This morning we woke up in Shkoder, Northern Albania, ate a ginormous breakfast at our hotel and met up with a driver who drove us two hours to get on a small boat through Lake Koman.
Lake Koman is actually a reservoir formed inside a dramatic mountain gorge in the 1970’s and it powers a hydro electric system. We cruised along for an hour and 1/2 to the captain’s euro-pop tunes to a tiny (and by tiny I mean two houses) village that looks like this:
Once in the village we stopped at a guest house where the lady of the house served us lunch entirely of foods gown and prepared by her household. The family seemed uncomfortable with pictures which we were dying to take but restrained ourselves out of respect. A fluffy hen napped on a bench under a grape arbor next to us while we dined on pickled eggplant with red peppers, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, fried fish from the lake, fresh cheese, spinach and tomato soup, bread, potatoes and for dessert, grapes that the lady pulled fresh from her vines. We also toasted ourselves with her homemade raki ( a liquour made from the same grapes) and sipped Turkish coffee. Dear Mediterranean diet, I love you. Marinate me in olive oil and stuff me, I’m yours for ever.
This is the a room from the home where we ate (photo taken before we realized we shouldn’t take pictures).
After lunch we backtracked to the port, where we were reminded not to litter. (We love our lakes clean and virgin too, pinky swear.) And then another two hours on a twisty road back to our hotel.
Whenever we drove past one of these uncomfortably named gas stations I couldn’t stop myself from making jokes about 17th century opera.
The trip was lovely but we were glad to return to our hotel in Shkoder, which is super swank (we splurged in celebration of our 20th year together, which was yesterday).
This hotel, in addition to being swank, has a giant cat head in the hallway. If you can afford it, you should stay here obviously.
So far Albania is different than I thought it would be. The furgons (mini-buses) are not too scary and though there a mosques and churches about no one seems particularly religious. Rather, soccer appears to be the sanctioned national religion. Also, where are all the women? I mean, there are women all over, but not in big groups like the men. Every café has the same group of thirsty-eyed young men with identical buzz cut hairstyles or old dudes playing backgammon or walking together slowly with their hand behind their backs. Well anyway, we’ll be headed South soon enough and I’ll be back soon to report on if women actually appear publicly in large numbers outside of Shkoder. Until then, I’ll be furiously stuffing my face with spinach byrek.
How we got to Shkodër: bus from Tirana.
Where we slept: Hotel Tradita. Price: €50.40 for a double. Recommended: yes