Day 13 – Tirana

2 Oct

(Photos to follow)

Cereal the only safe food for breakfast this morning although Albanian eggs and sausage were back on the menu.

Managed to negotiate two envelopes from reception and spread then around the bus for tips for Endrit and Fati. Steve and I discussed the possibilities of splitting this beer/alcohol money.

Our first jaunt of the day was to the very non touristy fishing village of Lin on the west of Lake Ohrid. We walked briefly uphill, through the horsey smell, to a paleochristian ruin, with a small slab of visible mosaic and a great view. (Another case of Trigger’s broom.) The sun was splitting the clouds and reflecting on the blue, blue lake.  I don’t remember many facts that Endrit spouted, but I will remember that St Paul, the apostle, was apparently an umbrella salesman.

Downhill again and we managed a hot chocolate on the lake whilst watching a very productive fisherman work his line.  The question “white or dark?” confused me, and the consistency was more like custard.  Very nice and very sweet.

Endrit also refunded some of our tip money – argggh. I’m trying to get rid of Leks! Peter could start a small bank with the amount he has left.

Back on the bus and turning away from the lake, we descended a steep hill sponsored by T-Mobile and stopped at an “auto lavazh” – bus wash time! Only €2.50. The water flows constantly down from the lake,  so the taps are never turned off.

Passing through Elbasan and its  dilapidated copper mines and machinery, we joined the highway – unfortunately not yet fully completed.

Stopping for lunch at a random shack with no electricity we were promised some traditional home cooked food. I opted for lambs liver. The four lambs generated 0.5kg between them, and included kidney and other bits as well.  Just as well Nigel had the foresight to order chips to share. I polished off the lot with a little help from the three local dogs.

After a group photo which almost missed out Peter, we thanked Fati for his driving and then made him do the last leg into Tirana. He was going to spend the evening with his family who live in Tirana.

After joining the Tirana traffic, where it is indeed true that everyone drives a Mercedes, we eventually reached our boutique hotel. You know the kind – with a boot washer bidet in the bathroom.

After a quick freshen up Endrit took us on a quick tour of the city. But first we had to walk there.

First stop was to the national museum which had three floors and a lot of old stuff. To be honest, museums on any day are not great, but the last day is worse. There was also an employment / recruitment fayre going on in the foyer. 25% of Albanians are looking for jobs. It was a small foyer

We escaped into the night and were escorted to various places including a mosque – not closed this time, but very busy. Skanderbeg was on his horse, but darkness had fallen. Everyone else could visit again in the morning, but I’ll be in Vienna by then!

We also walked past the Pyramid – built for the communist dictator Hocha after he died in 1985. Completed in 1988 and filled with all his things. Museum-esque. Contents were destroyed in the 1991 war. They are about to pull it down and build the new Albanian parliament ín its place. At the moment kids use it to slide down the roof. Looks like excellent fun. We saw some doing just that. In the pitch black we could have got away with doing it ourselves, but refrained. The peace bell was also located in this area.

Last stop was Hocha’s house. Probably going to become his museum.

Our restaurant was next and we were treated (?) to eight dishes, mostly vegetable / spinach based which were surprisingly good. Just when we thought we had finished another course of fruit appeared.

Then it was Steve’s turn to do his speech and thank Endrit for the trip, and of course hand over the tip money.

A walk back to the hotel and I said my goodbyes to the group, although Nigel, Peter, Tom, Steve and myself managed another few drinks in the bar. By then I had given up all expectation of sleep. 60 minutes until my taxi …

Time for one last grape raki?


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