My first big adventure travel has just unfolded - hitchhiking Up North on an extremely tight, almost unexciting budged, with no return date, actually with no plans at all... So, stay with me and lets see what the cat will bring... 🙈🙉🙊 (part 1, part 3, part 4, part 5)
You can also fallow the Up North trip in Polarsteps. Not to overload the post with pictures, most of the photos you can find at the end of it divided into galleries.
31 August 2021 – Kavajë, Albania
Hitchhiking Up North to Albania proved to be a bit of a challenge. After more than 6 km without a break, a minivan finally stopped for me. It was full to the roof with people and luggage. And yet they shifted and took my heavy monster in their laps on the back seat.
That way we crossed the border +10 more kilometres – joking and laughing, despite the inconvenience. The driver, Mahir, was Macedonian and the conversation happened through him as the others were Albanians. After we have been unloaded, we had a cup of coffee with him, then he went back and I continued to Tirana. Or so I thought…
It wasn’t long before Gurali crossed my path, predicting the end of my day. Along the way, it turned out that my host in Tirana had changed her mind. Well, not exactly – her housemates have feared to host anyone because of the virus. So I didn’t really have a place to spend the night, so it didn’t matter where will I go.
Guri was going to Durres. So did I…
This turned out to be quite an expensive resort, where the bed starts from 25 €. It was 2 o’clock in the afternoon and I have not eaten anything from yesterday afternoon, so I felt already sick from hunger. Nevertheless such an amount per night was not even close to consider.
I wandered into the small back streets asking in the shops for a cheap place to stay. For a while, my only success was a peach gifted by an empathetic boy at an open stand. I was already looking for a place to just sit and eat something, when the luck smiled on me at another store.
Without knowing a word of common language with the saleswoman (as it turned out to be the owner of the store and a modest guest house) we easily agreed for 10€. Of course, there was no way to pay by card, so I congratulated myself for the predictably taken few euro in cash.
The lady in the next door room turned out to be the smiling and helpful Albanian – Aisha. We did not share a word of any other common language, but nevertheless she managed to invite me to accompany her to the beach. With a huge warm smile.
Did she have to persuade me for a long time… 🤔
As a child I had a very beautiful nightgown, which in my eyes looked like a dress. I liked to put a belt on it and walk in the neighbourhood, firmly convinced that no one had any idea that I was actually wearing a night robe. 🤫
Well, now I am convinced that everyone is aware that I am sunbathing in my underwear, but I could not care less if the king is naked! 😆
Up North: 1 September 2021 – Tirana, Albania
After a cup of hot coffee and just as hot exhortations to come again, I headed for the main road to Tirana. The young guy who took me to it turned out to be (almost) a Bulgarian citizen who did not know a word of Bulgarian and did not recognise the flag waving on my backpack. However, all the necessary procedures have been passed and he expects his passport within a month or so. Just because it is an EU passport… 🙊
After quite a wait, a huge truck left smelly marks on the asphalt right in front of me. At first I couldn’t understand what was happening. I thought – did a tire burst right in front of me?! I saw that it wasn’t the case, the driver just slammed the brakes! Then, looking in disbelieve, I saw why – a car had stopped abruptly in front of him! Because of me…
I couldn’t believe what an idiot! Was a suicidal in front of the truck to stop like that?!?
After I explained to him with signs to pull the car off the road (I always try to choose places where it can stop without causing an apocalypse!), I saw that it was actually a grandpa…
And now I had a dilemma! Should I get on or not?! Well, once he survived 70+ years (by my opinion), let’s hope he will do another day more…
Grandpa took me to the center of Tirana and I sighed with relieve. After we shook hands and thanked him, he asked me – what about money? Well… that was all about, huh?! 🤦🏻♀️
After settling into the hostel, I toured the entire center to find an ATM that doesn’t charge me a fee almost equivalent to the withdrawal. In the picture is the only one from which I withdrew money free of charge.
The traffic lights were the first thing that impressed me when entering the city. Good idea and should be working. Nevertheless, the traffic is a complete chaos… 🤦🏻♀️
The second was that they remember their history and do not deny it whether they like it or not.
Up North: 2 September 2021 – Shkodër, Albania
I went out of the city by bus, Edi took me from there and not long afterwards Earth has stopped for me and dropped me off at a gas station. Almost immediately a smiling family took me from there and wrapped me with their warmth. They dropped me off at the city centre in Shkodër.
From there, the wandering started… as for the ATM in Tirana, but now with the backpack of my shoulders. After about three hours of walking around the city, I eventually found a decent hostel in which I managed to negotiate a decent price.
I left the luggage and ran out to use the rest of the day – a fortress 4 km from the hostel. (So today’s kilometres are more than 16 and just half of them are without the backpack!) At the entrance of the fortress I had to buy a ticket, but I did not liked it at all. I made the photos I could from outside and just turned back, when someone did call to me. So, thanks for the man in charge, I did enter the fortress after all… 😉
Heading up to the fortress, I saw parked 3-4 motorbikes. I did not see much from a distance, but one immediately attracted my attention and I decided it is mine. 😆
By seeing it closely, even the disappointment that it is a BMW (I am not a fan of their over-expensive maintenance and spare parts) failed to destroy the love that started from a first sight.
When I was coming out the fortress again, all the bikes were gone. There was just “my” bike waiting for me and a nice stranger (Fabian) was hesitating around it… 🤔
Up North: 4 September 2021 – Podgorica, Montenegro
Today my first hitchhike was my last too. As usual, I went off at the border to pass the control on my own, then waited for my transportation to pick me up again for the rest of the way.
The distance was quite short, but in a fascinating conversation it became even shorter and we both did not notice that we were already in Podgorica. If I hadn’t looked at the navigation, I would have passed without realising it (not a big deal anyway).
In the meantime, we stopped at kind of huge improvised market just to have a look. It turned out to be something like our “bitak” or carbuts in England.
There was another wandering in search of a low price for the night. I was about to go out at the main road and continue without seeing anything from the capital. The limit I had set was no more than 8-9€ per night and the cheapest ones were around 15-20€.
Then a boy on the street just spoke to me and started walking with me. He was selling handmade bracelets. It turned out to be a traveller who decided (together with his girlfriend) to settle here for 3-4 years. He took my backpack, found some internet spot, then he took me to my hostel he found. Of course it’s not ***** stars, but it’s the best you can get for 7.50€ around here…
A leisurely walk around, a little chat with the American embassy guards and back to boil my eggs! 😆 I cooked them, but I didn’t eat them…
The hostel turned out to be full of Turks (the owner is Turk) and until I realised I was accommodated in front of a huge full plate. I was not predicted in the cooking and the two portions now had to become three, but they didn’t even hesitate about it…
No one can beat the Turks for hospitality and sharing a shirt, even if they have only half..!! 🌞