Albania Bari, Italy Uncategorized

Going Home

Well it’s very nice here in Bari but too expensive. I’ll be glad to get back home. The hotel’s free breakfast looked good but it was all heavy carbs…..pastries and other yummy stuff. So I just had that tablespoon of espresso and headed out to the train station. Ugh, it was raining! I suddenly wished I’d packed an umbrella but I did have my rain jacket.

I didn’t realize there were two train stations in Bari so naturally I went to the wrong one. I thought I’d be able to figure out the ticket machine but I couldn’t find destination Aeropuerto anywhere. I guess I was taking too long so a uniformed man came up and offered assistance. Oh the train that goes to the airport is in a different building, the one with blue windows! It was only about 100′ away.

I got my ticket (€5.20) and had only five minutes wait for the train. I was glad I’d left early because the next train wasn’t for 50 minutes. From the train station it’s about a ten minute walk to the airport but it goes through a long long tunnel so it’s out of the weather.

They tell you to be at the airport three hours before your flight for international flights but WizzAir’s check in desk doesn’t open until two hours before, so I had an hour to kill, and nowhere to sit! I got some euros from the ATM; that killed a whole two minutes. I had read that ATMs in Italy are fee free and I guess it’s true, because they didn’t charge a fee even at the airport!

Elevator doors at the airport

I decided to go have breakfast at McDonald’s. Yeah, I know what I said before but they do have keto friendly breakfast options. But not here. The breakfast offerings here were all croissants, rolls and muffins. I wandered around and the only other restaurants on this floor also only had rolls & pastries. I guess Italians are not into American style egg breakfasts at all.

The flight was pretty full but uneventful and coming back through Immigration in Tirana is just through two machines that look at your passport and then take your picture. I sure hope they recorded my entry, as that was the whole reason for going to Italy!

I walked to the back of the airport parking lot to the buses and I didn’t have to take the bus that goes to Tirana city center; I found a minibus that went straight to Vlorë! Almost. Several of us had to change to a different bus halfway there. It cost 1200 lek ($11 USD) and I was able to get dropped off at my usual city bus stop instead of going all the way to the far side of town. But I’d just missed a bus so I knew it would be a 15 minute wait. I just started walking towards home, in hard rain. I was soaked, cold and miserable when the bus did finally come along so I hopped on even though it was just one stop before mine.

I’m so glad to be home and so tired! Air travel sure isn’t fun any more., especially International travel.

Albania Bari, Italy Lord Hotel Tirana Albania Tirana Albania

On To Bari, Italy

I had a really hard time getting to sleep last night; I’m used to total darkness and the room had lots of little led lights everywhere plus a lighted phone panel. The pillow was too fat and there wasn’t a top sheet. I thought that was really odd for a hotel and now I’m worried that it was a housekeeping mistake and they’ll think I stole it.

I woke up before my alarm went off.  Ahhh, a new day with better experiences.  I jumped in the shower. It’s a really nice big shower with a huge rain shower head plus a hand held. The glass shower doors had not a single waterspot…..impressive!

I turned on the hand-held shower wand to get the water warmed up and I stepped in. Great water pressure,  nice! All of a sudden the hose fell off the wand and started flinging itself all over the place like an out of control fire hose! Oy! I tried unsuccessfully to capture it as it was whipping the crap out of my ankles and finally thought to shut the water off.  I wasn’t able to reattach the wand to the hose but did have a nice shower using the big rain head. When I got out of course the whole bathroom was awash from the water jetting all over the place. Oops!

I went into the restaurant to have breakfast and the desk clerk came in after me and insisted I check out their free breakfast buffet. It was pretty impressive! Fried and scrambled eggs, potatoes, sausages, cheeses, fruit, croissants, juice, cereals and lots of other stuff. I decided to just eat there instead and it was very good, even the super strong espresso.

I got the free shuttle to the airport and tipped the driver 400 lek. I find myself grossly overtipping here (where it’s not even expected). The average monthly wage here is around $400 so I don’t mind helping out a little. It’s a very small airport, with only 14 gates. There were no lines anywhere and you don’t have to remove shoes at Security!

I’m flying on WizzAir, a VERY budget airline. My round trip ticket cost $45 but that only includes a small underseat item. A carryon, checked bag, or seat assignment, everything else is extra. So I’m bringing quite a small daypack with way less than I’ve ever traveled with before. No little sewing kit, no first aid kit, no glasses repair kit, no makeup except eyeshadow, no laptop. One tee shirt to sleep in, a couple underpants and some leggings. I’ll be wearing the same outer clothes for 3 days straight. They wanted $14 each way to get a seat assignment but it’s only a one hour flight so I let them assign me a free seat….in the last row, of course!

I actually like the fact that I don’t have to worry about whether there’ll be space in the overhead bin for my carryon, and my back really appreciates the light load, as my usual carryon is also a backpack.

Here’s a photo of the cigarettes for sale in the airport. This is printed on all the cartons. Many many people smoke here,though I wonder how they can afford it.

The flight to Bari was uneventful except that because I was in the cheap seats, I was the last to deplane and at the end of a very long line of people at Customs and Immigration. I easily found the train station and a nice lady showed me how to get a ticket to the city center from the vending machine.

When I got off the train I realized my cellphone only works on wifi here, and I had no idea how to find Hotel Adria without Google Maps! I thought I knew the general direction though, and I knew it was nearby. . I just started walking and hoped I’d see a policeman or an internet cafe but no. So I stopped 2 different young people and they both spoke English and gave me directions, the first one not quite right because I ended up on the street behind it, but it was close. There’s a lot of graffiti here but it doesn’t feel unsafe, at least in daytime.

I have a tiny room with one comfy single bed with a nice squishy soft pillow (yay!) AND a top sheet, for $79. Ouch! The shower is ordinary so hopefully it won’t attack me. The view from the window is just all green and I’m on the 4th floor…..what the heck?

OH! When I get up close, I see it’s a huge 6 story high wall of moss & succulents! Wow!

Hotel Adria lobby

I went out exploring a little, and to try and find a restaurant for an early dinner. I walked for 2.4 miles and no luck with a restaurant; there were lots of gelato shops, coffee shops, bakeries and pizza shops and a few Italian restaurants with pizza and pasta dishes àbut nothing “legal” for me to eat. They have a McDonald’s here but I wouldn’t eat there in the US, so I sure won’t eat there in Italy. I was starting to think I might be fasting tonight when I ran across a little grocery and bought a little bit of ham, cheese, nuts and two bottles of water. I’ll just have a little picnic in my room.

The streets are tree-lined and the architecture here is amazing! I loved just walking along gawking at everything.

I went into a large pharmacy and they had some high quality Vitamin C but it cost $56 for ninety 1000 mg tablets! I didn’t buy them. So I guess Italy is not a good place to get supplements either.