Shkodër, Albania

Magical Mesi Bridge

Forrest Mallard

I am slowly coming to the realization that I have arrived at least 1.5 months too early to do a safe hike through the Albanian Alps, but I have not been in too much of a hurry to make alternative plans.

Location

Directions

Bulldog Hostel to the Rescue

While I was sitting in the Bulldog hostel in Shkodër, Albania, with no adventure in the foreseeable future, two of the hostel staff took a few of us on a spontaneous road trip into the Albanian countryside.

Seeing all of the Sights in Shkodër

We started off going to the ancient, Ottoman built ‘Mesi Bridge’ that has been on my list of things to see since doing research on this town. I got some great drone footage, and though the rest of the group teased me quite a bit about it, I really love my photos of the local cows.

Raki, Cheese & Garlic

After the bridge, our local guide, Lisamel made a stop at his aunt’s farm, where the true spirit of Albanian hospitality was in full effect. After a quick greeting, we were served biscuits and toffee, which was quickly followed by glasses of raki (insanely strong home-brewed spirits) and to chase the strong effects of the raki burning down our throats, we were given fresh bulbs of garlic to bite into and eat (seriously, this is a local thing to do here).

I didn’t know what was going to kill me first, the raki or the garlic, but not too surprisingly, the more I drank, the easier it got. When we finished the first bottle of raki, a second one appeared, and we just accepted this fate. We didn’t want to end this once-in-a-lifetime experience of rich hospitality that was leaving us warm, inside and out.

The laughs were non-stop, and we were given a tour of the farm, which included another beautiful cow. Again, I was made fun of for falling in love with the cow, but I didn’t care, the cow was lovely and beautiful.

Exploring Rozafa Castle aka Shkodër castle

Normally, after drinking myself into oblivion before noon I would take the option of heading to bed for a quick nap, but since it was a stunningly beautiful day, we decided to visit the Rozafa Castle (Shkodër castle). On the way, we crossed over another Ottoman bridge to visit the Gypsy village on the other side of the river.

I had another chance to use my drone to fly over the castle, and I was a bit nervous about this, because I was still fairly drunk, and I didn’t want to lose another drone.

It started raining, but we didn’t care. We still had 40 minutes to walk back to the hostel, but the warm rain actually felt quite wonderful.

Today, I start to deal with the reality that I am not going on this hike through the Accursed Mountains, and I will start to make alternative plans. Chances are most of the trail is still snowed over, so I will just move from village to village and enjoy the local culture of the rest of the Balkan countries.

On the first week of June, I will be in Vienna to see my friend Tom Viola (YEAH!!) and will also make a quick trip to Bratislava to meet up with my new Slovakian friend Maja Ničová, who shared yesterday’s adventure with me.

Next stop… Macedonia.

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By Forrest Mallard

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