Athens to Vlore: Navigating Chaos and Dusty Roads

Recently, I've noticed some Instagrammers who traveled to Albania and criticized the roads, prices, and organization. But that's precisely the point. Albania's charm lies in its authenticity and its people. That’s the only five-star experience worth having.

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Welcome back to yet another chapter in our motorcycle adventure! As day 18 unfolds and we get closer to home, different challenges and experiences arise in every stretch of the road. With the first two ferries out of the way, my faithful yellow GS and I, get back to our natural habitat. Away from the soothing sea, and back onto pavement… or the lack of it… either way works.

Here we are back for another day. So let’s dive into it.

Good Morning, Greece!

Today begins just the way I like it—bright and early. What could be better than disembarking from the ferry in Athens around 8 AM? Well, perhaps arriving at a less hectic time in a city as bustling as Athens, but let’s look at the brighter side. Would I prefer Athens’ rush hour or being stuck at work? Clearly, rush hour, or rather, rush hours!

Traffic, traffic, and more traffic, but we finally managed to get out of the most congested areas.

Journey to Albania

My plan was to reach Vlöre, Albania, early enough to enjoy the beach, take a swim, and have dinner at one of the many seaside spots I noticed when I arrived on the ferry a few days ago. Motorcycle travelers deserve those moments, and it doesn’t take much to convince me that I do too. So, I chose the quickest route to the border, opting not to avoid toll roads, which I usually try to do. Besides saving money, avoiding toll roads often means more interesting routes with more to see and much less monotony.

I should mention that I was prepared to stop several times for tolls, as traveling on the highways in Greece is not cheap, but in my case, it was the best option.

Another day solo, another day meeting super friendly people, mostly fellow motorcyclists, like the two I met at a gas station where I had the pleasure of refueling at over €2 per liter. They were from Crete and were heading to a city to pick up a new Kove 800 for one of them. Best of luck to both of you and don’t forget to give me feedback on the Kove!

We continued to the border, and if it weren’t for a jet plane by the roadside still on the Greek side, this trip would have been the dullest of dulls. But thanks to that plane, it was only moderately dull.

Entering Albania

But wait, we still had to enter Albania! The border crossing was simple and easy, and there I was again in this country that had left such a good impression on me.

It didn’t take many more kilometers to find myself on a road that ran alongside a river, offering a huge number of incredible landscapes.

Exciting Roads and Dust

Before reaching Vlore, about 50-70 kilometers out, I hit one of the most enjoyable driving sections of the trip. Another road under construction, this time just fine gravel, with a beautiful river running parallel. I was getting more and more excited about the conditions for a day of… dust! Lots of dust, indeed. When I thought I was the only one on this road, feeling like some enduro rider reincarnation, the first big truck passed me in the opposite direction, and I truly understood the Brazilian concept of “com emoção” (“with excitement”).

The excitement was plenty since every truck that passed by at speed left me unable to see more than 20 centimeters in front of my nose for several minutes!

Considering the whole environment around me, the road itself, and even the dust from the passing trucks, it all made this day even more beautiful and special.

Arrival in Vlöre

Arriving in Vlore, I enjoyed what I had seen on the way in: a hotel practically on the waterline and dinner at a pizzeria literally on the water. An incredible sunset, an amazing landscape, and for €15, I had three beers, one divine wood-fired pizza, and a coffee. What’s there not to like?

Recently, I’ve noticed some Instagrammers who traveled to Albania and criticized the roads, prices, and organization. They mentioned difficulties in reaching certain spots and felt the country was under construction and not ready for mass tourism. But that’s precisely the point. If you’re seeking mass tourism amenities like all-inclusive, the destination becomes secondary. Our travel style may differ from the typical vacation, but truly experiencing a place means engaging with it, not just being served. That’s what makes Albania special. Its charm lies in its authenticity and its people. That’s the only five-star experience worth having.

A special shoutout to the Albanians I had the pleasure of speaking with, especially Vladi, who treated me wonderfully at the pizzeria.

I watched the Europa League final there. Vladi knew everything about football and followed Portuguese football to the point of knowing Casa Pia Futebol Clube, among others. He knew the big three clubs, Benfica’s titles, that Sporting had been champion, and he made a point to walk me to the street where we exchanged more ideas. If you ever move to Italy, good luck! Otherwise, enjoy the paradise where you still live! Big hug.

Back to the journey: Gasoline in Albania isn’t cheap, at €1.80 per liter, but everything else still has very competitive prices, even more competitive away from the more touristic destinations.

Looking Ahead

Tomorrow, another ferry awaits, but I negotiated a late checkout here, so I’ll still be able to enjoy a day of beach and rest before hitting the road for the 1.5-hour ride to Durres, where I’ll catch the ferry to Bari. Yes, another ferry… and there is one more ahead. Time is limited, so I have to take some shortcuts.

See you tomorrow, my friends, and safe rides!

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