In Shkoder I stayed at AirB&B run by Vini and his parents. I arrived yesterday early afternoon after a long and difficult ride and was welcomed with a five-dish lunch of traditional Albanian food.
I went to buy water and some snacks for the next ride, but none of the stores would take credit card. Two of three bankomats rejected my debit card. We’re talking Europe in 2016. The streets were pretty quiet – it was hot and it was Sunday. At night it was a different story though: the main pedestrian street was bustling with people, and the bars were full. Each one of them had either big screen TV or a projector showing Euro 2016’s final game. I was glad my prediction was wrong and Portugal won the championship.
Albania is a Muslim country but I didn’t see anyone wearing traditional Islamic garb nor did I hear the call to prayer.
Today was my final push to close off the continental part of my journey. The last ninety-plus kilometers. When I checked the elevation of the road, it was practically flat. It was a nice and welcome gift from nature. The road itself was well maintained, despite what I’ve read on travel sites. Riding was a breeze. Many locals were selling watermelons and honeydew on the roadside. I stopped and for about 15 cents I bought myself one honeydew and ate it right there while the two boys who were selling them admired Greengo and its bells and whistles.
I made it to Tirana under four hours. I took a picture in the main square, which contains the three “top” attractions of the city, all in one spot. A few hundreds of meters away was the Pyramid of Tirana – or as it is sometimes called, Enver Hoxha’s Mausoleum – a dilapidated building that used to be a museum about him. Enver Hoxha was the tyrannical leader of Albania for forty years. I wonder if word tyrant has anything to do with Tirana.
I am staying once again at an AirB&B, this time with Eros and Doina. I arrived when they were at work, so Eros’ father met me. We sat down at a neighborhood cafe and he surprised me by speaking in Russian; not a lot, but some. He also knew several Russian songs that he continued to recall while we walked to the apartment. With a little bit of English, Russian and Italian he explained what’s what in the apartment.
The next couple of days are going to be relaxing: no intercity riding, only a day trip to Prizren in Kosovo, by bus.
Today in numbers:
96 km – distance covered
4h16m – riding time
39 – days it took me to ride from Andorra to Albania. This concludes the continental part of my trip.