Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Ciao Albania, Hello Greece!!

From Sarandë it was a bit of a rough adventure ride to the border.



The road was incredible - new and smooth - until suddenly it just didn't exist anymore. And then I spotted this "ferry." I think they were pretty amused with how I was looking around and taking photos of this questionable wooden structure...



I hadn't had the chance to charge my phone because the power was out, so I didn't really have a map. But I didn't mind because it made me enjoy the last bit of Albanian kindness as I repeatedly asked "Igoumenitsa?" pointing in the direction I thought it was.



At the border, I pulled up to the window and handed over my passport. He took a look at it, scanned it and then held up the stamp looking at me questioningly... I tried to explain my stamp was in the front pages, but then realized he was asking me if I wanted a stamp... I was very confused, thinking 'dude, I don't know, this is your job!' Eventually he shrugged and laughed and stamped my passport. A woman in uniform stoop at the other side and said hi to me so I stopped thinking she wanted to see my passport or ask questions or something.. But she just asked where I was from and then said "Your eyes are very beautiful... Bye." And that was the last thing I heard from an Albanian. What an incredible country! Albania, Thankyou for your kindness and chaos, your rakija and your cozy funky cafe bars. Stay as open and rugged and relaxed and welcoming as you are!
I cruised down to the coast and through the Greek customs. A few hours of riding through neat rows of trees who's branches sagged under the weight of juicy looking oranges, I was in Igoumenitsa! I started to notice the higher quality new cars, the brand name clothing people were wearing and the clean streets. Just this morning, as I had been eating my breakfast on the promenade, I observed a cleaning woman picking up garbage and emptying the bins into her garbage bag. And then she dumped it on the beach in a big pile of rubbish. I wondered how much she gets paid.
In Greece now, I sat down for some food and quickly also noticed the quadrupling of prices. And then the lack of hostels... A sad, sad discovery. A couple hours later, after settling into my Airbnb place, I went for a stroll and popped into a crepe place. I sat there for a while until a group of friends asked me to join them. Turns out Greece is just as awesome as Albania!!