Because when all was said and done that was the price one paid for sincerity

A rainy day in Berat kept me cooped up most of the day getting some work done, then I took a bus from Berat to Gjirokastër at 2. The bus driver took two breaks, one to sit down and eat, on the 4 hour journey (in the middle of the afternoon, mind you). So because I didn’t get in until 6, I decided to stay two nights here instead of one to give me enough time to look around a bit.

I stayed at a normal “hostel” in Gjirokastër like I did in Berat, once again at a whopping $16/night including breakfast. The people were very nice, but I had to talk 10 minutes up cobblestone stairs to get to the old town. Which I did again, and again, and again, and again. My legs are going to be toned.

I went on a hike in the morning up past the castle since it wasn’t open yet and found this cool rockwall and path.

I also met a Horse here

And the roofs are finally different here.

Flat Rocks on a roof
Also, probably heavier

I didn’t go into the castle this morning, but I went up close to it, and this is the view down at the town.

View of Gjirokastër
Just your typical houses and mountains
Steps up to the Gjirokastër Castle
Here you can see the steps leading up here and more roofs
Castle from the outside
This is looking up at a portion of the castle

The rest of the day I sort of wandered around. My WiFi was in and out, so that was annoying. Did some grocery shopping, hung out at a little coffee shop, and got a traditional lunch at Kujtimi.  Couldn’t find any tissues and I might be coming down with a cold, but an entire loaf of bread is only $.25 so I’ll just use that instead. My Thanksgiving Dinner consisted of a cheese sandwich, fruit fiber cookies, and some vanilla wafers, just like the original feast.

The next morning I got up and actually went to the castle. It’s full of things that other armies left here during occupations and is otherwise pretty run-down. But it’s definitely more castley than the other castles I’ve visited recently.

Hall with seized cannons
Don’t worry they aren’t loaded
Another crashed plane
It didn’t land like this. They brought it here.
Top of the castle
Overgrown castle parts
Nature finds a way. So does garbage.
Clock tower and view of Gjirokastër
Let’s call it really little Ben

After that, it kept raining pretty hard. I walked all the way down to the new town area and bought an umbrella (for like, $2.50), then all the way back up to get my things, then all the way back down to finally take a bus into Greece.

Getting into Ioannina I was a little worried about accommodation and knew there wasn’t a ton to see here. But get this: we passed two grocery stores on the way to the bus station. The bus station had WiFi. I found a $37 hotel room nearby with a real desk, bathroom, TV, beds. Just crazy. Welcome back to the 1st world! I think this is my favorite city ever.

Ok, but really, it’s a nice sized city. Not much tourism going on, primarily a university town, but a good place to spend the night, get some work done, and do some intense strolling.

Lake Pamvotida
Strolling Lake Pamvotida

This place is mostly pastry shops, coffee shops, and watch shops. I also went to H&M to replace some old clothes I tossed. My trip South has given me a perpetual autumn, so I decided to round out my selection of long-sleeve shirts and sweaters.

As I was purchasing some groceries I noticed the clock said 3:12 instead of 2:12, like I thought it was.  My bus left at 3:30. Because I hadn’t turned my data on in Greece, I hadn’t realized that I moved a timezone. So I ran as fast as I could, grabbed my bag from the hotel, and got to the bus station at 3:31 only to realize it had already left. I said screw it, I’ll just take the next bus, which happened to be going to Thessaloniki. So… I went to Thessaloniki. It’s as close as I’ll probably ever come to the “go to the airport and take the next flight” scenario.

The drive out of Ioannina is very scenic.  A lot of fall foliage mixed with snowcapped mountains where you can see far into the distance. A drive to add to the list.

Found a hostel here, so I rationalize the decision as now I get to see a different place at pretty much the same price (much cheaper than a hotel). And I sort of had a couple days to burn anyways.

Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
White Tower
White Tower
View from tower
View from tower

I mean, it’s an ok city I guess, but it doesn’t do much for me. I spent a few hours walking around but it didn’t really have a good energy (in it’s defense, it was Sunday morning).

These views from the White Tower are nice, but not anything spectacular. Also, everything in the museum is just written in Greek. Which apparently is a language people still speak, not just weird symbols on monuments and yogurt cups. Who knew?

Seafront walk in Thessaloniki
Seafront walk in Thessaloniki


Yes, it’s a Starbucks. I hugged it.

Yes, it's a Starbucks
They have new red cups. Has anyone in the US noticed?

Due to not really feeling the vibe here, I decided to check out a day earlier than planned and be on my way. Took a train this time, which was a little nicer. Made my way back through the interior of Greece, by Mount Olympus, and down to Trikala. It has a nicer feel to it, so I’m going to stay here for a couple days and get some work done.

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