Chapter 4-DAY13 - Tirana to Ioannina (Greece)

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September 19th 2011
Published: September 21st 2011
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Where's the toilet gone?Where's the toilet gone?Where's the toilet gone?

Just a hole in the ground, at least we had a tiled floor!

Today was just a travel day from Tirana Albania to Ioannina in Greece – but oh what a day. We left Tirana and headed south for the Greek border. On the way out of the capital there was a stretch on road about a Km long which had 6 service stations. Our guide told us that people who have made their fortunes illegally laundered money through the service stations that is why there are so many in the city.

We had a toilet stop which proved interesting, there was just a hole in the ground – although it was surrounded by a ceramic floor, the bad news for Jeanette (and the other women) was that the ladies toilets were the same.

One of many things that are hard to get used to is that Albanians slaughter stock on the side of the road cut it up and then sell the meat right there on the spot. On the drive we saw a guy with two sheep tethered to a stake, as we approached he slit ones throat and started to skin it. Further up the road there was a cow on the side of the road
Albanian Oil FieldsAlbanian Oil FieldsAlbanian Oil Fields

Old rusting equipment and not much happening
with no head being chopped up and finally a dead and gutted donkey being dragged across the road for ‘processing’. Once cut up the meat sits in the open, flies buzzing around and all waiting for someone to come along and buy it – we didn’t stop. A few people on the bus found the roadside slaughtering of animals pretty hard to take.

The road from Tirana to the Greek border was an absolute shocker; a new ‘motorway’ had been started but was a long way from being finished. There were detours around road works in some areas, dirt tracks in others. The road surface was extremely rough and many areas where two vehicles couldn’t pass each other. Mario our driver did an outstanding job to get us to the border in one piece.

We passed through the Albanian oil fields which produce low grade crude, there is a fight over who has the rights to drill for and process the oil so there wasn’t much happening. The equipment was all old, rusted and in terrible condition. The whole area was extremely polluted; a small lake had an oil slick across the water and oil on the land

Our Greek adventure starts, including a 3 night Greek Island cruise!
at the edge of the lake. The whole area looked like an environmental disaster.

To add insult to injury when we did get o the border it was pouring with rain and we were held up for over an hour while everything was checked, The Greeks are very suspicious of anything that comes over the border from Albania, there was a huge line of vehicles leaving Albania so everything seemed to take ages. None coming the other way though.

Finally we were off through the northern Greek mountains to the resort town of Ioannina on the shores of Lake Pamvotis. Our hotel, HotEL du Lac was once again exceptional; we had a meal in the Hotel and a very enjoyable evening discussing Albania and the NRL semi finals coming up.

I’m really pleased we went to Albania it was good to see a country that is emerging from an oppressive communist regime and struggling to establish itself as a stable democratic nation. All in all it was a bit of an eye opener but well worth it. It would be fair to say not everyone on the coach would share my view.


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