Sagadia and the paranoia at the Albanian border

After almost a week in the rugged small fishing village, we said fond farewells to Ammoudia and headed north to the Albanian border.

It was tantalisingly close and having tried and failed two years ago to cross it in Bertha from the Montenegrin side, due to the appalling conditions of the road, we wanted to see what it was like at the Greek crossing.

Gridlock on the mountainside

Not having a detailed local map we followed the merest hint of a suggested route in our Collins guide and looked out for road signs, which frustratingly mostly had graffiti covering them.

Perhaps not surprisingly we found ourselves on a lonely mountain road climbing high above the river plains and coastal bays and eventually coming across life in the bustling and hot sunny town of Filiates. Steering carefully through the busy noon centre of lunching locals, loose dogs and teenagers on mopeds we descended the other side onto the flat lush plains of the Thyamis delta.

Sagiada Port

 Sagiada turned out to be the last stop on the Greek coast so we pitched up for the afternoon and enjoyed a coffee on its picturesque harbour.

After a quick dip in the cooling sea, we tried and failed once again to connect online to update our blog. Instead we found the local policeman (having spotted him buying an ice cream) and asked permission to stay for the night further along the beach, which he was happy to give.

Gone Swimming

Our only neighbour was a reclusive French motorhomer (in skimpy swimming trunks the entire time we were there) so we kept ourselves to ourselves and enjoyed a sundowner in our chairs on the beach to the lapping of the turquoise waves.

A serene evening became a raucous night as the marina clubs banged out dance music until 6am but as our stop was safe and free we dozed through it until it was time for a cup of tea on the beach.

Sunset over Albania

Next morning and we again headed north to the border. We passed a series of fish farms in idyllic coves as well as signs telling us that camping was not allowed.

Driving through herds of goats we rounded a corner and encountered high barbed wire fences, securing cameras and signs instructing ‘no photographs’.

The Greek-Albanian border 2013

The Montenegrin-Albanian border 2011

The border post was busy with queuing beaten up Mercedes cars (the Albanian motor of choice). We did a circuit of the post and then returned the way we had come to find another route. Ten or so miles later we were aware that we had crossed an unmarked border as the road deteriorated to a broken single track which was littered with rock fall and gorse bushes.

We drove on until we dared go no further and turned around amongst some grazing cows as the track petered into a dusty trail. Albania!

We spent sunset on Drepano’s Beach at Igoumenitsa watching the comings and goings of the Island ferries and enjoyed chatting with our German neighbours Edda and Uwe. They were heading down to Ammoudia and Edda was looking forward to seeing Pola (the beach dog) who she had been feeding last year.

Drepano’s beach – home for the night

Edda was travelling in the expectation of taking three stray cats back to Germany for re-homing. Like Carole she has a supply of dog and cat food and treatments and knows the vets to use for paperwork and pet passports.

On returning to Bertha we realised we’d provided our own foodstuff to the voracious beach mozzies and spent an uncomfortable hot night trying to ignore our many wretched and raging bites.

The ferry to Bari was our first experience of ‘camping on board’ which was Bertha’s own mini-cruise across the Adriatic. We were portside on an open deck and had moonlit sea views all night as the ship sped quickly across the straights in calm waters.
Tomorrow – Italy!

Camping on board the Superfast Ferry with a sea view