Travel to Albania
I had never been to Albania before.
I love beginning travelogue entries with this statement. There is a certain energy, stream of excitement, and, yes, romance found in the pondering of a place that you have never been before. I am glad that the world is a large place, and that there should always – always – be another hill to climb over, another bridge to cross, and another country, island, protectorate, territory, enclave to go to.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Gramsh, Albania- February 6, 2009
Travelogue — Travel Photos — Travel Guide
Chaya and I rode a bus to Ulcinj on the eastern coast of Montenegro just to find that we were an hour late for catching the last bus to Albania. A taxi driver prudently told us this information as we walked into the station and offered us a ride. We brushed him off, as anyone who stands to make money off of you will tell you just about anything, and went up to the ticket booth. The lady behind the window confirmed what that taxi driver stated: the last bus to Albania departed at 12:30.
It was 1:30.
We turned away from the ticket counter dejected, and right into the arms of the more-than-willing-to-help taxi driver. This run through Montenegro was full of potholes, and we really just wanted to get on to the next country. The taxi driver re-offered his services, naming off prices that really did not seem too bad. We wanted to go from Ulcinj to Shkoder in Albania, around an hour and forty five minutes away. The driver said 30 Euros, I said 20, the driver said no, I walked away, the driver said yes, I gestured that we were going to hitchhike.
Chaya and I then walked out of the bus yard and into the “city” of Ulcinj. Stray groups of teenage boys and young men just standing in the streets just watched us walk by them. Perhaps it was odd to find a couple of outsiders with backpacks strolling like a couple of lost puppies through their city, perhaps they simply had nothing else to do but watch us. Either way, it became apparent that there was not much for us in Ulcinj on this run, so we quickly returned to the bus station to find the taxi driver.
I hate taking taxis anywhere in the world except China. Taking a taxi is the surest and quickest way to dislike a country. Most of the time taking a taxi works out fine – you get to where you want to go without being hustled too much – but sometimes taxi drivers are scumbags and will try to take a weary traveler for all they are worth. I am extremely distrustful of taxis, and I make this obvious to the driver. I never put my bag in the trunk, to do so gives the driver a collateral in the case of a price dispute, and I always make sure that the price of the ride is well stated and understood. I often write down the price to confirm it further. In this way, I seldom have difficulties with taxis.
We agreed on a price of 20 Euro and, really wanting to get to Albania, jumped into the cab. The driver did a quick run home to drop off some things and to tell his wife of his impending long journey. At this point I became assured that this deal would work out smoothly.
And it did.
Two hours later, Chaya and I were standing in the streets of Shkoder in Albania, searching for our next couchsurfing host.
Map of Albania