19 JUL


Finally, everyone was now allowed to pass in a chaotic manner only known to Greece! I was woken by a nearby goat herder rattling his bell, whilst the bless around the goats necks responded there location, kind of like a primitive GPS tracker. They all crossed the border along the hillside without hesitation or need of visas. It was a relief to get moving again, be it covered with mozzie bites.

After a short drive we finally arrived at Mano Hotel in Sarandë, greeted by the lovely Romina and then by owner Christopher. And what a view from the hotel rooms. Thanks to Aleks for the hookup! Word!!

Had a mountain style brekky at a cafe at the main public beach. I tried to pay 10,000LEK for a 1,000LEK bill. Ledion enlightened me to the old LEK new LEK denomination that has caused many a confusion amongst tourists since mid 90’s.

Back to the hotel for rest. A slow start to the day at Mano. Rohan and I went for a walk to the beach, found a banana lounge for 400LEK and sat comfortably alongside the pebbled beach drinking frappe & beer for 5hrs.

Rohan & I talked about everything under the sun. We’d had such an amazing time together thus far, this was the first time since we flew in to Albania that we were actually completely alone to talk. An great travel partner indeed.

We walked over to Afrika Bar to eat Gyros. Ate 2 each as a very late lunch. There was a rather cute blonde bouncy girl serving us that seemed to take an interest in Rohan – more on her later. By the time we finished it was close to dusk, time to head back to Mano to rest.

After a nanna nap in our rooms, went out and hit the night life of Sarandë. The main boardwalk along the main section of town was lively with tourist. Families walking after their dinners, teens on their way out to some club, elderly couples soaking in the youth. Market stalls lined the walkway selling their usual disposable kitsch trinkets, some stall carried slightly more quality handicrafts made in various local regions.

On the far side of the main public beaches we chanced upon a large outdoor club called Orange Bar. Given that time was moving on we decided to bunker down here for a while as it was hot and humid, the outdoor venue was the go.

After a few cool drinks and directions from some locals we headed to a venue by the beach called Mango Bar. As we approached, we noticed that the venue was in what looked like a dilapidated industrial area. The venue itself look like a retro-fitted warehouse. Graffiti decoration lined the inner walls, large open glass doors graced the inviting front plaza overlooking the Ionian Sea. The venue was dead really, apparently the next night was the night to be there. I had made a connection with the club VJ who had asked me to bring in some of my visuals the next night.

After an hour or so and a couple more cooling drinks, Rohan and I went back to the hotel and sat on the balcony and had a great chat about everything that had transpired so far in our journey together, visiting relatives and seeing our dads village for the first time. We really felt a connection in this moment.

It was also the first night Rohan and I had the opportunity to sit and chat undisturbed; after the whirlwind tour we had experienced over the last 6 days. We really wanted to explore potential business collaboration in Albania, which seemed to have a palpable energy of forward evolutionary motion, not just for the sake of making money, but because we wanted to give back to the cultural roots that informed our youth from abroad. It was late in the AM, Rohan was pretty toasted. We crashed out about 4am.