Skopje, Tirana: good times

TIRANA
Back at the Milingona!!

It will be remembered that I had spent about 2 weeks, one and a half years ago, in Tirana – most of it at the awesome Milingona Hostel – while Julius flew back to France, rocked the German teaching exam, and flew back.

It was a wonderful time, rich in encounters and alcohol. I didn’t know if I’d ever be back but I did remember Tirana as a special place, warm-hearted, passionate, and the Milingona Hostel, a hub of alternative travellers whirling with stories and dreams. There I had met vegan-anarcho-cyclist Dan last year, who has since started a webzine called Antidote which does excellent pieces on geopolitics, politics, racism, sexism, speciesm; I had also met the colourful crew of Tirana Ekspres art space!

But wait! Here’s a short recap of the trip so far (here’s a map for those who are into this sort of things). Continue reading

Change of Plan

Good day good day! technology is everywhere and now one may even update his blog in the bus! Instead of watching the splendid view! What a shame!!

I’ll make it short.

I entered Albania 2 days ago, on Tuesday morning, and found a host through Warmshowers.org in Maliq – Algent, evangelical christian, barber, cyclist. I met him at his shop where he was busy trimming his pastor’s hair, all the while swiftly switching between conversations with me in English, his patrons in Albanian and the drunken Greek guy dressed in Fidel Castro, spring 1959 style, in Greek. Barber shops, in Albania, probably the second most common business after the ubiquitous “Lavazh” (carwash), are social places.

We talked about what people talk about when they first meet, and when I mentioned my travel plans – going to Pogradec at the southern tip of lake Ohrid then going round the western shore until I veer east to Elbasan, then Tirana, the capital – about 3 days’ cycling in my estimate – he advised me against it: “The road after Pogradec is really bad now, because of the works. Many holes. You break your wheels. Better you go through Macedonia, through Ohrid, very good road there!”

When I reached Pogradec yesterday, I went online to check how much farther it was: not that much, it turns out; And how many days I had: too many to be going to Tirana so soon, it turned out! Besides I was so close to Macedonia now, hey! Why not give it a short visit!

Now, at this point I closed my laptop and set out for the border. Only THEN did I remember Julius’s blog comment “from Skopje”. Dear friends, as you may or may not know, Skopje is the capital city of the Republic of Macedonia, and the Republic of Macedonia is a small country, and the next day was going to be rainy in Ohrid as far as BBC Weather was concerned, and this was my 6th straight day on the bike and I could fancy a day off or two, and did I mention I was early on my plans and did not need, boat-wise, to get to Tirana just right now??

Long story short, I’m on the bus to Skopje!!

Florina – Prespes

Nous sommes le 21 avril, je suis sur la colline au dessus du lac de Mikri Prespa (“petite” Prespa, il y a une autre Prespa plus grande), je viens de me faire cuire des lentilles qui ont mis un peu longtemps, et j’ai mangé trop de noix de cajou entre temps mais quand même ça va être bon!

Le lundi de Pâques est férié ici aussi (très férié) j’avais pas vraiment compté là-dessus, et je me suis trouvé un peu dépourvu ce matin. Bon j’ai déniché dans le centre de Florina une petite épicerie ouverte où j’ai pu acheter du cumin en poudre (produit bien inférieur au cumin en grain comme chacun le sait) des… noix de cajou (ouf) et un ou deux légumes.

Donc comme je le disais ce matin, en m’enfonçant dans la forêt pour trouver un coin à besoins je vois dans la terre, des traces d’ours. Wah! J’en reviens pas! Et grosses hein, pas d’erreur possible, et nettes dans la boue, c’était un espèce de talus, à un endroit les griffes sont plus profondes, j’imagine bien l’ours s’appuyer plus fermement pour grimper. Bon certes y a de quoi flipper un peu aussi, j’avais de la bouffe dans mes sacs, il aurait pu venir foursnouffler dans mes affaires et qui sait quelles autres fourberies encore avec ses grandes griffes et ses grandes dents. Après rien ne dit que l’ours est passé cette nuit, les empreintes ont peut-être 2-3 jours.

πέρασμα αρκούδας Continue reading

CHEAP VEGAN CYCLIST CAMPER RECIPE NO. 1

No time for a proper update, but here’s something better: A recipe!! Wait, you mean a cheap vegan cyclist camper recipe?? NO WAY (well okay it contains cashew nuts, not exactly the cheapest of cheapie foods)

  • 250 g rice
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1/4 hot pepper (καυτερή πιπεριά)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • cashew nuts, like, a handful
  • some Marmite (that’s pretty much the main ingredient, the rest is just “icing on the cake”)

yep, you can buy it in bulk without having tasted it before. We guarantee you'll enjoy it

AND NOW HERE’s HOW TO MIX THESE FOODSTUFFS TOGETHER IN A TASTY WAY!!

  1. boil twice the volume of rice in pot. (aah cooking with actual flames is so rockass, frikkin electrical stoves I ask you) CHEF TIP: why not throw in a little extra water for a cuppa tea at this point?? ;)
  2. chop peppers and garlic medium small
  3. pour boiling water in cup with pre-thrown-in bag of tea (preferably PG TIPS for obvious reasons)
  4. put rice and veggies in water, let it boil again. At this point some would add the cashew nuts already. I say, let them. But let them not come complaining that their recipe is not as awesome as this one when they’re tasting it.
  5. let water come to a boil again, lower flame (aaaah fire) and cover pot.
  6. drink tea haha ;)
  7. once all the water is gone OR you judge the rice is cooked (should happen approx simultaneously) add a bunch of crushed cashew nuts and add appropriate amounts… I mean, DROWN THIS THING in Marmite, a.k.a. “Salty Awesomeness In A Jar”

(heheh I didn’t think to take any salt, pepper, or oil with me, silly camper :)

in heaven everything tastes like ketchup and mayonnaise. get the heaven out

On a different note this morning I saw BEAR TRACES in the mud!!! VERY CLOSE to where I was sleeping hahaha! well! they might be a couple days old I guess.

Day 1 – Ημέρα 1

Day 1!

I woke up this morning in Thessaloniki with a series of missions to do! Packing, Fixing my Front Rack, Buying Food, and Leaving!

Team Pack did a good job, though it has to be said they took their time; and team Fix Front Rack was ace. Team Supplies got a little heavy-handed maybe, but tomorrow is the Easter holiday… and Greeks do not joke about Easter. Or if they do, it’s with their families, not, you know, at work selling food to people.

After all these missions, today’s strategy was to take the train to Skydra at the foot of mount Kaymaktsalan (an awesome- and Turkish-sounding name), then to cycle off from there. Team Get to Train Station on Time failed, though they blamed “circumstances”, so I got a later train – at 5.15 pm – to Platy, which is closer to Thessaloniki.

Team Pedal did OK, in spite of less than fantastic weather (clouds) and less than fascinating views (straight roads between big fields). Team Find Stuff on Ground scored 2 mandarines and an almost-full packet of cigarettes!

I stopped by a canal, 5 km before Giannetsa which was my official destination for the day, because I liked the place. It has poplars all along the bank, and team Hammock did a pretty good job of setting me up nice and cosy, on what is after all only its second intervention ever!

The hammock is hanging low enough that I could use it as a lounger and I sat there in the twilight and made a cup of PG Tips (ευχαριστώώώώώώ Ελένη!!) and felt really, really satisfied!!

Plan for tomorrow: Loutraki Aridaias where, I’ve been advised, are some truly awesome hot springs!

Πρώτη μέρα! Και τώρα στα ελληνικά!