Anyone paying close attention to our walk, will realize when I tell you that we are now in Elbasan that we either walked about 40 kms or….. Or indeed.
As you know we’ve been following this Via Egnatia guide book and we are beginning to doubt some of the grandiose claims of a scenic Albania brimming over with hospitable people who welcome walkers to stay the night in their village. Today we walked into Broshke where there is supposed to be such a family. First off the directions in the book were wrong. But after we discovered where this family actually lived – no one was home. Everyone is entitled to a holiday so we don’t begrudge that. However the book waxes poetic about singing dancing villagers and the warm welcome received. No one we talked to had ever heard of the Via Egnatia and no one offered accommodation for the night. Unfortunately the shop owner we spoke with was completely incapable of any form of communication. Even when we showed her Albanian words in our dictionary she just smiled and shrugged. However she was also the kindest person we met, offering us cold water from her tap. Next we came across a bar with seven indolent young men with as much motivation between the lot of them as a dead person. After we had walked away from the bar, on our way to the highway where we planned to wave down a ride, another fellow showed up. He had heard of our plight and had organized a taxi to come and take us to Elbasan – 20 kms away. This was to have been tomorrow’s destination but here we are after a pleasant taxi ride through uninspiring country side – much of it the abandoned communist industrial sprawl of this city. We’ve missed nothing except a long hot dull walk.
We are currently staying at a posh hotel within the ancient city walls. Google Hotel Guri if you’re curious. We negotiated a better price by the way….
Today’s walk. Hot, and for the most part, boring. We walked along a railway track for much of the day. Railway tracks have little of interest and aren’t really that pleasant to walk along as the ties are always just the wrong distance apart and the chunks of stone between are too big for easy stepping. Towards the end of the day we had a few kilometres of very scenic pathway along the river. Unfortunately the river seems to be the region’s garbage dump. Just disgusting. We passed some very prosperous homes. Gated and fenced and hidden behind lush beautiful gardens. Clearly there is some wealth here.
The gentleman who owns the place where we stayed last night (Hotel Maci) sorted us out with a wonderful picnic for today. For the first time we got fresh bread. The past days we’ve been sold day old bread and it is dryer than dry! Today’s lunch was lovely. Our cheese had been carefully wrapped in newspaper and the bunch of grapes was enormous. Need I say how much cheese and grapes add to the extra weight of four litres of water? So much for light packs!
Now one thing about last night’s accommodation that surprised us was the price of dinner. Our room was 2000 Leks. ($20.00) Our dinner cost more. We had a Greek salad for 200 which was huge and we shared. We had grilled veggies which were 200 and there was again plenty to share. A pan of potatoes (which we couldn’t eat as we were too full) was 400. But the main shocker was the chicken. This bird was an ancient free range creature who was well past her most tender date. This was an African chicken. Those of you who have eaten chicken in Africa will know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t – think of a roasted ball of sting and bones. Anyway this tough old bird cost us 1300 Leks. That’s about $10.00. Very expensive for this part of the world. By the way beers at a bar cost the equivalent of $2.00 so good value there!
Trying to send some pictures. Usual WordPress struggles. Will try to do so in a separate post.
For now, Good night from luxurious Hotel Guri, Elbasan