The view from Albania so far; Shkodër, Lake Koman and that one ubiqitous haircut

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.

boat

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:

village

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.

roomfireplace

This is the a room from the home where we ate (photo taken before we realized we shouldn’t take pictures).

clean

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.

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Whenever we drove past one of these uncomfortably named gas stations I couldn’t stop myself from making jokes about 17th century opera.

tradita

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).

cathead

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.

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How we got to Shkodër: bus from Tirana.

Where we slept: Hotel Tradita.  Price: €50.40 for a double. Recommended: yes

20 comments

  1. Looks interesting, just trying to work out what the wooden thing of sticks is over the fire place, looking forward to more pics 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the stick arrangement is just décor. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh and congregations on 20 years 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! It’s really interesting reading about people’s experiences in Albania (I have a friend from the country who has her own perspective on it), and I would love to visit it one day. Thank you for sharing all this awesome info!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you snowtoseas! We are having great experience in Albania. The people are really low key but friendly and the landscape is spectacular. You should certainly visit when you have a chance. I’m curious, what is your friend’s perspective on the country?

      Like

  3. Love your wacky adventures. In early 90s I flew over and landed briefly in Tirana on way to and from Skopje. Are there still tons of those weird cement gun posts everywhere?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow–I wonder what the airport was like in the early 90’s? We have seen a lot of cement bunkers, mostly in the East and central regions. I think they should paint them like ladybugs!

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  4. Congrats on 20 years together! I don’t know whether you’ve grown to look alike, but you certainly must think alike. You must egg each other on in searching out weird and wonderful adventures. Wishing you many more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Claudia. HOB and I don’t look alike but when we travel we have similar backpacks, shoes, sunhats and pants so it can be a little embarrassing. HOB and I both love art so we have that in common but he’s a much bigger worrier than me. Stayed tuned for further adventures!

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  5. Lucky you, I didn’t make it to the lake. I did stay in a swanky (for me) hotel in Shkodra, but no cat head! Which hotel were you in?

    Male-only cafe culture is common throughout the Balkans. The women were busy working….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What’s a swanky hotel without a cat head? We stayed in Hotel Tradita.

      If men sit in cafes all day, how to they afford their Mercedes cars?

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  6. Congratulations. Can a village get smaller and still be called a village?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I think the most surprising thing about Albania is how unpopulated most of the country is.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Ooh I’m jealous of your lake Koman trip. Looks wonderful.

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    1. It was a spectacular trip though because it was off season we didn’t get a chance to meet too many local people.

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  8. hi Mrs WoB! Congratulations for your 20th anniversary 😀
    Interesting post, as always ❤
    That picture of the two-house village by the water looks really pretty, like a scene out of a hobbit movie ahahaha~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Yanti! Yes, the house we ate in was really Hobbit-like too. I can only imagine what it would be like in the winter, covered in snow….

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  9. Congratulations on your anniversary! I think every house should have a giant cat head, I’m off to find myself one now. Hope you have a great trip and I’m looking forward to reading more about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! My apartment does not have a giant cat head, regrettably. On the plus side, I do have a 19 pound cat and he does have a sizable head, so that will have to do.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A 19 pound cat?! That is sizeable and more than an adequate substitute for a papier mache version.

        Liked by 1 person

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