Moving on from Albania

Shkoder, Albania

Mirsie and I have been resting in Albania over the last two months. Her family have a flat in Shkoder which we’ve appreciated using during the colder, rainy months during winter. It’s been great spending time with her older brother and his extended family, all of whom have been exceptionally kind and generous. At the end of December it was time to get back in the van and move on. First to Berat, then on to mark the new year in Gjirokaster.

Berat Castle

One of the reasons for our stay was to explore this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site in southern Albania. The second was to visit the dentist. This was my second appointment to see Dr Ervis and I highly recommend him.  His practice is highly advanced with the latest equipment. Ervis is a highly experienced dentist, one of the most popular in Berat.  And he speaks English! Previously I had a clean and a check up. This time I had some cosmetic treatment done to straighten my teeth. Excellent service and I’ll drop by in the spring for a check up.

After marking the new year in Gjirokastër we visited Dropull, a small village near the Greek border. Mirsie’s mother spent several years of her childhood here. We then crossed over in Greece. All our border crossings have been smooth, quick and uneventful and this was no exception.

The last week has been spent slowly travelling down the western coastline of Greece. The temperatures have been warm – 18C to 22C, the skies cloudless and the sunsets stunning. When you are showering and toileting outside you appreciate the sun!

Epirus, Greece




UTMB, Chamonix

Chamonix is one of our favourite places due to its outdoor vibe. The atmosphere was electric during the UTMB races this week. Thousands of runners, supporters and spectators arrived for one of the eight races which are part of the Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc running festival.

The town was packed. The expo was huge. Runners were out on every trail, every moment of every day. The superstars of trail running – including Killian Journet – were to be seen ambling along the streets and in the coffee shops.  And it was to be Killian who, despite testing positive for Covid, won the main event and achieved the remarkable feat of being the first person to run the 100 mile race under 20 hours. The young American Katie Schide came in at 23.15 hours – the second fastest time ever for a woman.

Ervina and Mirsie
While in Chamonix Mirsie received a special surprise visit from her daughter Ervina who flew in from London.

We spent several weeks in Chamonix and the surrounding area while Mirsie prepared for her race. It’s an inspiring place and I’m sure we’ll be back many times in the future.

A city break. Chilling in Geneva

After Mirsie’s gruelling 110k race in Montreux we had a few days relaxing by the lake. Montreux is a lovely place and sparkled in the sunshine. There’s a long pedestrian path alongside the lake lined with lots of cafes and parks and numerous places to sit by, or swim in, the lake. We then took a leisurely drive along the lake to Geneva stopping for a picnic and a swim along the way.

In Geneve we stayed a couple of nights with my son, Daniel. He has a spacious three-bedroom apartment by Servette, near the UN with views of the mountains. We had lunch together one day and enjoyed a game of chess in Parc des Bastions near his office. Coinciding with our stay were a series of dawn concerts at the Bains des Pâquis. These are a fantastic spectacle with hundred of folk enjoying different different genres of music, swimming in the lake and enjoying breakfast in the sunshine. I enjoyed some rousing tunes by a local folk band with a truly charismatic singer who had everyone up and dancing at the finale. And all before 7.00am!

We then left to return to Chamonix where we started our year of travelling. We’ll be watching the UTMB series of races which bring 10,000 competitors to Chamonix w/c 22 August. It’s a fantastic spectacle. The whole town is dominated by the races. This year Kilian Jornet and Courtney Dauwalter return to attempt yet another record-breaking win.

Exploring the Tre Cime di Lavaredo mountains

After a couple of days rest following the Dolomyths races, we drove a couple of hours towards the Tre Cime di Lavaredo mountains, part of the the Sexten Dolomites in northeastern Italy. We found a great spot by Lake Antorno and joined lots of other camper vans and motorhomes.

Mirsie did a 30k loop around Tre Cime and the following day we hiked up Monte Piano to visit the Open Air Museum which marks the battles fought between Austria and Italy during 1915-1917. In this remove place there remain many of the trenches, tunnels and encampments created by Italian soldiers.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo mountains
Monte Piano trail – a monument to a climber killed on the mountain
Monte Piano trail – a popular place for paragliders
A trench at the Open Air Museum, Monte Piano


Moving on… from Chamonix to Lake Garda, northern Italy

Time to say goodbye to our TMB pals and head to Lake Garda for a couple of days rest. We went via the Mont Blanc tunnel – an 11k route under the Alps which links France to Italy, saving us 60 miles of driving. Arriving at the southern most point of the Lake, Mirsie and I parked up in a small campsite right on the shore and rested up. Next stop: Corvara (Badia) in the Dolomites where we’ll take part in the Dolomyths mountain race.

Tour of Mont Blanc 8 days to finish

The six of us hugely enjoyed this challenge of hiking the Tour of Mont Blanc is just 8 days. It was an enormous effort with almost 10,000 metres of ascent and 103 miles covered. Each of the group contributed to making this one of our most enjoyable adventures. From plotting the route and sharing gpx files which we each had on our phones or watches (in addition to a printed map), booking the accommodation or just helping to keep spirits up when the body was flagging!

This was our itinerary with accommodation. (The Refuges and Auberge Mont Blanc are pretty basic but are directly on the trail and fitted our itinerary):

David and Mirsie at the end of our honeymoon.

Paragliders over the Chamonix valley

Tour of Mont Blanc 6 days in

We’re enjoying fantastic views of snow capped mountains, glaciers and fields upon fields full of wild flowers. We are also feeling exhilarated and exhausted in equal measure. We’ve run and hiked over 80 miles and climbed numerous hills and mountains. The trail is busy with people from all over Europe and the States. Our accommodation has been comfortable, staying in basic mountain hostels, comfortable hotels and luxury apartments. Tomorrow involves a big climb of over 2000m so we are resting up and fuelling up in readiness!




Tour of Mont Blanc 3 days in


David, Mirsie, Mike, Lorraine, Holly & Joe, TMB 2022
David, Mirsie, Mike, Lorraine, Holly & Joe, start of TMB 2022

Having completed day 3 of our Tour of Mont Blanc, we arrived this afternoon in the picturesque Italian town of Cormayeur.

We’ve now covered over 40 miles and climbed over 9,600ft (2,900m) through the Alps. The views are just stunning. High snow covered mountain peaks and glaciers. The trail is well marked and there are dozens of folk on the trail some like us traveling light, others carrying 15kg+ backpacks. There are mountain bikers too. It’s all very social. The mountain refuges have large dorm rooms and hearty, carbo loaded meals. We’re having a blast!