Ksamil 11/09 -14/09/2016
We managed to survive the night without any more mishaps. Well if you do not include the campsite owner serving endless free Raki and two old men who should know better about when to stop. Mind, Shane and her new line-dancing partner were not too shy coming forward. Our excuse; we could have died, washed away in a sea of mud. But we didn’t. So thank you Paul and Shane for a great evening. European friends? Nah gimme Aussies and Kiwis every time. Mrs May sign the trade deal now and get us away from the miserable, navel gazing, introverted bigots from across the channel we have been with for the last 30 years and give us cheap quality wines. And prawns on the Barbie.
Unfortunately I have been stumped by all the mapping tools known to man to get them to show the correct route and that means less pictures and more drivel. You lucky, lucky readers. Our route took us up and over the Llogaraja Pass on the SH8. This peach of a road leaves the parched coastline and after a series of never ending hairpins reaches a height of 1025m. That is higher than anywhere in England. Up here the scenery is all pine forests and spectacular mountain landscapes. We were told by our guide book to have spit-roasted lamb at the Hotel Andoni which straddles the summit of the pass. We have looked forward to this meal ever since we left the UK. The pig-on-a-stick is common place within Eastern Europe and is fine fare, but cutesy wutesy lamb is never, never available.
After the shortest glimpse of a menu ever we ordered two sheep and a small home-made wine. So let’s start with the good points of this culinary superstar. The wine was undrinkable. When a carved-up Shawn appeared on the plate it looked like it had been chewed by a pack of wolves and spat out. Tracy had one bite and left before her insides joined us at the table. I pushed mine around the plate while sneakily feeding many of the wild dogs in attendance. Even they were fussy and I was left with double canine chewed bits on my plate to hand back. On ordering the bill it was noticed we were not from around these parts and I was subject to eat some dessert and drink glasses of raki. We managed to get away while half of my two legs were still working.
After a strong coffee and a small rest we soldiered on. There has not been many occasions on this trips where my rectum has involuntary collapsed, my lungs have gone into hyper-ventilation and my hair has spontaneously combusted, but this was one. Forget the Amalfi Coast, the Dalmatian Coast, the dreadful Atlantic Highway in Norway; This is the best coastal drive in Europe. From the top of the pass to Ksamil is a stunner; rocky outcrops, deep blue Mediterranean sea and tiny coves, outrageously high cliffs and Corfu as a teasing ecstasy just a few klicks off the coast. If you only do one coastal drive in Europe then do this, but don’t eat anything woolly on a spike. Sorry the pics are not the best but we were looking south.
From the top of the pass at 1,000m
The town of Dhermi
Hoxha’s Bunkers. These little beauties are everywhere to and were built to protect Albania from invasion.
I think it says FU EU
Old Submarine Base
The plan was to stop at one of the small beach resorts around Drymades when the DPF filter warning light reared its pimply, unattractive head. Fearing the worst we headed for the biggest town in the area; Saranda. As the Homie was still going we thought we would carry on and try and get to Greece from where we had breakdown cover. We didn’t make it. We made the town of Ksamil where the engine died as we entered the campsite.
Our dead Truck
So close but oh so far. The last time this happened cost us close on €300 to get fixed in Italy. As you can see from the photo we got the Barbie out, had a few beers and made decisions of such clarity they could be seen from the moon. Decisions that could only be made by men and women with no facial topiary. We decided to do nothing. It’s Albania, it’s cheap, people are friendly, people are resourceful. We asked the campsite owner and unfortunately his mates were off on some religious holiday, this in a country where 94% are atheist and we try to source the only religious mechanic south of Bradford. So we turned to Facebook and sourced a young chap who seemed to know what he was talking about and he agreed to come over after work. I was not allowed anywhere near him. The campsite owner who once worked in a kebab shop in Belfast gave him the most intense interview I have seen. After about two hours I retired for a beer. Just past midnight I was informed by Mr AbraKababra that the mechanic was fit for purpose and he would come tomorrow with some hooky software to fix it. Which he did. He also said the last generation done in Italy was not done well and it would need two goes and we would have to take the Homie to the garage the next day. While we waited we had a stroll around Ksamail. It is in a beautiful setting but I am not sure would it would be like in peak season.
Ksamil Bay with Corfu as the backdrop
No planning Permission. The Government send the boys round
Ksamil and Corfu Sunset
We spent the evening chatting to Mr Abrakababra and his wife Donna. He told us about the history of Albania and how they have fallen out with everyone, the British just after WWII allowing the commies to take over, the Russians and finally the Chinese. They have applied to the EU to be members. This has not been met with a warm response as the Albanian Government has over 30% of its representatives being affiliates of organised crime. The EU has told them to fall in-line with the rest of the bloc and come back when their parliament is totally corrupt.
We got the Homie re-energised and while we waited were bought a couple of Frappies. Total cost €20. What? For less than 10% of the cost in Italy we got the thing fixed properly, got a couple of coffees and treated as friends. Albania we love you and do not join the EU. You will lose your soul and end up as a bunch of cheats.
Love to All