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Monday, September 29, 2014

HOW I RESEARCH

TALKING TO PEOPLE

I am very very careful never to say anything which can be possibly misconstrued in any way not intended - especially in a sexual way.  I stick to things which are basic and truthful such as "I am very grateful for the hospitality you have shown me" as opposed to doing something which could be seen as 'making a pass' at someone. There are a surprising number of sleazy 'sex tourists' and I never want to have anyone think there is a chance of having me grouped in with them.

When people walk in and find me hanging out with their young attractive daughters, for example, I want them excited the kids are getting a free English lesson and that's about it.

Even talking about specific members of a man's family can be seen as 'too invasive' so I keep that area real general and just say "I hope you and your family are happy and healthy" type of thing. There is nothing that has more pitfalls than dealing with females (for a man) while traveling. "Your wife is very kind/generous/a good cook" is safe.  "You have a pretty wife." is much less safe.  Combine in with that people's less than perfect understanding of English...



CULTURE CONTRAST

In the USA, they have some holdovers from the Puritanical view which has been with us arguably since the beginning of the country.

In many stores the cashiers are under the legal age limit to consume alcohol.  When someone attempts to purchase it, they must call over a more elderly person to ring it through.  After the interminable wait the twenty one year or older person comes to the register, laboriously scans and types in a code to validate their identity.  They then scan the alcohol, place it in the bagging area, log off and depart.  There seems to be no issue with the junior person placing the alcohol into the bag.

Is this so no person may say "Some kid sold me booze?"  Why then is it acceptable for the same kid to bag your booze?

Moments ago, my purchases were run up - including a bottle of alcohol - by an eleven year old girl.  Without batting an eye.

While many people in the USA immediately jump up and down about 'child labor', they are applying their cultural values on to another.  A dangerous and irresponsible thing.  Admittedly, I do not care enough to closely question the people in the store closely on this, but it is probably a family business which the girl will end up inheriting at some point.

Does that make it right or perhaps less wrong?  Unlike many who have never left their own shores for any extended period of time but are quick to make judgement upon others, I simply shrug and say "that's how it is here".

Nobody forces the kids to work with hot tongs and they get to spend their money as they wish.  Better than the hellish paper route I had.

Two differences, the handling of alcohol and children working.  Fascinating.



PLANNING AHEAD

A major cost of any trip is the lodging.  Scrutinizing the cost of the lodging ahead of time helps avoid unpleasant surprises.  Like discovering you have failed to pack your sex toys.

Steps to researching a different country:

1.  Go to wikitravel.  Find all of the actual listings.  If a town is listed but not detailed, there isn't a lot there that will interest tourists.  Also, check on the section 'sleep'.  You don't want to get stuck in a town that has one expensive hotel - and nothing to see.

2.  Sadly, the prices on wikitravel are often woefully outdated or imaginative.  In some countries (Egypt comes to mind) the people running the hotel get on and type a lot of fiction.  Many of the hotels and hostels have no prices listed.  Understand that when a tourist types 'quite an experience!' this can go either way.  Some people use subtle put downs and turns of phrase within their description to get around the locals changing a true description into fantasy.

3.  Check out hostelbookers and hostelworld.  Keep in mind the only places listed on these are by people who are somewhat computer savvy.  Note that if the city you are looking for is not on either, it is well off the tourist trail.  While some people may find these sort of places interesting, generally I haven't and I've seen plenty.  Places with under fifty or a hundred ratings are generally best seen as 'unrated' or 'rated by friends and family of the owners'.  Generally, I read the negative ratings and ignore the positive ones.  Keep in mind that a lot of travelers are pretty picky over stupid stuff but if you get several saying there was no hot water you know what to expect.  Generally, if you are not a very experienced or hardened traveler, any place with a rating of under 80% on the sites mentioned above should set off warning bells.

4.  Make a hand sketched map of all the places in which it is affordable to stay as well as which places have some special interest to visit.

5.  Figure out which outlying places you don't want to go see.  While in 'westernized countries' 100km may not be much, if you are stuffed into a microbus which stops every 50m to take on or disgorge passengers from a metal box with no air conditioning and the smell of fresh baby shit in the air, it may seem like some new form of torture.  Note that in westernized countries, the buses are almost always luxurious and comfortable.  I don't typically live in these countries.

6.  Getting out.  For some people this is 'flying home'.  For me, it is 'how do I leave this country to go to the next country'.  Within the country, you may need to make a loop back to the capital where the airport is or head to some town with a port.

