Category Archives: ALBANIA

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.

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SHKODRA, ALBANIA: Eastern Europe’s Biking Capital. Part V

Sorry, this has taken so long to finish, it’s a busy life.
Shkodra was the first Albanian city I visited, 3 years ago  I was surprised by the number of cyclist, especially the number of older riders, who were nicely dressed for office jobs. HERE’S the history of the bicycle in Albania and especially Shkodra, it’s an interesting read.
I have an interesting history with Shkodra, HERE’S that story.  So needless to say I couldn’t stay at the hostel that I stayed at last time.  So I drove around until I spotted something interesting,

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A BICYCLE SIGN

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SARANDA, BUTRINT NATIONAL PARK & GJIROKASTER ALBANIA part IV

When I rode my bike into Saranda, 3 years ago, I was so happy to be here.  That was some of the most challenging biking I had ever done.  I went to the neighborhood I stayed in last time and found the beautiful Apollon Hotel.  I like staying just a 10 minute walk from town, it forces me to get some exercise!  Nothing has changed, 1/2 built buildings, gravel roads, garbage, dogs & cats everywhere.  I was talking with a realtor, he was telling me how much has changed in the last couple years. I told him nice try, it looks exactly the same to me as it did 3 years ago. Continue reading

ALBANIAN COAST & BEACHSIDE APT. PART III

I’m going to my little beachside apartment.  I really enjoyed staying in Dhermi 3 years ago and really look forward to returning.  Shopping in the store last time was humbling to say the least. Only Plain yougurt, meat- was to cut how much sausage you wanted, cheese-cut it off the block. The store has been remodeled and has lost a lot of it’s charm.  I bought pasta & sauce since there’s only one restaurant open.  I use to have a landscape business, so I asked the owners for some clippers and trimmed the trees and bushes around the apartments. Continue reading

ALBANIA RE-VISITED (by car), PART I BERAT

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When I biked through the Mediterranean 3 years ago, I picked Albania as my favorite country.  Why?  Number 1 is always the people, they were so warm, welcoming and generous.  The nature was spectacular, the history: (both the Roman & communism) was super interesting. The arts and crafts, especially the rug designs that are very vibrant & colorful.  Albania  offered the main things that interest me when traveling.  On a bike I  wasn’t able to buy the souvenirs that I wanted, like a rug.  So I had a mission on this trip (mission accomplished).
I have never rented a car when traveling, this will be a first.  I wanted to revisit people & places and retrace my bike tour route and also visit the middle of the country.  I first drove an hour to Durres, on the coast.  I’ve stayed here before, but never really connected with this town.  I got a great ocean view hotel for $25, with breakfast.
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JEFFS BUS TOUR–THE GREAT ART CAPER

I was window shopping in October 2013 in Shkodra, Albania.  I came across an artist who’s style I really liked

LOCAL ARTIST WHO IS PAINTING MY PICTURE

SHKODRA, ALBANIA

LOCAL ARTIST WHO IS PAINTING MY PICTURE

Montenegro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really loved the bike vibe of Shkodra and wanted to capture it.  So I sat on a park bench taking photos of people biking.  I captured the image I wanted.

 

 

SHKODER BICYCLING IMAGE So I took this photo to the artist and he agreed to paint this scene.  I had be-friended the owner of the Hostel where I was staying and asked him to pay the artist the other half and ship me the painting.  It was going to take a week and I had already been here a week.  Months went by, I heard nothing. I called Tonin (hostel owner) and he then  sent me a photo of the painting, but not the painting. It’s been 10 months and still no painting.  I’ve begged him to return the artwork to the artist, he says he will, but it never arrives.  I finally tell Tonin I’m going to call the police, I got his attention then, but still no painting.  It’s been 3 months since the artist agreed to take back the painting, so by the time Tonin finally decides that I’m not going to give up about getting the painting, he takes it back to the artist.  The artist now refuses to accept it, holy shit, I was so close. Tonin informs me of the situation and says the painting is at the Hostel.  So I make plans to go to Albania and retrieve MY painting.  I promise Natasa that if I don’t get the painting, I will let it go. I plan to sleep on the bus to Dubrovnik, Croatia, rent a car there and drive to Albania, get painting and drive back and catch next bus back to Slovenia.

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WAITING ALONE IN ZAGREB, CROATIA BUS DEPOT (free WiFi)

The bus stops for food and the bathroom.  I’m half asleep but can’t beleive what I’m looking at.

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ANIMALS STUFFED AND DRESSED.

No one sits in the seats above the engine, maybe not a comfortable  seat, but one great bed.  The bus is 45 mins late to Dubrovnik.  I grab the shuttle to the airport (that’s where the rental car is).  I’m on the road for my 4 hour journey to Albania.  With in 15 minutes the traffic is diverted to another road.

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CARS LINED UP AT MONTENEGRO BORDER CROSSING

 

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WAITING ISN’T ALL BAD

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WAITING ISN’T THAT FUN, FOR EVERYONE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a small border crossing, so they only have 2 people checking passports.  So I’m losing time, I was hoping to be in Shkodra by noon.  I had seen this ferry last time through here, it cuts 30km off your trip.  I load the car on and hope to save some time.                   IMG_0639 It didn’t help that much, I finally arrive about 4pm to the Hostel.  To my surprise, the painting is nowhere to be found.  I emailed Tonin 3 days before and told him I would be here Sunday to get it, but no painting.  The hostel host speaks no English, none.  But he get’s I’m pissed, I kick the wicker table and put my foot through it.  Now, I’ve got Tonin on the phone and he says the painting will be there in 2 hours,  I’m so pissed.  I leave the Hostel and go looking for some Policemen.  It doesn’t take long.  They take me back to police headquarters to file a complaint against Tonin.  There’s a guy at the police station telling me I’ve been conned and should forget about it and go home.  It’s over,only after I leave, without the painting. I drive the head detective to a Restaurant, where the owner speaks English and Albanian.  We get the whole convoluted story told.  I give the detective Tonin’s phone number and he calls him.  Within a 1/2 hour the painting was brought to our table by Tonin’s dad.  In turn Tonin’s dad wants to have me arrested for damaging his table.  Everyone looked at him and asked him to leave.  The detective didn’t want me to take his photo, getting my painting. I eat my dinner at the San Francisco restaurant.  By this time the sun  is down but it’s still somewhat light out.  I’ve got a 3-4 hour drive back to Dubrovnik, crossing 3 countries. I had to show my passport 14 times on this trip. I return the car back to the airport and take the shuttle bus to the bus station.  It’s 2 am now, no bus till 7 am. IMG_0647 I opt to sleep on the bus platform (I’m not alone) The lights were bright but I laid my head in the shadow.  I actually slept some.  IMG_0660I got my bench seat bed again, I didn’t do one tourist thing, this trip was strictly business.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

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Thanks for reading Jeffsbustour

Jeff

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