In the last article we arrived in Shköder in Albania at Jacques’ place. Our host works early in the morning and we wake up at the same time. The day starts at 6am with a small coffee and a big glass of raki. It is a bit early for fruit spirit and we only drink what politeness requires from us.
With the victory of the Democratic Party in 1992, Albania turns the page on a regime even more closed to the world than the rest of the Balkans were. Its opening to the outside, still marked by the Communist years, is going without control. Since a few years Albania dreams of integrating the European Union and strives to fulfil its conditions, disturbing the geographical but also the cultural landscape. You can have a quick glance of this changes observing the construction speed of the roads and highways, or how fast the petrol stations and hotels are sprouting everywhere. But for us it is a very “typical” Albania that we have found, a great hospitality and kindness. Whereas we rarely waited less than an hour in the rest of the Balkans, in Albania we never stayed more than 5 minutes on the side of the road and we leave, unfortunately too quickly, this country at 10am, when we are usually still in our warm sleeping bags. We get to Kosovo and decide to stop in Prizren, where we have a coffee, stopped by the hip-hop sounds of the place.
Now we are back in the Balkans we know, and we wait a good two hours at the exit of Prizren. The day goes by with 3 drivers, still with plenty of waiting time in between the cars. We have a host in the Makedonian capital Skopje and we are only 50km away. The night falls on the bus stop where we are dropped, it is incredibly cold and no street lamps can make us visible to the drivers. The bus costs 2 Euros and we decide to take it if when it arrives! But it is not now that we will pay for our transportation because a car stops and brings us to Skopje near the Alexander Palace. Where our host Dobre and one of his four room-mate come pick us up and they open us the doors of their student apartment. It is a pleasure to see that everywhere, student apartments are similar and we feel immediately at home, surrounded by our teddy-bear hosts. These two nights allow us to recharge our batteries, to wash one or two underwear, to walk on the boulevard Alexander the Great, to admire Alexander’s statue dominating his four bronze lions, to eat a burger as big as the courage of Alexander. Yes, Makedonia is proud of its national hero. When we leave, we take the Alexander of Macedon motorway and we catch sight of a sign indicating the airport Alexander the Great.
Another early morning (what is happening to us??) et we make it to Istanbul in one day.
Arthur falls asleep in the truck that takes us from the Turkish border to Istanbul while Rémi, with childish eyes, marvels at the size of the city and of its traffic jams. We cross the bridge on the Bosphorus, strait that separates this huge city in two halves. Then dropped at a bus stop on the main road to the East, without any lira (turkish money) in our pockets, we want to join the apartment of Mathieu, our contact living in Kadıköy, a district of Istanbul. We soon understand that Istanbul is not Grenoble size-wise and that walking seems unrealistic. The locals advise us very very strongly to take a bus. Actually we don’t really have a choice. From now on, it is the Turkish kindness that takes care of us: someone explains to the driver that we don’t have money, no problemo. Another one tells us when to get out of the bus. An when we ask for a map at the security guy of the subway, he opens us the gate without asking any money and indicates in which direction we should go. Once arrived in Kadıköy, we ask three young musicians for our way and have to convince them that we will find the apartment on our own and that there is no need to come with us. 1am, Mathieu is not here but Alican his room-mate opens us kindly the door. Finally we are arrived.
See you next time ladies and gentlemen,
Teşekkür ederim !