Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Travels in the LOOLEY van

The sun is shining on us again today! I hesitate to say it...but...we have been very lucky with weather so far. It is cold at night but beautiful during the days. There was even a lonely mosquito in our room last night.

We didn't have a kitchen in this Guesthouse so Mata and Theo went in search of breakfast goodies. When we opened the window they were sitting outside with cheese pies and fresh fruit. It was warm in the sun. We sat for a while before packing up our bags and moving them to the girls' room and descending to town for a coffee. The group had offered to bring our bags down so we had no intention of climbing back up to the Guesthouse again. Unfortunately the town was experiencing a power outage but Kalliroi managed to find a place that was using a small gas stove to make turkish coffees and teas.

A walk along the other side of the river gave us an opportunity to look back at the old town (referred to as a town of 1001 windows) where we were staying, at the very top of the buildings!!

At noon we met with LOOLEY and his 4 cylinder Citroen mini-van for the trip to Gjirokster in southern Albania. OMG!!! The uphill portions were navigated at 24km per hour with a risk of stalling on every hill! A trip that could have taken 3 hours became a 4 1/2 hour marathon and ended when the van could not make it up the hill to our hotel! It was much worse for the two passengers in the back seats...Mata and Kalliroi...over bumpy sections of road. Looley was a more aggressive driver than the ones we had hired before. We were often faced with oncoming drivers who showed no inclination to slow down or allow us to pass! At one point we were stopped by the police who took his documents and demanded that he stop to pick them up on the return trip (i.e.) with a payment which he termed MAFIA!

The owner of our hotel in Gjirokaster met Looley's van on the outskirts of town and guided us up and up and up until Looley's little Citroen could not handle the incline on steep cobbled roads with 6 passengers and a load of luggage. We all disembarked, hauled the luggage to the side of the road and waved goodbye to Looley!

The hotel is beautiful and located almost at the top of this ancient town. Donna greeted us and showed us to our rooms. We immediately decided to stay 2 nights. 

Balkaneros partners are inseparable!

After the "LOOLEY" trip Kalliroi needed a hug!

Following Donna's recommendations, we searched for her No. 1 choice of restaurants and shared a delicious meal!...probably the best in Albania so far. Tomorrow we will explore this Unesco Heritage site.

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