A hot day in the neighborhood
As expected, I didn't catch the first bus in the morning. The night was just too short and I might had one beer too much. It was an incredibly hot day. The screen at a pharmacy stated 36 degrees Celsius and there was no single cloud to see on the sky. Knowing that the bus won't have aircon I didn't look forward to the ride to Vlore in Albania.
The first mini bus from Ulcinj to Shkoder didn't even have aircon, it didn't even have a free seat for me. Thus I had to sit on a box which was squeezed in between the seats in the aisle. That was definitely something else but comfortable. On the next bus I got lucky and got to sit on a regular seat. Gert - apparently named after Germanys "Bomber der Nation" Gerd Mueller - was sitting next to me. We talked about all the world and his wife until he had to get off the bus somewhere before arriving Tirana. Chatting to him definitely helped me to forget about last night's missing sleep. He even helped me to make sure that I would get on the right bus to Vlore. Cheers mate!
The ride seemed to take forever. Traffic is going slow in Albania, especially alongside the coast. There's only one main road with one lane for each direction. The landscape in this region is also very hilly which also forces cars to go slow. However, going slow also had the advantage to enjoy the beautiful landscape and its views.
About six hours later I finally arrived in Vlore. I hopped on a taxi which dropped me at a small hostel. A group of guests were chilling on the patio and a weed smelling cloud hang over their heads. This hostel was definitely a unique place. People of all ages were around. The oldest guest was around 80 years old. A guy from Philadelphia, USA traveling the Balkans by himself. Very impressive and inspiring! I hope that I'll be able to do that when I reach that age. After checking in and getting some dinner I finally got to catch up the missing sleep.
There are not really sights in Vlore so the hostel host recommended to spend the day on the beach. I asked him how to get there and if he had a free city map. He said: You've two options. Either you take the bus or a bicycle. Just know, the bus will drop you off at the not so nice city beach. If you go by bike then you could go to the nicer beaches outside of the city. That made the decision very easy and I rent a bike for the day. Unfortunately, he didn't have a map so he sat down and just drew one quickly for me. To be honest, I was a bit skeptical about its accuracy but to my surprise it was very accurate. I didn't get lost at any time. Amazing!
There are not many cyclists in Vlore. It actually seemed like I was the only one in town. It also seemed that car drivers are not too used to cyclists on the road. At one point I almost got run over... by a police car. Luckily nothing happened so I could continue my way and spent a nice and relaxing day on the beach.
Since I figured that there's not too much to do and explore in Vlore, I left the next day and headed down south to Sarande.
Gert, nice to hear from you! I also hope we'll meet again sometime! I wonder who this wise philosopher was?
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