ALBANIA: KRUJE (handmade rugs) Shkodra (my favorite town in Albania)

     I found myself with a few extra days, so I head to Kruje,, home of Albanian handmade rugs.  This is my 4th time to Albania, it’s almost a second home.  I rented a car last time and passed 40 police checks and was never pulled over.  Well they finally pulled me over, for speeding,  it’s great being an American here, we made some small talk and I was set free.

Last time I drove this road there was a river I wanted a photo of.  I realized I was near the same river again, this time I stopped and took a picture.

  The hostel, ROOMS EMILIANO that I  was looking for was actually inside the castle walls.  The parking guy said I couldn’t bring the car inside the castle and charged me 2 euro to park.  The hostel guy walks me back down to my car and I park inside the castle.  I let the parking guy keep the 2 euro, it wasn’t worth it.  We all laughed about it.

     For only 5 euro more I could have stayed at the Panorama Hotel.  It was recommended as the best place to eat.  So I went there for lunch, & got the best seat in the restaurant.  The castle museum looked recently remodeled. The Ethnology museum had the olive oil set-up that I had seen at other museums.  But this is the first museum to have the wicker baskets that hold the crushed olives while they’re being pressed.
I’ve been to so many places in Albania and Kruje seems to be getting the most government support for infrastructure and tourism.  They are working really hard on new squares, parks and there’s no missing stones in the walkways.

     I was super excited to walk through the crafts market.  I had a crafts business for 10 years and truly appreciate quality crafts.  There were several antiques stores too, which contained some great historical pieces.

I rented the car, but once I arrive at my destination and never drive it.  I try to stay in town to feel the vibe of a place.  I head to the farmers market and take pictures along the way.
“I’M IN LOVE THE USA”

I’ve been to Shkodra more times than any other place in Albania.  I get a room at my favorite place, HOTEL TRADITA. I head out to visit my favorite hostel/coffee shop ARKA– but they’re closed?  I text Victor and he tells me they moved.  I’ve been talking with lots of touring cyclists I’m actually a little shocked how many I’ve seen both in Kosovo & Albania.  I invite Aleksandra and Nikol for coffee a ARKA.  There’s a hot bed of activity at the hostel, the U.S. Ambassador is coming.  He’s there to listen to community concerns basically, coffee & conversation.

It’s a quick trip to Albania, I bought the rug I wanted, visited friends and now it’s time to go back to Kosovo.  I have the car so I thought I would take the scenic route instead of the highway.  Google maps says it’s about 1 1/2 hours longer, I’m on vacation why not?  There’s some scary roads out here, no guardrails or damaged ones or  missing guardrails.  I had been sick the day before, throwing up and diarrhea.  That’s when the traveling alone is most difficult.  The scenic route had the town of PUKE, thanks for the reminder.  I stopped for lunch in this no tourist in sight town of Puke. Nice Greek Salad for 1.50 euro.  The hills were covered in purple heather, but the Iphone camera doesn’t do it justice.

The road was steep, windy, scary and  about 15 minutes longer than I could handle. I had had enough scenic driving for one day.    I head back to Pristina, Kosovo, I stop by my new hostel and ask him about the village of Brod   He tells me it’s a must visit village and it’s the perfect time to go.  Wikipedia calls Brod “One of the most spectacular mountain villages in the Balkans.”  So I hit the ATM and head to Brod.
Thanks for Reading,
Jeff

Next: Brod, Kosovo, halla cow killing, cow pie insulation

This is a video I posted on Facebook showing my “Man Cave” in Slovenia, it includes a few items that I bought in Kruje Albania.

 

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