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ponchi101

Logbook to the middle ages. IV

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Next morning I have to start my drive south to Berat, my final destination. I therefore do not get to see a lot of Tirana. I have breakfast on the 16th floor of the hotel and I get a great view of the surroundings.
Tirana is amid small mountains, green and luscious with vegetation. It is not the tropics but located at about 40° north is not the barren stones of Iceland or the pine tree forests of Northern Europe. There are signs that the Mediterranean is close by, represented by the Adriatic.
As we drive out of the city I travel along a well paved road, a smooth surface of asphalt that might make a German Autobahn engineer not sneer in derision. Our car glides smoothly and I cannot feel the potholes and uneven batches that plague me when I drive back home so I can stop being condescending about Albania when it comes to motoring. I see a lot, and I do mean a lot, of Mercedes Benz’es, BMW’s and Audi’s. I will later find out that Albania has no motor industry and simply accepts importing cars from Europe. So a well-kept Bimmer or Merc can be easily snatched from a German autophile and be brought here.
We quickly reach an intersection and making a sharp turn to the south start our final trek. The road switches from two lanes to one and we drive through obvious agricultural land, with plenty of livestock on both sides of the road. We have to stop to let a herd of goats cross it and the driver looks at me and says “Albania!”, in mocked exasperation.
Should I tell him about the cows crossing roads in Argentina, Colombia and Bolivia? I stay silent and simply repeat “Albania”.
Albania is rather small. At 11,000 SqKM is slightly larger than Cundinamarca, the DEPARTMENT where Bogota resides, and at 3 million inhabitants it is completely dwarfed by Bogota, already approaching 10 million. If I am correct, the section of Bogota where I live already has 3 million, so I better start adjusting to a different scale. We keep driving and we pass farms, a few small hamlets and signs that of course make no sense to me.
And we arrive to Berat in a quick 1:45. We enter a city with some construction that is clearly Soviet in style and materials. Boxy buildings and corrugated metal greet me, and nothing with the beauty of the photos I have found on line is anywhere to see.
Have I been tricked? Is Berat a forsaken, barren former Soviet arms depot? I get off at the hotel where we are staying and greet my fellow invaders. I will ask questions later but so far, Berat is the least beautiful part of Albania I have seen. Maybe I will have to go back and ask the goats.

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Updated 07-28-2019 at 01:43 PM by ponchi101

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