DAY 31 AND DAY 32 and DAY 33

Dubrovnik –> Kotor –> Shkodër

October 8th -10th

We tried to walk the walls of Dubrovnik on Sunday afternoon, but cruise ship tour after cruise ship tour was going up before us and so we voted to try again first thing the next morning. Decisions have consequences and this decision resulted in us taking a cruise of our own – visiting Croatian wine bars aplenty. After one too many bottles and a heated discussion about the ethics of surrogacy over dinner (so heated that the couple next to us on a romantic getaway moved outside) we called it a night and surprisingly, nobody had a sore head when when the alarm went off at the crack of dawn the next day. Early doors, we headed off with Sumo into Dubrovnik to walk the ramparts of the old city. Dubrovnik is very beautiful and even Bharat, an experienced traveller and an even more experienced critic, was impressed. That said, 10 minutes into the two hour stroll around the old city walls he commented on how he’d “had enough of roofs”.

Old Town Harbour, Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik roofs

Dubrovnik Old Town from the City walls

Our coastal drive to Montenegro was much less built up and much prettier with cypress trees dotting  the hillsides. About half way in we passed two men in a car, hazards on and doors open, in the middle of the road swigging from a bottle whilst their dog ran around them. As we went past they waved for us to stop and honked like mad, but Amy, thinking it was Rachel and Bharat just ignored the honking and charged on. Later, they caught up with us and invited us for some wine (at 10.30am) in their houses ahead. They called themselves “natives”, but they seemed German to us, and as they drove off with their heavily pregnant dog trotting behind them our cynical sides took over. As we passed the makeshift trailer park that they had pulled into we put our foot on the gas and whizzed straight past. Let’s hope our conscious biases were well founded.

Cypress trees on the Montenegrin coast

After hours of driving along a completely deserted road, and approaching the Montenegrin border we arrived at a large ‘road closed’ sign and heavy machinery blocking our way. The border post was just at the top of the hill, 500m away, so close, but yet so far. An hour later and having driven half the way back to Dubrovnik to get onto a different road, we passed into Montenegro, our 17th country.

The Bay of Kotor is fantastic – another dramatic landscape with steep mountains dwarfing the baroque towns below. For those of you looking for a romantic getaway, Perast is gorgeous and, although geared towards tourists, is very pretty and there is not a cruise ship in sight. Kotor, however, had two giant boats docked when we arrived – they were so big that they were genuinely larger than the waterfront of Kotor old town. Slightly depressing to think of Kotor as 70% beautiful town, 30% cruise ship. In case you hadn’t noticed we’re on a cruise-ade against cruise ships – they ruin every picture of the beautiful places we’ve been going to and largely do nothing but flood these historic cities with tourists that bring very few associated benefits – as a generalisation, cruise shippers don’t eat in the restaurants (all their food is on board), don’t use local guides (the cruise ships bring their own) and walk around in packs of 20 people minimum meaning everyone not in their group routinely finds themselves pinned against stone walls trying to get out of the stampede’s way! We’re sorry if you’re a cruise ship holiday fan – maybe you can persuade us (and the locals) otherwise – but the only way we can describe how much the ships ruin our pictures is by showing you!

Spot the tuk tuk!

Rant over. Kotor is a very lovely, very old town with lots of interesting stories. Behind the town there is a 1500 step climb up to a fort, built during the Venetian period, that overlooks the city and provides amazing views of the Bay. Rachel spent the whole climb muttering to the tune of the Grand Old Duke of York: “James marched them up to the top of the hill and marched them down again”. In the Bay of Kotor, there is a church in the middle of the water called “Our Lady of the Rocks”. The story goes that in the mid 1400s two fisherman saw a vision of Madonna on a rock in the Bay and decided to build a church on that spot. From then on, every time a ship returned home safely another rock would be added by the fishermen until eventually in the early 1600s an island had been made big enough to support the tiny chapel that stands there today.

Kotor Fort – yes we climbed the whole way!

Our Lady of the Rocks, Montenegro

From Kotor we took our most treacherous road yet – the Kotor Serpentine, which has 16 hairpin bends over a 8.3km stretch at 800m above sea-level. It is widely known as one of the most dangerous roads in the world with its heart stopping drops and snaking twists and turns. Ever since ditch-gate Amy has suffered from vertigo induced stress when driving along mountain passes, and this was not helped by intermittent barriers on the edge of the road. The road was not in very good condition and required nerves of steel from the Tuk Tuk To Turkey team, particularly after meeting tour bus after tour bus on the bends, which, at times, forced us to reverse down the mountain, much to everyone’s displeasure! Tour busses are another rant for another time.

