Albania to Greece: Border Adventures; Cool Grass Mountains, Streams
Marie and Nil had now gotten to the south of Albania and it was time to cross the southern border to Greece.
Joining them now was Clemence, a friend of Marie's from work. What were her strengths according to the duo? Her resilience and humor. Her weakness? Well, according to them, that was definitely her big hiking boots which were extremely hot in the 105°F, south European summer. The heat and chaffing ended up causing her blisters.
The three were intent on taking the back roads to make their way into Greece. But they kept running into problems. First, while swimming in a lake near the border, a policeman on horseback came up to them saying people from the nearby village called in about the travelers. They were then taken to the police chief who was waiting in his car more than a mile away. Then they were taken to a remote location to "put [them] back on the right track," but this ended up costing them even more time.
The next day they reached a remote, automated border stand but the electricity was out so they were not able to register their passports. They were again transported in a police car! This time to a village's mayor, at whose house they were welcomed to spend the night.
Now it was the third day of attempts to get to the border. With the help of a man, through a series of complicated, back-and-forth motorbike logistics, on July 27 they finally made it! What a beginning of a journey for Clemence!
Their first days in Greece seemed delightful. They were now in the Epirus region of northwest Greece and they were hiking the 226mi Epirus Trail. Their first day introduction to the trail? The Pindus Mountains which surprised the trio with it's bright green mountain fields (most of the south European summer climes had been dry, brown scrubland and brush). They were also elated the mountains had "fresh air".
Further onward and into August, they seemed to find respite from the heat in several cool streams. Other experiences were meeting two men collecting tea and then having tea with them in their mostly deserted village of Sirrako. On an earlier occasion, they hung out with villagers having an 'election' party while watching the results of Greece's legislative elections.