The 40 some kilometers that were left to Korce was driven pretty quick.
As we had no idea where to go as we didn’t have a map over the city we just stopped and parked on a street that looked like it was ok to park. It was right in front a small shop and we had several pairs of eyes on us as we packed a small bag to head out and explore the city.
One of the objectives we had, as it was the last day in Albania, was to get our hands on a couple of bottles of the Albanian brandy brand Skanderbeg.
Albanian brandy, who would have tought that they produce it?
Actually it is pretty good and kind of nice gift as no one would ever had heard of it and that will make it even more exotic. It was produced for the first time on September 1, 1967 and somewhat known in the surrounding Balkan countries. I knew about it since a friend of mine went to Albania a few years ago and brought a bottle back and then I also saw it during my visit to Kosovo in February.
But I never tried it until we were in Valbone with our mustacho adorned host in his restaurant before we headed to Fierze to take the ferry.
We had walked around in Valbone for a little while and returned to the restaurant to relax before the trip.
Tereza wanted an Ice coffee and as I was ordered the drinks I saw the Skanderbeg Brandy bottle behind him on the wall.
I pointed at it and ordered one as well just to taste it.
The mustache flew high up on his upper lip as he smiled big answering -Yes, yes and laughed
I don’t drink any brandy or cognac myself but I thought it would be fun to have tried so I could have the bragging rights at least. As far as I have seen before you get a bit of cognac in a glass, just so it covers the bottom of the glass so you can sip it and enjoy it and that was what I expected.
I totally had forgotten that we were in Albania and being in Albania means that things are done a bit different.
Like walking around with a shotgun on your back in broad daylight, drive around with a car looking like it managed to escape a cruel death in the scrapyard and so on.
The man poured up half a drinking glass of the amber-colored drink to us for free as we were his guests.
I sipped on it and Tereza drank the rest, still it is not a drink for me.
I had seen it already on the first day in Shkoder but was not gonna buy it there and then as it would mean that we would carry it with us for two weeks. But the price was set in my head as I took the price that I saw in Shkoder as a benchmark for what I should pay for a bottle which was 350 Leke.
Now I must admit that there is not much to see in Korce really. At least not if you don’t have a map. First thing we saw was this guy standing on the street with no worries in his world with a huge axe by his side looking as if he was waiting for the bus so he could chop off some heads. Funny enough with a t-shirt saying Crna Gora which is Montenegro
We walked a street further from the axe carrying bus man and we found that for some reason a lot of people were standing on a row selling one thing, bananas.
There must have been some 7-10 people all standing in line trying to sell their bananas and the people were everything from young men in their 20s to old women, grandmothers, in their 70s.
Had we reached the banana capital of Albania?
We walked into the local street market to see what was on sale as Tereza was after a third bottle of olive oil.
For all of you who have been to a country where the street markets are common it was the usual same things available to buy as in any market across the world. Just different brands.
There are the fruit sellers, the vegetable sellers, the olive sellers, the oil sellers, the cheese sellers and of course someone must sell the hygienic articles like soap, cream, toothbrush and so on.
In this market the hygiene people were the first to have their stalls set up before reaching the fruit and vegetable people.
I drew the attention of one of the men selling the hygiene articles, probably because I hadn’t shaved for a few days, as he caught my eyes and smilingly pointed at a shaving foam bottle in a request if I was interested in buying. Smilingly I declined his offer and all of this without a word spoken between us.
I saw a minaret above the rooftops and decided that if not, that was a place to head towards.
Korce seemed more to be like a huge construction site as most of the road surface was torn up and a lot of small digging machines were digging here and there.
We went from one small shop to another but no one had the Skanderbeg version.
They all pulled up a shady looking container that said was containing Albania brandy but it wouldn’t really be anything you bought and gave away as it looked more like a milk bottle.
Somewhere these people must buy their food. And I bet it is a bigger supermarket as Albanian people are not the richest people and probably rather save a few coins on buying in a cheaper supermarket then in a smaller nearby shop.
But where was this supermarket?
We kept on walking and the minaret just disappeared suddenly.
Suddenly I could not see it anywhere anymore among the rooftops.
Personally I don’t know how you can lose a minaret but I did and I was amazed over myself.
Puzzled, as I still didn’t see it above the roofs even though we crossed two streets, we ended up outside a renovation of a big cathedral and we followed the street.
No supermarket anywhere. Plenty of shops and banks but no food shops.
I was getting tired as I hadn’t slept much and on top of that it had started to drizzle a little bit so I asked the first security guard I saw about “- Supermarket?”
He started explain to us in Albanian until he realized that we had no idea what he was saying. He pointed us to a direction and smiled.
We found the supermarket after asking a few other people that we passed in the direction that the security guy had pointed us in.
This was not the type of supermarket I had in mind. I was expecting a Aldi, Lidl or similar, a bigger kind of store then this slightly larger neighbourhood shop.
Walked in and found the Skanderbeg Kojak after a little bit of searching between the shelves but the price was 500 Leke which I refused to pay.
Started walking back towards the car and walked into another neighbourhood shop who also had it but for 450 Leke. No.