Today I was a bit over ambitious.

After a long day of doing so many things yesterday, I really should have taken it easy today.

I didn’t.

Today I went on a day trip to Shkodër about 100km north from Tirana.

Originally when I was planning this trip I had actually planned to stay in Shkodër for a couple of days and then I nixed it just cause I felt like I’d be racing from one hostel to the next too much this week.

I still wanted to see Shkodër though, even if it was just in a form of a day trip.

So, that’s where I went today…

Another bus adventure

Shkodër is two hours away and I really should have left early this morning if I wanted to spend the amount of time I should have there.

I didn’t.

Honestly, after that long day yesterday, I really just wanted to sleep in.

So, finally at 10am, I left the hostel to grab the bus to Shkodër.

Well, really it was the bus to the bus to Shkodër.

Yup, again I had a fun adventure taking the local bus to the South & North Bus Station where the Shkodër bus was leaving from.

I won’t lie, I was feeling pretty confident, even a little cocky, about getting to the bus station.

I knew which bus to take and where to catch it and then the bus did a weird thing.   After about 10 minutes, it turned right heading back into town instead of turning left towards the bus station.

It was the right bus but it was going on some weird route.

Anyway, I hopped out and crossed the street and just as I was trying to figure out what the hell to do, another bus with the same destination came towards me.

Okay, I guess we’ll try this one.

This one finally got me to the bus station.

I tell ya, this whole bus situation in Tirana is insane.   The fact that there are two different bus terminals and both are about 20-40 minutes away from the city center.   And the local buses run on the strangest routes.

Anyway, I made it to the bus station just in time to board the 11am bus to Shkodër.

This bus was big with 60 passengers and thankfully air conditioned.   It was an easy ride, albeit long, to Shkodër.

The last 3km was insane once we got into the city.   The traffic was brutal and took a full half an hour to go that final 3km.

Hello Shkodër!

I got into the city with absolutely no plan of what to do which, in hindsight, was a big mistake.

Not only had I left late not giving myself enough time to explore the city but, once I got there, I had no idea where to go and what to see.

Oh well, guess I’ll grab some lunch and figure it out.

While I was waiting for my order, I pulled out my phone and starting to finally look up the city and what to do.

There’s Rozafa castle 4km outside of the city.   Not quite in walking distance but apparently there’s a local bus that takes you there or you can rent a bike.

Problem was the last bus back to Tirana was at 5pm and because of my late start the timing just wouldn’t work out.

Then I found something intriguing…

Site of Witness and Memory museum

I ended up going to the Site of Witness and Memory museum which just so happened to be across the street from where I had lunch.

The site commemorates the victims of the communist regime in Shkodër.

In 1930, Franciscan Fathers bought this 14th century property and opened a college for training parish priests.

In 1946 the building was confiscated by communists and transformed into an institution where their “suspects” were interrogated during pre-trial detention under severe torture and abuse.

It’s one of the few museums I’ve visited where I actually stopped to read the placards on the walls describing what happened here when Communism had it’s rule for almost 50 years.

At the end of the museum tour are the actual cells where the prisoners were kept.

On the trip I’ve learned little tidbits of Communism here and there but this was the first time I saw the evil side of it so exposed.

Definitely eye opening and I’m glad I went.

Back to Tirana

By the time I got out of the museum it was already 3:45.

I decided to take the long way back to the bus stop to see a little more of the city before I left.

Honestly, there wasn’t too much to the city.

I think most people visit here to see the castle and the lake town next to it.

Also, it a hub of activity for people who want to hike the nearby mountains.

As far as a city on it’s own right though, not so much to see.

Again, though, I wish I had left earlier this morning to get to see the castle and the city a little more.

Oh well, sometimes you just fudge it up when you plan (or don’t plan) things.

At 4:30 I was at the bus stop and the big air conditioned bus I had taken this morning was now a little 15 seater minibus with no a/c.

I did see a couple seats with windows next to them wide open so I quickly snagged one of those seats so at least I’d have the breeze in my face as we raced down the highway back to Tirana.

The bus was only half full and the breeze was even better than the a/c.

It was a nice ride back into the city with the radio on playing tunes from Ace of Base to Macklemore to Rhianna.

The time went quick and, before you knew it, we were back in Tirana.

A long walk to dinner

We arrived back in Tirana at 6:30 but of course there was still the matter of another 40 minute ride on the local bus back to the hostel.

I relaxed for a bit but then headed back out at 8:00 to grab some dinner.

And this is where things came off the rails…

I had a plan, you see.

The plan was to go back to Leaf Brunch Café where I had lunch yesterday and get something on the healthy side.

I started walking down towards it but I ended up back in the park I visited yesterday morning as I was aimlessly just walking down the street when I should have done a left turn a while back.

Well, since I was in the park, I had read that there was a good restaurant to visit there.   Might as well go there instead, I guess.

It was closed.

Okay then…

Guess it’s on to Leaf Café.   Only another 15 minute walk away.

15 minutes later I had arrived.

The place was empty but it was open so I headed in.   It was 8:30 at this point.

They were open til 11:00 but their kitchen closed at 8pm.


Well, this was becoming annoying.

How can you be open but not serve food?!?


So, I was faced with another 15 minute straight back to where I just was.

And my goal of having something healthy for dinner was just dumped right out the window as I went back to Tony’s American Diner and had a BBQ Burger.

I had literally walked for an entire hour to get food and, dammit, after that, I deserved it.

I had a chocolate milkshake too cause, you know what, I deserved that too!

And that was the end of the day.

Tomorrow I’m heading to country #50 – Kosovo – and I’m pretty damn exited to go there.

I don’t know, Kosovo has always been mysterious and intriguing to me and, tomorrow, I’ll finally be there.

Can’t wait!

Balkan Trip 2023, Trip Journal, Shkodër, Tirana, Albania
Balkans 2023
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