switchbacks too tight for an earth cruiser.

The steps up at the grave stones of boys(20yr old) killed in the 2nd world war

A quick tour of one way roads to buy some fruit and out again

In Kabadarci we had a tasting at Tikvesh winery, or rather in their restaurant. No time for tour though. The guard escorted us to the restaurant and down 2 flights of stairs and past a lot of large oak casks.
The tasting was of 5 wines 30ml each glass for about AU$10. At host described the wines and quickly showed us the bottles. The wines were all well made, 2 whites, a good rose, and elegant vranec merlot blend, and a ponderous  vranec. Similar to the State owned winery in Modolva, the sales of wine were hidden out near the front gate. Purchased the vranec merlot blend for AU$5 per bottle and a rakia for AU$8.

Then off for another late camp. It had been raining on and off for most of the day and when we got onto small dirt roads we backed out. Finally got something just off a corner by an unlived in house. The hydroelectic lake Brushani was very low.


2019-01-23 Day 134 Wed

We retraced the 10kms we drove late yesterday then headed south on a yellow. A windy, snowy slow road up around  1000m altitude.
We arrived at the border at Gllobocice, the Kosovo police checked our details and looked up at John in the drivers seat. Also wanted to see the insurance paper. He diligently flicked through the pass port pages till he found our stamp in and carefully stamped his on the same page, shaking his head at the last guy who just stamped in the middle of the page. This process took longer than checking us.
Onto the North Macedonian police and customs. A quick check of passports and insurance, a stamp given and onto customs. Opened the house door for him he asked if we had a dog or money to declare I replied no dog and we use visa card. And we were through. 

We saw a couple of these signs on bridges but were not sure what they indicated....

We had planed to go to Skopje on yellow but was not to be. We had just turned into a white that short cut the big yellow loop when a police car coming the other way stopped to talk. No doesn't go through, follow us.
John managed a tight U turn on slippery ground and we followed him. Once we reached the turn off point the police asked us in for tea at a restaurant so we obliged. Just wanted to learn a bit more about our travels. 
Finally, as we saw the red highway looming and the pay station, we realized we has no local currency. Stopping at the gas station I asked if the pay station took Euros all good and off we went at 90km/hr, the fastest we’d been for a while. Another pay station and into Skopje. John guided me up to a fort where we squeezed in a full carpark. No snow here.
We wondered around the old town and found Krste Dabrovski’s cousin's restaurant. We are not sure that we got the message thru regarding Krste, but the lunch was great!

Managed to buy a Vodofone SIM for 2€; 2GB for 7 days.

Up to have a quick look at the fort then out of town in the rain.
One thing we noticed is the amount of rubbish. The river or any bank is a good place to throw it off. So sad.
We knew we’d have a dark camp but harder than usual until we got way out of town. Then we found one just off a yellow road between two free ways down under the bridge and beside the river and mess.


2019-01-22 Day 133 Tue

Breakfast downstairs then some computer work. 

Decision to go to the coin laundry and do a load. Clothes and sheets all clean and half dry. 4€ for 10kg good price. 1€ for 19min in dryer. 
We finally headed south about 14:00hrs making the marble cave at 15:00hrs. 2€ entry and a wander around, the guide did not have much English but it was nice just to look. Not really very impressive but the marble was nice. But then we have been in some amazing caves.


Drove further south in the rain and found a snowy gravel pit on the side of a white road.


2019-01-21 Day 132 Mon

24 years of wedded bliss!! A slow morning and breakfast downstairs. The buffet was a little different, with cheese and meats stuffed peppers sliced fried eggs fried vegetables etc. Very nice. Late morning we walked into the city to have a look at some of the touristy things.

This new huge church was minimalist inside; very different to the "oldies "

They have a NEWBORN monument which gets painted in a different color/pattern each year depending on the year. This year nearing the end of it’s 10th it is now the word NEW10RN and silver.

We shared a pizza and beer for lunch in another smokey restaurant.

Although this building is supposedly on the list of most ugly in the world we found it interesting.


