Traffic Congestion & AirBnB Nightmares in Durrës, Albania

Durrës lies along the western coast of Albania on the Adriatic Sea. It is home to an insanely congested main drag, Rruga Taulantia, that lead to me swearing up a storm as we tried to navigate it upon our arrival. I’m not sure I’ve said, “What the fuck did he just do?!?!” that many times ever. Coming in second place was as a result of someone honking incessantly, “You dipshits realize I can literally go NOWHERE!!!!” Even simply turning was a ridiculous challenge. Horns blasting is your ambiance in the seaside city. Parking is an absolute nightmare along that road, and on any side streets. I finally created my own parking spot at, quite literally, the very end of the road before it became a dirt back road. We stole what internet we could while we sucked down coffee at a large cafe called the Sunset Bar, with a deck out near the water. It was great help until the internet stopped working completely!

On to the AirBnB botching. Since this was a last minute addition to the road trip, we were scrambling to secure accommodation. Hubs and I sat down and looked over our options. I found a couple that looked adequate, and even nice! With FULL kitchens… winner. Hubs advised he wanted one with a sea view, and I had located one with a partial sea view, accordingly to the deceiving photographs, that is. While it did not look quite as nice as the other, it looked sufficient. After we managed to make yet another wrong turn to get to the complex, a non-English speaking gent figured out who we were looking for, and directed us straight to the parking lot we had been unable to find on our own. In fact, he personally knew the host! Small world. He even called the proprietor, explaining where we were. Since I posted my highly negative review of the apartment, the owner has since lobbied with AirBnB to get it taken down. Lame. Anyway, between the green mold in the dishwasher, discovering used bar soap with hair on it in the shower, a wet piece of toilet paper stuck to the bathroom wall adjacent to the toilet, ants under the kitchen sink, and various hairs all over the kitchen counter that I cleaned up, we are not feeling comfortable staying here due to cleanliness concerns. Some of the walls looked like they were melting with some clear water issues, the shower was coated in mildew and mold, and it had a smell. And not a good smell. We notified the host that we were leaving, and the hospitable woman actually refunded all of our money with no complaints! She even offered to pay for a hotel for us for the night. Of course when we go to leave, the elevator is broken, and of course we’re staying on one of the upper floors. Please enjoy some photos and videos of the debacle:

On to the next one farther south, and not on the main drag. Again, the host only sent a pin drop on a map as the location, and he was nowhere in sight when we arrived at that location. The pin ended up being a couple of blocks off the mark. Why can you people not just give me the damned address!??! After a few international phone calls to the owner, we finally found the building. We took the lift up to the top floor, and entered a much nicer apartment with a small balcony.

Not bad, but it did lack general house wares and goods, like paper towels and a sufficient amount of toilet paper. The lack of typical kitchen items, and the lack of fresh foods in most grocery stores countered with the abundance of heavily processed cookies and foods, lead us to have the following conversation:

Me: “What kitchen gadgets do these people cook with at home?!”

Hubs: ” Same shit we have here?”

Me: “Oh no, that’s right! They only eat processed cookies at home!”

We made the sparse kitchen work for us, as we did not eat out at all while in Durrës. And some more of my bizarre faces for your viewing pleasure. I should stop allowing him access to the camera.

Given the tribulations we encountered driving in the coastal city the day before, we opted to walk to see the sites in the city center. It’s a long-ish stroll, I can’t say it provided any breathtaking views, but it was far less stressful than driving in that gridlocked nightmare. We packed ourselves a lunch, filled up our water bladders, and headed towards the boardwalk along the sea. It was obvious they are trying to attract tourists to their fair city, as the hotels along the water were definitely getting improvements made to them – new and nice hotels were going in, cafes and restaurants lined the boardwalk. Albania most assuredly needs to take more advantage of their waterfront real estate. Once you reach the end of the beach, you’re met with Port Durrës, a heavily trafficked (theme here) commercial port in the center of the waterfront. Not exactly a beautiful beach there. We meandered around the gated complex, and arrived back in the center of shorefront town. A larger, more expansive boardwalk is constructed here, with odd bistros and shops along it’s length. We claimed a bench after walking for a bit, and consumed our sad little lunches. Sandwiches are just easier to pack! I take that back… we did have a couple beers at a waterfront cafe on the return from our tour of Durrës. I wish we’d stayed at one of the new hotels on the water. Hindsight is 20/20!

Durrës Castle is a ruined structure along our route, but the city has been built up around it, and even in it, so it just disappears into the background as random old walls here and there. Not as spectacular as the other castles we’ve viewed this trip. Hell, there’s a restaurant built into the fortification! At least we had phenomenal weather for this little jaunt.

After our short detour to Durrës, we were slated to cross another border and skip over to Ohrid, North Macedonia. I can’t say I will ever return to the coastal municipality, but I can say I’ve been there?

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