Camping in Nivica: Part 2

On our second day of camping, we went on a hike to an oak grove in the mountains, walked into the village of Nivica, and had dinner at a charming guest house, and attended a drama performance!

Saturday, September 22, 2018, 9:08pm

It’s been a long, exhausting day! I’m more than ready for bed, and it’s only 9:00pm! I guess sleeping under the stars does not make for a full day’s worth of energy.

I fought off sleep so I could continue looking up at the stars as they shot across the sky.

I made it through the night tossing and turning, wishing I’d brought a winter hat and scarf (because I was comfortable from the neck down but chilly and wet with morning dew from the neck up). I had a bit of trouble relaxing enough to fall asleep, but sooner or later, I drifted off in sheer exhaustion. I woke various times throughout the night because I was getting sore and had to switch positions.

At 3:45am, I found myself awake once again staring up into a sky full of stars. The moon had finally set, leaving galaxies to shine brightly in its absence. I pulled on my glasses and enjoyed the gorgeous evening view. I fought off sleep so I could continue looking up at the stars as they shot across the sky. Continue reading “Camping in Nivica: Part 2”

Advertisements

2 Days in Montenegro: Kotor

On our final day in Montenegro, Kelsy and I traveled to the charming town of Kotor, another city by the sea with an extensive Old Town! We hiked up to a fortress with an incredible panoramic view of the bay to end the trip!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018, 1:03pm

It’s a beautiful day in Kotor! Exploring these old towns in Montenegro feels like traveling back to Italy. Kotor has all of the narrow alleys, cobblestone streets, and shuttered windows with half of the tourists (though sadly with many of the same high prices), and I’m totally charmed.

Traveling from Budva

After the late night, we packed up our things around 8:00am and were out the door into the hot, hot sun around 8:30am. Preferring to take our time rather than rush to the bus station, we stopped for coffee on our long walk, ignoring taxi drivers and curious stares along the way. You’d think people would be more immune to tourists I a beach town, but the Balkans continue to surprise me.

The road to Kotor had views of the sea as we climbed into the mountains and views of the suburbs as we turned inland.

Finally arriving at the bus station, we got tickets for the 10:20am bus, which was absolutely packed. It had departed from Bar, and most of the seats were already claimed by the time we made our way into the bus, which meant Kelsy had to sit on the stairs by the driver while I stood almost the entire time. Luckily, it wasn’t a long ride, and I was engrossed in my book.

The road to Kotor was somewhat scenic with views of the sea as we climbed into the mountains and views of the suburbs as we turned inland. We traveled through tunnels and farmland, finally arriving at the edge of Kotor around 11:00am. Unfortunately, we were caught up in traffic, which delayed our arrival by at least twenty minutes. Continue reading “2 Days in Montenegro: Kotor”

Hiking Theth-Valbona: Part 3 (FINAL)

On the final day of the hike, we took a long and winding route back to Shkoder from the village of Valbona! We rode a ferry down Lake Koman and took buses through the gorgeous countryside before finally arriving back in civilization!

Sunday, September 9, 2018, 3:15pm

Our hiking adventure has come to a lovely end! We’re safely back in Shkoder, and we didn’t get lost in the mountains, which I consider a victory! We had an amazing time. The air was crystal clear, the weather was overcast but not rainy, and the guest houses were accommodating and warm. What more could we have asked for?

The path from Valbona followed the crystal clear river through the mountains and passed picturesque mountain villages and farmland.

Waking up after a restless night of sleeping, Kelsy and I packed up shivering from the early morning chill. We were the first ones downstairs, and we enjoyed the cool mountain air as we waited for the others to arrive. Sitting down all together at the breakfast table, we were served a nice spread of fig jam, ham cold cuts, cream cheese and white cheese, butter, bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, boiled eggs, American coffee and peach juice. It was warm and filling, and we all felt satisfied leaving the hotel and hopping into the taxi out of Valbona.

The road from the village was fully paved, so our taxi driver (who knew all the American Peace Corps volunteers who’d ever lived in Bajram Curri) was able to speed through the twists and turns in the mountain road. The view was spectacular once again. The path followed the crystal clear river through the mountains as it flowed over large boulders and green foliage and passed picturesque mountain villages and farmland. Continue reading “Hiking Theth-Valbona: Part 3 (FINAL)”

Hiking Theth-Valbona: Part 2

Day Two of our Northern Albania trip took us deep into the mountains on the actual Theth-Valbona hike! We wound our way through mountain forests up to the gorgeous peak and back down into the picturesque village!

Saturday, September 8, 2018, 7:16pm

Holy . . . We made it up the mountain and back down again after a grueling 8-hour trek! Kelsy and I remained in high spirits despite our heavy backpacks and the threat of rain – at least until we reached the hotel, where we’ve crashed from exhaustion. Overall, the hike was absolutely a worthwhile, once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’m so glad I was able to experience!

The hike was absolutely a worthwhile, once-in-a-lifetime experience that I’m so glad I was able to experience!

Kelsy and I began our morning bright and early (around 7:30am) with good news. We discovered that breakfast was on the house, so instead of setting out for the hike tired and hungry, we were full and satisfied. The guesthouse had a lovely spread of fresh bread, butter, fig jam, pear juice, mountain tea, petulla, white cheese, and a fried egg. We happily dug into our meal, warning each other not to overeat as we both overate ourselves.

As the sun rose in the mountains, the sleepy village came to life. The guest house cats chased each other around the yard, distant sheep bleated as they wandered out to pasture, and ambitious tourists headed out with backpacks in tow for a long day of hiking. With our breakfast completed, Kelsy and I packed the last of our things and prepared to leave. After one final photo, we headed down the hill towards the beginning of the trail. Continue reading “Hiking Theth-Valbona: Part 2”

Hiking Theth-Valbona: Part 1

To end my summer vacation, my friend Kelsy visited from the States, and we set out on a whirlwind tour of Northern Albania and Montenegro! First stop: the village of Theth for the famous Theth-Valbona hike!

It’s been a crazy long summer filled with activities! To end the season, my friend Kelsy came to visit from the United States, and I took her on a whirlwind, 6-day tour of Northern Albania and Montenegro!

Kelsy’s incredibly adventurous, and her one request for the trip was to experience new things together. So rather than take her to Permet and the South, I decided to take the opportunity to cross some things off my bucket list and explore an entirely new part of Albania!

To begin our Albanian adventure, I took Kelsy on the most famous hike in the country, the Theth-Valbona hike.

To begin our Albanian adventure, I took Kelsy on the most famous hike in the country, the Theth-Valbona hike. The hike winds 1800 meters in elevation through the gorgeous Albanian Alps on a path that connects the villages of Theth and Valbona. It’s not an easy route, especially with an entire backpack full of gear and snacks, but it’s incredibly rewarding and insanely beautiful.

A proper hiking experience takes three full days: Day One is spent getting to the village of Theth or the village of Valbona (hikers can begin in either place). Day Two is spent on the actual hike, which takes anywhere from 6 to 10 hours depending on your fitness level and stamina. And Day Three is another travel day!

So without further ado, here’s my three-part series covering the Theth-Valbona hike, which will be filled with journal entries, photos, and recommendations!  Continue reading “Hiking Theth-Valbona: Part 1”