Different steps will work for different people.  For example, some will start with all of the sites they want to see then attempt to construct a route between them.  Hopefully, this brief guide will help illustrate how I research how I determine my stay in a country.

Note that the research often falls apart once I get there.  Other tourists and locals may inform me of new things and this changes my plans radically.  People on brief vacations normally don't have the time for radical change hence more planning is advised.



Friday, September 26, 2014

ALBANIAN DINING

ALBANIAN DINING

Within Albania is one spot where all Albanians say you simply must go.  They call this the most beautiful city in the country.  Saranda.

It's nice looking, I'll give them that.

Within this city is a restaurant which prepares food then serves it at room temperature for as long as it lasts.  A day, maybe two.  Vegetables and rice.  I eat there for two reasons - first it is cheap ($1.50).  Second, out of all of the restaurants I've eaten at thus far, it is the best the restaurants here have to offer.

The restaurants here are just that bad.

No idea what the heck is going on in their big 'hey we get loads of foreign tourists' town but the food here is just awful.

Fortunately, that means I eat less.

Easy diet time!  Woohoo!



DAILY DIET

Well, the bottle of Tabasco sauce I bought a couple days ago is about gone.  Today, I will buy another to drink.

For those curious as to my current diet (it changes in every country), here it is:

Noon meal - I go and either get a plate of spaghetti (.70 USD) or some sort of vegetables with rice (1.50 USD).

Evening meal - vegetables with a little bit of meat (3.50 USD) or with extra meat (5.50 USD).  I've no idea what the meat is but it is so so in taste (go go Tabasco) but it helps to flavor the vegetables.  Potatoes, something they call 'green beans' (they're not) or other.  I'm working my way through them now.

Late night snacking - whatever I can get hold of.  Usually pringles, cookies or some sort of sweet.  This is very bad for me and I am drinking Raki mixed with Coke Zero.  Last night, I about finished the whole bottle of Raki which came as a bit of a surprise to me.  Especially not being drunk from it.  But it did help with sleep, which is why I drink.  Well, one of the reasons I drink.  If I don't, sleep is usually difficult (insomnia) if it comes at all and muscle twitches conspire to keep me awake.

I've no idea how many calories I take in or burn.  That is pretty much an 'American thing'.  But the daytime diet seems to sustain me while the snacking keeps my brain happy and my stomach from ripping free and going to hunt on its own.



DISCLAIMER

They have extremely fresh seafood here.  So fresh it was just brought buy a guy who is still wet from the sea in a net bag fresh.

Seafood - even the smell of it - makes me gag.

Hence, I cannot comment on the quality of their seafood dining experience.



WHAT TO DO, WHAT TO DO

As I've been wandering around this town, I've been seeing a lot of posters "Athens - 25 euros."

This has gotten me thinking.  Should I go back to Athens?

It's been 23 years or so since last I was there.  Guessing there may have been some minor changes.

From Athens airport I could take the dread evil that is RyanAir to Rome for about 22-30 euros.  From Rome to somewhere else.  I've been thinking about Tunisa but honestly I'm uncertain.

While going to Tunisia would allow me to stay in Europe longer, the question becomes "Can I afford to stay here longer?"  And "Do I want to stay here longer?"

While I would love nothing more than to tour western Europe (when it's not bloody cold out) the funds are simply not there.

So I am contemplating what to do next and the first big decision comes down to 'stay in Europe or bugger off back to Asia?'  And if I go to Asia do I want to do a wild overland trek from Nepal to Cambodia or just go to Cambodia?

When you've got a lot of possibilities, it is rough to narrow it down.

So, I'm trying to live cheaply and ponder what to do next.



RACISM

Been reading a lot on racism.  It's an interesting topic to me since I am perpetually an outsider.  Since my skin is white, I often look enough like the locals to get asked for directions.  When I am in places where it is obvious I am not a local, the reaction ranges from hostile to curious to friendly.  Note that in the last few countries I've been in it is almost always friendly.

In all my travels, I've only met one other traveler from the USA who was black.  [I do not use the term 'African American' for a couple reasons, among them are the facts that not all blacks are from Africa and I've been to and lived in and know more about African customs than many of them.  In fact, if all life originated in Africa as is hypothesized, we are all 'African' to some extent.  Also, only people in the USA use this term.  The rest of the world just says 'black' or 'white' or 'oriental' or 'indiginious' or whatever.]  I asked him why he thought more black people from the USA didn't travel.  He gave the same answer as many non-blacks I've spoken with - time and money.  But the ratio is off.  If about 13% (according to Google) of the USA is black, one in ten travelers from the USA should be.  They aren't.

