Day 1 – Getting to Albania

20 Sep

So, some people got a bit annoyed at others talking in the sleeping area. The retort – “you care about us whispering when that alarm is going off” – had me in stitches.

Sometimes you just have to admit defeat with sleep.

The disabled loo however was excellent for freshning up and changing into travelling clothes. Yes,  I have a specific set of clothes to catch planes with. Doesn’t everyone?

Finishing off the last of the lion bars and any remaining liquids passed for an early breakfast.  Sailed through security (well organised) with the bag checking in at 20.1kg.

First flight of the day to Vienna.  Whilst waiting at the deserted airport gate, brandishing my Explore logoed travel folder, I did find a fellow traveller – Val. The first to emerge. During the flight itself I did a lot of sleeping,  but did manage to up that count to about 8 others in the group.

Once landed in Vienna I headed straight for the next gate – being waved through security without any checks at all.  So much for stringent border controls.
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Vienna Airport had charging points everywhere, and comfy beds at every turn (but not together). If only that had been an option last night! The free WiFi kept me busy.  Managed to avoid eating for the sake of it.

Sitting next to Val on the plane, we had differing views on the difficult of the walking element of the holiday. As it turned out, this was because she was on a different trip and by the time we met our guide in Tirana Airport – Endrit – we were split into two groups.
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We drove for about 30 minutes, on a huge bus with only 11 of us on it, to the small town of Kruja. This involved several hairpin bends and avoiding Mercedes drivers who acted like BMW drivers. I think Germany must have invaded at some point or something.

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Kruja

The Hotel Panorama lived up to its name with stunning views across the valley and mountains to the sea. Or from my room you could catch a glimpse of the nearby building site and fast food shop (not frequented).
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The hotel room was fantastically modern and air conditioned. Temperatures were still closer to 30°C outside.

After a group meeting with only 11 of us we were advised to visit the museum, as it was closed on Monday. I was sold a ticket at 6:10pm and then told that the museum closed at 6:00pm. I was chased around all 3 floors by a man with a mop. The museum was all about Skanderbeg. 15th century fighter against the Ottomans. More of him later I guess as he is the national hero.

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Museum of Skanderbeg

Back in the hotel the evening meal consisted of several small things including starters that were almost completely vegetarian. Spinach, cheese and a pizza base with something very tasty, was merely a prelude to the meat – spicy beef stuffed with cheese and chicken with a lemon sauce. If anyone had room, there was still space for baclava.
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A wedding party below provided some fireworks to finish off the evening and whilst the beat of the music kept several people awake until 4:30am, I managed to instantly catch up on my previous two days.

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