October 11, 2014
Come with Us to Korçë

For lunch today we had some very fresh bread from a local bake shop. Ummm! Very good! We also both had some kaçkavall (a hard local cheese), and I had butter on my bread from the dairy in Korçë which we visited a week ago while attending the Albanian Mennonite Mission Foundation meeting. But this is getting a bit ahead of my story for this post. 

We left Lezhë about 10:30 a.m. on Friday, October 3, and arrived in Korçë about 4:45 p.m. with a stop for lunch and some other breaks. Our first stop was at the Tirana East Gate mall for coffee and a restroom break. It is reportedly the largest shopping center in Albania.

outdoor signs for Tirana East Gate mall

Signs at the Tirana East Gate Malll (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Dini and Elsie on the moving "incline" inside TEG

Dini and Elsie Ride One of the Moving "Inclines" in TEG (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

To get to Tirana, we drove south from Lezhë to Vorë and and then southeast to Tirana and onto Elbasan. From there we headed more or less eastward toward the border with Macedonia. 

an Albanian train passes us

A Train Passed Us as We Headed toward the Border with Macedonia (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Beyond Elbasan, we stopped at a small "mom and pop" dinner, as Dini called it, and ate a good lunch and had good conversation with the owner and his staff. The owner had just a few weeks earlier lost his thirty-something son to cancer.

the owner of the restaurant sat with us and talked

Eating Our Lunch with the Owner of a Small Restaurant Outside of Librazhd (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

While waiting for our food to be prepared, I wondered out on the balcony and saw these farmers at work. The tractor was built by a Czech company in the 1970's and is a Zetor 6911.

stacking corn stalks on a wagon

A Wagon-load of Corn Stalks or Bamboo or... (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Zetor 6911 tractor in the field

...Pulled by a 1970's Zetor 6911 Tractor (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Quite often along the road, we saw corn shocks which brought back many memories of my childhood growing up next-door to Amish farms in Pennsylvania. .

corn shocks

Corn Stalks in Shocks (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Haystacks are also very common.

haystacks right in a field

A Few of the Many Haystacks We Saw (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

From Elbasan and until we reached Korçë, we noticed a lot of very rich farm soil. Some of it had already been plowed and will presumably remain fallow over winter. 

fertile plowed field

Fertile Ploughed Fields Abound (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

At one place not far from the edge of the road was what appeared to be a small family graveyard.

a small family graveyard

A Small Family Graveyard by the Road (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

As we came down over the last mountain before we headed south toward Pogradec, we had a good view of Lake Ohrid. It is the second largest lake in or partially in Albania, and like the largest one (Lake Shkodra) it is also in a neighboring country. In this case Macedonia has jurisdiction over about 2/3 of the lake's shoreline.

Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid from the Albanian Side (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Dini drives us past Lake Ohrid

Dini Drives Us along the Lake (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

driving along Lake Ohrid

Driving toward Pogradec beside Lake Ohrid (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Finally 45 minutes or so after leaving Pogradec, we arrived at Korçë and our hotel. The city is in the midst of a revitalization with many streets and buildings being razed and reconstructed. Dini explained that it is one of the most beautiful cities in Albania, and we were reassured by residents that this beauty will be enhanced after all of the construction is finished.

reserved parking just for us! 

We Parked in Our Reserved Spot--Sort of (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

the entrance to the Regency Hotel

The Entrance to the Regency Hotel (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Inside the three-person elevator, we are reminded that in much of Europe the first floor is floor zero, and so forth. 

the second floor is first floor, says the elevator 

Elevator Showing the Three Floors--Zero, One and Two (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Late that evening after everyone arrived, we visited a restaurant just outside of the city and had some very good food and very good conversation with friends, old and new!.

Kostika is engorssed in conversaiton across the table

Kosti Zguri Talks with an Interested Person across the Table (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Lavonne and Andon converse 

Lavonne Lehman (with Janet Blosser) and Andon (Chair of AMMF) Converse (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Rafael and Dini also share a moment of conversaiton 

Lezhë Friends, Rafael and Dini, Share a Lighter Moment (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

baby David adds a tranquil touch of his own to the evening

Baby David Adds His Own Touch to Our Time Together (3-Oct-14; © Richard L. Bowman)

Seeing a lot of beautiful countryside in Albania, having fun and serious conversation in the car, and beginning to know new friends as we gathered in Korçë, all of this was more than enough for a full day. My next post will cover our meeting on Saturday and our return to Lezhë.  

--©2014, Richard L. Bowman

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