Day 7 Via Egnatia –  “Albanian Hospitality” 

Today we enjoyed a very lovely walk, easy, scenic, a little rain but warm. Smiles and waves to and from shepherds – children, men, women – just about everyone around this area seems to have a flock or sheep or goats. Our day started with a fellow from last night’s hotel driving us the 3 kms back up the steep road to our start point. We really were impressed with little Hotel Lokal Dashmash. Here we’d experienced the renowned Albanian Hospitality at its best. 

Our day was really quite perfect. We covered the distance quickly. Gypsy had a wee electronic melt down but removing her batteries and replacing them sorted that out – thank goodness. We rely on her almost exclusively! We arrived at our destination – as advertised in the guide book – by 2pm. The first time our day’s walk has concluded as per expectation. We’d made a bet – of a beer. I won. Pat owes me a beer!

We are pretty excited! We are greeted by by fiercely barking dogs and an elderly round woman – turns out she’s not much older than us. We will be spending the night at her farm. We are sat on a couch – damp – on her front porch. First we remove our mud caked boots and open our packs to retrieve our sandals. Smiles. Nods. We’re told we can stay. We wait. Very ripe tastey figs are served. Pat gets a coffee, I pass as its a bit late in the day. I ask for water. None ever shows up. We start getting chilled. Ask about the room so we can change. This request goes nowhere. We pull out fleecies. We hang up coats. We ask about the room. We are shown the bathroom. We ask again about the room and are finally shown into a living room where two couches are pulled out into beds and damp sheets placed on them. We are watched as we unpack a bit. A younger woman goes through Pat’s toiletries bag. Then she tries on my sandals and looks through anything we’ve unpacked. We repack. It is seriously creepy. We now sit on our beds and read. We’d have like to change out of our slightly damp walking clothes but there’s no privacy to do so.  The weird woman comes in and out and in and out. We are offered horrid squares of some sort of flour/sugar/butter mixture. Still nothing to drink besides that first coffee. Finally at 8 dinner is ready. Pat and I eat while the old woman and her husband and daughter watch us. Raki is served. That’s all. Dinner is really weird – among other dishes is a large bowl of soup – Pat and I both spoon out of the same bowl.
This place is advertised in the book as between 4 and 7 euro per person. We offer total 15.00 and are told the price is 20 euro per person. Are they kidding! The nice hotel the previous night with room, dinner, three beers, and breakfast was 30 euro. I tell them this. There is much moaning and we settle for 30 euro. This is not Albanian hospitality at its best. This family is simply fleecing Via Egnatia walkers because they are “listed” in the guide book. Never fear, I’ve sent an email to the authors of the book to let them know! 

When we are ready to climb into bed seven long hours after arrival, we have not been given – despite asking – one glass of water. We are still wearing the clothes we arrived in. We’ve been charged significantly more than the “going” rate for a hotel. We are unimpressed.

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