From Durres To Kosovo, & Into Valbonne’

Tuesday 10 May, 2022. My driver Denis picked me up at the Hotel Adriatic at 9am this morning. We began a 5 hour drive from the coast northward into the mountains. Denis is 24 year-old who works for Albanian Trips. He just drives. He is bright young man who understands the realities of Albania’s growing pains, and the path to the EU. We drove to near Tirana, the capital, before veering off toward Kosovo. The other routes were a 1 1/2 hour ferry ride (which I will do on my trip back), or a gravel road that would wind up and down through the mountains and take its toll on our bodies and Denis’ car. Kosovo!! I was incredibly excited to see even a bit of this fabled country, and get another stamp in my passport. It would seem that the only difference between Albania and Kosovo was in the construction of their houses. Outwardly, they looked much like Albanians, and Kosovo seemed like Albania.

The route wound through some interesting towns. In one town, name unknown, we drove right through what seemed like a flea market, or an open bazaar. The street was shaded, and packed with anything you could think of. At the end, about two or three blocks down were chickens, sheep, goats, and a few cows. This is truly an experience I will find hard to forget, and it is just my first day! As we left the open plain-like areas of Kosovo and began to climb back up into the mountains, the landscape became a bit more closed and not so wide open. The immense panoramas were giving way to tighter canyons and steep stone walls. Denis and I arrived at the border again to head back into Albania.

We continued winding slowly upward, as the roads twisted and turned, crossing the Valbon river on narrow bridges that bore the weight of concrete trucks. I was gobsmacked at the thought of that much weight going over such a little bridge. Denis didn’t think it was a big deal as we continued on way until we found Rezidenca Hotel (hostel is used also). 1 kilometer through the the trees was Rilindra restaurant where I am writing from as the wifi is here. Between Rilindra, and Rezidenca is where my stay will be. Alfred and Skender are two Albainian brothers that run this outfit. Alfred started it ten years ago, and now they are a full-service hotel and restaurant. People from all over the world are here right now. From Australia, Germany, Brazil, Switzerland, and Denmark… the world is slowly starting to discover this stunning area. I am staying in the mid-point of the upper valley and I am struggling to find words to describe this place. The scenery is beyond anything I’ve seen in my travels. I was sitting at a table this morning and heard bird songs that I’ve never heard before.

Wednesday 11 May, 2022. Alfred picked me up this morning to fly fish and we were off down the valley to go to a shop to get flies that are specific to this place. I am finishing this blog today and will write more about the fishing today, and tomorrow on Friday. I am focusing this blog on Albanian tourism, and fly fishing, as much as I want to inform my readers what I am up to. This trip is possible through Alda and Elton at “Albanian Trip”. They will be a frequent reference in this blog until next week. I want the world to know what is possible here in Albania.

Alfred and I will be fishing this late afternoon into the evening. The river is still moving very fast and we are going dow-valley to where it widens out and slows a bit. I am heading out to sit under the trees and re-rig my fly line. I thank you all for following me. Talk soon.

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