Bus-ing Round the Balkans travel blog









A break in the unspoilt blue skies and searing heat arrived in the early hours of this morning, as a tremendous thunderstorm was unleashed over the mountainside. Patches of clouds lingered for the rest of the day, a quiet rumble of thunder and brief burst of rain occasionally making their presence known.

I didn't go down for the breakfast put on by the B&B this morning, mainly because it was served between 8 and 9am and I was still in bed. I could have gotten up of course, but I didn't want to. (I am supposed to be on holiday you know).

My attempt to sneak out a couple of hours later was not successful; Vita, the B&B owner, sprang from a doorway when she heard me coming, and refused to accept my protestations that she didn't need to put on breakfast especially for me. I didn't have the heart to tell her I had already eaten, and she wasn't taking no for an answer, so a second breakfast it was. Or, my alternative view: a free lunch.

Unfortunately this free lunch featured, alongside the usual bread and jam, fried eggs - not one, but two. Made specially for me. I tried, I really, really tried, but I just couldn't make my way through the first, let alone the second. On the plus side, I can now confirm that I really, truly, definitely cannot stand egg. Not even a little bit.

Well fed, I headed up the hill to the castle ruins. It wasn't quite as interesting as I had been hoping, but was more extensive than the last round of hilltop fortress ruins I visited in May. Then again, my primary motivation in visiting was for the views back down onto the valley and across to the mountains; these didn't disappoint.

The other attraction at the castle is the US "spy plane" that was "shot down" during the Cold War. Except it wasn't actually shot down (just forced to land at Tirana airport), and probably wasn't a spy plane. However, that's not as good a story and wouldn't have been as helpful for the communist government to hold up as evidence of the external threat posed to the country. So they went with the embellished version of events, and transferred the plane to Gjirokastër's armaments museum to proudly display as a trophy.

On the subject of works of fiction, I am currently reading Dracula on my kindle; staying in an old house, on a mountain, next to a castle... Well, it is beginning to spook me a little bit. Given my over-active imagination I probably need to give a bit more consideration to my holiday reading in future.

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