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Published: October 25th 2008
At the bus station in Prishtina i asked the ticket seller which platform my bus leaves he told me 19 but when i showed my ticket the driver said no, it will be the next bus, i tried to get on the bus 20 past 5 my bus leaves at 6pm, turns out all departures on 19 leaves for Tirana, every half hour, a few stopping in macedonia en route and different companies which added to my confusionm when it left was relieved to see my bus pull in.
We left on time, the conductor collecting our passports to make a passenger list. An hour into the trip we pulled over and a car pulled next to us, i think he was telling something to the driver about our bus, turns out the cooling thing is leaking so we slowly tried to make our way to a gas station. While stopped i got out for some fresh air, this Kosovan dude started taling to me, asking what i am doing in Kosovo, was surprised there were tourist going to his country, he lives in France now and is just visitng his family. Very nice dude, his English is hard to understand
VIEW FROM HOTEL ROOFTOP
but he says he hadnt spoken it in 5 years, eventually it got better.
We stopped in prizren and we changed to a different bus, then a lot more waiting then off we go. We had dinner stop 30 minutes later and the Kosovan dude helped me order my meal, he told me how hard it is for him to leave family at a tender age of 13, he lived in Scandinavia and Italy til he setled in France, I think he was a refugee of war(or asylum seeker) since his English was not so good, best i could understand is he was a sniper or something during the war and have to leave for his own safety. Anyway we left once more 2 minutes later it was the border! The Kosovan guard was quick and thorough and again no stamp on my passport, bugger! i really wanted to have one, good thing i bought a Kosovo shirt at the bus station before we left.
For some reason we have to unload and reload the luggages, after the customs have gone through it, must be weight distribution as we are going through zigzaggy roads apparently in Albania. On
HOUSES ON THE HILL
the Albanian side, the officer once he saw my passport asked for a 1 Euro departure tax, gave it to him and I was the first one to be processed, got my passport back with a stamp and a receipt! The road got bad in Albania up and down mountains on hair pin turns, zig zaggy for the next couple hours, no wonder the trip is always at night, people might faint if they see the steep drops on both sides. We stopped again around 3am for a coffee break. An Albanian dude living in Newe jersey came on and sat next to me, we chatted a bit, he in his forced American accent mixed with English accent as he lived in London for a time, but at least I can understand him. Very talkative, i pretended to be asleep, he was going on an on about how pretty the girls are in Albania, blah blah blah....
630pm we arrived in Tirana, Albanian American dude helped me get a taxi to the southern bus station for Berat, he was very nice dude making sure I was alright before setting off. The taxi driver dropped me in the middle of
MENGALI HOTEL ROOFTOP
a long avenue and pointed to what looks like a regular bus stop not the main bus station, he said assuringly, wait 5 or 10 minutes, bus comes, having no choice i waited and sure enough it did come! 3 hours later i arrived in berat, the bus conductor gave me directions on how to get to Mangeli Hotel, the hostelworld directions are quite vague but the hostel was easy to find just next to a secondary school uphill on cobblestone hill.
Checked in at the bar and led to the room, quickly did my laundry and chill for a bit 18 Euros a night is good enough for me, This will be my splurge loment glad i did not do it in Kosovo. Food was also excellent at the restaurant in the hotel, and superb draft beer, this will be my base as i see the sights around the area. Walked around town and it seems people are staring at me, maybe just a bit too self conscious, when i arrived in town at the bus station it seems the whole town is looking at me, so far i have not seen any tourist yet and maybe that
is why, plus am Asian so...not too common here.
Had a walk again in the afternoon, and took notice of the houses here, lots of windows! Goes well with the tiles they use for roofs, looks really nice collectively. Went to the other side of the footbridge to get a better view and just observed the people, folks fishing in the garbage riddled river, kids walking back from school, the elder gentlemen hanging out at the parks in their dress to kill suits and cool hats reminiscing of their past and debating the present etc.
That eve met really nice English couple Kathy and Keith staying in the hotel as well we chatted mostly about where they have been, Sarande my next destination and of Montenegro where they have a house in Kotor fjord. Good recommendations from them about what to see and do in Montenegro. Went to bed early, haven't slept well since leaving Kosovo.
Met the nice English couple again at breakfast, i decided not to go to Fier and do the day trip to see Apollonoa, an ancient city ruins, as it is out of the way i may need to hire a taxi
ONE OF THE HAREM BLDGS.
and i can see now that it will be expensive, will do Butrint anyway so... Walked up the castle, a drunk guy wanted to show me around but i declined, walked for a good 1 1/2 amidst dogs barking at me, picked up some pebbles from the ground in case they attack me, never can be too sure.. Good views of the town from the top of the castle, discovered nice alleyways, lots of churches and garbage! they have to clean up or tourists wont make an effort to come here. Enjoyed my time roaming around the castle and went back to the hotel for some needed lunch and then off to the internet to plan my trip to Gjirokaster tomorrow.
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