Benje - North to the Balkans - CycleBlaze

June 15, 2018

Benje

We began our final week of the tour with another short, easy ride - the third straight day of these.  We’re enjoying taking our time, with so much of interest to see here; but we’re also resting up a bit, with two challenging days ahead after we leave the Vjosa and head east through the mountains.  We’re hoping we both have legs left for a few more climbs, and are looking forward to a break when we return to Portland in two weeks.

More than the hills ahead of us though, we’re wondering about the weather.  We’re back in another thunderstorm pattern, with rain and thunderstorms in the forecast for every day until we fly home.  Tomorrow, with a fifty mile day, a climb up Barmashi Pass, and very few places to stop along the way, worries us the most.  I won’t be surprised if we roll int9 our hotel in Germenj soaked to the gills.

That’s tomorrow though.  Today we enjoyed a beautiful ride, out to one of the tourist hotspots of the region: the thermal springs at Benje, a few miles up a tributary of the Vjosa.  At Benje also is a beautiful arched Ottoman bridge, which has provided access to the hot springs on the other bank since the Middle Ages.

We sat around the hot springs for about an hour, enjoying folks splashing around and diving into them.  We didn’t bring suits ourselves, or we might have gone in too.  I at least stuck my feet in for a few minutes to test the comfortably wet waters.

The sky has been threatening and intermittently rumbling all morning, and on the way back to town it turned very dark.  We made a good effort, and nearly made it back before the rains hit.  With just 1.21 miles to go though, and nearly in sight of town, it started raining hard enough that we pulled off under an overhang.  After the intense downpour at lunch yesterday that exploded in a matter of minutes, we were taking no chances.  After a few minutes though it began easing off and it felt silly to wait any longer.  We biked the rest of the way in the light rain, hardly getting wet at all.

Here’s hoping we do no worse tomorrow.

The rock formations along the Vjosa are fascinating.
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Along the Vjosa
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We’ve probably seen a few dozen of thes beautiful animals scattered around, suited up and ready for action.
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Stepping back in time
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I’ve never seen a haystack quite like this one.
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Biking up the Lengarica, a short tributary of the Vjora. The cairns point out a section where the road has slumped over the edge
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Along the Lengarica. Rains are moving in quickly from the south.
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The Ottoman Bridge beside the Benje thermal springs
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At Benje thermal springs
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At Benje thermal springs
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Benje thermal springs
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Pomegranate algae
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I took this photo quickly, hoping the stones holding up the bike wouldn’t slip first.
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Returning to the Vjosa along the Langerica. There’s still a bit of snow along that ridge.
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We crossed the Vjosa over the bridge at Badelonja for a brief loop on the other side. I’ve never seen a bridge with a structure quite like this one.
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Jacquie GaudetIt looks like a double-double Bailey bridge: double panels stacked two high on each side.

I'm intrigued by the colours.

Jacquie
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3 years ago
Scott AndersonOh, of course. I’ve heard of Bailey bridges before but never really known what one was. Looks just right. And you’re right, the colors are great too.
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3 years ago
The Badekonja bridgek structure unlike any I’ve seen before.
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We could have crossed the Vjosa on this nearby bridge instead, but Rachael nixed it.
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One last bridge. Rachael’s not cycling this one either.
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Ron SuchanekChicken! (Just kidding. I'd be crawling over that thing like an infant, whimpering the whole way).
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3 years ago
Përmet, from atop the Big Rock
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The mountains rise straight up behind Permet. Our room is in the building on the left overlooking the square, at the Funky Guesthouse.
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The view from our room in the Funky Guesthouse. Makes you think of Rio.
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The commemorative statue celebrating the 1944 Permet Congress, the meeting by the Albanian communist leaders to elect the provisional government for the new country.
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The World Cup is on, and most of the town is watching the Spai vs Portugal match. Large screens were erected along the promenade for public viewing, as well as inside every bar and cafe.
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The central plaza after dark
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Xx

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Ride stats today: 21 miles, 1,300’; for the tour: 1,659 miles, 143,300’

Today's ride: 21 miles (34 km)
Total: 1,573 miles (2,531 km)

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