The Kotor Serpentine – one of the most famous hair pinned roads in the world – spot the tuk tuk

Adrenaline levels high, we continued our drive along the Montenegrin coastline, having a quick stop to swim in the Adriatic and snoop at the Aman resort, Sveti Stefan, only to find it was closed until May! FYI – if any of you were considering it, we don’t think it’s worth the £800 ish a night to stay there and that’s not just because you’d spend your whole stay being snooped on by people like us wanting to know how the rich and famous spend their holidays!

Before we left on this adventure, Rachel had done some research on the driving rules for each country. The advice for Albania was not to drive at night because of unlit roads with cars routinely driving on the wrong side without any headlights. The advice also mentioned that there were lots of potholes and not to get into any altercations with other motorists as they might be carrying a gun – fortunately we can’t corroborate this. So there we were, forewarned, but still crossing the border in the dark and, hypocritically cruising along still with only one headlight working, still blinding oncoming drivers from the Fiat’s ill fitted beam deflectors! Amy and James took a bet on what Bharat’s first words would be when we arrived at our accommodation in Shkodër for the night, and James won with: *big sigh*, “that was the most stressful drive we’ve done”. But, to be fair to Bharat, the drive was actually quite anxiety inducing, as, in addition to potholes and no street lights, there were absolutely no road markings, lots of livestock traffic, and hundreds of cyclists cycling 5 abreast in dark clothing with no reflectors or lights on their bikes. In addition, and unrelated, we saw so many men and only a handful of women – so noticeable we felt it was worth mentioning. Where are all the women in Albania?!

PwC Albania kindly hosted us in Shkodër and the hotel recommended a few places nearby to visit – the Mesi Bridge, where we met some lovely Albanian students who wanted some photos with the tuk tuk, and Lake Skadar which is shared by Albania and Montenegro. We loved driving around the Shkoder region as all the Albanian’s we passed loved the tuk tuk – although we really wish they’d not almost drive us off the road trying to film us! We have one observation. There are so many Mercedes in Albania. So many Mercedes that we felt it necessary to google why there are so many. Turns out c. 80% of cars in Albania are a Mercedes – we’ve read mixed reasons for why there are so many ranging from the vast majority being stolen from somewhere in Europe to workers buying them cheaply in Germany and then driving them back to Albania. The highlight of the day was watching the sun set across the mountains surrounding Lake Skadar from Fort Rozafa. The views were stunning but we struggled to take photographs worthy of the view. A must if you visit Albania.

Rachel & James on the Mesi Bridge, Albania. No tuk tuk allowed sadly but we got as close as we could for our sponsor. See below.

The view from Rozafa Castle

Rozafa Fort


  • Montenegro: Much Better Adventures

  • Our tuk tuk had a Much Better Adventure by conquering the Kotor Serpentine especially for our sponsor. See photo above taken by our drone. You may not be able to see their logo on the tuk tuk or even the tuk tuk itself but it was there! You can have your own adventures in lots of exciting places so please take a look at who uncover amazing outdoor experiences the world over, and work with fantastic local guides and hosts to turn them into hassle-free and easy-to-book mini-adventures. 
  • Albania: Jermyn Street Designs

Thank you to JSD who are our Albanian sponsor. Jermyn Street Design is the UK’s premier         independently-owned supplier of bespoke corporate clothing, uniforms and workwear. Susanne Malim founded Jermyn Street Design in June 1981 and since then the company has grown organically and today it is an industry leader – recognised for the quality of the staff uniforms and corporate workwear that staff want to wear in designs that live up to your brand. Please look at their website:

The tuk tuk visits the Mesi Bridge for Jermyn Street Designs, our sponsor for Albania

Unsung Heroes:

Nina and Jayesh Shanghavi have very kindly donated their frequent traveller points and arranged for us to stay in some comfy beds for several nights, thus keeping us off the streets! We are very very grateful!

Dunce of the Day:

  • Day 31:Bharat for playing every single routine in his repertoire, twice. These include (and some you will have read about before): how stressful the drive has been, how bad Rachel’s directions are, how much of a maniac Rachel is on the roads, how he can’t possibly eat a full main so he will pick at everyone else’s, how he can’t possibly drink a carafe of wine to himself but orders one anyway (and drinks it!), how he doesn’t eat meat just before ordering a steak…you get the picture.
  • Day 32: James who has lost his very nice watch. Ever since the passport dash things have started to unravel!
  • Day 33: Amy, who posted about Macedonia on Instagram when we were actually in Montenegro. She claims it’s because “Ma-” comes before “Mo-” and so her brain is just thinking about our route being in alphabetical order…so much for that Geography degree!


