Interrail day seventeen – Lushnjë

14 May

A slow day, which is just what I need. I had a nice long lie until… half six. But as I’m still functioning on Greek time, that’s like half seven, and therefore a lot later than the last couple of days.

Things do tend to go slowly here anyway. It requires a mental adjustment if you don’t want to get stressed. You can’t just tick off your to-do list and your shopping list. For example, I went to get face powder from my usual cosmetics shop and couldn’t, because they didn’t have change for 1,000 (about seven quid), so I need to break a note and go back – hoping they’re open. I just have to not set my hopes too high and consider it a win when I do accomplish anything. I managed to buy a newspaper (the booth was one of the things that hadn’t moved) so that’s something!

This is how you buy herbal tea in Albania.

I feel a bit weird taking photos round here, but for my faithful followers I will make the effort! There have been improvements since last time, as is usually the case. (You wouldn’t believe how different the town is from the first time I came!) Hopefully in one of these photos you can see that there are flowering bushes under the trees, which is nice.

The driver last night was sneering at Prime Minister Edi Rama and his fixation with greenery, but while I may not agree with him about press freedom or his chuminess with Erdogan, I am with Edi on the greenery. We used to pay a greenery tax when we lived in Tirana and Edi Rama was mayor, and it was worth every qindarkë (penny).

After enquiring about buses to Croatia and getting vague directions about where I can try on Monday in Tirana (don’t worry, there is a plan B) I popped into the Grand Stone Bar. I like it because it’s always just where I left it, women are allowed (I mean, technically we’re allowed anywhere, but there are some bars that really just for men) and it’s big enough that you don’t feel like the waiter is sitting on your knee.

There was no americano on the menu so I asked for a long coffee, which confused the poor waiter a bit. I ended up with a double espresso in a teacup. When I asked him to add some hot water he said, “Perhaps it was an americano you wanted?” 🤦🏼‍♀️

Still bigger than the one in Sannicandro, though.

It’s not just the waiter who thinks I’m weird. I’m getting a lot of strange looks, possibly because I’m in knee-length shorts and short sleeves and could catch my death at a chilly 23 degrees – or perhaps it’s because I’m pale and blonde and not from around here.

I got my nails redone a slightly more subtle shade this time, and made my way home through the sunshine, picking up that powder on the way. We watched an Albanian communist film during lunch (they’re better than you would think) and enjoyed an organic rose drink, which Dafina had made herself. I didn’t take much sugar in mine. “But you don’t even have diabetes,” Dafina says. Yes, and this is probably why.

Dafina is a very good gardener who produces a lot of her own food. She finds my ignorance of agriculture very funny. Here she is with some carnations that she is justifiably proud of.

And here’s a lemon tree in blossom, another plant that smells amazing. The Balkans smell wonderful in spring, before everything gets scorched away in summer.

And this is what a pepper looks like in the wild.

After a long siesta (I told you it was a slow day), Dafina did a bit of work in the garden while I tried to fix the doorbell. There were four wires (red, black, yellow and green) and two connections so there were a few possible combinations. After fiddling around with wires and screwdrivers, and even getting the neighbours involved, still lnothing worked. And then Dafina mentioned that the wire connecting the doorbell to the house has been cut months before 🤣 Well that might explain it!

Now we have watched a Turkish soap opera, as Dafina does every evening, and we are sitting in the local park with her friends, as she also does every evening. But this evening we are also going to watch EUROVISION! So I’d better go and buy some Coca Cola to accompany our little fest. Gëzuar!

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