We had always liked the idea of a long walking holiday as friends had travelled coast to coast in the UK, hiked the Atlas Mountains, GR 20 of Corsica, or Mont Blanc route. But taking 10 days out of our precious holiday allowance always seemed a step too far for us to put it in motion. With our extended adventures, however, we thought that this could be a good option and Julie happened to stumble across the Peaks of the Balkans when looking at what Albania had to offer (as we both had no idea of what the country had to offer). We originally planned to complete the 10 day walk by ourselves but an unexpected bonus from Rob’s work (whilst on holiday!!) meant that we were able to hire a guide to assist us with the navigation, booking of mountain guest houses, and give us a far more in depth experience with the locals. Enter Pavlin Polia… Our excellent guide, translator, photographer, motivator, slave driver, and beer drinking friend.
Whilst booking our adventure we had two miscommunications that proved to make things a little interesting for us on our walk.
Miscommunication number 1.
The first was that we had thought that Pavlin had mentioned in an email that we would have a donkey that would take our bags for us on the 10 days. We told everyone about our donkey leading up to the walk. But when we arrived Pavlin informed us that it wasn’t possible to take a donkey the whole way as we would be driving a few of the non-interesting sections of the walk so that we could take in some other more interesting cultural and historical aspects. Fair enough, sounds good. We had packed some unnecessary items that we thought the donkey could carry for us like books (like we had a chance to read them after 7 hours of hiking), extra clothes (just in case we needed to dress up nice?) etc, so we thinned down the pack a little once we arrived in Thethi.
So how many days do we need to carry our bags?
Miscommunication number 2.
“You will have carry for 2 days” in Pavlin’s good English (but still second language). Which Rob accidently heard as you will have to carry for 2 days.
So carrying the bags for 2 days isn’t too bad. I think we can still take most of the stuff we have in our main bag, plus our two day packs, plus a book, and Rob’s heavy jeans, and a dress for Julie…
We set off on the first day with our pack nicely strapped to a horse as we walked merrily for 7 hours across the mountains, then the second day it was forwarded by truck. The next day we had to carry it, and then the forth day, and halfway through lumping the backpack on the 3rd day, Rob caught up with Julie and said… “ummm, I think I may have misunderstood Pavlin with the days we had to carry the pack. I think we are carrying it for the next 6 days.”
And we did. Cursing Rob’s heavy jeans, a superfluous day pack and a book all the way, but refusing to let Pavlin take it as punishment for our stupidity.
We have a few upcoming posts of our adventures in the Balkan Peaks that we would like to share with you, but we have struggled to put into words the fabulous experience that we had, so they will mostly be photo blogs to try and portray some of the feelings along the way.