30 JUL


Early rise, 7:30am, my last day in Bitola, hot! Sebajdin is at work already. I drank coffee and journaled.

Nevsat, Erdzan and walked into Bitola, catching the local sights, houses, cars, walls where old and new merge. Had the most amazing mince meat burek and ayran (Yogurt drink) for brekky in the tiny upper level of the cutest little bakery.

Walked very slowly, seeking to cool myself by the sprinklers as we made our way to the Old Turkish Bazaar. Since Ottoman rule its been full of traders. The architecture was incredible. There was a newer section which housed fruit, vege’s and spices was buzzing with people trading.

We walked around looking for trinkets I could buy as gifts for people back home. Eventually found a trinket for mum.

It was very very hot, almost unbearable to walk in, drank lots from a cold water fountain fed directly by the Pelister mountains nearby. The fountain has been continuously running for hundreds of years. Also ate some locally grown peaches which were just delicious. Nevsat to us to a café to drink the local beverage called Boza, a fermented corn and wheat drink made in many parts of the Mediterranean region. It was really tangy and very refreshing. Probably a required taste for some.

Walked through the long city mall, passing the first cinema in the Baltic region. Eventually, hot, tired, we walked back to house around noon to eat and laugh with Nevzat and Shermin.

It was time for coffee and baclava as we watched Gulten and Njazi’s wedding DVD – 500 people at a function hall. I cant believe how beautiful Nevzat’s daughters and how handsome Sebajdin’s boys looked all dressed up.

My time to depart for Albania had finally arrived as did my taxi driver Orhan. Sebajdin had to stay back at work. We said our goodbyes, a sad moment, cant believe how warm and welcoming everyone was. Didn’t want to leave and promised I would be back.

The drive passed by quickly as Orhan and I talked much about family. Like most people in the Balkans he spoke 4 languages fluently. Finally made it to Aleks at the Dion Travel office in Korçë. I introduced Orhan to Aleks, they informally discussed business. We drank coffee before Orhan had to leave for Bitola. Aleks drove me all but 50mtrs to Albens house.

Albi was away on business. I hung out with his wife Kleva and their two lovely children Joni and Viola – who played piano wonderfully for us. We ordered pizza for dinner. I thought we would have easy dinner until Kleva made all these amazing little side dishes that made the pizza taste like bread. Kleva spoke English excellently and is very intelligent and knowledgeable about many topics – we had refreshingly great conversations.

It was time to call it a night and got a $35 room directly across the road at the Hotel Regency. What an adventure this had been so far.