When I arrived at Sarande Backpackers Hostel from Corfu, The owner Tommy was preparing breakfast for the previous nights guests. I hadn’t booked in advance, but he put together a basic breakfast for me free of charge as well which was nice.
I chilled out on the balcony for the first half of the day where I met Matt and Abi from the UK. After a $2 Gyros for lunch I walked up to the Castle on the hill which overlooks Sarande, Corfu and along the coast towards Greece. It was interesting to see the army bunkers up on the hill.
I returned to the hostel and again rejoined Matt and Abi on the balcony, watching Tommy greet everyone below on the street. He pretty much knew everyone that walked past. Then we noticed a backpacker walking nearby, seemingly looking for her hostel. Tommy greeted her, guessing she was the Swede who had made the booking. Next thing you know we are joined by the Swede, Charlotte, on the balcony.
That night the four of us, plus an Italian guy who was staying one night, went out for dinner together, then kicked on at an Albanian club/bar on the waterfront.
Four of us; Matt, Abi, Charlotte and I caught the public bus to the Blue Eye spring the following morning. This is a freezing cold natural spring a short way out of Sarande. The colours were really amazing. Apparently if you throw a rock in, after a short time it will return for the surface, but this didn’t work for me.
After a coffee there, we walked back to the main road, and tried to hitchhike back to Sarande as the rain was starting. We got a ride in a Albanian style minibus for a few hundred Albanian Lek.
For dinner, Tommy was preparing a beach BBQ, so we joined the other hostel guests down on the beach for the BBQ on an open fire, for roughly $4 each.
The next day we again caught the public bus down to Ksamil, a beachside village with four islands in the bay, where you can swim between the islands. The bus there was interesting to say the least. We got on at the first stop and got seats together, but the next few stops it really filled up, so that people were completely squashed in the aisle. Matt was copping a hairy armpit from someone right in the face!
Ksamil was really picturesque, and Matt and I swam around the islands a bit. After about four hours at Ksamil we went back to Sarande, again by hitching a ride in exchange for a few hundred Lek.
It was our last night out together, I was going to Tirana the next day, Charlotte was going to Corfu and Matt and Abi would stay one more night, then join me in Tirana the next day. We went outfor dinner again, then returned to the hostel for drinks on the balcony at Tommy’s one last time.
In the morning, we all parted ways and Tommys nephew showed me the bus ticket office and the minivan I needed to take to Tirana.