Sunday, 26 June
Ulcinj is a real foretaste of Albania. Hearing Albanian spoken in the street is a real change from the Slavic I have heard constantly ever since leaving Italy. And Albanian signs and menus are different too. Q is back! Ulcinj is also Ulqin, and cevapi, the spicy Balkan sausage, is qebapa. I am looking forward to crossing the border to Shkoder tomorrow, and I am already planning ahead beyond that. I have just got it into my head to get to Valbona, up north in the Albanian Alps. It is pretty remote and I have built it up in my mind to be a kind of Shangri La, a mystical valley among the mountain peaks, isolated from the outside world. The first cars made their appearance there only 20 years ago. There might be some nature trails to walk. I am thinking gentle strolls rather than full-on hiking.