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And discovered that the headlines have it all wrong.

The road is blocked by goats again. It really is the last straw. I’m two months into a 10,000-kilometer cycling trip across Europe and the Middle East, and I've just chugged over a truly enormous hill (let's call it a mountain) between Montenegro and Albania, only to run out of paved road. And food. And water. And then the rain arrived. Right before the goats. 

I am saved by a kindly man with a van. The track is just rubble, hemmed in tightly by cliffs and plunging ravines, and we stop regularly to wait for bulldozers to clear the way. The nail-biting journey takes three hours, and when we arrive at my destination it’s pitch-black and pouring. But the guesthouse is charming: a 150-year-old haven of warm hospitality, where I am generously fed and pampered.

This is not the Albania I was warned about. Don’t cycle alone, I was told. Trust no one. It’s a land of thieves. But along my ride I have encountered only goodwill and the kind of everyday decency that never makes the headlines.

Follow Rebecca’s ride on her site, thebicyclediaries.co.uk.

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