It was a long drive to Albania!
The clock showed 6 AM at the WWF Office in Vienna – that’s when and where the journey began for Team Austria. And we didn’t expect it to start off that challenging and exciting. So this is what happened. We headed to Graz to pick up our 6th Austrian participant and start our 18 hour ride to Albania. As we prepared to finally hit the road, she realized that she had forgotten her passport in a far, far away part of Austria: Tirol…but we were at least 6 hours away.
So, what now? Should we leave her or just see how far we would get?
We decided to risk it and soon afterwards had our first unsettling discussion with the boarder control between Slovenia and Croatia. We used all our charm (blonde power!) and persuasion and gladly were allowed to pass!
As you can imagine we were really nervous at the next border, but at this point the unbelievable part of the story begins. Although we were stopped at an additional 3 borders, where they even scanned our passports and looked through our trunk, they did not count the number of people in the car. Not once. So we passed, and passed and passed one border after another and actually arrived in Albania sometime around midnight. We cheered and congratulated each other that all of us made it that far, what honestly we hadn’t expected!
In the morning of the second day, after having an awesome night in very luxurious tent that had awaited us, we had a first look at the impressive landscape surrounding us and jumped into the Shkoder lake right away.
The long train ride down!
In the meantime the Italian team met in front of the Trieste station and started its 22 hours journey… in Italy we call trips like this “Viaggio della speranza”, “Hope trips”, and that´s exactly what we faced.
The Italian and Slovenian teams met in Ljubljana and headed straight to Belgrade, with a not so awesome train but a fast one! 😉 We visited the center of Belgrade and that´s where our reeeeal adventure begun! We spent half an hour to book our seats just to discover that they didn´t exist! It was hot, the train was crowded and really dirty; we should have stayed there for 10 hours, we actually spent 12 hours trying to sleep and survive while on the other wagon a rave party was going on…! The bartender threw bottles of beer out of the window (REALLY!!!), strange guys were smoking everywhere and all the while we were accompanied by traditional Serbian music…! We arrived at the border of Montenegro with two hours of delay, and fortunately were able to meet the guy that took us to amazing Albania! Now here we are, the “Hope trip” is finished and we´re excited to start Riverwalk!!!
-stay tuned for more on what’s to come on Riverwalk 2016: The wildest yet!