Thursday, June 21, 2018

Afternoons in Albania June 21 2018

Two afternoons in fact. When the shortest route from Skadar Lake in Montenegro  to Prokletije Mountains Montenegro is via Albania and the car hire agreement says you can, what do you do? Go via Albania of course. And what a surprise it was. After spending several hours driving on a two way but one lane road on the cliff edges of Skadar,
 hurriedly pulling close to rock faces when we spied trucks coming our way, it was amazing to find a road in northern Albania with parking pull-offs,double height guard rails, road shoulders and plenty of room for two way traffic and some amazingly engineered hairpin bends.

In a couple of hours, we had crossed the border near the Adriatic coast, negotiated the chaotic city centre of Shkoder, stayed parallel to the border and ended up 15km from another border crossing back to Montenegro. We stayed two nights in Vermosh in the Kelmend valley and surrounded by the Accursed Mountains.  The guesthouse was part of the Peraj family home on a small farm. Mira milks 3 jersey cows every day, makes her own yoghurt and cheese, grows fruit and vegetable in the short summer and butchers her own meat. Daughter, Florida, is still trying to finish her education part time, but has great plans to capitalise on the tourism potential of the valley. It was a pretty stunning place for a 5 hour hike and plenty more longer ones if we had had the time.

The guesthouse served breakfast and evening meals on request. Breakfast of course consisted of homemade bread, cheese, yoghurt, local honey, fresh milk as well as some freshly made pastries and coffee.
The evening meals were also mostly home produce: prosciutto made in the months of snow on the ground, home butchered lamb, fresh cheese, and bread which we watched cooking in the slow combustion stove in their not quite finished commercial kitchen building. On the first evening Florida experimented with a delicious dessert of pastry jam and walnuts called Pasta Flora that a previous guest had told her about.

Florida and I swapped cheese recipes to try one day soon. Stay tuned! 
 It was a great two days where we really felt like we got to experience a bit of Albanian family life. I love the sort of travel where you do something on a whim and have the most unexpected experiences!

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