The Black Sea Run is now in full swing. Two of the eleven cars have dropped out because the driving was simply too much for either themselves or their cars. The route yesterday took us from Bdvha, Montenegro through Albania to the famous Lake Ohrid in Macedonia – the deepest lake in Europe and we’ve heard home to Alexander the Great. A drive like that takes at least 10 hours and is not for amateur travelers… the roads are awful, the signage almost non-existent, there are random police checkpoints nearly every 15 minutes (in Albania) and endless towns and cities with their chaotic roundabouts and intersections to slow you down constantly. But this is not our first rodeo and we’ve seen all this many times before, so Team Tamarisk cruised through without incident and with the fastest transit time for the day.
The border crossings and police presence along the roads out here can be intimidating for someone used to traveling in more western countries. We’ve had our car emptied and fully searched twice in the past three days by border officials who seem convinced we’re smuggling drugs, humans, or whatever else it is people smuggle out here. These searches can take nearly an hour while they go crawling under every seat, checking through every pocket in every piece of luggage, and practically go disassembling small sections of the car. It’s all a big waste of their time and ours but it’s an inevitable part of a trip like this.
Today we head another 450 km further east towards Bulgaria’s capital city, Sofia. We are back inside the EU now where things are a bit more civilized than Albania, but still the roads can be slow. Despite the backwardness out here, the landscape is stunning and filled with surprises the whole way so we’re looking forward to another amazing day on the open road.