Sunday, July 3, 2011

Week In Review Sabbatical Style: T-4 Weeks

I just sat down on my bed in the hostel and realized just how tired I was. I don't think I'll be getting up anytime soon. Since I'm just going to be sitting here, how about a week in review?

  • The WIR should be pretty easy this week. Why, you ask? Because I was at Lake Ohrid ALL week. It started with me deciding on 3 nights instead of 2. Then I added 2 more days to my stay. Then...I moved to a tiny village on the other side of the lake for 2 nights. Then I extended my stay, yet again. I liked it that much. 
  • You know what is strange about a lake? It's quiet. It's like the ocean...but quiet. 
  • OK, but I'm not at Ohrid anymore! Today I mustered up the strength to get myself to Albania (po, po!). 
  • Even though Lake Ohrid is shared by both Macedonia and Albania it took me a whopping 7 and a half hours to get here. That included a prearranged ride to the next village, a packed bus, a walk to the monastery, a walk from the monastery through the border, a furgon (shared minibus) to Pogradec, another furgon to Tirana, a city bus and a 45 minute walk. Whew. 
  • I was worried about the walk from the monastery to the border as you had to catch a shortcut through a military camp site...which I read doesn't always allow you to cross. I also read that taxi or walking was the only way to get from the border to Pogradec...and that sometimes there are no taxis...meaning an hour walk with bags. Surprisingly everything went off without a hitch.
  • Albanians have to be the most hospitable people to tourists. While waiting at the border an Albanian woman told me which window to go to and then took over. She took me to the furgon I needed for Pogradec, sat down and told me to sit next to her. When we got to Pogradec she literally took me by the hand, walked me to the bus stop and got me on the right bus to Tirana. There's absolutely no way I would have found the bus by myself, so she was definitely a Godsend. 
  • I love Tirana! I've heard a lot of negative things about it from other backpackers, but so far, I'm a fan!
  • (I think I a contributing factor to my like of Tirana might be because I like things that are slightly tacky...!)
  • The food at my hotel in the village in Macedonia was AMAZING. All of it was homemade--from the wine and rakija to the bread and cheese!
  • Macedonia was good for the budget. Albania looks like it's going to be the same way. I think I'm going to have sticker shock when (if?) I get out of the Balkans. 
  • Wait! Did I say that I made the trip to Albania today without a hitch? That was a lie. After visiting the monastery (today was a huge feast day so everyone was there celebrating...I saw several lambs being carried around. I hope their fate wasn't what I think it was...), anyway, I wanted to have a cup of coffee to a) use up my last bits of Macedonian currency and b) give myself a caffeine jolt for the journey. I sat down at the cafe, ordered a coffee and when it came asked for a glass of water (coffee usually comes with a glass of tap water here). He asked if I wanted still or sparkling and I made the sign for turning on the faucet to indicate I just wanted tap water. Except apparently the sign I made for turning on the tap was closer to twisting off a bottle cap, because he brought me out a fancy bottle and poured it in the glass. Whatever, it didn't cost much, so I wouldn't care...except the bill came and I was 20 cents short! Oh man. So embarrassing. I was wondering how many dishes I would have to wash to work off 20 cents. In the end he let me pay in euros, and (maybe) thought it was as funny (pathetic) as I did. 
  • Finding contact solution ended up being an ordeal this evening. Apparently its not sold at a pharmacy (which is normal in Europe) or in grocery stores (which is normal in America) but rather in "sunglass shops." OK...except when I asked in sunglass shops they looked at me like I was crazy. I finally found a regular glasses shop who had it though. 
  • Most things are cheap here, but that tiny bottle of solution? 10 bucks. 
  • I'll be home in officially less than a month!
OK...I'm out of interesting things to say. And I'm about to fall asleep so no pictures, and I'm not even gonna reread this to make sure it makes sense. So if it doesn't, you know why. Because I'm lazy. 

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