Tuesday, April 7, 2009

All Roads Lead Through Albania

I know the quote actually is, "All roads lead to Rome." The Roman Empire can be justifiably proud of building the network of transportation arteries which tied the Mediterranean world together. Even in that time the land that eventually would become known as Albania was key to transit and trade. The Via Egnatia bisects Albania and was the key link between the Eastern and Western halves of the Roman Empire. The road from Rome to Istanbul leads through Albania.

Evidently, so does the modern road from Wales to Kamchatka. I had the great pleasure of making the acquaintance of Walter Colebatch and his fellow adventurers, Marcin and Jon, as they passed through Albania on the first stage of the Sibirsky Extreme Challenge. They are at the beginning of a ten-month effort to ride to the northern-most and eastern-most point of Asia ever attained on two wheels. To warm up for the effort, they plotted a route through 20 countries in 15 days. Albania was country number 11. The three of them are great guys with boundless appetite for adventure.

They were extremely impressed by Albania and Tirana. It helped that they stayed overnight when the government was throwing its big "Whoo-hoo-we-just-got-into-NATO-take-that-Enver-Hoxha" party. The streets were mobbed. UB-40 was playing in the square. And hordes of enthusiastic NATO cheerleaders were racing around, hanging out the windows of their cars waving Albanian and NATO flags. I played it off like a normal Sunday night in Tirana, which, now that I think of it, wasn't far off!
If you like bikes, travel, adventure, and an unshaven Polish biker just hop over to their blog and follow them on the journey of a lifetime. If you're in the Albanian tourism industry, pay attention. It's people like this who will be the fastest growing segment of the Western tourism market. Albania still has the cachet of being unexplored country full of adventure. As the physical infrastructure improvements bring the title of this post closer to reality, I sure hope the entrepreneurs here will entice a few more thrill seekers like Walter and his compadres.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the sharing.............

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