Day 123 - Beach
13 April 2022
Breakfast and set off early. There is a dog to see us off. We give him a pat. Dogs bring joy. We have about 10 km to cover the way we came yesterday. Past the falling down bridge but not over it. We are mostly on back roads. It is fun riding but not overly scenic.
“I'm suspicious of people who don't like dogs, but I trust a dog when it doesn't like a person.” ― Bill Murray
We hit Lezhë quickly. Grab a coffee. There is some confusion. I am a few leks short for a second round but have some loose change in euros. We ask for another round and he accepts both the lek and euros. The second round does not eventuate. Massive tip.
Lezhë is a nice village. We cruise through and grab some cash. Nowhere accepts cards here. After Lezhë we only have 10 km to our destination. A coastal road that is a dead end. We are a few kilometers past the village of Shëngjin.
Ride through an old military base and hit our place. It is a remarkable building right on the water. There are some issues checking in. It is a few months before the summer season and we seem to be the only people here. There are three types of rooms here. Ocean views. Mountain views. No views.
We get a room with no view.
Shell steps one foot in the door and turns around. I didn’t even see the room. She has decided we probably should have a view. I hear what she is saying. The place is completely empty. Why they would give us this room is hard to understand. I like Shell taking control of the situation. Usually, I am delegated the task.
With some lengthy discussion and the involvement of management, we are upgraded to a room with both ocean and mountain views. Nice work Shell.
This place is a contradiction. It is stunning. I have no idea who the architect is but it works well in both the mountain and beach landscape. The management is outstanding. The restaurant staff is exceptional. The front desk is terrible. Their default answer is ‘no’. I have seen more smiles in a morgue.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh
We unload our bikes and head back into Shëngjin for a late lunch. I am famished.
Everything is shut. We ride about looking for somewhere. I suggest we head back to our accommodation. Shell persists. She takes us down a tiny alley toward the ocean. We find some people and they suggest a place right near us.
Shell was correct. A family run restaurant right on the water. The grandfather takes our order. The son sets the table. His daughters run after the grandchildren. Patriarchy.
The white wine has turned to vinegar. We drink it anyway. It is not so bad. There is no menu. He asks if we want fish? We tell him ‘whatever is good’. We get a salad with huge chunks of fetta and a seafood platter.
He tells us the seafood was caught local, right off the beach here. I believe him. The fish is the best I have eaten. Fried in a very light batter. It falls off the bone. The squid and prawn are brilliant. I leave them to Shell. I can't get enough of the fish. I eat the crispy heads. We give the prawn heads to the cats beneath our table who devour them.
“You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more?” ― Ernest Hemingway
On the way back to our place we spend some time on the beach chatting. It is warm. The water is freezing. It is a very lazy afternoon. Nothing beats the beach for simply laying in the sunshine and doing nothing.
We head back to our accommodation. Shower and sit on the deck with a bottle of local wine. The waiter recommends a bottle from a vineyard half an hour away and it is very good. The sun begins to set and it starts to get cooler.
I start patting a cat. It jumps on the chair and then on the table. When I attempt to push it off it gets angry. We head inside with what is left of our wine and start planning for tomorrow. The cat can have the table.
Our waiter has suggested a small village not far from here where there is a restaurant that makes everything in house. The vegetables are from their own garden, the meat is their own livestock. They even make their own cheese. Sounds perfect. Reservations only. We make one.
Grab a beer to take to our room to watch the sunset and type this blog. It looks like we might have only 2 - 3 days left in Albania before we cross into Montenegro. It has gone too quick. To be honest, the people of Montenegro and the landscape will hardly change. It is just a line on the map. Regardless, Albania has quickly become my favourite place in Europe.
“Albania is located sixty miles across the Adriatic Sea from Italy. It borders Montenegro and Kosovo to the north, Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south. If you know nothing about ‘the Land of the Eagles,’ relax. You’re not alone.” — Michael Paterniti
I can hear the surf on the beach. Is there a place in the mountains where you can hear the ocean?
Today's ride -
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