We took a taxi from Podgorica airport, over the border at Hani i Hotit into Albania where we spent the first four days with our help-x host and guest house owner, Florian, building him a tourism website on the outskirts of Skhoder. It was quite the experience trying to build a website for someone who has terrible internet connection and doesn’t really know what tours he offers. Nevertheless four days later after several walks into the very busy town, after having consumed lots of Aubergine, Roast Potato, Red Wine and Rakija, after experiencing one of Florian’s tours and after sharing travel stories with a French and American guy who were staying at the guest house, we were job done.
Getting picked up at 7am in the morning we had our first Furgon experience, almost “off roading” to the remotest of places some two hours away, to pick up a small boat that ferried us for three hours through the most spectacular gorge named Koman Lake. We became astounded by how remotely true Albanians are living up in the mountains. Back on another Furgon we were quickly transported to a car, sharing a ride with three Koreans to Barjam Curri where we then squeezed onto the final Furgon of the day to commence a lengthy journey, bunker spotting, all the way down to the capital city Tirana, via Kosovo. Tirana, Tirana, what a pleasant surprise, if you ignore the way that people drive. A day in the museum revealed a unique and complex history, perhaps the strangest of dictators and an alarming admiration for George Bush who’s face was all over their stamps for years!! After filling up on Italian cuisine and cafe lattes, we somehow managed to find where the buses congregate, taking the first ever Mercedes bus to historical Berat. Settling into to our Ottoman house, we were guided around the town for a voluntary fee. Finally the decision to continue south or part ways with Albania, concluded with a Taxi journey to Pogradec where we would cross over the border into Macedonia.
Click the interactive map to see the places we visited during our 8 days in Albania.
1) Meeting the friendly people of Albania and abolishing all preconceptions of the Albania being dodgy. Although it’s true they all drive around in stolen Mercedes from Germany.
2) Helping out at Florian’s guesthouse in Skhoder, very random, very strange, very memorable.
3) Tugging along the Koman lake ferry whilst admiring the breath-taking gorge and distant snow covered mountain tops.
4) Visiting Berat where we got our first glimpse of the ottoman empires beautiful architecture.
1) Plastic plastic not fantastic! It was sad to see the amount of rubbish scattered along the countryside.
2) The little respect this country seems to have for its nature.
3) Having to miss out on a trip to Valbona due to the snow.
4) Witnessing a very bad road accident whilst crossing through Kosovo on our way to Tirana.