Back to our hotel for a lazy afternoon before catching a taxi to Tiffany’s restaurant for some local food. The guy asked if it was our first time there and when we nodded he gave 3 names of meals and said 3 ½ serves we nodded said yes to salad and order was done. A great meal with really tasty dishes. Glass of wine a beer, baklava and coffee (on the house) all for 26€. Taxi there and back another 6€. A good way to celebrate 24 years.


2019-01-20 Day 131 Sun

Yesterday we had made good progress so decided to try and change dates at the hotel so we could have the 21st there.
Finally managed to buy a SIM at the IPKO shop on Sunday in Desan (needed to provide ID). However, being Sunday it would take up to two hours to register the number. 
Driving to the monastery we came around the corner to a road block, military post, tank, the works. The Nato peace keeping force were looking after the monastery. The Slovinian military had this job but there are another 23 countries here. They checked our passports and let us through. At the monastery gates another Slovinia peace keeper, took our passports in exchange for passes. Chatting with him we learned about their role and why this Serbian monastery needed such special attention. The others are under the protection of Local police.

A monk gave us a wonderful tour and explained the fresco’s, and showed us the king’s sarcophagus he had the monastery built and later became a saint as miracles were happening when people would visit his coffin. The church had not been damaged in any of the wars when nearby buildings had been destroyed.
A group of 5 came in and talked to the monk, who then told us that he would be taking the lid off the sarcophagus, and would we like to stand and watch (which we did). The tapestry, steel lid and glass lid were all removed such that the faithful could each cross themselves and kiss the saint's hand or cross. Last was the lady for who needed the miracle. She crossed herself many times then kissed the hand and lay her head on his breast. She sat on the floor and the priest collected a prayer book and cross. The cross went on the corner of the sarcophagus and he read from the book. We wondered away and the moans and groans of the lady increased till shrieks. After another good look around we let ourselves out. An interesting experience.  We would have liked to discuss the process with the monk, but he was still engaged….


We drove on north to Pec to visit another monastery. This time guarded by the local police. It had 4 different “churches” off the one waiting hall. Different to the others we had seen. Both of the last two monasteries were as original, they had been cleaned and maintenance done but no touch up. So lots of water damage. The marble flagstones and sarcophagus were fantastic. 

We headed up the gorge - Quite impressive in some places but was a bit foggy so could not see the tops of the mountains, so missed some of the wow factor.
Finally the SIM became active, for data but not calls. John navigated us through back streets to the same IPKO shop that I bought it to fix the situation. Then finally got back onto the the hotel - and yep all good, could change the nights so we high tailed it to Prishtina and the boutique Golden Hotel,making it there in 1.5 hrs at 5pm. 
The suite was nice just like the photo. Large bed and sitting room. We enjoyed a long hot shower then went downs stairs and had a steak for dinner and shared a bottle of Kosovo red which seemed to hit the spot. No smoking inside which is great.


2019-01-19 Day 130 Sat

Still drizzling. We left about 9:15 and headed towards Kosovo. The orange road was quite windy and slow then we turned onto a yellow one. Very windy slow and rough in patches. The first half of the day was good we had some visibility then it closed in.  Most of the day was spent in the mountains in snow between 700-900m altitude. 

There were a lot of these webs on the pine trees.

The donkey was patiently awaiting his owner.

I think it would have been a gorgeous drive had we had visibility.


Stopped for lunch above the lake about 14:00 where I booked into a hotel in Pristina for 21st and 22nd nights to celebrate our anniversary. 24 years!!

We decided to head for the border. The Albanian boarder control just waved us thru. At the Kosovo border I needed to buy a different 3rd party insurance  15€ for 15 days. 
A campsite was hard to find. We tried a hill top but the wet snow was discouraging. A few more km and full dark we ended up on a small road at a school. Road goes through the school grounds

A light was on but could not rouse anyone. A couple walked buy and I asked them he also tried to raise the security guard with no success, but they both said it was OK to stay here the night.

About 18:30 a car drove up yes the cops. I spoke to them they checked our papers made some phone calls said "unsafe". I said we feel safe so that was OK and they left giving us the emergency number 192 to ring.