This is definitely the last post and last day in Albania folks and so to find this 'scenic bliss' the team and I had to endure a long, long day. Yes, we could have done this the easy way and paid 33 euros each to have everything worked out for us but as ever, I (and the others) had no intention on paying the 'tourist trap' price that was conveniently orchestrated by our hostel manager in Shkoder. Remember 33 euros in Albania is the equivalent of well over 40 euros for other wealthier countries.
When I say a long day, I really mean it. We departed the hostel at 6.30am and arrived back at 6pm. The first part of the adventure was a 2 hour fairly bumpy mountainous mini-bus ride. This got us to Lake Komani for around 8.30am and roughly an hour later we were riding the peaceful water having arranged our own public transport instead of relying on the information from the hostel guy.
Lake Komani holds two dams, one near the village of Koman and another near Fierze. These dams were built to create hydro electric power back in the 1970’s. Between these two points is 20 miles of unspoilt, jaw-dropping scenery. I've seen many mountain ranges before on but I've not sailed down a lake with mountains covering an entire 20 mile stretch! This, coupled with peaceful water, the perfect temperature and a light breeze offered us the perfect atmosphere to hopefully enjoy this experience.
This is what I was looking at at 9am GMT on a Monday morning:
Quote of the day from my well-travelled Dutch companion:
"This really feels like I'm back in New Zealand except I've got as nice (if not nicer) views for 100 euros less!"
Regarding pricing, it eventually became clear to us that whilst this cruise is welcomed as a tourist activity, this really isn't what this service is about. Tourists here are simply a welcomed (and probably much needed) bonus. As such, the pricing is bit sketchy with seemingly with some unofficial local pricing and then some tourist pricing. Basically it serves as transportation to the locals and so eventually someone worked out that this would also be something to lure in the tourists - although I doubt many come here. This is also backed up by the fact that once we exited the boat, we only had 30 minutes before the return journey. As for the restaurant at the drop-off point, well, hmmm, not really a restaurant and as such, my advice would be to prepare your own food for anyone thinking to take this ferry ride. Did I mention yet that the ferry ride was nearly 3 hours EACH WAY? As I said, a long tough day but easily one of the most visually incredible days out I've ever had. Its hard to imagine there can be that much more scenery out there to better the sights we saw in the hours of today.
Finally some pictures although as ever these images from my compact camera massively underestimate the surrounding beauty. Still, let's give it a try:
Total cost: £11 or 15 euros. A massive saving on the 33 stated to us so we were also chuffed as well as knackered!
Bus journey - £2.50 x 2 (for both ways)
Ferry journey - £5 x 2 (for both ways). We paid local prices having made it clear that's what we were here to pay!
Food (snacks) - £1
I came to Albania alone and with absolutely ZERO expectations or plan - which will likely surprise a lot of people. This country served as the next main landmass having caught the ferry from Corfu. (A treat for my birthday). I genuinely did not have a plan here and neither did I know if I would be hear one day or one week. I can now say after two weeks than this has been my best lone two weeks of my travels so far and I thank all the people I have met along the way for helping to make that statement true.
An American, two Germans, one partially English fella (moi), a Dutch lady and another American. His (on the right) story is particularly interesting having not really worked since high-school and he's now 31. How?
He's played online poker for the last ten years. I'll leave you with that...