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Around Adriatic Tour - Part 4

by Jure Cencelj
Join us in Part 4 of our epic one month long Around Adriatic Tour. This time we explore Greek Island of Lefkada, wild Albania and its trade mark - the stone town of Gjirokaster, Ottoman influenced Bosnia with its capital Sarajevo, and breathtaking old city of Dubrovnik on the Croatian side of the Adriatic Coast.
Around Adriatic Tour - Part 4


DAY 18: Lefkada rest day

Today we had a real rest day. We didn’t need a lot of persuasion to be a bit lazy and slow in “Greek style”. We enjoyed delicious long breakfast prepared by an owner’s wife. We were staying in a nice family owned hotel where they were really hospitable. For lunch we went for a walk to Lefkada city center. The capital is a small town that lies around the natural harbor. The major earthquakes that occur in 1948 and 1953 destroyed almost the entire island, and only some churches and a few historical monuments have survived. We finished the day the way we started it: in a slow mode.


DAY 19: Lefkada – Gjirokaster 252 Km

All rested we left Lefkada the next morning and soon Greece, and we entered Albania heading to Gjirokaster, Albania’s stone city. Albania is on Southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula. It is a small country with Adriatic and Ionian coastlines and an interior crossed by the Albanian Alps. The country has many castles and archaeological sites, one being Gjirokaster, our destination for the night. It’s an old town that dates back to fourth century and it is a part of UNESCO World Heritage Site, described as "a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town, built by farmers of large estate". The city is overlooked by Gjirokaster Fortress. It was another amazingly interesting day, where we experienced crossing borders from European Union to Albania for the first time.


DAY 20: Gjirokaster – Tirana 325 Km

We have taken the coastal road in the morning, observing numerous bays and beaches and enjoying the view of the Greek island Corfu before heading inland towards Tirana, our tonight’s destination. Nice sunny weather and the right temperatures made the day even more enjoyable. Tirana is the capital of Albania, known for its colorful architecture. Pastel buildings surround the city's focal point, Skanderbeg Square, which is named after its equestrian statue of a national hero. Skanderber Square is the main square in the city where people gather. Tirana is located in the center of the country, enclosed by mountains and hills. It is highly influenced by a Mediterranean seasonal climate and thus is among the wettest and sunniest cities in Europe, with 2,544 hours of sun per year.


DAY 21: Tirana – Budva 180 Km

Leaving Tirana in a hectic morning traffic was a big challenge. But we made it. We had a short day crossing the border to Montenegro. Montenegro is a Balkan country, one of the 6 former Yugoslav republics, with rugged mountains, medieval villages and a narrow strip of beaches along its Adriatic coastline. We rode the Adriatic coastal road to the town of Budva, our tonight’s destination. Today Budva Riviera is known for sandy beaches and nightlife. But more importantly the old Budva’s town is a unique architectural and urban entity which is mentioned as a lodgment even in the antique period. According to those sources, Budva is one of the oldest urban centers in the Adriatic - it is more than 2.500 years old.



DAY 22: Budva – Dubrovnik 120 Km

Due to a short riding day we enjoyed a late check out and late start. We rode Montenegro’s Adriatic coast around the incredible Kotor bay. We had lunch in a small medieval old town of Kotor and continued to Croatian border crossing. Croatia is a country at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe. It shares a coastline along the Adriatic Sea and has more than thousand islands and islets varying in size. We finished our ride in world known town of Dubrovnik on the Adriatic coast. In the evening we headed for a short walk through its old town and had a drink on the main street experiencing the old town atmosphere. We left further exploration of the city for the following day.


DAY 23: Dubrovnik rest day

Having a rest day in Dubrovnik is a must. Dubrovnik is a city in southern Croatia fronting the Adriatic Sea. It's known for its distinctive Old Town. Its well-preserved buildings range from baroque St. Blaise Church to Renaissance Sponza Palace and Gothic Rector’s Palace. Streets are paved by limestone. A famous feature of Dubrovnik are the city walls, which run almost 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) around the city. The walls of Dubrovnik were popular filming location for the fictional city of King's Landing in the television series of Game of Thrones. After a tour of the Old Town we have taken a cable car and climbed above the city on the nearby hill. We had lunch with breathtaking views of the Old City of Dubrovnik, the crystal clear Adriatic Sea, and the numerous islands.


DAY 24: Dubrovnik – Sarajevo 245 Km

Today we had a longer day planned ahead of us and another boarder to cross from Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country at the crossroads of south and southeast Europe, located in the Balkans, which was highly influenced by the Ottomans. The capital and the largest city is Sarajevo, today’s destination. We manly rode inland roads passing beautiful Sutjeska National Park, sometimes referred to as the ‘Yosemite of the Balkans’, which boasts impressive canyon carved 1,200 m (3,936 feet) deep. We finished our day with having a “burek” and yogurt for dinner, which is one of the signature dishes here in Sarajevo.


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