Quite tired after a whole day of mountain hiking, Gocha, Jarmo and me managed to catch the last mini-bus from Thethi to Shkodra. I fell asleep just a few minutes after the driver started the engine and even the fact that the gravel road was super narrow and without any railings which could protect us all from falling hundreds of meters into nothingness made absolutely no impression on me.
In Shkodra, we checked into the Backpacker’s hostel, a place where Jarmo and Gocha met before and agreed to walk the mountains together. The place had good vibes and was full of people from all around the world, but I stayed there just too short to fully experience it.
Since we were all hungry, we asked the guys from the hostel to recommend us a nice and local place where we could eat dinner. They directed us to a place called “SPLENDID”, close to the main boulevard (who calls a restaurant like that?). We were the only quests there. An older Albanian man, the owner of the place, gave as menus and suggested (using some English) that he would make us a meal that was not on the menu – grilled vegetables with local cheese. We were quite hungry and basically could eat just anything so we agreed to that. We also ordered Albanian beer.
We were not even halfway through the meal, when the man (I forgot the name unfortunately) approached us and asked where we were from. Once he heard the world “Poland”, he exclaimed “Warszwa! Kapitan Kloss!”. Just imagine how surprised I was!
Warszawa, being the capital city, could be known to him, but Kapitan Kloss? He explained that it used to be a popular series on Albanian TV back in the day and he watched it all. Who would expect that?!
A couple of minutes later, the host showed up again, this time with a plate filled with grapes, plums and peaches. That was not the ending, though! Next on the way was raki – a 53% alcoholic beverage made of plums, a cure to all diseases in Albania, as they say here. He showed us how to drink it. Unlike vodka, you have to take raki slow, sip by sip and let it gently burn your throat. In the end we went three or four rounds of raki together with the host.
Anyway, leaving the “restaurant”, all of us were blissfully happy and relaxed.
We made a short walk around the centre of Shkodra and headed to the hostel to finally get some sleep.
That is also when we had to say goodbye to Jarmo, who still had to look for cheap flights home and didn’t know where he would end up.
The farewell wasn’t sad and I think none of us understood it as a real farewell. I am sure that our roads will cross again.
After the goodbye, there was one immensely funny situation. At the Backpackers Shkoder hostel, I didn’t have to pitch my tent as they had their own. I made myself comfortable, intending to update the website and write a new post, when I noticed a large bulge in the middle of the tent. It was something under, so I couldn’t move it. I thought that the guys were nice to offer me their tent, but they shouldn’t have placed it on such a big stone. I started working and some 20 minutes later, to my huge surprise, the bulge has changed its location. I kept staring at the mysterious something and saw it getting legs and slowly migrating towards the place where I intended to keep my head. A bit scared, I took the torch, went out and lifted the tent.
There it was!
A large turtle. The poor animal decided to spend the night under the tent and I ruined its plans. I took the turtle and put it in the garden.
Relaxed and looking forward to going to Tirana, I went to sleep.
Next post will be about one of the best places in Albania – the mesmerizing Tirana and how great company can affect the way you experience travel.