Balkans 2016 – Day 34 : Berat to Durres, Albania

Today I was flying past villages and town towards Tirana after a good day of rest. The terrain was flat mostly along the valleys. First few KM, the road had great shoulders but after that and most of the way without any shoulder at all. My initial end point for today was neither Tirana ( 128 km) nor Durres ( 90km). I was planning to stop somewhere in between maybe after 60km. But I was making great time so I pushed on and on and I didn’t realized I pushed passed 60km. Since I was making good time I decide to push on to Durres.

It was great to be on flat good roads again and I had a great time cycling today. I enjoyed the scenery although not spectacular but it was interesting. During the early part of my ride I stopped to buy some local olives for snacks. It costed only 0.70 Euros per kilo !

I decided to break for lunch in a place called Lushnje. I was scanning around for a while for a suitable shop to eat and actually looking for something cheap like Donner or Byrek ( Local pastry pie).  Spotted one and I started to park my bike and before I could order , a middle age guy with a smiley face came up to me and started talking to me He asked me about my trip and where I am from. He then ask someone to take a photo of us and shouted to everyone around to tell them that I am a cyclist from Malaysia. Well ,he sometimes gets mixed up between Malaysia and Indonesia.

After awhile, I proceeded to order my food and beer and sat down to eat. The same guy came over and now with a friend and sat down with me and told me in sign language he would pay for my food. He told me he owned the shop and building next door and offered me a room to stay the night.  Wow ! Too bad it was too early to break the ride or else I would have jumped on it.

He spoke mostly in Italian which made it slightly better than Albanian as I could understand some words especially the word gratis.  Anyway we continued to banter for awhile me in English and he in Italian and I found out his name was Gezimi. He proceeded to tell me that he is a traditional Albanian classical bass baritone singer and conductor. He even asked me to YouTube his performance. 

I wanted to start cycling again as it was past 1 pm already. So I said my goodbye and then Gezimi asked me to join him at the back and showed me his garden and also his goat, chicken and ducks. He said I should take a photo with his goat and a child that was with him all the time. I am not sure what the relationship is with this young child of 4 years old. Anyway I assumed it was his grandchild. Well before we could grab the goat by the collar to take the photo the goat slipped away and went towards the street and the owner and me gave chase. Finally he caught it and brought it back to his backyard and we managed  to take the photo. This must be the strangest experience for me as I have no clue why he wanted me to take a picture with his goat.

Anyway picture done and I was about to leave but he was not done yet. He then plucked a few tangerines and pessimons for me and then 3 stalk of roses. After that he went to his gift shop and got me Albanian flag cube dangling thing. Finally I was able to leave and I jumped on my bike and was off.

For the first 10km after that I couldn’t help smiling and at times laughing at the whole experience in Lushnje. I will remember this town and Gezimi.

The road continued to be flat and good condition.  Somewhere around 28KM from Durres I took a break at a petrol station and bought a drink. I bumped into anther cyclist from Poland. He was touring Greece and Albania and heading the same direction as me. However his end point is Tirana. It’s already 3 pm and I have still some ways to go so we did not chat for long and we said our goodbyes.

I reached Durres at around 430pm and started to look for hostels to stay. Since it is a tourist town I expected prices would be high. I found Hostel Duress right in the heart of town and checked in for 11Euros per night with breakfast. There is free wifi and dinner is communal with minimal donation of 1 Euro. A pretty good deal.

There were many guest from all over the world at this quite hip hostel and after a quick shower I was ready for dinner. I contributed my olives. Some contributed in cooking and some baking dessert and other offered wine. Wow ! free flow of wine and also loads of food. We had a fantastic dinner and also great conversations. Dinner went on to 11 pm before we all call it quits and hit the sack.

It was a truly wonderful day of great cycling, connections, interactions and experience. I like. A lot.

Lions Project : RM 157.00

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Breakfast time

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These are huge and juicy

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My bike had to spend the night here at the basement of the old house.

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I thought I was for a moment in Malaysia. 

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I am not clear why they hang stuff toys in unoccupied houses.

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fruits for sale

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Yay nice shoulder

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oops no shoulder

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Bought some olives from this farmer.

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olives goes great with beer

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A new friend Gezimi. 

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OK we got the goat picture at last.

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One more for the road.

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Albanian wedding procession

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Roses and Albanian cube

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Hip Hostel Durres
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Free flow wine for dinner

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Simple but delicious communal dinner.
 

Author: krankster

I am an avid cyclist that loves mountain biking, bike commuting and most of all bicycle touring. I am a freelance leadership coach and hope to inspire others through my cycling adventures.

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