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122: Saranda+ Butrint. 2012/8/31

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[Photo album: Butrint and more.]

Yesterday I answered to the B&B owner that I’d like to have breakfast at 7am, and it’s by having breakfast that I realized that there’s a basement – yes, there’s one, with all the nice Ottoman-style decorations.  A bit odd to have breakfast in the basement though.  After finishing most things, I wrapped the bread left and finished them in my room.

The owner’s wife called the cab for me, and a bit to my surprise it was the same taxi driver as yesterday, although she did tell me that “all taxi drivers here are the same” – I think she meant in terms of cheating tourists.  The driver didn’t smile and raised four fingers, meaning four hundred.  Very ridiculous.  Since I didn’t agree, he gestured me to take my luggage out of the trunk.  I didn’t care, but the B&B owner still went down the staircases and reasoned with him.

It wasn’t a lot, but I am not a fan of this kind of mentality, and since it was downhill all the way, it wasn’t the most difficult thing to drag my trolley suitcase down, although it did take quite some time, and I was a bit worried about the two poor wheels.  Anyway, there was some further walk when I reached flat ground.  When I found the place for furgons, I saw there were two for Saranda.  A 50-ish man was there, and he shook his head when I tried to confirm with him.  Yeah, he looked old enough, so in this case shaking head meant yes.  As for any other questions, he half-shook his head in a tilting way like Indians do, and somehow he just didn’t open the trunk for me to put the luggage, and I started to have the desire to WRING anyone who shakes his head like that.

A while later another furgon with a “Saranda” sign came, and I ran for that one.  An old woman was to get on this furgon at the same time, and the driver told me alternately to wait and to get my luggage up, and that was both confusing and annoying.  In any case, the old woman was brought by some car to this place, and she brought with her lots of luggage, some of which had a vague urine smell.

I fell asleep during the ride, and as soon as I got off a guy came to get me to check out his private rooms.  At first he offered 20 Euros, I told him I didn’t have that much money, and he soon dropped the price to something like 10.5 Euros, saying it’s a nice apartment very close by.  But since he was frank enough about having no internet, I thanked him and told him that it didn’t work for me.

I jotted down the direction to a hostel in a notepad, and it wasn’t difficult to find the place.  What was difficult was finding the floor – the webpages never mentioned anything about floors, and while I checked every single floor of that apartment building, no door had any sign on it.  THAT’S FREAKING RIDICULOUS! In addition, in the elevator, the floor displayed on the display panel and the floor keys didn’t correspond to each other! All this was crazy.

Then came a bunch of middle-aged Albanian men.  They were checking out an empty apartment unit, and although they didn’t speak any English, I still tried to ask to use their cell phone so I could call the hostel runner.

These days I don’t have the best of patience, but I was indeed a bit annoyed when I finally saw Tomi the hostel runner.  I could have concealed the annoyance, but he kept PATTING my shoulder and told me “It’s no problem,” not to worry, and that helped me discover a pet peeve I didn’t know I have – i.e., don’t you dare pat me when I don’t feel close enough to you! He kept PATTING me, and I started to physically avoid him.  And as soon as I asked about anything, he always responded “No problem!”

A look at the online reviews and the messages various guests have left on the wall everywhere on this hostel, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that “No problem!” is the catch phrase that never leaves this Tomi’s mouth.  But hey, when I do want to know something substantial and material, this isn’t what I want to be repeated to my ears! Besides, no patting! And then he asked how come I seemed [tense].  By that time I really could be as murderous as any Act II Tosca.

Anyway, that passed, and I finally got a bit of peace. To give Tomi credit, he did keep asking me whether I wanted some breakfast, even though it was already 11am.  And although I thanked him and said no, he brought some pieces of watermelons on a plate when I was unpacking.

I then checked with him about where to have lunch and how to get to Butrint.  (He first started with another half dozen of “No problem!”)  Anyway, I did get some seafood pasta (with curious though not bad sauce), and then I found the bus (looking like those in Slovakia) to Butrint.

Yesterday the Kotoni B&B owner’s wife told me I could go to Saranda, ask “any shop” to keep my luggage, go to Butrint, return to Saranda to pick up my luggage, and continue onward to Llagara, since I showed my interest in Llagara national Park.  And while another possibility was to do Butrint as a daytrip via Saranda from Gjirokaster (and consequently skipping unattractive Saranda), the accommodation prices in Gjirokatser made that impossible for me.  But in any case, it didn’t take me long to know that Butrint is the only thing I need to focus on from Saranda.

I was sleepy on the bus, (the driver was very nice, and (on an irrelevant note) I really couldn’t finish a one-liter bottle of Schweppers,) and it was hot when I arrived.  Yeah, indeed Butrint was the only thing I was interested in, and it wasn’t that spectacular when compared with other such ruins I have seen or can choose to see, even though it’s nice to know its significance in the history.  The Kotoni B&B owner’s wife told me Butrint would take three hours, Tomi told me two, and in reality I and another fellow traveler who arrived at the same time spent distinctly less.

I was TIRED when I got back, not the least because the bus back was a tall bus with NO air conditioning – the only air was coming from the window beside the driver! I don’t understand why these imbeciles can allow such murderous things happen.

And when I did reach my room, I found that the big standing fan has been unplugged – someone used the power outlet to charge his Sony camera.  And somehow the outlet beside my bed was TOO SMALL for the fan’s plug! That’s really something from a really crazy world.  After giving up twice I finally found a plug way up above the lockers.

And then I remembered I have an adapter for Italian power outlets, which have holes for two cylinders SMALLER than those used in the rest of the Europe.  And that was how I was able to charge my notebook.  Exactly why would an Italian standard co-exist with another standard in this room?!

I wasn’t happy when talking with Tz, who did his best though.  After that I had my own siesta time – something I don’t usually do, but it proves very wise this time.  I simply fell into a coma for at least two and a half hours.

And after all the city really has NOTHING to offer.  It simply has too many buildings, and more are obviously on their way.  The whole city testifies what kind of horrible things can result from a lack of planning.

And groceries stores had NOTHING – anything I wanted wasn’t there.  But at least I went out, had a bit, and double-checked the bus schedule for tomorrow.


8/31記帳:1EUR = 137.45ALL1MKD = 2.2ALL1ALL = 0.45MKD1TWD = 3.699ALL1ALL = 0.272TWD
Gjirokaster – Saranda – Butrint公車:200+ 100*2ALL

中餐:600 ALL
超市:180 ALL
住宿:10 EUR
總計:2090ALL + 10EUR = 1027TWD


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