Posts Tagged With: Tirana

From Tirana to a little beach near Petrovac

Tirana-Petrovac

Tirana-Petrovac

Hitchwiki says there is a good hitchhiking spot from Tirana to the North and it should be around 2km from the city centre. We followed all the directions: went to Zogu i Zi square and took a bus to Kamez. On the way everybody, both passenger cars and mini vans, offered us a ride for money.

Informal bus station

Informal bus station

The bus we took was completely crowded and the last stop was surely more than 2km away. More like 20. It was a bit embarassing to block the front entrance of the bus with our backpacks. But the driver did us a favour and stopped openning the front door, as he figured, nobody elso would feet in.

As we arrived and started to walk down the street in search for an apprioprate place for cars to stop, some car stopped (we weren’t hitchhiking yet) and the driver offered us a ride some kilometers up north. We shyly asked “Parap?”. As we found out before this means in Albanian “no money”. We don’t like to ask that, but after experience with our last ride, we wanted to be sure.
It turned out the driver was a really nice guy, who just felt sorry for us when he sa us walking in the heat. He spoke perfect Polish and English so we had an interesting conversation about Balkan tourism.

He left us somewhere between Tirana and Schkoder. After a short lunch break, we started to hitchike again. We didn’t wait 2 minutes before the next car stopped. The same story: “Parap?” “It’s OK, I’m not doing it for money”. This time there were two brothers from Tirana. We had a very interesting chat with them and started to regret we didn’t stay in Albania longer.

We stopped in Shkoder, saw the ancient castle and the beautiful  riverside, and started to hitchhike again. Again waiting time was shorter than 5 minutes. A nice young guy working for Herbalife stopped and took us to the Albanian-Montenegran border.

Castle in Schkoder

Castle in Schkoder

The river

The river

In the border we met Tahir, very nice 65-years old hitchhiker from Albania who showed us where to find self-grown Cannabis and tried organize a ride for us. Just after he left, we got a ride with two Kosovian guys who told us a bit about the Prizren and the conflict in Kosovo. Again, we regret, we didn’t go there after all.

Igor wants to go to Bar (what a surprise)

Igor wants to go to Bar (what a surprise)

Our last driver was Cimi from Schkoder, another Albanian guy who spoke perfect Polish. He took us to our final destination for the day and gave some advise where we could camp.

With Pulgi2

With Pulgi2

Hitchhiking in Balkans is like taking a taxi!

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Hostel Milingona

This place deserves a separate post!

Hostel Milingona (not Milonga, as we thought at the beginning :P) is a truly magical place much different from impersonal big hostels I am used to. Milingona means ant in Albanian and I think there is no better name for this small, cozy place.

Hostel Milingona

Hostel Milingona

 

Even though it is next to the city centre, is quite tricky to find, as it is located in one of these narrow streets in the old district and has no sign (apart from an ant painted on a front door). But as soon as you find it, you feel like you´re back home thanks to very homey interior design and, above all, very welcoming atmosphere created by the owners of the place.

Backyard

Backyard

 

We arrived there (after some struggle) way after midnight and we apparently woke half of the guests and all the stuff up. But still, we we were received in a very warm and welcoming way.  We put our tent in the backyard and enjoyed a moment with a beer after a long and exhausting trip. The fact that it is possible to camp in the backyard for lower fee is an excellent solution for backpackers traveling on a budget, as ourselves. Especially, that in the morning we were surprised with a mouthwatering Byrek for breakfast, included in the price.

In the living room

In the living room

I think there is nothing we didn´t like about the place: the design with some old-fashioned furniture and walls covered with stencils, the relaxed and friendly owners (it´s a family business) that were treatig travelers rather as friends than customers, Yoga – the cute dog that bravely protects the property and all the guests, other travelers that fit in the chilled-out atmosphere of this magic place and of course the old district full of bazaars and lively cafe´s.

Stencil

Stencil

Yoga

Yoga

 

Tirana

Tirana

 

I know it looks like a comercial, but it´s just our way to say thank you to all the people we met at hostel Milingona!  You´re magical!

 

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Tirane

The capital of Albania is a very special city. We arrived there at night, but the streets were still full of people, lights, cars and open fast food restaurants.

We had a ridiculous small map to arrive to a previously recommended hostel. First, we stopped to eat something and get some power and ask for the address. Everybody we asked was very helpful but surprisingly no one understood our map. Another interesting thing about Tirane is that they use the streets numbers randomly, it´s like a lottery. Finally we managed to find the other hostel, the “Backpackers” but it was full. Luckily  the guy in the reception was very kind, he gave us a map and shown the best way to arrive the Milingona hostel.

It was already 12:30 and we still had to cross half of the town. Tirane is organized in a special way. It has big avenues that start from the city center and all the rest are little streets usually unpaved, not straight at all and with all the electric cables from several blocs hold by a wooden post. We found it really charming.

Creative electricians

Creative electricians

When we arrived close to the hostel we asked about direction in a grocery shop and it turned out that the guy was studying Spanish on his own (he has quite a good accent), so we were talking for a while. Then we asked again a baker who was already working  and he closed his business only to come along with us all the way until the hostel´s door. We finally arrived around 01:30 to the Milingona (that means ant in Albanian) hostel.

Milingona Hostel

Ant Hostel

Another peculiarity is that at least a third of the cars on the streets of Tirana, a proper Muslim country, are Mercedes Benz. In general they like luxurious cars, which  makes a big contrast with the surroundings. A lot of Albanians are working abroad so most of the plates are from other countries, specially Germany and Austria.

Busy street

Busy street

The last thing I would like to point out from Tirane is the wealth of markets and little street shops with desirable fruits and vegetables. You can also buy tobacco, clothes and, in fact, everything, everywhere. Great city and helpful people.

DSC01291

Streets of Tirana

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From Ohrid to Tirana

Ohrid-Tirana

Ohrid-Tirana

We walked to the only high way at the end of the town. It was a little bit hard because of the heat, but at least we discovered  different kinds of neighborhoods, not touristic at all.

Watermelon fountain at the outskirts of the city

Watermelon fountain at the outskirts of the city

We stopped at a gas station and we started to hitchhike. As in the rest of Macedonia, the people around did not care at all about us. After 5 or 6 cars, whose drivers always apologized, one stopped. It was a young small guy with a “tuned up” car. It was clearly a wrong choice. I do not have any complain about him as a person, he really wanted to help us, but he could not keep the car on the line, specially when he spoke with Aleksandra who was on the back seat.  I had to advice him for three times that we were going to die. The ride was initially to be 10 kilometers long but he insisted on driving as five kilometers further. In ten minutes I lost 3 kilograms. When we finally arrived,  we restarted to hitchhike at the entrance of a small village, just few kilometers before the border. After we had to decline around ten taxis, a small van stopped. He was already carrying another hitchhiker couple from Czech Republic. We exchanged some experiences and tips as fast as we could because we arrived very fast to the border. Because we are educated hitchhikers we let them catch the car first, so we lost some time but we felt good. We went some meters away, already on the Albanian side, and after twenty minutes we saw them passing by. The sun started to go down and we were a little bit worried, all around there were only taxi drivers, gipsy families and kilometers of mountains. Fortunately, another Audi with Italian plates stopped. They were two Macedonian guys going to have some fun in Tirana, it was Friday. Before getting in we clearly explained that we had no money and they seemed to accept the fact. We had a quite pleasant trip, switching between German, Italian and Elf language. Unfortunately once in Tirana we got disappointed, when the passenger asked again for money. We had no troubles, but the goodbye became kind of weird. Fuck you, you did not got our sticker.

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