Last updated: 03:00 AM ET, Wed December 30 2015

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  • Shannon Wolf | December 30, 2015 3:00 AM ET

    Tramprennen Part 4: The Pace Picks Up

    Tramprennen Part 4: The Pace Picks Up

    PHOTO: Crossing the Montenegro border was absolutely breathtaking and left us all speechless! (photos by Shannon Wolf)

    Plav, Montenegro (113 miles).

    Today was the first time it truly felt like a full-fledged race. Plav, Montenegro was our second-to-last stage before our final stop in Omare, Albania.

    Everyone woke up in the freezing cold.  I groggily packed my bags. By 7 a.m., Jonathan and I had taken off, right behind Hannah and Jan, and stood at the roadside trying to catch a ride out of the tiny, sleepy Serbian village.

    Although we were all competing against each other, the four of us managed to hitch a ride together to an adjacent village.  I dozed in and out of sleep on Jan’s shoulder until we were dropped off.

    On our arrival there were still no other teams in sight.  We stood alongside the dirt road, eagerly sticking out our thumbs and jumping up and down to get the attention of passing cars and trucks. We managed to hitch our second ride quickly and laughed at how easy it had been all the way to the next town.  We clearly had not learned anything from our previous experiences. 

    After three teams passed us, honking and hollering out the window as they whizzed by, we tasted the foot in mouth. Over the course of the morning we overtook teams, thought we were doing well, and the next minute teams were overtaking us.

    The intensity of the race continued throughout the next eight hours and the four of us had to split up along the way when a car was only able to take two people. Right before the border into Montenegro, we once again met up with Hannah and Jan on the side of the road and died laughing. A four-seater Golf car, already containing two passengers, pulled over and offered to cram the four of us and our bags into the car with them.

    PHOTO: A candid of Jonathan, our driver and me, squished in the backseat of his car.

    The back seat was small enough to leave you wondering how you'd fit two people with bags, let alone four people with bags weighing as much as us. In a hurry, Hannah was first to jump in.  I shoved our bags from the back seat and crammed them into the rear window to make room on the tiny remaining seat for Jonathan, Jan and their two bags.

    Covered in sweat, I sat on Hannah's lap while Jonathan squashed in with his bag.  We yelled and laughed while Jan used all of his strength to squeeze in past the doorframe. I don't know how we did it but it somehow worked and off we sped, sweating, howling and laughing the whole way to the Montenegro border.

    After crossing the most breathtaking border I’ve ever seen into the lush hillside of Montenegro, Jonathan and I were on cloud nine as we walked out of sight of the border patrol trying to catch our next ride to Plav. The sun was scorching hot. After hours and hours of waiting for a car to stop, our water eventually depleted and our hope was equally drying up until a 23-year-old stopped his beat-up car with one available seat. 

    The back seat was full of furniture but by this time we were dehydrated, sweating and desperate. “Its okay! I can find a way to squeeze in!” I said. He laughed and accepted saying if I could manage, then the ride was ours. I smiled as Jonathan and I played Tetris with our bags and wood planks.

    Once the bags were in, without a second thought I slithered on top of the furniture on my stomach with my backside snug against the roof of the car. “OKAY! I DID IT! IN IT TO WIN IT! LET’S GO!” I chuckled as the two looked at me as though I was nuts and Jonathan high-fived me while sitting in the front seat.

    We sped through the cliffscape as I held on, sliding across the boards like a can of sardines, laughing at how ridiculous an adventure today had been.

    We arrived in 6th place, exhausted, dirty and dehydrated. But it didn’t matter. Plav was more beautiful than I had ever expected and the sky turned brilliant shades of pink over Plav’s painterly lake as we exited the car, grinning as we locked eyes with other teams who cheered us on with an abundance of hugs as the day fell to a close.

    PHOTO: The magnificent sunset over Plav, Montenegro.

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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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