Saturday, 29 October 2011

Autumn Glory

We passed lots of Muslim families coming into Montenagro on the way to the boarder so I got a bit paranoid and put on a headscalf and asked Alex to wear a ring but once we'd made our first sight seeing stop I got rid of these as there was absolutely no need. It was at a ruined castle just outside of Shkoder, added to by every country who had ever occupied the area which was quite a few. It gave far reaching views out over the country ahead of us. We had read about a remote village in the North that had 'family stays' which sounded fun so we headed off there. Shkoder it's self was fairly mental and bustling, the cyclists, frequently on the wrong side of the road being the least of Alex's problems. They hadn't yet tarmaced the road out of the town and when we did reach the tarmac they kept diverting us off it as they were still building bits. There were no road makings yet it was so new. Our journey took us, again, up into the hills and although the road was moderately good for much of the way, as warned, the tarmac gave out about thirty miles before the village and it was a rough and bumpy track from then on. We felt well prepared in our four by four but felt a little over prepared when we passed a wee truck hugely over laided with corn leaves and a number of local buses (minibusess with slightly larger tires on). The views were incredible and I just couldn't stop taking photos- the landforms coupled with the goldern, yellow, orange, terracotta, red and green of all the trees were AMAZING!

When we crested the lip of valley in question my heart fell a bit. There were a lot more houses in the valley than the six or so described and as we decended, the new basic hotel and campsites, (closed for the winter of course) showed that the Lonley Planet's recommendation of the village had been the death of this valley. The main village, when we reached it, was not very preposesing and I was all up for driving on through to find a rough spot but we were accosted by a talkative, English speaking young boy. He said that his family let rooms so we decided to go for it. The rooms were fine. There was a little problem with the generator in the village so the bathrooms, while modern and sparkling did not provide water above luke warm. We stumbled across the village pub and got chatting to a Dutch guy and Estonian girl visiting the villlage. He was living here, working in Tirain so we got some useful tips off him. When we went back to our house for dinner we met an Albanian guy who ws also staying there but usually lived in Manchester now. He was interesting to chat to over dinner but, like the other tourists, he had been walking the surrounding hills all day so went to bed straight after dinner. I felt a little disappointed with this experience- the guide had made it feel like you sat down to eat with the family and socialised with them all night, much like our spontanious experience in Morocco but when I re read it, I realised much of this detail was in my own imagination. It was nice enough, just not especially special although I was very glad we had been lured into this wonderful bit of the countryside and we had more of the amazing views to enjoy tomorrow.

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