Shkoder, Tirana and Berat
15.09.2007 34 °C
Welcome to Albania....that will be 10 euros please!! Yes thats right you have to pay for the honour of entering albania!
My first stop was the main city in the north called Shkoder which i only really wanted too see because it has a huge fortress overlooking the entire town. I got into town at around 4pm and went off to find my hotel (12 euro a night...thats about 8 pound and it was a 3*) without a map and with nobody in town speaking english, plus i was loaded up with my bag and it was about 35 degrees. Two hours later i was still looking for my hotel with no map and still unable to find an english speaker. Eventually i found a man who spoke a mini bit of french and between us we managed to work out a rough route. The man then amazingly kindly decided to escort me all the way to the hotel even though it was about 2 miles away. So upon arriving at the hotel i threw my bags down outside and went to find someone. So i wander inside dripping in sweat and find.....a huge wedding going on!!! i have to walk through this wedding looking like something recently arrived from a swimming pool and find a hotel staff person who also didnt speak any english (only italian). I then had to take my bags in through the fire exit so i didnt disturb the wedding (which was fair enough), had a quick shower and headed off to the fortress which was......amazing!! it was huge, really really intact and really really good!.....though i forgot my camera so u will just have to take my word for that. After returning to the hotel and having a quick drink i headed out to see the city and quickly i discovered it was.....an absolute heap of shit!!!! There was nothing to see, it was dirty, horrible and there was rubbish everywhere. I'm not joking about this, there were piles of rubbish that were higher than me!! So maybe not surprisingly i went to bed early that night so i could head to tirana early on.
Getting on the bus in the morning i headed off to Tirana. I had been warned previously that buses just abandoned you anywhere they could in Tirana (instead of taking u to a bus station) and i found this to be amazingly....true! I got dumped somewhere about 3 miles away from the centre of Tirana and therefore my hostel and proceeded to get lost for the second time in 2 days though luckily this time it only lasted for about an hour. Again i found a guy and asked him for directions and before i knew it i had about ten albanians all pointing in totally different directions to this place. Eventually though we sorted out the direction i wanted to go in and i found my hostel. Now Tirana itself is possibly the most insane city i have encountered and this is mostly for one reason.....nobody can drive! In my three days there i saw loads of cars driving the wrong way down one way streets, ignoring red traffic lights and failing to notice people crossing the street on pedastrian crossings, so it quickly became clear that the only way to cross the road was too leg it as quick as u can!!
After seeing the sights and sounds of Tirana i headed off to Berat which is the most beautiful town in Albania by an absolute mile, it is an old Ottoman town with all the houses still preserved perfectly and was just so beautiful that i couldnt really believe i was in the same rubbish infested country i had spent the last few days.
I headed off then to Elbasan but only to catch a transfer to the Macedonian border and to say goodye albania....and oh, you owe us another 10 euros............bast(snip!....my mum reads this!)