Macedonia, a lake and a fake (city)

Crossing the border on foot !

From Tirana, we went in minibus to Pogradec, and dealt with the driver to be dropped at the border, outside the city. From there, we walked our way through the no man land's (very quick, 10 min max, see below the macedonian monastery on the left in the sun and the building a little on the right of the center of the central hill). 
After crossing the macedonian border, we hitchhiked to be dropped at the monastery. It's very near but as there is a military zone between border and monastery, you have to walk 5km or so to get there...
the monastery, located in a very quite place and full of peacocks and other animals
With our science of perfect AND improvized timing, we had time to visit the monastery, sip a beer in a bar and take a boat going to Struga and Ohrid. (a bit long, more than 2 hours !)
We really deserved the famous trout (not from the lake as it's now forbidden)
it's a very nice little town full of traditional houses...

Our host suggested a guide for 35 euros to get to 2 villages in taxi for the morning.
springs, nature and an old car... what else to ask ???

We headed to Skopje for our final step of our Balkan trip !

 Macedonia in a pic : the flag, the statue of Alexander the Great that didn't lived there, the Catholic cross and brand new statues and bridge...
Skopje is largely uninteresting, with lots of "brand new soon to look old" buildings, covered with statues, fake columns... the most absurd being those 3 fake pirate boats in front of the main city buidlings...
 and quite a big fail for this one, if you look at what the guy holds in its hands..

Welcome to Tirana, raki, burek and Enver Hoxha...

Again, a very nice surprise.
When earring from Albania, you may associate it with mafia, poverty and communist buildings.
Well, not so much for 1 day tourists in Tirana (I guess it takes more time to notice mafia businesses, but locals can talk you about it...)

We arrive by minibus from Prizren in 3 hours directly in the Skanderberg Square.  Sun, heavy traffic with expensive cars, mixed gender population at the numerous cafes... A pretty dynamic and cool atmosphere !

A summary of influences in Albania :
- old mosque
- the terrible Skanderberg, local hero and true fighter
- colored italian fascists buildings
- recently colored 70's communist buildings
- glass-covered modern buildings

The big buildings colored in strong shades downtown are not like this anymore : the paint quality was bad apparently. Now it makes buildings with pastel coloration, best viewed from the Skytower (free ascension, kitsch rotating bar on top).

you can also see in the upper foto the former dictator (Enver Hoxha) villa and its garden, and at street level below :

Not so great uh? That part was the Blloko neighborhood where the oligarchy lived apart from the rest of the population.

Most striking building with a communist feeling, the quite destroyed pyramid that is still open nonetheless

and also the museum

 Our host also talked about the south of Albania, apparently very promising.
We had to skip Berat, one of the 3 UNESCO Heritage cities in Albania. The 2 others are way south, with virgin playas, a little Riviera with Polish and the neighbooring Corfu... tempting, but for another time !

 the kitsch bar with some views, nice place to get raki or cocktails.. :

After a breakfast made of bureks, we left Josselin (going back to France) and we  headed to Ohrid lake (pronounce Okrid), the frontier with Macedonia.

 green environment and small mountains
 BIG haystacks all over the country, made the old way
 no, it's not a caban for kids turned to a solar panel. Enver Hoxha made hundreds of thousand of these built all over the country to protect it against an invasion... pretty paranoiac !
a bunker with a view... on Macedonian mountains


Kosovo a country you want to go

Unlike those funny guys, we can know recommend Kosovo...

For EU passports and from Serbia into Kosovo in May 2015, we faced absolutely no issue to enter.

Our bus went from Belgrad to Prizren going through Pristina, the capital, leaning at 4.30PM and arriving at 11.30PM. We could then enjoy the incredibly lit gas stations of Kosovo...

Prizren has a very nice little downtown with a river flowing through and the famous bridge (recently reconstructed).

On top the impressive fortress and the slightly annoying (coz early) muezzin from the mosques downtown, 

we came for trekking in the Sharri national Park.
Unfortunately no time to visit UNESCO buildings (churches and monasteries).

We went with Bekim from Sharri Eco Tour paying 115€ for 3 for the day. We hiked the Bistra mount despite snow and rain. We saw some chamois but no bears, and also put a foot in Macedonia !

The city looks kind of fake with brand new buildings & streets with people circling around endlessly (downtown is VERY small). 

All in all, Kosovo is surprisingly developed, peaceful and modern, with a nice mountain here, ready to fight against real estate promotors for ski resorts...


Banco pour les Balkans

First stop, Belgrade !

Capital of Serbia, where people fought an endless number of times (castle was rebuilt more than 40 times), Belgrade is a mixed city : some communist taste on the Novi side, some "ruin bar"-like atmosphere, some new looking-already-old parts, some Art Deco buildings 
2 mains attractions : chilling watching at a Danubian sunset at the fortress or at a Zemun cafe and cycling along the Sava to Ada Ciganlija to soak up the sun at the beaches, while gulping as much as you can of the famous Balkans grilled meat fest.

We also enjoyed the Holesterol restaurant and its neighboring bar (great food, great people, great local plum shots....) in a slightly off part of town (nearby the harbor) + a snack at the first of the bars along the Sava, in refurbished dock building. There is even instruments to play with !


Back To Tahiti

J'ai Mini recap de mes 3 semaines de mission à l'endroit le plus éloigné de France ou presque, une mission que j'attendais depuis mon arrivée chez Arcome/Solucom !

Aller Paris/Séoul/Auckland/Papeete en 34h mais en business,

 avec 8h en Nouvelle Zélande histoire de passer voir mon parrain

L'objectif : aider l'OPT (sorte de PTT+CanalSat local) à se redonner un avenir face à la remise en cause de son modèle économique. C'est la plus grosse boîte du Pays, publique, et qui possède l'un des réseaux télécoms les plus complexes au monde pour seulement 250 000 personnes réparties sur l'équivalent de la 1/2 de la Corse éparpillés de l'Andalousie à la Suède et à la Roumanie !

Au programme : ateliers avec les forces vives, copils, réflexions stratégiques mais aussi quelques petites escapades !

Au petit matin..
Les embouteillages...
Pour un atelier intense !
La visite d'installations 
Ou des CoPils en haut lieu 
Travail jusqu'à la tombée du jour, à la piscine de l'hôtel...
Visite de marae autour de Tahiti 
De Tetiaroa...
La Fautaua
Et la tentative (réussie) pour battre le record du monde de gens jouant en même temps de l'ukulele. Ca paraît naze comme ça mais c'était un très beau moment d'unité et d'émotions.

Avec le retour par Los Angeles, ça me fait un 2ème tour du monde, mais à l'envers cette fois !