Monday, November 28, 2016

November 25th

After breakfast and several attempts to pay the hotel bills with credit cards the owner offered to drive 2 or 3 of us and the luggage to the bus station. Unfortunately he only took John and I...we had no way to communicate with the others and our driver seemed uncertain about where to leave us. There are no "central bus stations" in Albania!! I finally found a young woman who spoke English and she offered to use her cell phone to call one of our group who were searching for us!

Another mini-van was finally booked and we chugged our way to the Greek border with faces covered to avoid major inhalation from the fumes! We walked across the Albanian border and across "no man's land" to the Greek border crossing where we were greeted by a smiling guard and a waiting bus to take us to Ioannina.

In desperate need of cash I attempted to use my bank card at an ATM and was told that my pin was not correct. After three attempts it froze me out so I walked back to get John's card which eventually worked. We sat in a cafe for almost 3 hours waiting while the guys picked up a rental car and Sotiris, our friend, arrived from his cottage.

An hour later (it was now 4pm), after driving through mountainous winding roads we arrived at the cottage and were greeted by Eugenia (Sotiris wife) and Olga, another friend from Athens. Now we were a group of nine!!!

The cottage, nestled high in the mountains of Northern Greece, has been beautifully renovated and comfortably held all of us. A fire was burning, candles were lit, soup was heating on the stove and raki was poured for a welcome toast!

The after dinner challenge was to name all of the Greek islands. After 101 were identified we said good night and climbed into our multiple beds.

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