We spent the last week traveling by bus, furgen(VW mini bus with no set schedule), taxi, train and by foot. We’ve walked across the border in two countries, rode overnight in smoke filled buses, broke down in a bus. We’ve both experienced motion sickness from driving up and down the mountainous terrain. In Albania, we were pushed from one means of transport to another without fully understanding what was happening and some how got to where we wanted to go. We’ve spent more than 45 hours in travel time this last week, which doesn’t include waiting in bus terminals or for our next transfer. We’ve seen quite a bit of the Balkan peninsula, and the people we have encountered have all been genuinely friendly, going so far as, providing snacks on our journeys. In Albania, a stranger eating in the same cafe as us drove us back to our hotel free of charge because it was raining and there were no taxis.
Probably the most memorable encounter was with an Albanian immigration officer. We walked across the Albanian border and after our passports were stamped in, one of the border guards asked if we would like to join him for coffee. In the cafe he ordered coffee and a shot of reki for each of us. Reki, typically made from grapes or mulberrys, is a clear liquor similar to vodka. It was 10am and we were already drinking shots. Rinaldo was very friendly and genuinely curious about life outside Albania. He studied in Turkey, speaks 4 languages, and has applied to continue his studies in the US.
An hour and four shots later, we were on our way, and Rinaldo was back to work controlling the border. Turns out only 100 people enter/exit per day from Sveti-Naum, Macedonia thru Tushimisht, which is where we entered Albania. Although highly unusal, it was a nice welcome into Albania.