So I'm guessing they are all incarcerated.

Which brings me back to reading about 'sun down towns'.  If you don't know what they are, I'd advise reading more history - as they even exist today.

Note that it is not my intent to try to eliminate or even educate others on racism.  Not my job.  I just try to judge other people based on things like "Do they laugh at my jokes?"  "Do they want to feed me or drink with me?"

I am totally self centered in these things.  But, I admit it!



VIDEOS

Saranda, Albania



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SARANDA, ALBANIA

APARTMENT RENTAL STORY

Went out wandering around for a couple hours and happened upon a 'tourist information' store.

Although these are actually usually places to get gullible tourists to just buy whatever is on their shelves, I said 'what the heck'.

Sadly, I had a question that was outside their norm (as Logan often does) and wanted to know where I could find rental property or a real estate agent.  Surprisingly, they knew of one and sent me there.

After the guy had made a few calls, he announced he could not find anything in the 250 euro range I had asked for, 300 euros is the absolute minimum.

I bid him good day and went back to my hotel room.  It is ten euros per night and includes wifi and even a little refrigerator.  Now, I have complete flexibility.

The only small warning light is the lady won't give a receipt for the money.  Doesn't the government make you?  This inquiry caused her to give me the 'what the government doesn't know won't hurt me' look so I just told her that I would be paying every day.

When I asked about laundry, I was told it would be free.

In my opinion, free laundry is not only a very cool thing to do for the guests, but it encourages them to stay longer.  Since I've rarely traveled to places which use mechanical clothes dryers, the clothing is sun dried.  This takes time and gets another day (or more) of people staying.



MUSINGS

Coming into a new town in a new country is often an unusual situation.

One of the first things I try to do is set up some sort of routine for myself.  For people looking at my lifestyle, this might seem to be an unusual thing.  How can someone who is constantly on the move have any sort of routine.

Perhaps routines lend some sort of internal stability.  Certain routines also aid with personal and gear safety.

Many of my personal routines are often the same everywhere I go.  Always take my day bag out with me.  Always wear my money pouch under my clothing.  Always make sure my day wallet has money for just the day in it.  Make sure my gear is locked up as well as the security - or lack thereof where I am staying seems to demand.

Other routines change wildly.  Where, what and how often I eat - for example.  In warmer climates, one meal may suffice.  Perhaps just some sort of bread (or cheesy bread, tag Travis Powell - yeah, that gag never gets old) for breakfast then a late meal then some sort of late night snack may suffice.  In colder climates, I've found I (unfortunately) tend to eat more.  Perhaps my body thinks it is time to hibernate.

In this latest town, I'm still working on finding my new routines.

Not sure how long I will be here.  I spoke to the landlady asking if I rented for a longer time if the price could come down.  She spoke of how much electricity costs for a month.  Apparently, not having a renter at all might be cheaper.  I don't know much about business but that sounds odd to me.

The place I'm staying in now is $450 per month.  It's a bit above what I normally try to get - $300 per month but it is very comfortable.  With the exception of the bathroom (Eastern Europe doesn't really get plumbing) it is a pretty professional hotel room.   My current plan is to try to stay here at least a month.

Although Corfu (Greece) is really close it looks like it would be a pretty expensive day trip for me, probably needing to drop $100 per day there.

I'm still working on making loose plans for heading back up the twisting winding bumpy roads back up north to take a ferry (ug) to Italy.  My guess is that I would need to just cut through it but if I can find a place in Naples cheap enough to rent, that is a possibility.  After that, onward to Tunisia.

My guess is that Tunisia is much like Albania in that while the internet shows nothing cheap, cheap places can be found once I get there.



THOUGHTS ON SARANDA

I'm in a weird part of town.

The bus (read as painfully cramped mini-van) dropped me off across the street from where I'm staying.  There isn't a real 'bus station' here.

The hotel doesn't really look like a hotel from the outside.  In fact, it looks like a cafe.

A cafe where at least half the people aren't sitting at the tables.  They were lounging around stairs and such.  There was even a dice game going on.

From what I've been able to gather, this is where the 'day laborers' of the town wait for jobs.

Not sure what made me pick this place - it was just a hunch, intuition or something.  Glad I got it as inside the room itself it is nice.

