October 10, 2022 – A long time ago, we slept our first night on Greek soil. We had exchanged the travel mode for ‘vanlife mode’. We parked near the city of Loannina on the shore of a lake that simply radiated pure tranquility. We were welcomed by two large dogs who played quite rambunctiously with us and Moya. They learned pretty quickly that the cats weren’t on the same wavelength…
You can see from the pictures that we were sad about leaving the dog from last post behind.
Not much later another campervan arrived. We got to know Kate and the pleasant chat changed our minds. As is often the case with park4night places, a number of travelers arrived later. The next day we took a walk around the lake, where the cows and goats roamed freely. The locals who passed by with pickup (we suspected the owner of all the cattle) waved to us and we felt at home in this place. We would soon learn that Greeks are just very friendly people and that we never really got the feeling that we were not welcome.
We decided to drive back towards the coast, to Igoumenitsa. There we would meet again with Amber, who had made plans to fly back to Belgium from Corfu for a week to attend a wedding. On the way to the coast we slept a few more times in idyllic spots in the hills where no dog passed, and believe me, that says something in Greece. We were already completely in love with the country: You have the comfort that we as spoiled Western Europeans are used to, everyone speaks English and / or German, you never have to drive far to get water or do your shopping, and yet you can easy to find places where you are all alone. But wait…
Back to Albania?
Soon we received news that Amber still had a long way to go by bike. And our comrade Kai from France had only just reached the Montegrin border. So we had taken a serious lead, and we were not very happy that we had driven through Albania so quickly. We had heard so much positive about the country and it seemed that we had not given it a fair chance. We got a good old text from Amber (yep, as a cyclist an old Nokia brick really isn’t a bad idea) that she was going to a ‘Rainbow’ at Kakoma Beach. We had absolutely no idea what a ‘Rainbow’ was, apart from the visual phenomenon in the sky of course.
We decided to cross the border back into Albania and have a look. With a full tank of water and diesel and a week’s supply of food, we crossed the border again. We drove to Lukova Beach not far from the city of Sarandë. There were a number of campers and a tent hung with a sign ‘Rainbow’. There we were told what it was: a kind of gathering of people who stay in a pre-chosen place from full moon to full moon. Basic: no vehicles, no mobile phones, no drugs, etc… To get to the ‘main fire’ (kind of campfire where everyone comes together to eat…) we had to walk for over an hour along a path via the coast. Amber’s cell phone had been off for a while so we didn’t know if we’d find her…
A beautiful walk later, the first participants found themselves on the beach and we were welcomed. A little later we found Amber again. After enjoying the sun on the beach, we decided to continue together. We walked back to Nigel together and gave Amber a lift to where she left her bike, which she couldn’t take to the secluded beach. Her bicycle was parked on a remote road that led only to a sheep farm and was otherwise completely deserted. Someone had also decided to remove bits of tarmac from the road… Maybe they needed them somewhere else???
Because it was dark in the meantime and it is much too dangerous to cycle at night in Albania, they drive really fast there, we stayed overnight on the only flat part of the road. The missing bits of asphalt gave us the impression that people didn’t come here for street racing at night.
We wanted to give the Albanian beach another chance and we agreed to meet back at Pulëbardha Beach, not far from the Greek border. When Amber started cycling, we visited the old monastery nearby on the hill.
An abandoned orthodox monastery, we really didn’t expect that at the end of the road with stolen pieces of asphalt! This makes Albania Albania. If you explore a bit, it can be quite a top destination!
After a bit of a bumpy road, we arrived at a beautiful stretch of beach. The season was already over. The beach bar was closed and we parked as close to the cliff as we could. Truly a paradise. There was some passage of both locals and tourists, but we really couldn’t complain about the crowds. The following days we relaxed and enjoyed the late summer. Until completely unexpectedly a well-known mobile home came down the slope… Kai had found his accelerator and had driven all the way to the south of Albania!
And back to Greece.
As Amber’s flight to Belgium was getting closer, we descended further to Igoumenitsa. From there she could easily take the ferry to Corfu and fly from there. Also there we found a great spot on the beach, a 15 minute drive from the ferry.
A kind of calm fell over us; we had reached our goal, Greece, our home for the next few months…