September 2006 – Albania & Macedonia
Hello. As usual JAB always seems to fall on the day or day before we are moving but today Deirdre is unwell – our unwritten rule when one of us is sick is not to travel unless we absolutely have to. Otherwise we would be heading to Skopje today.
Last issue we were due to leave Gjirokastra the next day. We got up early, got a lift to the station from our helpful hotel owners and stood by the road waiting for the bus. The swine drove right past us all and in swooped the taxi drivers with their lies and extortions.
Dee hates taxi drivers so we tried hitching. Heading to Korca, reputed to be the cleanest town in Albania, we stood by the road looking for a KO number plate. After about an hour in the sun with no KOs we decided it might be an idea to start sticking our thumbs out and make a bit of an effort.
Though lots of cars stopped on the way to nearby towns, either from helpfulness or just to be a bit nosy, we wanted to go all the way to Korca without risking getting stuck in the middle of nowhere, so we fell back on the plan of going back to sleep and trying again tomorrow. The next day the bus actually did stop for passengers – and broke down in the middle of nowhere.
We were sorry to leave Albania , we’d grown very fond of the country and its people. In Korca we were invited for coffee by Alda and her mother, Florence. We don’t often do this – usually the invitation is an excuse to sell us trinkets and other rubbish but this time it was both genuine and typical of the Albanians.
We are now in Macedonia, by Lake Ohrid, and experiencing even more hospitality. The family from whom we are renting a room are magnificent. We owe special thanks to Anastase, Sonya, Kostadinka, Slobodanka, Ivo, Nene, Nina, Maria and Goran, to name just a few of them we’ve met over the past three weeks we’ve spent loafing around this lakeside town.
I have a favourite restaurant in Ohrid but find it difficult to go there because they keep feeding us. We’ve drunk endless cups of Turkish coffee, toasted each other in rakija (a fiery Balkan drink) many times and been spoilt rotten on both the special occasions we’ve had lately – a birthday and an anniversary.
Here’s the details if you want to stay in their huge room with a great balcony and view of the fortress, or eat tomatoes or peppers from the lovely garden:
Ul. Goce Delcev 158, Ohrid, Macedonia; tel +389 (0)46 271 729; email ktomanoska(at)yahoo.com
Another recommendation is their shop. I’d noticed it before I knew it belonged to the family as it sells good quality handmade copperware. This side of the family have been doing this for four generations and their products are a little different to most of the stuff you see in the town:
Marinov Kosta Abras br.48, 6000 Ohrid, Macedonia; tel +389 (0)7062 3939; email marinovamarija(at)hotmail.com
I’ve got to go now because it’s getting late. I’ve got to sneak past the family without getting into deep conversation or food shoved in my paw otherwise you won’t be seeing JAB today.