Himara, Albania my isolation paradise.

Even though I enjoyed Greece, I was excited about the next destination. I have heard stories about Albania, but it was time for me to have my own experience here. The journey was long I took an overnight bus from Athens, Greece to Himara, Albania it was roughly around 10 hours. This ride is going down in the books as unforgettable. I think the universe was defiantly testing me to see how I would overcome some obstacles put in my way.

After getting on the bus I looked for my seat, but there was someone there. Oh well, I didn't mind so, I sat down and tried to get myself situated for this long ride. Quickly I learned that might be impossible for me. This gentleman sitting behind me almost ripped my head off for trying to lean my seat back. For the remainder of the trip, I was not allowed to recline my seat, not even slightly. Trust me, sitting up straight for 10 hours is not comfortable, especially when trying to sleep. And unfortunately for me, this was just the beginning.

2 am rolls around, and we have arrived at the border. Just as I was starting to get a little sleep nope, it is time to wake up. So it started raining at this point, so we stayed on the bus until it was our time to go up to this small window and get our ID's checked. Nothing special, but going through the Albanian border was super easy. I didn't even get off, the bus the officer came on board and took everyone's ID. Roughly ten minutes later, he returned with all the ID's and the driver started calling off names. Surprisingly I didn't receive any stamp in my passport.

There were still four more hours left until we reached our final destination. It immediately started the windy mountain roads. So I do tend to get motion nauseous I don't want to say sickness because I have never actually gotten sick. The worst part was I forgot to put my seabands on, which always helps me. I highly suggest if you get motion sickness to purchase some. They are wrist bands with pressure points to relieve the symptoms. Let this serve as a warning to anyone with motion sickness take full precautions when driving through Albania. Within thirty minutes, I had to keep reminding myself to breathe because these roads were not going to defeat me.

The storm outside was pouring buckets of water down upon the Earth. Soon it started, the rain

falling from the hatch above right down on top of me. I didn't think it could get any worse, but oh how I was mistaken. This storm was so intense that when rounding the corner, in front of us was a for sure obstacle. The land had succumbed to the elements there was, water, mud, and rocks all over the road. This bus driver was not about to let this stop him after a few minutes he decided it was time to pass. I was not sure the bus was going to make it the wheels were turning, but we weren't moving. To everyone's surprise, the bus started moving.

The one thing I love about traveling is the people, yes some people are just grumpy with life. However, the people that capture my heart are people that help without someone asking. During the ride, I tried interacting with others, but their English was limited. Even though we could only exchange simple information, they made sure I knew when to get off the bus as well as informing the bus driver to help me find where I needed to go.

I had finally reached Himara, it was 6 in the morning, and the rain was at a drizzle. After fetching my baggage, from under the bus, I asked the bus driver for directions. He then asked a local waiting for someone if he could help. The man pointed down a street saying it would be on my left halfway down. I thanked both the bus driver and this man for the help and was on my way. I set off down this road, walking I notice that I have entered a ghost town. I have to mention I was dropped off in the middle of a road, not at a bus station. So when the bus left, I was alone, it was dark, raining, and not a single soul around to help. I started walking down this street, thinking this place would be easy to find, oh how I was so wrong about that. After walking back and forth down this street, the rain starts picking up. I seek shelter, so I don't get completely soaked. After about 30 minutes I finally see a car backing up I was just happy to see another person. I ran up to the car, asking if he could help me, but he didn't speak English. At this same moment, I noticed two police officers passing by. I ran up to them asking if they knew where this place was, one of the officers said yes. This kind officer grabbed my luggage from me and proceeded to take me to this guesthouse. You might think this was the end, but you are mistaken. When we got to the front of the house, the door was locked. My host had told me the door would be open because my room would be in the back. So have I mentioned I didn't have data, which is why finding the place was impossible. Thankfully this officer offered to call my host she told him we would have to go around back to get in. Which meant going out to the main street and walking a few blocks to reach, but we finally got there. The only thing I could think about was sleeping. I curled up on the bed and went to sleep for a few hours.

When I woke up, I got the chance to take a look around at the place I would be staying for the next three weeks. This apartment was magnificent. I couldn't wait to explore the town and see what it looked like in the daytime. I finally got the chance to meet my host, her daughter, and her

mother. The only person I would be able to communicate with was my host. We had a quick exchange before she was off. It was so brief I was only able to ask her where the bank and phone company is. Thankfully they were right next door to each other. I highly suggest not buying data and just using WiFi when traveling. However, I work online so, I need a reliable internet connection so, I usually buy data. Also, the electricity in Albania isn't stable, so I experienced the power going out every day.

The best part about this lovely town was being a hop, a skip, and jump away from the beach.

Since it was wintertime, there were not guests. However, I went to the beach I went to the edge of the dock and started writing about my experiences. On the way back, I stopped and noticed a guy juggling. He was from Germany and volunteering at a hostel in town. Tomorrow he was leaving, but he gave my number to another traveler who was alone at the hostel. The next day I got a message from Rob, who asked if I wanted to hangout. I had no plans other than sitting on the beach, so I told him to come to join me. After watching this marvelous sunset on a cliff, it was

time for food. I enjoyed the many meals cooked with love, meeting people that just fit into your life. I ended up meeting many more friends while I was in Himara that were all on their journey. Two of the friends I met where biking across Europe. I am envious of those who travel by bicycle when choosing to go places. I shall put that on my bucket list to bike across a country. I gained two friends that have an RV and are currently traveling around Europe.

Creating these lasting memories with new friends reaffirms that I am on the right path in life. I cherish all these moments I get to share doing what I love with people I love.

There is an old castle in Himara, which is ruins from the World War, but it has the best view in town. I was glad my phone died right as we made it to the top. It knew I needed that moment to be on top of the world and let go of anything holding me back. There is no other feeling, being at the top of a mountain looking down, seeing the whole picture.

I did tell you I would tell you everything about my travels and this is on the scary side of travel. I was walking back from the beach but wanted to see if the grocery store was open. As I got to the corner, I could see the store was closed, I started walking back in the opposite direction towards the house. I walked past a man, and I just got one of those feelings to be aware, I turned around and saw he had stopped and was staring at me. I just told myself to get home as quickly as possible, as I turn the corner I see he is walking down the same street as me. He walked past me, trying to say something, but I just shook my head and kept walking. I got to my front door and looked around and, I saw him standing right outside the gate watching me. I got inside quickly, locked the door, and called my host. It took around twenty minutes for her mom to show up he had finally left or I thought right then he appeared. The mother spoke to him and told him to leave. When traveling as a solo female, always be aware of your surroundings and listen to your gut.

After this situation, I found a companion who knew I needed help. It was a street dog who started walking me home, especially when it started getting dark.

A few days before heading to Tirana, we had finally received guests. The shocking part was they were from Seattle, Washington. The son has been living here in Albania for many years, and his mother comes to visit him. I was grateful for the new company as my friends had left for another town. I was even luckier when I asked if I could ride with them to Tirana, and they warmly accepted.

It was utter perfection, mornings at the beach reading a book. I was enjoying every minute of this small little town. The best part was that my duties included turning on the lights at night. I was enjoying the solitude taking this time to do some reflection for what I deserve in 2020.

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