I didn't think I would ever see prices cheaper in Europe than I saw in Romanian and Serbia but it's now looking like I have.
Bottled water of this size costs no more than 90 LEK - 40 pence. That's a 6 litre container!
The other day I briefly sampled some local cuisine consisting of meatballs and stuffed peppers with rice. With water included and practically a full loaf of nice fresh bread, the price was 400 LEK - £2.
Here is a small bottle of imported Amstel that I bought from the supermarket.
I was paying 3 euros for these in Corfu and more than that in Italy. Here in Albania I had to do a double-take at the supermarket when I saw them advertised at 100 LEK - 50 pence! I still find that hard to believe that - don't you? Whilst we're on the subject of alcohol, I indulged in an ice-cream vodka cocktail last night in a bar over looking the sea. It cost me £2.50, not between £5 and £7 like back home. British alcoholics apply NOW. Actually, no, please don't...
I very recently got a haircut over here from a chap running his own barbers shop. He was young, trendy and still infused with enthusiasm for his craft and kitted out his little place really quite decently. The haircut itself was spot on and as good as I can remember having one and that's before I mention the price...
A truly staggering £1.50 and I swear this to be the truth.
I know what you're thinking and yes of course I tipped him! :-)
Then there's the hostel that I (and others) have stayed at for most of this past week. This fantastic little place includes unlimited tea and morning pancakes. Both of which I've consumed vast amounts of. Oh, and it offers a view like this.
As ever, it's important that I try to convey the wide contrast with what we are used to paying and so I ask you to think much you last paid to have all of the above. Hundreds? The cost of this was a mouth-dropping 25 euros (£18) folks.
But there's summit else................that is what I paid for 3 nights. Yes, I genuinely paid less than £7 a night. That's enough to make me feel a little light headed as I write this if I'm honest. Well ok, that's probably the combination of intense UV rays and that bottle of Amstel but still. Perhaps then you see why I stayed here for nearly a week in total and even returned from a day/night trip up north!? Admittedly the staff and general ambience of this place have played a major part in that.
Are you still with me or are you busy booking a flight out here like you did Romania?
Seriously though I really hope these last few Albanian posts have made you consider venturing to this relatively unexplored country and if you weigh up all the comparables, coming here could be one of the best holiday decisions you make for sometime.
Top-tip: Go to Corfu for X amount of days first and enjoy the many things that it has to offer. Then take the ferry crossing over to Albania like I did and then either hang out down here around Saranda port territory for a couple of days chill time and take a car or public transport up the coast. You can do both in 7 days and not feel short-changed but longer the better.
I hear September should offer the peace and quiet I've seen here in May therefore I very much CANNOT promise I won't be back here again folks :-)