Balkan Stage 25 Ksamil to Përmet, Albania

Oct 4, 2022

Stage 25 of 36, day 30 of 43: 123.5 km, 1185m climb, 5:16 Moving, 5:50 Total,  57.5 kph max

Bosnia & Herzegovina211.01444

Today started out pretty normally, although I didn’t sleep well last night. We had a big breakfast in the hotel at 7, then started riding at 8. The weather seemed perfect for riding, cool temperatures, blue skies and no threat of rain.

Getting ready to leave Hotel Mare in Ksamil

The wind was against us most of the day but it was quite light and not a problem. We headed out of town, retracing our route from two days ago for the first 15 km.

The pace line heading out of town

Then we turned away from the coast and soon, started the one big climb for the day. It wasn’t bad, climbing 450m in 10 km or so.

Watch for sheep and cement mixers on the road, also I like the shadows

The grade was inconsistent but I guess that makes for a less boring climb. It was a beautiful little road with only light traffic. I didn’t feel powerful and did not feel like climbing fast, but it was completely fine and I felt good at the top. The descent was scenic but not all that fast. It only lasted 5 km and then I was down in a long, wide valley, headed gently uphill, into a light headwind.

We’re getting close to Greece so the town signs are bilingual now

After 15 km or so, sure enough, there was lunch at the promised abandoned gas station. It was pretty early but I was just hungry enough to eat a regular lunch.

Fill ‘er up please
Filling station for cyclists

It was relaxing to sit down, but soon time to go. I wasn’t worried about the headwind or my speed so took off by myself when I was ready. I followed the big road, generally with a nice shoulder, for another 20 km or so, then turned off on a smaller road going up a large side canyon.

I liked this bridge
View up the river from the bridge
The first 1000m is done, in just over 100 km, with only 22 more to go
Nice scenery

I ran into Carien and Louis at a café past the bridge, but had just stopped and decided to keep going. Another 10 km more, I found Sigi and Anita eating nice small ripe grapes they picked on the side of the road. I joined them and ate a bunch. Then noticed we had only 17 km more to go. They switched off leading while I just cruised behind and we got to Përmet quickly.

A couple of the guys had already arrived and were sitting outside while the staff worked on hotel rooms. Soon we were sorted and elevatored our bikes to the storage area on the 4th floor. I got an amazing room, or rather suite, to share with Bob. He gets the big queen bed this time since I had one for the last two nights. We have a giant balcony shared by several rooms to dry laundry. When I came out of the shower there was good news from my latest Covid test: negative again. We did have one more positive rider this morning, I think that is five now. We are nowhere near out of the woods Covid-wise. Still only one rider is actually sick and unable to ride.

I picked out a place for dinner – it looked almost too perfect on google. Rated 4.9, 30 meters away and had a wide variety of Albanian traditional dishes at low prices. At 6, four of us checked it out and it was true. We ordered two dishes each (each turned out to be massive), with water as all four of us had trouble sleeping after so much alcohol the previous afternoon. Then Peter ordered a big Paulaner beer, justifying it, “The first beer after riding is free, so this still counts as an AFD [alcohol free day]”. We teased him about it then each followed suit. The dinner was truly great and we were able to get rid of all our Albanian leks except for about 500 ($4) which we put into an ice-cream fund. We strolled to a market and had some suspense while the cashier added each ice cream. Could we afford it? Yes, only 300, so Peter and Tom had enough for coffee in the morning. It was a great ending to a really fun day. Tomorrow, on to Greece, our final country.

The Albanian flag flying proudly in the park after dessert

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s