Just three days ago Brian and I were finishing the last climb out of Greece. Brian pulled off the road to take off his jacket. I pulled off right behind him but stopped beyond him to take a photo. We were only about 4k from the border. Lindsay biked on passed us. Brian had put his Covid paper and passport in a little back pack that he had to remove to get his jacket off. We then both headed for the Greek border station where Lindsay and I had our passports stamped with an exit. On completing that task I asked Lindsay where Brian was. Lindsay said that he had biked back to the overlook to look for his backpack. He had forgotten it there.
Brian approached us upon his return. The pack was not there. In just the short time it had been forgotten someone stopped to pick it up. You wish they would have just taken the money and left the rest. But no, nothing was left. There had been very little traffic on the roadway. We were very unlucky.
I can’t speak for Brian, but when something like that happens to me, it’s a deep sinking feeling that overwhelms me. Disbelief. How could I be so careless. But really, for Brian it was not careless at all. Brian had the passport conveniently located for the border. They were in a pack on his body. Safe. On the climb he got a little overheated so the jacket came off. For that to happen the pack came off. Something then distracted him. Maybe something I said. Maybe a truck came by. Who knows. These things happen all the time to all of us. It’s only when the consequences are severe that we become really aware. Human.
When Brian arrived back at the border we all started working on a plan. Brian tried to call the Embassy. He never got to a real person but learned enough to know he had to go the Athens and appear in person. Then it was how is the best way to travel. He had to bike the 30K’s back to Igoumenitsa for sure. Then is it a ferry to Corfu and a plane to Athens? Is there a train? Will his bike stay in Igoumenitsa? Etc, etc. in the end he went to the hotel we had stayed at the night before and learned the best way was to take a 6 hour bus. Take his bike with him.
By the next day Brian was in Athens, had gotten to the Embassy where he got a new passport and on the following morning was on the bus again for a 13 hour ride to Durres where he is sleeping tonight after a good meal and a couple of beers. We’ll catch up to him tomorrow or the next day.
Bravo. We are all so relieved and happy to have Brian back on our bike route and ready to peddle.
The last two days have been hard biking days for Lindsay and I. 1639m of climbing at up to 19% grade yesterday and over 1200m today. Plus we’re putting in the K’s. We ended up not going as far as we wanted today. We climbed over an 1100m pass this morning that took us 3 hours and a lot out of our legs. At 3:30 we had the option of staying in Vlore by 4:30 or peddling another 44K’s to the next town, Fiers. We chose Vlore. Just too tired.
In landscape, Albania is much the same as Western Greece along the coast. Coastal mountains with seaside towns and beaches scattered between headlands. Beautiful countryside. Really good fresh food. Greece is inexpensive to travel in. Albania is downright cheap to travel in.
I have to nod off now. I’ll try to get some photos attached.