Tuesday 11 September 2018

(March 24, 2018) Shkodër, Albania

I've just finished breakfast in our hotel... the one thing I absolutely love about Albania (and missed during our short visit to Montenegro) was the fresh tomatoes!  It's perhaps a little strange to have crèpes and tomatoes for breakfast, but they were delicious.  I am just waiting at the hotel, getting ready to join some of the orchestra for a tour of a nearby castle.  Mini power outages are common here-- the lights just went out and came back on while writing this, but you get used to it.  The one thing that was a very pleasant surprise since my last trip to Albania five years ago is having hot water in the shower!

Zella and Marissa at breakfast
Apparently my piece will not be on the programme tonight, since three of the members of Music Progressive Quartet (minus Paskal, the cellist), had to return to Macedonia for a family emergency.  They should be rejoining us for the concert in Tetovo, the day after tomorrow.
Fresh snow on the mountains

Golden chariot restaurant
(Later): We took the bus over to tour Rozafa Castle in Shkodër in the morning-- it was sunny but cold, and the panoramic views from all sides of the castle grounds were spectacular.  We could see fresh snow on all the surrounding mountains, as well as extensive flooding in the river down below.  For lunch, we went to a place up on the hill opposite the castle, with a golden chariot in front, and rococo musical décor inside.  I had a delicious fish for lunch.

Rozafa Castle
Flooding below
Two lovely ladies

Entrance to the castle

Window to a spectacular view

Courtyard well


In the afternoon, we had some free time before rehearsal, so I explored a bit along the lovely pedestrian street running through the centre of town.  It's nice not to have to worry about traffic, since as a pedestrian in Albania, there aren't many traffic rules-- normally you have to run for your life crossing the street!

Pedestrian street

Colourful wall

Parked bicycle

Exploring around town

Tattoo studio 
We had an early evening rehearsal, followed by a concert at the theatre across from our hotel.  The theatre wasn't well-heated, so some of us clustered around a couple of heating vents before the show to keep warm.  The crowd wasn't huge, but was very enthusiastic.  We found out later that a couple of Bujar's former conducting students, and one border guard we'd met earlier were at the show.  After the concert, we walked across town to a restaurant where we were treated to a feast, along with some excellent live music.  Our maestro even sang for a bit!  We were stuffed, happy, and exhausted-- returning late to our hotel, where we lost one hour of sleep due to (Balkan) daylight savings.

WCSO concert poster

Maestro Bujar, singing along with a trio at the restaurant, after the concert

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