Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


Well since my last travel update I have gone from Sarajevo Croatia to the lovely island of Corfu on the Greek west coast on the Ionian Sea. I have been traveling with an American Guy who I met in Prague named Nick. We were in Bratislava Slovaki where we met an Australian guy named Dan who was also headed in the same direction as us so we went to Budapest together. From Budapest we split up and went to Darajevo Bosnia and then to Split Croatia and there we unexpectedly ran into Dan again with another Australian named Al and went with them to Dubrovnik which is in Croatia too It is one of the worlds most beautiful cities. After 3 days there the 4 of us decide to go to Greece and here is where the adventure really begins.
We were un able to get any info about transitting Albania. We could buy bus ticks to the border and were told we could of course buy ticks at the border to whereever we were going. So we take a bus to a little town called Petrovac on the border and we are told by a really un-attractive woman in the bus station window that the next bus for the border leaves in 3 hours but at the border where the bus takes us there is no bus through Albania. How can we get through Albania we ask? She says we can not go there. Okay... so we ask if there is a bank so we can get money to get tickets elsewhere she says there is no bank in Pertovac. Okay... She says we can take a taxi to the next town and get to the bank there.
We get her to call a taxi mini van and he takes us to Bar we get money and pay him and he asks where we want to go. We tell him we would really like to make it to Tirana Albania tonight and we want to get to a bus station where a bus can be found.
He says he is from Albania and he can take us to the border and from there his "colleagu" can meet us and take us the rest of the way. ( All this stuff is being negotiatied by the way in very broken German) His original price is 250 Euros. We argue and wrangle so finally he charges us 70 Euros and his colleague will also want 70 and we agree. We get to the next town and he stops we buy some pastries for the 4 hour trip and he talks to some guy and tells us his friend wont meet us but we can get a taxi at the border for about 50 or 60 euros. He now demands 100 to take us to the border and there is no bus station in this town and no bus to the border anyway. We are a little dubious but stranded and so off we go after giving him 100 E's.
Now it is dark and raining out and the road is a one lane affair high into the mountains with big boulders scattered here and there in the road it is pouring rain and ther are no lights or other cars. Another car shows up behind us and flashes his bright high beams at us on and off for about 40 km. Dan leans over to me and says wouldnt it be weird if this guy takes us into the mountain and leads us to his mates and tries to pull guns on us and rip us off and... Okay I tell him thats enough. Just be quiet. it is 10 minutes later and the guy stops the mini van taxi in the middle of the road and gets out and walks over to the car behind us.
Shit I think, this is not cool. Al Sticks his head out the window to see what is up and our driver and the other driver are looking at a map. We are lost it turns out. So we turn around (a well executed 6 point turn) and back track 40 km take a little road and he lets us out in the rain in the dark about 100 meters from a border checkpoint in the middle of nowhere.
I put on the Raincoat that Partying D Nichols gave me in December and I have been carrying with me all over the world and wear it for the first time. We are greeted by 12 border guards with guns and a big dog and for tne next 20 minutes we are quizzed as to our business in Albania. Finally our passports are stamped after many cigaretts are passed out and cash payments exchanged, and we ask if there is a taxi to the next town where we can see lights flickering about 5 km in the dark distance. A guy emerges from the group and says he is driver and this is cab... he points to a 25 year old orange MB240 sedan. Okee dokee how much to village, "Why you want go there?" he asks. "is no hotel is no restaurant is nothing." He says. Alright..."how much to get to Tyrana" we ask. He wants 120 Euros. 30 minutes later we are in the cab after giving him 80 and he is more or less happy.
He drives us the 130 km to Tyrana and we explain in Broken german spanish italian and a little english that we want a one star hotel can he take us to a one star hotel? "All hotels closed in Tyrana" he tells us. Oh this IS SWEET. So we take a turn onto a rutted dirt road and we ask why and where are we going,he says no police here... and he drives us all around town and finally into a funky little alley and pulls up to a construction sight at 10 o clock at night with 3 chinese guys working (sort of) and an Albanian in a leather jacket supervising (sort of) and he talks to the Albanian and explains our problem. The Albanian walks over and starts talkin in Abanian to us and we stop him and say do you speak english? To our total amazement he says "English? Yeah sure is not a problem for me" We need a place to stay the night with four beds cheap we tell him he says "is not a problem."
So he tells the driver something in Albanian. The driver looks relieved and kisses him on both cheeks and starts unloading our bags into the muddy rutted construction area of a street. Whoa we say whats up. Our new found friend tells us "Not you worry Is not a problem." What is not a problem? we ask
"Your for stay with here" he says. Where we ask looking around?
So he takes us past the fence and up 3 flights of concrete stairs to his apartment. We look around and see it is an okay place, really kinda nice.There are a few cushy chairs and a nice sofa and couch and a TV and etc. He introduces us to his 2 brothers and his father and they speak in Albanian and he says its all okay now. Is not a problem, you stay here with us!! Al asks how much it cost he looks puzzled amd makes a gesture like he is hugging the world and says "is not a problem you stay here with us!!"
So we are like totally stuck anyway and we agree and his two brothers hustle down and get our bags and soon we are all eating feta cheese and salami and drinking beer and telling all of each other about our lives.
Alien is our host his name is like the Sigourney Weaver movie Alien and he talks us into staying for two nights and seeing Tyrana tomorrow and then we invite him to come to Saranda with us the next day to the beach town where we will get the boat to Corfu. We stay for two days as his guests and get to experience Albania a little bit. It is a very poor and backward country. There is no running water in Tyrana fronm 6pm to 6am. All the streets have big holes in them. There are no trains. There are no bus stations, you flag the bus down and pay the driver.The whole country is a total cash economy. No credit cards. Only a handful of ATMs no travelers cheques. Very difficult for foreigners.
Saranda is not very beautiful. The land on the way is absolutely breathtaking mountain scenery. Our bus was boarded by soldiers who were extremely rude to all the locals but barely even looked at our passports. They yell at fathers in front of thier kids. really gruf. Everyone litters all the time and there is trash everywhere.People somoke cigarettes constantly. puffing away between bites of food even. I am glad I was there but wont be going back. What a relief to be in Greece. Corfu is great so far. I have been regaining my suntan and swimming in the sea. I will update you all more later.
Till Then Cheers!


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