Overheard on Tuk Tuk to Turkey

  • Day 31: Rachel declaring that walking the city walls of Dubrovnik was “like going round Ikea”- one way only and you had to walk to the end to get out!
  • Day 32: Rachel to waitress: ‘Do you have decaffeinated coffee?’ Waitress in loud voice: “Don’t have coffee here – it is really disgusting”!!
  • Day 32: Bharat overheard muttering “Walls, I’ve had enough of walls. All walls are the same”


Funniest moments:

    • Day 31: Bharat and Amy doing their David Attenborough routine in Dubrovnik causing Rachel to almost wee herself on the cobbled street from laughing so much.

  • Day 33: At the Albanian border the guards and cars of people waiting in the queue were laughing at the tuk tuk a lot. And then we realised that the object of their amusement might not have been the tuk tuk, but actually Amy’s bikini bra and bottoms which were tied to Sumo to dry in the wind!

Tuk Tuk Trivia:

  • Number of skinny stray cats spotted in Kotor: 102
  • Number of dead skinny stray cats in the road: nearly as many
  • Glasses of unsafe tap water drunk by the TTTT Team: 10 (Dubrovnik’s tap water is currently unsafe to drink after heavy rains last month).
  • Number of items we need to charge every night: 15

How we’re feeling – Rachel: The back of the tuk tuk has become a place to cry for me. It is difficult to do much in the back, like write emails or sort photos or update social media, as it is so loud, so cold and so windy. Unlike Amy, most of us cannot fall asleep there! It is somewhere where I am alone with my thoughts and it’s when nothing is occupying me that I remember that Emily is actually dead. It might sound odd, but that still comes as a real shock to me. We look at old photographs of her and she’s so alive, so happy that even now we often feel she’s just on a gap year, an extended adventure, and that she’ll be home soon. Some people might call that denial, but for us it’s not, its just the way we have to think for us to be able to carry on day to day.

Behind the scenes: We’re caught in a catch 22. Post photos that are more representative of our days (i.e. lots and lots of roads) and document things like potholes, that would never capture people’s imagination and draw attention to our cause. Or, post nicer pictures that captivate an audience and help us raise more awareness and funds, but make the trip look like sunshine and smiles.

We have opted for the latter, but we wanted to lift the veil briefly and say that the challenge aspect of this trip is very real. Whilst we are having an incredible experience and we are all still talking and laughing, we have been together 24 hours a day for almost 5 weeks. We’ve been driving, navigating, photo taking, blog writing, video editing, uploading, downloading, eating, decision making, detouring, breaking down, crashing and so on. And then we sleep, often for no more than 5/6 hours, sometimes in the same room, before doing it all over again. And again, and again. When we stop to take photos we’re there for 5 minutes or for a quick caffeine hit before we hit the hours of driving again. We promise there is no relaxing and certainly no sunbathing. It took us a while to get into a rhythm and all the above was never going to be easy, particularly with three feisty, opinionated Sumarias. Of course this much time together has resulted in bickering, some arguments and sulking, and the occasional tear. James has been known to employ a red and yellow card system to keep persistent offenders in line! So we promise, this isn’t a holiday, it’s a very real, sleep-deprived challenge that is raising money for a very special cause.

The Route. We have reached Albania!

Rachel and James wait on the ramparts of Old Dubrovnik

Framed view from the city walls of Dubrovnik

Tuk Tuk to Turkey Team survey “more roofs” over Dubrovnik


A bay in Montenegro on the drive to Kotor

Dubrovnik Old Town viewed from the city walls

Dubrovnik Old Town

Sunset from Fort Rozofa

Someone else capturing the sunset in Shkodër

We had special permission to drive the tuktuk right up to the castle gates

On brand in Dubrovnik

Beauty and the Beast

Old Town Harbour, Dubrovnik

Nearly at the top of the fort in Kotor, Montenegro

James in tour guide mode again


Our Albanian friends showing us how to do the Albanian sign of the eagle

Wine at the top of Fort Rozafa

We were not expecting this in Albania – view over Lake Skadar

Rach and Castle Rozafa

Tour guide mode again

What goes up must come down!