Freecamping a Hotel Garden in Gjirokastër, Albania

Good morning from Gjirokastër! Me and Dongbum went freecamping next to two hotels with permission from both owners. That’s very kind of them! And honestly, it’s one of the better places to pitch a tent; the grass is well-kept and it’s nice and quiet most of the time. The hospitality and flexibility of Albanians to make us feel welcome has been astounding. I had a pretty comfy night in my tent. The air is nice and dry and it doesn’t get very cold at night. Though I still don’t experience ‘peak’ camping comfort as I don’t have a camping mattress,Continue reading

Korçë Southward: Hitchhiking a Desolate Road in Albania

Don’t mind me while I’m just writing a hitchhiking sign in the middle of nowhere in Albania! In this picture, Dongbum and I are on our way southward from Korçë to Leshkovik after meeting for the second time in Pogradec. Korçë is a town, but also an Albanian beer brand. Dongbum took this photo of me with his good camera and shared it with me today. It’s a pretty sweet photo in my opinion. None of the photos I take myself are this candid. At first, I couldn’t remember exactly where he took this photo. Then I did some digging toContinue reading

Benjë Hot Springs nearby Përmet, Albania (During a Storm)

Yesterday, Dongbum and I hitchhiked to the hot springs of Benjë (Llixhat e Bënjës). These are not far from Përmet and have been on my wishlist for Albania from day one. It’s past this amazingly cool Ottoman (?) bridge that’s in the same style as the one in Mostar, minus the crowds. But those clouds in the distance should have been a warning. We went for a much-needed warm soak in the hot spring and all was fun until the rain started. The benign rain quickly turned into heavy rain and subsequently into hail chunks from the sky that grewContinue reading

Mosque-Surfing: Sleeping at an Albanian Mosque in Leshovik

Yes, we woke up in an Albanian mosque today in Leskovik. And yes we slept in the same room even though we’re not married (and not planning to, for those who care). The Imam and some other congregants offered it to us like that. Last night, we were planning to go freecamping – like I’ve done before in Albania –in Leshovik until the torrential rain washed everything away. A little wet and a little chaotic, Dongbum and I walked through Leshovik at night looking for an alternative stay. When we came across the mosque, we thought why not? So weContinue reading

The Balkan Trail (I Keep Running into the Same People)

Remember this guy from one month ago? His name is Dongbum and he’s from South Korea. We met in Kotor in Montenegro and ran into each other again yesterday in Pogradec, Albania. He also had a hitchhiking sign, so it clicked. There seems to be a kind of Balkan Trail, just like there’s a Gringo Trail in South America and the Hippie Trail in Eurasia. I sometimes look at this map of backpacking trails by Sandalsand to get the big picture. I’m still not sure if where we are now is part of the Balkan Trail, but the coincidence wasContinue reading

Durrës, Albania: Teaming Up with Another Hitchhiker

After a beachy freecamp in Durrës, I picked up this hitchhiker from Austria. By ‘picking up’ a hitchhiker I mean that I talked to another backpacker and he joins my plan to also hitchhike. He told me he was not traveling by hitchhiking in Albania because of the scary stories going around. But he generally had hitchhiking experiences. Good. Even better was that he didn’t have a fixed plan. So he joined me hitching back to Tirana (pictured, holding my beautiful hitchhiking sign at a road in the city that was under construction) from Durrës and then onward to Elbasan.Continue reading

Seaside Freecamping in Durrës, Albania

Good morning from Durrës, Albania! I went freecamping on the north side of town at a quiet spot on a seaside hill. First I wanted to camp at the beach, but there were already some people there. So I climbed up to this flat space and pitched my glorified mosquito-net/inner tent layer, rolled out my sleeping bag, ate dinner, and went to sleep until sunrise happened again. The ferries from Italy were slowly rolling into the bay. And during the night I saw some cruise ships passing by on the Adriatic Sea. It was some real good alone time. Alone…Continue reading

Dogs of (Spontaneous) CouchSurfing (Tiranë, Albania)

I love it when my CouchSurfing – spontaneous or official – have pets, such as dogs! Look at this adorably small dog of my host in Tiranë, Albania. It’s so small and sweet and playful. As you might know, I grew up with a dog named Ashley, who is now a bit old but still doing great. I also recently hitchhiked with the humongous dog of my drivers in Romania, which was nice because it was cold until I received dog cuddles. Though getting into a car with a dog present is always a little scary. Will the dog like me?Continue reading

Hitchhiking from Montenegro to Albania: It’s Border Time!

I’m packed and ready to hitchhike from Montenegro to Albania! That’d be country #57 if you’re wondering. The last weeks in Kruče have been absolute bliss. Packing to cross a border is, however, a little bit unchill. But I did it and I’m ready. Aleksandra has been a wonderful host and I really love her life stories and passion for music. Sometimes you meet people with an openness that just blows you away. I’m definitely going to miss this, but it’s time to move on and see what the much-hyped Albania has to offer. Some people think it’s a scaryContinue reading