We left Saranda in the morning to get the bus to Berat (Central Albania). On the way to the station we met the hostel owner Tommy who, not realising that we were leaving, had bought us a load of breakfast from the market. So instead, he took us through a short-cut to the station.
When we got there though, we were informed that the bus was full. "No problem" says Tommy. We shove out bags through the back door onto the bus and then get ourselves on round the front. Not enough seat? Still? "No problem" says the driver as he walks down the aisle with two blue stools. He plonks them in between the seats for Jenny and Sarah (Fiona and I got the back seat).
Although Berat is only 170km from Saranda it took 5 hours by bus. Thanks to the state of Albania's roads. Despite this, it was the most enjoyable bus trip. Fi and I chatted for ages to the old couple at the back of the bus. They couldn't speak English, nor we Albanian, but we scraped by with hand gestures and guestimated nods of agreement added when necessary. Or when seemed necessary.
Sarah was bought crisps by her neighbours and other people passed food on the bus. I personally gave off a slightly bad first impression after clobbering an old woman with my hoody when it pinged from the elastic string on the top of my rucksack. Furthermore, Jenny dived-hugged one of the locals when we suddenly went round a sharp bend. The whole back of the bus erupted in laughter.
Berat was a picaresque little cobble town the spanned both sides of a small river. On that day we settled right into the Berat Backpackers Hostel. It was the laid-back feeling that we needed, chilling out with beer and Gin under the warm sun but shaded by the natural fruit trees of the terraced garden. Bliss.