As many of the places I've stayed, this place probably isn't appropriate for a pretty girl to stay but being the polar opposite, I'm fine.

In the previous town, the kids of the owner (and nieces, nephews and such) were instrumental in translating.  Here, I don't have that.  My landlady speaks extremely basic English and less if I want to negotiate a lower room rate.

The only person yet found here who speaks decent English is one of the day laborers.  His English rapidly deteriorated to "I love America" and requests for a cigarette as he became staggeringly drunk off a single two liter of beer.

You can tell a lot about the people you are talking to if you pay attention to other natives microexpressions when they look at the person.  Their expressions told me pity and 'gosh we're sorry he's the only person who speaks English'.

Overall, I'm having less fun here than in the previous town (Berat) because I've not yet found anyone cool who wants to hang out and talk in a language I understand yet.  Perhaps later.  Note that I don't think it is their responsibility to speak English (or German) - it is my fault I don't speak Albanian.

But I am a bit surprised that in the main tourist town in a country I've been told the number two language is English not to find more people who actually speak English.



OTHER PEOPLE'S THOUGHTS ON LOGAN'S VOYAGE

"I am sure, in the miserable annals of the Earth, you will be duly enshrined!" - Lord John Worfin.



VIDEO

Albania, Berat



Saturday, September 13, 2014

BERAT, ALBANIA

ALBANIA THE LOGAN INTRODUCTION

Before arriving here, I knew only two things about Albania.  One was they had mentioned it in the movie "Wag the Dog".  The other was they might have 'cheap Italian food' here.

That's about it.

As long time readers know, I scoff at studying a country before I arrive, preferring to learn as I go.  For the people who can rattle off lots of facts about places and listen endlessly to tour guides, lets give them a written test in six months to see how much of that they've retained.  Although there will be some freaks who actually remember it the words 'fleeting entertainment' apply to most.

Hence, I prefer just to show up and shamble around the country to get a feel for it.  Make some friends, have some drinks, smoke some cigarettes.  It's a good time that others.  Sadly, I often forget what city I'm in.  Sometimes I forget what country I'm in.  I may have Alzheimer's - don't remember.

So, unlike other travel blogs, I'm not going to bore you with a bunch of facts and dates you'll forget right away.  Lets just say that like lots of other countries (maybe all) in Europe, Albania is built on the ruins of 'excessively old' civilizations.  There is a 'crap ton' of history here.

They use to be in the USSR and have lots of the old fashioned USSR housing around.  I refer to that sort of architecture as 'shit box'.  Although the insides may be elaborate and beautiful, the outsides always look...  Well...

I'd heard the concrete prefab apartments the USSR littered (and I do mean littered) Europe with were meant to be temporary until they could figure out how to build something that sucked less.

Of course, this brings to mind the immortal words of Milton Friedman who said "Nothing is so permanent as a temporary government program."

Sadly, over fifty years of keeping people in the country they wanted them in just wasn't enough time to build more attractive buildings hence today, people still live in the old ones.


From a short time here, I am discovering a very warm giving people.

The host of the guesthouse I am staying at brought out the rakia (alcohol) and we did several shots and chatted with the translation help from his teenage daughter.

The next night, I retaliated by purchasing a couple bottles of wine, so that the owner's wife could also drink with us as she doesn't like rakia.  So, it became a full fledged party with him, his wife, his mother, his daughter, her friend and cousin.

Then the cousin (who became the new translator) the owner and I moved down to the bar.  Many bottles of wine were consumed.

It was an extraordinary fun experience I felt grateful to have.



HOW TO SPEAK ENGLISH TO PEOPLE WHO DON'T SPEAK IT WELL

A lot of these things will sound very obvious but after listening to hundreds of tourists attempting to communicate with locals, it is obvious that they are not.



HOW TO SPEAK ENGLISH TO PEOPLE WHO DON'T SPEAK IT WELL

A lot of these things will sound very obvious but after listening to hundreds of tourists attempting to communicate with locals, it is obvious that they are not. Remember that even in countries where English is taught to kids, the kids don't get to practice with locals and are often taught by locals.

I've spoken to a few 'English teachers' that I had difficulty communicating with due to their strong accents and misuse of words. Hiring locals is cheaper than native speakers.

 Of course, learning the local language or hiring a guide is better but if you are lazy and poor like me, there are some easy workarounds.

1. KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid)  Don't use more words than needed. Use simple words. Instead of 'Excuse me sir, where is the main bus station?' a small bow and smile with "Bus station?" works better.

