Day 4 – Walking in the Valbona Valley

23 Sep

Actually,  we walked in the neighbouring valley. After getting the bus to breakfast!

We were offered eggs – fried, omlette or scrambled – together with pancakes,  bread, cheese, butter,  jam and mountain tea.


Derek had bowed out of the walk and breakfast but our driver, Fati, joined us instead. We trekked slowly across a dry, stoney river bed and up to a mountain village consisting of two houses (took about 75 minutes).  Here we were amused by the dogs, cat, chickens, rabbit and other animals kept by the muslim owners.


The group were treated to two out of three of raki, turkish coffee and yoghurt with honey. I missed out the former.  I may be Scottish but I’m not alcoholic. Everyone seemed surprised at my choice, so I’ve got challenges to break the stereotype.

We did pass several large clumps of thistles on the way. It probably didn’t help that I referred to them as English repellant.


Trying to blend in with the people that go on beach holidays

Endrit took us a bit further to a meadow – he is not great with distances or times  so apparently the 30 minute walk took only 5 from the house. We were then able to walk on further ourselves or just relax for a couple of hours. More than half the group walked up to a higher meadow and sat and relaxed there.


The packed lunch was a hunk of bread,  some sausages and some things they apparently call “fruit”. I had my emergency ration of pringles to help out.

Fantastic views and the perfect temperature with a light wind made it the perfect activity for the day.

We wandered back for the appointed time, narrowly avoiding the cows with horns on the same narrow path.

I headed downhill in record time chatting to Fati about the corrupt Albanian government and how his taxes are all spent on the wrong things.  I empathised with him. We also discussed the difference between the north and south – “all these Northern Albanians keep coming south without paying taxes”. Basically a lot of Albanians leave the country because there is no employment (they send money back to families here), but he reckons that some are now starting to return.

Mountain biking, rafting and canoeing are apparently also very popular.  (See we did talk about other things as well! )

Back at the bus we side stepped it in favour of the local café where Endrit and Fati demonstrated their (lack of) basketball skills whilst some other young tourists tried not to be caught smoking the wrong stuff by two policemen who were also inside.

Albanian policemen are used instead of speed cameras.  There are lots of them.  They don’t look like they have an awful lot of work to do in the Valbona valley though.

A man on a horse rode past whilst using his mobile phone. I wonder if that’s illegal?

Driving back to the residence, we passed a lot of mushroom shaped bunkers, originally built in the late 1960s. There are over 700,000 of them in Albania, but they have never been used. Somebody thought it was a good idea at the time. The locals are now breaking up the concrete to get to the metal.  This is now being “recycled”!

After a quick clean up and repack, I headed off to a tranquil spot where I could watch the families working.  All ages, including toddlers were helping with the corn harvest, picking potatoes or tending to the horse.  Then four cows were herded up past me by a 12(?) year old girl keen to try out her very good English.

Off we piled in the bus again for another meal in the restaurant. This time quite eventful. Firstly one of group was a bit unwell when the soup arrived. Probably too much exercise but was also diabetic.  I was also keeking myself when Janice innocently asked Georgio if he “had a 7 incher”. He managed to keep a straight face as he confirmed the size of his tablet.

Derek however wasn’t having a good day. He hadn’t felt well all day and ended up in hospital after briefly going unconscious at the table. The ambassadors from Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland who were dining at the next table thankfully hadn’t arrived by that point.

The meal itself was cremated lamb chops and peppers stuffed with rice –  disappointing.  I managed to struggle through the Albanian for “do we get dessert?” Unfortunately the answer was no.

This left as with no bus and no bus driver and the prospect of a 1km walk in the dark back to our accommodation.  Luckily 3 of the group had torches and we texted Endrit to tell him what was happening, together with a time to meet in the morning. Google translate also helped us arrange breakfast with the restaurant for 8:15am.

We walked slowly back along the tarmac road with only a solitary car stopping to ask if we were OK. My suggestion of a three legged race on the stoney part was not acceptable to the rest of the group. Spoilsports.

After 14 people were counted successfully back into the residence, room 6 balcony was again declared open and the orange liqueur and pringles were promptly finished off after a wide ranging political discussion between Tom, Steve and myself.

Early start for a busy day tomorrow.  Hope Derek is alright.


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