The Balkan Tour

4500 km,
16 times we crossed the boardline, 
11 Days Trip, 
1 flashing on the radar in Tessin (Switzerland)

The Easter holidays are coming up. The days are long, and in addition to the activities there are the preparations for the trip. Indeed, as they say here, we will go down to the Balkans. A long journey awaits us. Indeed, after our working day, we make our way to a small town near Krems, in Austria. There, we take a break of 3 hours and embark Alexi’s sister, Annie Lennox (Loulou for friends). On the speedometer, it is 6 o’clock and the GPS marks 11 hours remaining. Very good for the morale. Fortunately, my father has a good co-pilot and the weather conditions are superb. We fear the blows of tiredness and external events such as traffic jams, accidents …

That said, the atmosphere is good and we continue to swallow hundreds of kilometers one after the other. 29…

Twenty-nine hours later we finally arrive at our destination. We will have crossed the half of Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, a small part of Bosnia to arrive near Bar, in Montenegro. Marta, my mother has organized a small, very nice, quiet apartment in a local house. In spite of the fatigue, we have to prepare ourselves. Tomorrow starts the show, which will last 3 days.  We are impatient. The pressure has gone up a notch. As Baron de Coubertin used to say “The main thing is to participate”. 

Just a short distance from the beach the “Sportoska Dvorana“ Stadium, the place where the show is held, people are swarming on the parking lots. We set up our camp. I will warm up our 3 dogs. In the meantime my parents will be queuing to get the numbers. In front of this crowd they will wait for a long time. It’s a bit of a fiasco. The clock is ticking. We feel a little nervous among the participants. It’s understandable. We still have to finish the preparations before we can start. The competition starts an hour or more late. We have to respect the timing, because this afternoon a second event will take place.

In spite of these upheavals, the morning events have borned fruit. Our efforts have been rewarded, just like those of the second event. The next day, we are in the same euphoria. Good results follow one after the other. Alexi and his sister compete as a couple too. Our escapade in Montenegro was not only limited to dog shows, we took advantage of our time to visit the surroundings, the seaport and the old town. Exchanging with the locals was important to us.

It creates a very atypical and very friendly atmosphere. The second stage leads us to Kosovo, not far from Bar, as the crow flies, by road it will be a little more Rock and Roll. Indeed we have to cross the mountain range whose still snowy pass will push us to make a break so much deserved. The most difficult part is now behind us. Only the descent to Pëje, reaching the hotel and finding out where the next exhibition will be held remains on our program.

The competition takes place in a school, on the capitol sports field of an artificial turf. 3 rings are open. Our camp is set back, under the leafy trees, in a cool place. A few Afghans confront each other. The atmosphere is very good, as far as we are concerned. For others, it is not. A landowner will dare to raise her voice against the judge because she disapproves of his judgement. During those 2 days, I will have presented my 3 dogs with brilliance. A Best In Show will also be awarded. 

In this region where driving is a challenge, we decided to cross Albania along the volcanic mountains to reach Bosnia-Herzegovina via Montenegro.
A very perilous journey: hundreds of bends and bits of road in full work, unlit and not signposted, which cost us a lot of fright in a dark night.

Medjugorje, a small town where Our Lady appeared, it’s 1 a.m., finally we can breathe. We have reached our goal. The apartment is here, our only desire is to go to bed. The journey was very wandering. Tomorrow, new trials await us. We’ll have to be in good shape. The competition will be all the more exciting because the person who in Pëje insulted the judge, also yelled at us and swore to prove to us what it is like to compete with real international judges. In two words, she is vindictive. Cool, we like dilemmas.

In fact, we don’t give a shit about her, like we always do, we’ll do our job. 

The most infuriating thing about this situation is that we’re just pretending it never happened. This choice will more than pay off. Our three dogs will go to the ring of Honor. And this on the two days in a row. 

After collecting cups, trophies and rosettes, it is time for the Grand Return with a stop in Zadar, Croatia, where we will have to leave Loulou to her owner.

I will go in the ring where I will go out with a CACIB, nice Happy End between the 2 of us before we leave each other.