Discovering the world on $20 per day ......................

Post 50: Kosovo

About 10Km from the border into Kosovo the road transformed into brand new beautifully smooth motorway with long sweeping curves. It passed through small hamlets where the signs of recent conflicts was evident on most of the buildings and now derelict military emplacements stood as reminders of the troubles faced in this region not so very long ago.

We picked up the pace eager to clear the thunder and lightening that was brewing behind us in spectacular fashion, eager to find a resting place for the night and eager to leave Albania where we had spent no money at all, .... we do not even know what currency the Albanian's use, but two days of no spending and amazing hospitality had put Poor Circulation back on schedule, back on budget, .. thank you Albania. With Alan follow and cracking on at pace, we entered a blind bend passing a sign for 'Tunnel 50m' before cresting the brow still hard over on the tyres. What I found was not a 'Tunnel', but a brand new electricity pylon erected right smack-bang in the middle of our lane, .... sweet. Thankfully the road builders, or pylon erectors, had seen fit to add an extra piece of narrow tarmac running around the pylon. I'm not sure how close we came to glancing the pylon but what we now do know for sure is that it's possible to touch down the footpegs of a Tiger from right to left in quick succession, ........ but only if you have too.

With heart rates returning to normal we arrived at the exit point for Albania and an assortment of uncomfortably uniformed but well armed guards who seemed to be constantly saluting me. It was a few minutes before I realized why. I had a mosquito bite on my right ear and every time I raised my right hand to scratch, ... they saluted me. I decided to stop scratching, ... but then they asked for '2 Euros Tax' to leave the country and for some strange reason, ... the itching in my right ear returned with vengeance.

The Kosovo side of the border post was a total contrast, 'welcome to Kosovo Mr Thomas, I hope you have a wonderful stay and please ask if you need any assistance', ... even the uniforms fitted properly. Sadly we needed to buy transit insurance but the border guard who spoke perfect English helped translate, informed us that Manchester United had clinched the Premiership, Boris was the new Mayor of London and that Manchester United v Chelsea would be shown on TV all over Kosovo, .... thank you.

With the thunder storm closing in on us we headed into Prizren and filled up with fuel as the rain started to pour. We asked about local cheap hotels and seconds later a new and rather classy black Mercedes Benz with blacked-out windows pulled along side. With a hiss of anticipation, the front window lowered and a shadowy figure requested that we follow him, ..... and so we did. Through dark back streets and across wet cobbles between silent small shops and cafes we followed the Mercedes at some speed, ..... not knowing where we were going or exactly who they were. Finally the car drew to a squealing halt outside of a well lit but 'shabby chic' hotel somewhere in town. The driver emerged and announced himself as the owner of the filling station where we had fueled the bikes, and with him, ..... his entire workforce, .... result.

The hotel was a welcome relief and a chance to steal electricity for our gadgets (between frequent power-cuts) and to top-up on free sachets of everything from the room and the morning maids trolley, ... always the richest of sources. We'd promised not to stay in hotels and twice now we've broken our own rules but with saving so much money in Albania and with the storm of the journey so far on top of us, .... we justify our decision and remain almost on budget.

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