Where am I?

Created this blog to document my travels, experiences & thoughts thru Central & South America but hell plan to blog my travels to where ever. Goofy harmless Free Spirit hoping to spend most of my time with locals & enjoy the world! So hang on as I travel, drink cervezas, raise a little hell, maybe piss off a few people & hopefully not give Canadians a bad reputation! Of course don't do these things on purpose but while having a good time well "Shit Happens"!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hosted by a Couch Surfer in a Hostel she operated in Tirana, Albania! Had great time there!

So yeah met Zhuljeta Cima & her good friend Ermela Teli thru Couch Surfing. Thing is Zhuljeta couldn’t host anyone for free as she just got a job running her sister & brother in law’s recently opened hostel But that was OK cus I don’t always expect or need to be hosted for couch surfing. Cus to me meeting & hanging out with people who live in a city & country are as important as being hosted.

So after a few days hanging in Ohrid & the lake well decided OK time to get on the road again. But it wasn’t easy to get out of Ohrid as there didn’t seem to be any definite bus lines or schedules going to Albania1 So went to a main street leading out of town to catch a mini bus to the town of Shruga about 30 mins away. Then at Shruga got off where I assumed was near the bus station (Macedonian bus stations can be just a bus stop). So walked around until I got to a place that I assumed was the bus stop cus it was leading west into Albania! I was told by a couple of people that the bus didn’t come by till 12:30 PM and it was only 11 so shit thought why not hitch hike to the border cus it’s only about 1o kms. So hung out by the road hitching a ride and after about 30 mins some young dude came by and offered me a ride to the border. Now it was strange that he offered me a ride cus didn’t know why he was going there? Cus he didn’t go across, didn’t ask for a fee so I gathered he was just being nice! My theory hey don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!!! So walked to the Macedonian exit crossing and then thru to the Albanian crossing all with no trouble. Then stopped in a bank and exchanged the last bit of Macedonian denars I had for Albanian Leks.

Then I got pursued by taxis taking me me to a nearby village to catch a mini bus. So for 300 Leks ($3) I got a taxi to I assumed was a village. But the dude drops me off at this gas station before a village which kind of pissed me off. Cus I’m thinking shit I won’t be able to get a mini bus from here. So I start cussing and saying u asshole u ripped me off by dropping me here by the side of the highway. But I guess he knew what he was doing as he flags down a mini bus driving down the road & presto it’s heading to Tirana where I was headed. So there I was on the side of the road with egg on my face cus lost my cool! So I’m a big enough guy to apologize but shit he didn’t know I was cussing or apologizing to him anyway!

So this mini bus took me straight into Tirana in about 2 hours after a stop for a break. The highway into Tirana was picturesque over hills, valleys & rivers so it was nice to see. My first impression of Tirana was shit it’s not like the other former communist countries I had seen before like Georgia & Armenia. It didn’t have Soviet influence (or it was removed) like big old drab tired looking large apartment blocks to house the citizens. Albania seems to have a bit of individuality as it wasn’t part of the Soviet regime ! But either way it is interesting as the minibus dropped me off by this hostel. Normally I would have been thrilled to be dropped right outside the door of a hostel But I thought shit I may as well stay at the Milingona Hostel where my new couch surfing friend Zhuljeta was running. I started walking to the Milagona hostel which I was told was 20 mins away. But it was a very hot day so by the time I made it with my pack to Milagona it seemed like a very hot day.

I had a bit of a time finding the actual hostel gate as they don’t have a sign for the hostel up yet. But luckily the guy at the other hostel had called (all hostel owners know each other in Tirana) Zhuljeta and her friend Armena sp? so they were watching if this idiot Canadian was walking in the hot sun!

The hostel is very nice but still a kind of work in progess in marketing & getting the word out about the hostel. So there was only a French guy Berdano sp?, a Bulgarian couple, a pair of deaf Albanian chicks and me. But the atmosphere and openness of the hostel was great as it was like a home more than a hostel. When I got there Armena (a movie director/actor) was making some homemade soup so I sat with the 2 chicks & Berdano (a civil engineering student from France staying for a 3 month internship ) to have some delicious soup and bread. Then it was great to shower and chill for a couple hours.

So Zhuljeta told me they were having a party that night as some musician friends of hers were coming by to jam! So yeah I was all for that cus love live music. I was quite surprised and impressed with the quality of musicans that came by. We had these 2 awesome guitarists that played in bands in Tirana. But it seemed to me that they were way better guitarists than just a bar band as they could really make the guitars rip! They could easily play a guitar solo and captivate an audience that they did to me! Then we had this guy come by who sang and sounded like an American cus he sang other people’s songs like Elvis, Stones, Led Zepplin, etc. I really enjoyed his singing probably cus he didn’t sound like an Albanian! But not that it mattered cus he was after all singing in English. Then we had this chick Linda (yes she is Albania too as were they all) who had her own band & one of the guitarist played with her. She had a great voice and could really hold an audience with her sound! It was quite a night of drinking beer, having a bit of smoke and listening to some awesome music. So to me it was being in a club or concert as they had an amp so the electric guitars were really talkng (for the sake of a better word)!

Then later a bunch were heading over to a reggae party to listen to some live music. But shit somewhere along the way I guess the travel, heat and activities of the day, beer, smoke caught up with me! Cus I was listening to the music and suddenly I found my self in bed. I thought how the shit did I end up here?

So I went up to the terrace to check out what was happening but everyone had left to the reggae party. So shit I missed out on that gig & had no idea where it was happening!

So anyway I found out later that I was sitting there having a beer when I suddenly fell off my chair like I was in a trance. This happened once in Vancouver when I went to bar with a friend to listen to some music. We were suppose to have a bite to eat first but my friend didn't show up on time so we passed on the food. But we kept drinking & smoking and the next thing I knew well I fell into a trance. I went to the emergency and a min on an IV got me right again. So figure it must be something to do with my low blood sugar and drinking! But those are the only 2 times it's happened but it is a bit freakly.

Anyways we also went to the beach one afternoon to chill and take in some sun. I took the opportunity to go for a run even if I’m not in the greatest shape right now as hadn't run for a while. But it was nice to get out and run and work up a bit of a sweat.
Then in the evening we went down to a local watering hole for a couple beers and met up with some of the girls’ friends.

So have to say I was pleasantly entertained and shown a good time by my new couch surfing friends Zhuljeta & Ermela! So I plan to keep in touch with thru Facebook or maybe they will come to visit me one day, enshallah! Yeah it would have been cool to stay longer as enjoyed my stay there but had to do some more traveling if I wanted to get to Germany for my flight home. Plus have a friend in Bavaria who I was suppose to visit so had to make tracks!