Albania – i come in peace

Hello beautiful world.

I come with news from my travels in Eastern Europe. Since Montenegro i have travelled as an illegal alien, stopped by more cops, picked up a hitch hiking partner, gotten a neck and back massage from an australian girl, learnt how to do a magic pen trick, swam at a freshwater beach and stole a toy crocodile with a bunch of Manchester people and named him Dundee.

Since the last update, i managed to get picked up by a Russian couple who i travelled with around Bar before making my way to Ulsinj at the very south of Montenegro. Over there i decided to take a cheap coach to get across the border of Albania to get to Shkoder but at the border i managed to get into trouble because i apparently needed a visa to enter the country (something i overlooked).

At the border, the guy in the little booth kept telling me “Albania NO! no visa no Albania!”

so they just removed my bags from the coach and left me in limbo between Montenegro and Albania and i felt a little silly for not looking this up. I was locked between Serbia and Albania which both needed me to get a prior travel visa and travelling through the small state of Kosovo was the only way to get out of Montenegro.

At limbo i did not like the idea of backtracking. “fuck no, im getting into Albania today!” i thought to myself so as i was standing outside the little customs booth, i walked to the direction of Montenegro and just slowly snuck around the booth and used the cars as cover to sneak my way into Albania. Tourist visas are so silly but coming from a small country that they don’t normally get tourist from, and them only recently opening their doors to the world, it was something i just had to deal with sometimes.

2013-07-19 14.48.43they have a two headed eagle on their flag. there must be a penis joke in there somewhere

From outside the border, i took out my sign for Tirana and got a ride in 5 minutes! Took me 3 rides to get to the city center of Tirana but i never needed to wait long for a ride because everyone was so helpful! But the drivers man, they drive like mad men kamikaze style. There are no rules whatsoever on the road and it’s like a giant bumper car ride with everyone driving which whatever direction they want. It was a really interesting experience!

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A bell over a bridge next to a wall over a fountain across from a pyramid. dont ask me man

The entire country pretty much do not accept any form of card payments and the local currency -leks, you cannot exchange them anywhere outside the country so that was very weird for me. The country knows that too so a lot of places accept euros as well. I exchanged some pounds and found a cafe so i can book myself into a hostel and for no particular reason, i chose Trip’n’ hostel and that was the start of a series of events that led me here now.

I was walking for half an hour and ended up entering a few people’s apartments before deciding that none of those are hostels. A local eventually helped me out and as they opened the gate to the hostel, all Louise, the receptionist could ask me was, “i hope you have a booking because we are completely booked!”

there was apparently a technical issue and in the end they just let me crash on one of their couches for free (essentially couch surfing!).

I’ve been to quite a few hostels before but this must’ve been my first party hostel and i met so many amazing people from around the world. My Facebook friends list probably grew by about 20 people in the last week. I can’t really go into the details here but we all just partied together and generally had a lot of fun! This was also when we found Dundee the toy crocodile hanging on the roof of some place so we decided to take him home with us.

2013-07-19 14.40.29

I felt like king kong climbing the pyramid of Giza. (Pretty sure theres a joke somewhere in there as well)

I went sightseeing with Min, this chicago chinese dude and we walked around checking out all the old communist inspired buildings. There was a giant pyramid we saw and we just had a lot of fun running up and down it! amazing photo-op. We ended walking to the park and hilariously, i was watching him try to pick up some Albanian girls (who were questionably 16 years old) and it was so funny seeing him try to talk to them with the giant language barrier. haha.

2013-07-19 16.02.45

“you have facebook? no, face-book. as in add me on your phone. no, i dont need to make a call…”

There was a bunch of people from Manchester who told us we needed to go to Ohrid in Macedonia and after a lot of persuasion i finally decided to change course from going south to Greece, i would instead go east to Macedonia. This leg of the hitch was a little different though in the sense that an 18 year old kosovan and a jazz musician from new york was joining me. We all met at the hostel and it was both their first time hitch hiking so it was a little interesting travelling with people. They thought i was some sort of expert but I’ve only just started 3 weeks ago haha.

we parted ways with the kosovan who was heading to the coast and me and the jazz musician made our way towards the border.

2013-07-20 18.07.21

You may not be able to see it but theres bunkers everywhere in this picture from the post communist era.

I was worried that me entering illegally would bite me in the ass as i was leaving the country because i coincidentally met a guy who works with visas in the government and apparently he told me that all the borders are linked so they know exactly when someone enters and leaves the country.

But then again, what are they gonna do? deport me? ha ha ha.

After watching them scratch their heads for 20 minutes trying to figure out what to do with me, they just decided it was too much effort and just let the Macedonian border patrol deal with me. generally, Albania has been an amazing ride and i would love to think i’ll go back!

The series of consequence have not ended yet though. I’ll let you know what happens in Macedonia in the next post.



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