2. Simple mime is your friend. Shading your eyes and extravagantly looking around is easier than attempting to explain 'seeking', even if you think you are Harry Potter.

3. Avoid slang and colloquialisms. "Hey, how you doin'? OK?" is likely to result in confusion. "Hello! Good?" is a better.

4. Avoid swearing. "That was a fucking good meal!" will likely result in insult or confusion. Telling someone "That is great shit!" means you are saying whatever it was is poop. If the person is young and has seen enough movies from the USA, they may realize that the words are merely intensifiers.

5. Make it fun. Remember, it is your fault you don't speak the language of whatever country you are in. Make people interested in helping you by doing some fun pantomime. For example, if I want cow, I always make horns with my fingers and make a loud 'mooo!' noise. If you can pull a silly facial expression while doing it, that's extra points. This is often the difference between people wanting to help you and admitting defeat by shutting down, becoming disinterested and muttering "No English."

If you follow these simple guidelines, speaking with the locals will be more fun and informative for both of you.



COSTS

Room in guesthouse with own bathroom, $15
Espresso (the further you move from the pedestrian zone, the larger the cups), .50
Average meal with drinks, $6
Bottle of pretty darned good wine, $4

Thursday, September 11, 2014

ALBANIAN SYNCHRONICITY

Warning:  There is a picture of a cock in this blog.  If it offends you, think of it as less offensive because a douche is holding it.  If that still offends you, why the fuck do you read my blog?  I mean, seriously - there was an article called 'Africa and the dead hooker problem'.  Also, if you are under eighteen and reading this, your parents are either unaware you are reading it or they are bad parents.



EXPECTATIONS VS REALITY

Walked my fat ass over to "Panorama", possibly one of the most famous restaurants in Ohrid.  A couple guys at a nearby table were giving me the 'WTF' look as a series of waiters came to greet me topped off by the acting manager.

In Macedonia, you get a warm welcome.

(Note, the above phrase is copyrighted by Logan so the Macedonian tourist association can just figure out how to get me a 'show up whenever you want and stay for as long as you wish' visa in trade for it.)

As the lunch progresses, I ask Risto (the brother of the manager who is currently running the place) if I get a bus from the station a couple blocks away from the restaurant to Albania.  Of course - and here is the head of the bus stations in Ohrid!

Cool.  The head honcho makes a couple phone calls to where I do not know and information is given.

Double checking the information you've been given often prevents the 'Dildo of Disappointment' from taking you up the 'ole chocolate whizway of sadness' later.

The bus station employees told me, no.  You can't get to there from here.  You have to take a ($1) bus to a different town (Struga) further around the lake toward Albania.  Yes, they did indeed recognize the guy's name but gave me the 'Regardless of who you are or know, you can't get to there from here.'

From there, it should be possible to get a bus to Albania.

Within the next couple days, I'm going to get a bus to go into Struga for lunch and have a chat with the folks at their bus station.


The next day I indeed went to Struga.  To get there you can either take a bus at 50d (40d to get back - why?  Who the hell knows) or a shared taxi for 50d each (must have five people) or rent your own taxi for 500d.  Yes, it should be 250d but the guy thought "This person dressed in ill fitting odd clothing must be rich!"

When I was going up there I ended up taking the front seat away from some thin girl who was pretty huffy about it.  I can't do back seats well.  She seemed embarrassed about being huffy when I paid for her ride when we got there.  It's not about the money - it's about fitting into the damned vehicle.

Struga was a slightly less pretty version of Ohrid.  Not bad, still had the beach setting but nothing to really write home about.  Or you guys.

Found out the bus was far from the '20 euros' I had been told at Panorama.  To get to Durres (obviously a Klingon city) would cost me either 650d if I leave early (9:30a) in the morning or 800d if I go a bit after noon.  Different companies, different prices.  Buying on the day of the trip is not a problem.  Since I'm going to be passing on from Durres to Berat getting up early in the morning (groan) is probably a better idea.

Arriving after nightfall sucks.



LEG DAY

Was chatting with one of the young (16 year old) guys who works at a restaurant I frequent named Petar.

Told him about the extremely muscular guy with the toothpick legs I saw.

Logan:  "You can't miss 'leg day'!"
Petar:  "You can't have 'legendary' without the 'leg'!"

Wow!  That would be excellent if English was his first language!



ALBANIA PLANS

After more research Albania is starting to look like this:

Struga (Macedonia) to Durres (Albaia).   Should be 2.5 hours + the border.

