Our goal today was to make it from Tivat, Montenegro all the way to Tirana, the capital of Albania. Unfortunately, Albania isn’t served by many buses, and so it seemed pretty much impossible for us to be able to make it in one day using public transport. Still, we wanted to try, in case we only had access to partial information from our bus station, which wasn’t near the border.
The first part of the day was to catch a bus from Tivat into Kotor, then another bus from Kotor to Ulcinj, where buses to Albania leave twice daily. This first part was easy, and stunning, as we followed the coastline.
In Ulcinj we learned that we had indeed missed the last bus of the day for Albania – we had not been misinformed. A really “friendly” hostel tout tried to convince us to spend the night in his hostel, but we somehow felt that a way out was indeed possible. For some reason, we had convinced ourselves that we wanted to leave Montenegro today, and we didn’t want to change that plan.
Travis went to speak to the ticket agent, and so did I. No more buses. But she did tell him one thing over and over: Kosovo. There was a bus leaving for Kosovo in less than an hour, and this was our only option if we wanted to leave Montenegro. Having really wanted to go to the world’s newest country, we decided that we would go for it. We looked at the map one last time, and that’s when it clicked: the ticket agent was telling us to take the Kosovo bus not to go to Kosovo, but because the bus went through Albania to get there (in order to save a lot of travel time). We had been right to persevere, and off we were to Albania.
We bought a ticket to Kosovo for the full price, even though we would only be on the bus for a 5th of the way. We crossed the border without any problem, and in Shkodra (Shkoder) we got off the bus without any local currency. The drop-off point had a few gas stations but no ATM, and nothing else. We just waited on the side of the highway to flag a bus heading to the capital, hoping that they would accept Euro. Eventually a beat-up mini-bus came around, and we hoped on. It was crammed and hot, but we were on our way!
Tirana does not have a central bus station, and mini-buses and buses stop at really inconvenient locations in town. They also change spots all of the time, so by the time we arrived in Tirana, we had no idea as to where we were on the map. Once the bus had fully emptied, our driver was nice enough to drive us to the main square and help us find an ATM to pay him. He did charge us a ridiculous amount, but what can you do.
We checked into our hostel (which was great) and headed out eventually for dinner in the hip part of town. We chose a cute little Italian restaurant that everyone said was great (and it was) and ate tasty creamy pasta and drank tasty table wine. A great way to celebrate a successful end to a travel day that was supposed to be impossible to do!