Leaving Montenegro to Albania.
Today is the day of leaving Montenegro, my fourth country, to reach Albania that will be my fifth one.
Due to the fact that I will take the train from Nikšić to Podgorica and then from there the bus to Shkodër, the only direct one per day, I have a a big incognita. Would I arrive on time or the delay of the train will force me to reach Albania through some complicate route to the border and beyond with several mean of transports? I don’t have yet the answer but some disquieting hint is waiting for me at the railway station. As yesterday, even today the train to Podgorica is late, by 10-15 minutes they say but in the end is more. Train leaves the station with a 25-minute delay. This means that without additional delay, I will have about 10 minutes to find the bus station (I know is close to the railway station), to buy the ticket and to take the bus. It would be enough? There will be more delay? In spite of these questions I try to enjoy the trip. I’m always happy when I can use the train and this one has also clean window so I can see the landscape outside. I notice that the train slow down and stops not only when it reaches the stations but also in other less understandable occasions. In the end I realise something that looks crazy to me. In Montenegro are the trains, or at least this one, that stops at the rail crossings, not the cars! No idea about the reason. However, Podgorica is not so far and the train seems not to have any additional delay. Just few kilometres before I see the ruins of the roman town of Doclea. You can see a picture on the left. Once arrived I find immediately the bus station that is actually in the same square and I can do all I need in time to jump in the bus and head to Albania. Border, that is on lakeside, is quite busy and controls, especially on Albania side are long, so it takes about half an hour to be officially in the Albanian territory but from here in another half hour I’m finally in Shkoder.
My hotel is really in the centre of the town, close to a roundabout with a peculiar monument in the middle made in the shape of organ pipes vaguely reminding the Sibelius monument in Helsinki. In this area there is also the Clock tower and the town theatre called Migjeni. Just few hundred meters from here it can be found the main pedestrian street. Very nice, full of café and restaurants with tables outside. As a confirmation of the Albanian multiconfessional approach, around here there are three places of worship. The Great Mosque is just at the beginning of the street, a little behind there is the Orthodox Cathedral and in a side street there is a Catholic church belonging to the Franciscan order. On the pedestrian street, called Rruga Kolë Idromeno there is also the Marubi museum collecting old pictures of Shkodër made by an Italian but for me museums have always a lower priority when the sun is shining and today is an absolutely spectacular day and however on weekends the museum is closed. I look for a tourist info. According to a website, there should be one close to the mosque but no traces of it, it seems having been replaced by a panel with a map and a list of the main sights of the town. However it is enough to allow me to define next steps. I take a quick break for eating the local street food specialty called byrek and pronounced roughly bee-yurek. This one is different from the Jugoslavian one having almost same name. This one is made with puff pastry and it is filled with leek.
After the break I head to south to go to see the two most important tourist attractions in Shkodër. This post continues to next page