Mediterranean Route
Riding up the coast from Tirana to Trieste

November 9 - 20, 2023 -- compiled by Jeff DePree
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www.strava.com/activities/10189313457

I was inspired to do this route by a New York Times article about a ride from Trieste to Pula, but then I ran out of time before I made it that far. This probably wasn’t my favorite EuroVelo route, but it certainly had some pretty parts. Though there are plenty of great cycling routes through Albania, the selected roads were abysmally bad. The seaside villages were rife with speedbumps and one-way roads, and were often connected with terrible rocky paths that tended to cause flats. It was generally difficult to anticipate how far I could make it in a day because of the wild inconsistencies in surfaces - and the 4:30 sunsets certainly didn’t help matters. The insanely steep climbs didn’t help much in this regard either. The highlight was definitely the empty one-lane roads through the mountains of Montenegro - these were world-class.

Weather

The first few days saw constant downpours and nothing ever got dry. I would wake up and put on sopping wet clothes, and head out into the morning chill. Luckily, the rains mostly subsided for the latter half of the ride. In the last few days, the temps hovered around freezing and stretched the limits of the meager collection of cold-weather clothes I had managed to fit into my carry-on.

Food

Since I was mostly on highways in Albania, I had no shortage of restaurants to choose from. But dining options were much more scarce for the rest of the ride and I mostly subsisted on bakery finds. Nearly everything in the seaside towns was shuttered for the season, and anything that was open was surprisingly expensive.

Lodging

Since this was extreme low-season, there were plenty of deals to be found. I usually got a whole apartment to myself for around $30. When compared with rides I’ve done in northern Europe, it was extremely easy to live cheaply here, while stopping at comfortable intervals - though Croatia was quite a bit more expensive than I remembered.
Yum, diapers.
Stuffed eggplants

Vegetable cream sauce and cheese sampler at an agritourism spot in the hills near Shkoder
The "Blue Heart of Europe" might be closer to a kneecap.

The Canadian-born Route 66 made it all the way to Albania, only to be bought up by a guy from Denver.


I don't know that I ever encountered a single kilometer of road in southern Croatia that didn't fall under one of these boar crossing signs.

Room service second breakfast (included)
Very fun rolling sidewalk through the sea
The bus stations here are better decorated than most

Some of the paths connecting the seaside villages were pretty rough.
Massive complex of Roman ruins no one seemed to care much about.

Hope that cyclist is ok.

Peanut gallery for my tire patching
Sadly seemed to be closed for the season (like everything else)
There were a handful of EuroVelo signs on this route
Bungee jumping was on offer here (in-season)

The empty one-lane roads through the countryside were a highlight.

One of many farmstands
Land of cheese and honey
Are boletus mushrooms scary?

Maybe my favorite one of these I've found.
Broccoli soup with broccoli stew and broccoli patty
Shortly before I handed it over to a random church lady.
Goulash and gnocchi

You're not really famous until you're rural Croatian YouTube famous!
Day 1: Escaping Tirana
Day 2: Rinas to Shiroka
Day 3: Shiroka to Cetinje
Day 4: Cetinje to HerCeg Novi
Day 5: Herceg Novi to Ston
Day 6: STon to Makarska
Day 7: Makarska to Seget Vranjica
Day 8: Seget Vranjica to Zadar
Day 9: Zadar to Gračac
Day 10: Gračac to Čovići
Day 11: Otočac to Senj
Day 12: Rijeka
Day 13: Heading Home