Since Durres doesn't seem to have any cheap places to stay, immediately hop the bus to Berat.  This will be the first place I can stay.  It looks to be a bit more expensive in Berat than the next two places (why?) but doable.

Berat to Gjirokaster to Sarande to Unknown.



AFTER ALBANIA PLANS

Hum.  Trying to figure out where to flee to and hide for a few months during the winter.

My guess is that I will be in Albania during September and October.  After that, it will probably get cold.  And, fuck cold.  Had enough cold in my life.  Happy to sweat instead.

November, December, January and February.  These are the four months I'd like to hide out.

It is tempting to go back to northern Africa.  Morocco was so so hence not in a hurry to go back there.  According to Wikitravel, Tunisia is very cheap but all of the computer literate people who advertise on Hostelbookers (etc) have expensive rooms.   I'd like to do Egypt but they are...having issues there.  Not sure when the region will stabilize.

Not sure if it would work but something beginning to percolate through my mind is a 'Mediterranean Caper' where instead of flying I take ferries.  Albania to Italy.  Italy to Malta.  Malta to Tunisia.  The only thing I'm not sure on is the cost.  Clearly, more research will need to be done.  If I can find a way to do it (possibly along with renting a cheap place in southern Italy for a month or two) that would be super.  This would leave me in Europe for another season.



And now, we take a brief intermission to bash on Justin Bieber, completely unnecessarily.



JUSTIN BIEBER

Fortunately, I've never heard any of his music.  Having left the USA a few years ago and not watching TV or listening to radio have protected me from this trauma.

But I do enjoy viewing some of the evil memes people have put up about him.  Here they are...



<Note:  Justin Bieber Singing Into Cock picture removed due to new Blogspot policy.>


Hell, they even form a story!  Amazing.


If you think my blog is 'safe for work', you've probably got a good job.  Enjoy!



And now, through the magic of the internet (not porn) we take you live (live-ish) to Albania!



ALBANIAN SYNCHRONICITY

If you are tired at reading about the strange lucky things that happen to Logan, just click on the word 'Synchronicity' above for an outstanding song by the Police.

After saying sad goodbyes to Spase, I got a cab to Struga (350d).  From there, the bus (650d) eventually arrived a bit over a half hour late.  A student from Japan thought it was very amusing the locals showed up late to get the bus.  Everyone knew it would show up late.  In his home country, transport is on time...

Nobody came out to check the passengers of the bus as we crossed the border out of Macedonia.  Entering Albania, a border guard was on the bus just long enough to assure himself that nobody was disguised as Fidel Castro holding a rocket launcher.

Sadly, I couldn't find a picture of Fidel holding a rocket launcher.

Fortunately, I did find this toy that looks a lot like him and comes with it's own rocket launcher.

Inexplicably, the bus decided to stop just inside the Albanian border.  Because I am freakishly outgoing, I struck up a conversation with a young Albanian woman who discovered I was headed to Berat.  "That's my town!"  Turns out she was headed that way too.  Rather than going the way I thought I needed to, she invited me to 'follow her' and get a more direct route.

Synchronicity.

We got off the bus in pretty much the middle of nowhere (some village) and waited for the Albanian equivalent of a 'marshrutka' - a van that gets packed with people.

She turned down several people who offered cab rides because she didn't trust them.  I was grateful she decided to trust me so quickly.

After reaching Berat, she left the vehicle.  I continued on to a random location within the town then disembarked.  Within one minute I had found a place to stay (10 euro, my own room) with a market across the street, a restaurant next door and a quiet bar downstairs.

Synchronicity.

Hell, even the internet I am making this blog on is part of the great luck streak.  Someone has some unsecured wifi I am piggybacking in on.

Even though I don't like the room much (nobody outside of westernized countries really has figured out the bathroom, it seems) I may stay here for a few more days.  The owners are super nice people and I've already been invited to drink half a dozen shots of rakia with them.  It freaks out the locals just how much of this stuff I can actually put away.  After that much, they were done.  I thought "Good start but I want to go make my blog now."

Today it is rainy and I am pretty exhausted.  Rather than go out tonight (nighttime is when the CHUD's come out) I will go explore tomorrow.

Here's hoping everyone who reads this experiences some positive synchronicity in their lives!



VIDEO

Brief look at a back road in Macedonia.

PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan

{{2017}} Portugal: Faro | USA: Virginia | Michigan | Illinois | Colorado |

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