May 15, 2015

Tirana, Albania

I actually managed to wake up early today, at 06:30. I then got ready, packed my bags, and had a quick breakfast provided by the hostel (tea, French toast, and a cube of cheese). At 07:30, a taxi arrived to take the Canadian woman staying in the hostel and myself to the bus station at the edge of Berat. We reached the station and we both quickly found our separate buses (she was heading south, and I was heading north to Tirana). After loading my large bag in to the cargo hold of the bus, I bought an iced tea at the café in the bus station. I then made my way on to the bus and found my seat. At 08:00, the bus departed the station and headed north to Tirana. It was roughly a three hour journey through some lovely Albanian countryside. The bus did make a stop at the seaside city of Durrës before continuing on to Tirana.

When we finally reached Tirana, I ended up several kilometers away (I think it may have been four kilometers) from the hostel I wished to stay at; luckily, I knew which street I was on and could find my way to the hostel. Since I hate taxi drivers and refuse to use them unless I absolutely have to, I walked to the hostel. I walked down “Rruga e Kavajës,” to the city center (at Skanderbeg Square, where the National History Museum and several other sites of interest are located), and then onward, east, along “Rruga Qemal Stafa.” I then had some trouble finding the hostel since I was walking down a crummy-looking street with a lot of bike shops (they’re doing the oriental thing here, having all the same stores and services in one location instead of spreading them all over the city) and figured I must have passed it by; but no, I had to walk a little further down. Finally, I found the hostel and went inside. It was a nice looking place and the staff were very friendly – I knew I would have a great stay here. I checked in, put my bags in the dorm room, and then decided I really needed to do laundry (the last time I did it, it was my first day in Belgrade). I loaded my nasty clothes in to the washing machine and then decided I should hang out at the hostel while it completes its cycle. I then had a couple half-liter glasses of beer while chatting with a French woman and others helping out at the hostel. The laundry cycle lasted nearly two hours and, when done, I hung out my clothes to dry. Since it was around 15:00 and most sites would be closing in a couple of hours, I decided to stay at the hostel, hang out, relax, and update the website. Eventually, I met the other guests as I stayed around; in the dorm room I was in, a Dutch cyclist showed up, he was cycling around the Balkans and had the skin-tone to prove it. Also, I met an Aussie man who had been there for some time, as well as a French man who had lived in Texas for a while and had no problem poking fun at his own people, as well as everyone else. Later on, as the day grew dark, the Frenchman, the Aussie man, the Dutch man, and I went out to eat dinner. A couple of the hostel staff escorted us to a nearby eatery and we sat down at a sausage place (fuck, I would end up eating here each night I was in Tirana). We all ordered beer (a half liter) and I ordered a long sausage (which came with some onions), bread, and eventually a spicy sausage and some more bread and some more beer (another half-liter). We also all ordered a mixture of sour cream and cheese (at the recommendation from the hostel staff) to spread on our bread; we each made sandwiches out of our meals, stuffing the sausages in to the bun. After dinner, we decided to go out somewhere to drink. We walked south of the canal, to the clubbing and pub district. The Aussie man had done the free tour a couple of days ago and was pointing out many of the sites to us. We then reached a semi-high class joint that had bouncers, but we were not allowed in since two of us had shorts and the other two had sandals (me!). Eventually, we found a pub showing silent music videos from the 90’s on a projection screen and we all ordered half-liter beers (which were too expensive, by Albanian standards, not western standards). After finishing our drinks, we decided to head back to the hostel since we were inappropriately dressed to be let in anywhere good. On the way back to the hostel, the Aussie man met his drug dealer, which was good news for the Frenchman, who wanted some marijuana. I watched as an order for 1.5 grams was placed. We then walked back to the hostel, ordered more beer (another half-liter), and joked around. The drug dealer then showed up and I watched as the deal happened. The Frenchman was cheated and ended up with about 1.05 grams (the Aussie’s estimate). The Aussie and Frenchman then left the Dutchman and I as they smoked their grass. They came back in what seemed like less than ten minutes (we were all drunk, so it may have been more). We had more beer (another half-liter) and then all went up to the rooftop terrace, where the Frenchman and Aussie man could smoke in peace (I did not touch the stuff, but come July/August, I will) and where we all joked around some more (the Aussie man told us later that he was pretty baked from all the weed he had smoked). Then, after finishing our beers, we retired to our rooms, and went to sleep very late, possibly around 02:00 (I don’t recall the exact time as I type this six days after the fact – I got behind on journal entries). After 3.5 liters of beer today, I was ready to sleep like a hibernating bear, which I did.

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