Another Couchsurfing Adventure in Shkoder, Albania
“Adventure only happens when things go wrong.”
After being forgotten about by a Couchsurfing host in Belgrade, after receiving an out of service contact number from a host and being stranded at night in a small village in Montenegro, I actually met my host in Shkoder, Albania.
And the first words out of his mouth were to the effect of “I can’t host you.”
I took this news without surprise. Sometimes a rocky road cannot be expected to get any smooth just because you go around a bend. Chaya and I were getting use to this rocky couchsurfing road.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Gramsh, Albania- February 6, 2008
Travelogue — Travel Photos — Travel Guide
But our Albanian host was a kind, funny little guy, and, with big apologies, offered to help us book a cheap hotel. 5 Euro each got Chaya and I a room, and we spent this day with the couchsurfing host showing us around his city.
He told us that he played music in the cafe that we met up in. “What kind of music?” I asked.
I liked this guy.
He then took us to a gambling den to watch some soccer games. The betting house was full of televisions, cigarette smoke, beer, and anxious, serious looking men. I walked into the den first and was looked upon by the entire place. I did not really know where to sit, as the place was packed full of stern faced fellows looking at me with stern faces. Then our host walked in and, with a few orders spoken to a waiter, claimed a table right in front of the televisions, and parted the seas of smoke breathing men for Chaya and I to follow.
Our host was a little fellow, maybe just a touch over five feet, but he commanded the presence of a giant. “I am a VIP in this city,” was how he introduced himself.
I was at first skeptical of his claim to prominence, but as I watched him yelling and ordering much bigger, tougher looking, and far more rugged men around the gambling den, I began to suspect that he could have been speaking the truth. Throughout our time with this Couchsurfing host I could not tell whether he really was a VIP or if he was putting on a show for his foreign guest.
After three European soccer games ended in 1 to 1 ties and I was taught the particulars of betting, we moved on to a “cheap” restaurant. We walked through the doors of the “La Palma” restaurant and into immaculateness. Shit. It is difficult when being shown around a town by a host to maintain your self autonomy enough to really make them understand that you have very little money. I looked around at the nicely decorated walls and the fancy dressed waiters of this souped up and decked out restaurant and cringed at how much it was going to cost. With a long string of direct orders paid to the waiters, our host had the entire place scampering to serve us. We went to the second floor and claimed an entire room to ourselves. Then the menus came, and Chaya and I breathed a big sigh of relief, at this restaurant was not really too expensive. One luxurious iron pan baked fish, two pizzas, and a couple of drinks only shed 10 Euro from our hide.
Chaya and I then bid farewell to our little Couchsurfing host and made way to our hotel. Upon entering it and retiring to our room, it became apparent that it was a sex hotel. In many countries their are two kinds of accommodation: rooms for foreign tourists and rooms for locals who want to copulate in privacy. The cheap hotels are the sex hotels. Our hotel mates were mostly couples who paid for their rooms by the hour and a gaggle of creepy looking dudes who just stood around looking creepy. Chaya and I dodged the cum stains that were smeared across the blankets and settled in for a cold night of sleep.
In travel, you often get what you pay for.