Komani Ferry to Shkoder: 18 June

The bus came so suddenly while Catherine was busy in the kitchen that I didn’t say goodbye. As the bus door closed, a hand reached in and gave me a package of her macaroons. Now that is service! I had said goodbye to my grandkitty, who has already put the resident mice on high alert. Her name is now officially Princess Carolyn, shortened to PC, spoken as Peesy. I love it. Only a true cat lover would consider a cat a princess–I have a Princess at home–so I know my grandkitty is in good hands.

We were passengers 21 and 22 on this 12-passenger bus to Bajram Curri, so we stood in back. I could have worse problems than being hugged for 10 km by a young handsome Albanian. I was also glad I didn’t have a good view of the road’s edge as we dodged the rocks dislodged by the rain.

We then took a taxi to Fierza. We waited several hours at a small cafe watching rain even heavier than yesterday. The “street cows” didn’t seem to mind. Catherine says they will even steal bananas.

We contemplated that after 10 weeks of adventure, we were wowed out. We were wrong.

About 10:30, the sun peeked out and the rain stopped. Mother Nature was kind.

Lake Komani is a dammed river in a steep mountain valley. The dam supplies about half of Albania’s power. Guidebooks liken it to a Norwegian fjord. I’ve seen Norwegian fjords, so I wasn’t wild about this. Roger wanted to see the geology. Sometimes scratching his geology itch is quite rewarding.

This lake is no fjord. It has its own spectacular beauty which Roger nobly attempted to capture with hundreds of photos, but it truly must be experienced.

This is not just a tourist boat. Before the highway was built a few years ago, this was a major transport route with car ferries as well as people ferries. The ferry is still critical to the people who live along the river. Several times, the ferry put people off with their groceries where there was no sign of habitation. These people disappeared up steep paths into the woods. The attendant says they live over the mountain and can get there twice as fast as experienced hikers, even with their bundles.

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The boat does have a tourist component, though. The attendant explained some of what we were seeing and we detoured to the pilot’s house for sugared pancakes.

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After 45 km and 4 hours of wow, we landed at Komani. We thought we would immediately board the minivan for Shkoder, but there were two other people on the river and our van was the only way out, so we waited more than an hour.

The only way out goes through a crude 1.5 km tunnel.

When traveling, never assume and never trust maps. We thought the ride to Shkodër would be bland. It was 57 km of mostly bad cliff-hanging road with fantastic views over the mountains and a lower lake. We had the luxuries of a newer vehicle with seat belts and a careful driver, but no photos.

The van took us directly to our hostel, the only place we have shared a room with others the whole trip. It was not a problem.

Shkoder has a significant Italian influence, but Albanian prices. For less than €5 total, we had fantastic veal Parmesan, salad, and water with ice. We finished the evening with gelato.

Now a hastily selected sample of the day’s >500 photos:

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Tomorrow: Kotor

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