Today Lindsay and I were a little over 84K’s out of Vlore when a familiar cyclist appeared peddling towards us. Brian. He had cycled towards us after a night in Durres where the bus had dropped him off after a 13 hour trip from Athens. He turned around and we began cycling together again.
There weren’t a lot of accommodations within the 20 or so K’s ahead that we were comfortable riding before stopping for the day. We are inland now in farm country. We settled on an old three story hotel right on our bike route called Hotel B&B. The newer highway had bypassed this place years ago. Without a website, poor signage, and an aging concrete bridge to get here, customers had to be scarce. An older gent greeted us with shots of Raki after hustling our cycles into the bar area. We had no common language. We settled on 90 Euros for three rooms and let him cheat us on the exchange to Leks. He’s an energetic man quick with a grin and one who doesn’t take no for an answer. He offers to take us to a restaurant in his car after we settle in.
We searched out a restaurant nearby but he insists we must travel 15k to a better one. It turns out this one is in a national park he wanted to show us and is a very special treat locally to eat here. Not fancy at all, it has a rustic charm and top- notch service. There is no menu, they just keep bringing you food . And saying no more has no noticeable effect. Grilled sea bass, a fish called kuce and sautéed jumbo shrimp. Potatoes and fresh salad. Toasted bread. All prepared simply but so good. We were persuaded to absolutely gorge ourselves. The proprietor just kept loading our plates and saying “thank you.” Maybe the only English he knew. I have never ate so much fish at a sitting. I don’t want to ever again either but these hosts wanted to treat us royally. Then when our stomachs were bursting he brought out bowls of yogurt and honey. There was a half a jar of honey in my bowl alone. Enough to trigger some kind of diabetic reaction in any normal person. I had a polite few spoonfuls.
After leaving the restaurant, our hosts gave us a full on tour of the area including his son’s bakery, his own olive and fruit trees, vegetable gardens and small vineyard.
Our host has two BMW’s, a house in town, and a pretty sizable property. A real anomaly for someone with a small hotel that change has left behind. Someone that eats ravenously with his hands. Someone with a neglected dog chained to a metal stake on a concrete slab in the backyard who barks and whines with loneliness.
It’s easy to miss- read appearances within a different culture and a language barrier. Our host was very generous to us.