It was a roller coaster ride from Korcë to Gërmenjë on our Bike Beyond Boundaries UNESCO Tour of Albania. Climbing into the heart of the snow-capped Grammoz Mountains, we rode through a landscape of barren rock and high peaks punctuated with wild pink blossoms. Once over Barmash Pass, we glided down to Gërmenjë, a sleepy village set in a serene valley surrounded by mountains.
Over rose petal wine and organic beer at Farma Sotiria Tavern, we recovered while taking in the magic of a forest landscape. At this family-run complex, squirrels scamper, deer roam, and spring water flows from the mountains into a valley stream. Dinner that night was the day's catch―a succulent trout for each cyclist, bred in on-site pools fed with mountain water, barbecued over hot coals and delivered steaming to our plates.
We ate and drank before a roaring fire, toasted our hosts with shots of local raki, then bedded down in Farma Sotira's cozy wood cabins. In the misty morning, early-risers headed for the meadow, lush with wild hazel groves and fir trees standing like sentinels guarding the grassy plain. The horses were out but took no mind of a gaggle of cycling photographers exploring their pasture before refueling with fried eggs for the day's ride.