Tuesday 11 September 2018

(March 23, 2018) On the bus to Shkodër, Albania

After breakfast at the hotel, I had the opportunity to be a translator (German --> English) in a conversation in the lobby with the hotel owner, who could speak German.  I didn't understand everything, but it was fun to try.  Language skills certainly come in handy here, and most locals know at least three or four languages.   We took the bus back across the border to Albania-- through narrow, winding roads, alongside tiny villages with green fields, past some sheep and livestock, plenty of old Volkswagen cars, and majestic mountains in the background, covered in snow.  There was a bit of snow mixed in with the rain this morning-- so if anything, it was a good day to be on the bus, keeping warm.

Glad to be travelling on a warm bus...

We checked into the hotel in Shkodër in the early afternoon, and had a late lunch at the hotel restaurant.  Food was slow to arrive (leisurely "Albanian-style"), but at least there was good company.  A tour like this is wonderful for getting to know people you wouldn't normally sit beside or talk with in orchestra rehearsal.  The snow continued to fall, and I enjoyed watching people dressed in suits elegantly ride by on bicycles.  It seemed almost Danish!  Curiously, Albania has some Danish beer (Tuborg and Carlsberg) among its offerings.

Countryside and mountains on the way to Shkodër, Albania
Our planned rehearsal was cancelled this evening-- apparently the hall was not heated.  I am happy to stay in tonight.  I've done some laundry in my hotel room (a single room this time), and enjoyed some of the raki generously given to us a couple of days ago by Bujar's brother.  It is strong stuff!  I think I will go to bed early tonight, to be ready for tomorrow's concert.

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