Thursday, August 14, 2014

Where have I been? The story of the Balkans

Current Location: Village of Valenii, Mures County, Romania

Oh my God, time flies and the last entry on my blog was on Santorini and that's like a few weeks ago. Since then I have travelled to Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria and now currently in Romania. A lot of 'nia's yes.

What have I been doing and up to? When I started this trip I thought that I will be having the luxury of time and of course plenty of boredom as demonstrated on my 8 hours ferry ride but after that it was just one bus to another van to another border crossing to I don't know what else. Many adventures I can assure you but to go into the details, I will probably need forever and yet I feel really bad if I have forgotten any details which I am sure I will after time.

There were days at night that I think to myself and imagined how will life be on the road, what kind of adventures will I encounter and things that are happening is beyond my imagination. Partly sometimes when you are on the road, you encountered things that can be interesting like invitations from Couchsurfing hosts or when fellow travellers recommend certain things and place, in the past I would stick firmly to my plans but these days, I will usually just go for it. While there were some mishaps, more often than not things are always unusually pleasant.

Since time is of essence here, I will go point form. Also because I tend to be very lengthy about things and words etc.
- bus ride was long from Athens, woke up really early in the morning in a shitty hostel after arriving in the city at midnight and my first encounter with a bus full of Albanians.
- the Greeks don't go Albania, in a fact in the Balkans, I probably traveled more than them to all the neighbouring countries. They complained it's too similar anyway to warrant a visit
- in general, they might looked 'tough' and to a small extend 'thuggish' but they are the nicest and helpful people around. Their reputations as mobs, gangsters precedes them unfairly
- Tirana was just ok, small city, not much to see and I spent time relaxing in a really cool hipster like hostel for almost next to nothing called Trip'n Hostel
- then onwards to Berat which is really beautiful old city, very relaxed and I've seen too many churches by then. Had really good local food and everywhere I go, people offered me cigarettes and also weed
- planned to stay one night, ended up with two because it's just so interesting and I needed a small break by then. Hardly anyone in the hostel and it was good. Hung out with the staff and the boss. The last night, everyone got drunk and few people did some pretty stupid/funny things

Crossing the border from Berat to get to Ohrid was supposed to be easy but in reality not so much. For one, the furgon they called it which is essentially a van or mini bus was supposed to take me to a town called Elbasan to take another furgon just dropped me off at the edge of that town and I've paid full fare. I might as well just get myself back to Tirana and get more transport options. So I was stuck, with no internet, virtually no one speaks English and I tried to hitchhike. Unsuccessfully mind you. Ended up getting into a bus that I don't know heading to where but through some 'communication' managed to get to my destination.

After waiting for one hour, I boarded to next furgon hoping to cross the border but the catch is that there's two border gate and this one took me to the further one which wasted my time. Then I thought I could easily walked through it and get to the next town but before I managed to do so, a taxi guy offered to take me to tome for a really mad price €30 and managed to get it down to €25 which on hindsight still a shitty price but it was late and in the evening and I was tired and it could have been worst because if I were to walk, it's a good 30km. And I am so 'good' at hitchhiking.

- finally reached Ohrid which is a nice lakeside town and full of tourist since it's summer
- tired as hell, but decided I had enough of the long crazy hair so went for a haircut
- prices are very similar to Malaysia though I don't think they earn as much
- hostel was good, good shower and all and the usual mix of 'happening' people
- met a guy who happened to be closeted gay, offering advice like candies to everyone and I don't know, I kinda pity him trying so hard to be one of the bros but yet looking for some on Grindr. He is going to work in the mines so probably being all out gay isn't going to help
- again too many churches and fortress, entrance fee is a big part of traveling and I am so upset I left my student card at home. Argh!
- managed to cook and buy some food which is always nice
- Skopje which is the capital city is always overlooked but there's something to it, they kept erecting these old European styled new buildings and monuments which is ridiculous even for the locals but I supposed when all your neighbour either hates you or question your legitimacy to use the name and as a country, you have a lot to prove yourself for which a lot of travellers sadly didn't bother to read up on
- stayed at this newish hostel called Skopje Backpackers which was quiet and nice, the owner is really cute and met a bunch of Spanish girls who are friendly and they tried translating a movie for me. Again got offered weed


Twilight Man said...

I love all the photos you have posted today and earlier. I have to agree to some bloggers saying that ad guys often have creative eyes with camera angles and shots. Shiok nia!!!

William said...

You didn't keep a journal? That is a HUGE cross.