Shkodra

To get to Shkodra from Kotor, Montenegro in one day we had to go on 3 separate busses. After the long journey which took approximately 7 hours, we arrive in Shkodra. There is a big difference in terms of infrastructure and wealth between Montenegro and Albania.

For many years Albania was ruled by a crazy dictator, Enver Hoxha, who basically made Albania into an isolationist country similar to present day North Korea. He built a lot of bunkers, made a lot of Albanians homeless and forbade Albanians from leaving the country. Albania is now a developing democracy and it is still definitely a developing country.

There isn’t too much to write about Shkodra except it is the 4th largest city in Albania. It also has a huge garbage problem (actually all of Albania does) but I think Shkodra was the worst with sheep and goats opening feeding on illegal garbage dumps.

A typical road:

pothole

A graveyard:

Sheep in graveyard

Our hostel lent us some bikes so we went biking around the city. Here is the fancy promenade where all the rich kids hang out:

Fancy promenade in Skhoder

Interestingly, Albania despite being a poor country has a lot of Mercedes, I heard that it has more Mercedes than Germany does. Many of these Mercedes are very new cars. Apparently, gangs steal Mercedes in Western Europe and then resell it for only 10,000Euros in Albania. Obviously the policeman in Albania are all involved in this trade as many of them drive brand new Mercedes or BMWs as well.

From Google Maps we saw that Lake Shkodra was nearby, so we decided to bike there. Clearly the route we took was not meant for tourists as not only was the road completely unpaved, it turned into a landfill as well (unsure if legal or not). Albanians aren’t quite aware of littering yet, we saw many people on the busses just tossing the garbage out to the streets. Maybe in another 20 years this will change.

Anyways, this is the view of the sunset we saw from Lake Shkodra:

Lake Skhoder, at this point I am stepping on dirty diapersAnd this was what I was surrounded in while taking the sunset photo:

garbage

Getting dirty and gross

Our hostel host was aggressively friendly so we were eager to leave the following day. Despite the litter photos, Albania turned out to be an extremely beautiful country with extremely hospitable people.

Travel Tip:

To get from Kotor to Shkodra in 1 day:

– There are 2 busses each day from Montenegro border town, Ulcinj to Shkodra. They leave at 6:00 and 13:15 (or perhaps 12:30 at other times of the year). However the only bus from Kotor to Ulcinj leaves at 12:15 which would mean by the time you arrive in Ulcinj the last bus to Shkodra would have left already and you would have to resort to taxis.

-Solution: i)Take the 7:36am or 8:55am bus from Kotor to Bar. The ride takes 2 hours and costs 7Euros each. ii) Take the bus from Bar to Ulcinj which departs at 10:15, 10:40, 12:08. The ride costs 2.5Euros each and takes about 40 mins. (Taxi drivers will try to tell you there are no busses from Ulcinj to Shkodra and will offer alternatives, don’t listen to them. They will also offer to drive you from Bar to Ulcinj for 10 Euros which is good if you have 4 people or lots of luggage iii) Hop on the bus from Ulcinj to Shkodra for 5 Euros taking approximately 2 hours.

– We took the first bus at 7:36am because internet sources had said the bus from Ulcinj to Shkodra departs at 12:30pm.

mcOverland

Hong Kong. Travel. Climb. In that order.

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