Cycling the Balkans: Montenegro & Albania

Over the summer we rented bikes in Montenegro, packed up two panniers each and hit the road, cycling from Podgorica to Plav and Gusinje, then to Koplik (Albania), Shkodra, eventually to Tirana, and finally back up along the Albanian coast to where we first started. Watch the journey unfold in our five-part video series below:

Part One: Podgorica to Gusinje

Part One covers our trip from Podgorica to Plav, then to nearby Gusinje. We stopped in Plav and talked to Alsen Radončić, volunteer at National Park Prokletije, about tourism and investment in his part of Montenegro. Oh, and we ate burek–lots of burek.

Part Two: Gusinje to Koplik

Part Two covers our trip from Gusinje, Montenegro to Koplik, Albania. We knew it would be a tough day, but we didn’t know it would be this tough. After 12 hours of steep inclines, rocky roads, dehydration and low morale, we finally got bailed out by an Albanian family headed to the other side of the pass and made it to Koplike, just 30 km from our original goal of Shkodra. Note to self: never assume there’s one more grocery store higher up the mountain.

Part Three: Shkodra and Tirana

Part Three covers the vibrant Albanian cities of Shkodra and Albania. Between sweating profusely in the heat of summer and navigating frenetic city streets, we managed to have some meaningful discussions with Aaron Rowland, a visiting American, Dr. Arjeta Troshani of Shkodra University, and Zhujeta Çima, manager of several Albanian backpacker hostels. Shkodra and Tirana are just 90km apart, but seem like different worlds–one, the cultural heart of northern Albania; the other its economic and intellectual epicenter. Both cities, we were glad to discover, are havens of bicycle activity.

Part Four: Durres to Shkodra

Part Four covers our trip from the port city of Durres, up the Albanian coast, and over the hills, through Lezhe and back to Shkodra. While we weren’t expecting such a challenging ride (again), these days treated us well and we achieved everything we’d we’d wanted for this leg of the trip–from finding the perfect camping spot on the Adriatic Sea to getting gigantic double burgers in Lezhe.

Part Five: Shkodra to Podgorica

Part Five covers the last day of our trip–waking up with a dip in Shkodra Lake, then crossing the border back into Montenegro and heading up to Podgorica. No hidden surprises here, but stay tuned for the credits–you’ll like what you see.

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