The ferry from Fierze to Koman goes down the man-made Lake Koman, cutting through the mountains, which makes for spectacular scenery. The boat was pretty full when we got on, with people sitting in the small seating area and everyone’s bags piled on the front of the boat. I found a place at the front of the boat to place my bag down and found a place outside to crouch so that I could take some photos. It was early in the morning up in the mountains and a bit chilly, however, so I rummaged through my bag to find my hooded sweatshirt and jacket. I spent the boat ride outside so I was glad to have some extra layers.
The boat was tiny. Apparently there used to be a car ferry so that cars could go from Shkoder to Koman to Bajram Curri, but apparently they have all broken down so now if you want to get ‘your car to Bajram Curri you have to go through Kosovo from Tirana. The only boats for the moment that go up and down the lake are the small passenger ferries with little putt-putt engines that look like they’re liable to sink if they’re under too much of a burden. The Fierze ferry leaves at 6am and then leaves from Koman back up the lake at about 10 or 11.
The trip on the lake through the mountains as the sun was rising on a chilly morning in Northern Albania was beautiful. So often in my travels I wish that I had a higher quality camera to take photos that could better capture how stunning these places I see are. My time in the mountains for the past few days, and especially the Lake Koman ferry, stand out as the times when I most wished for a nicer camera.
Part of the reason the boat takes four hours is that it’s such a small boat. The other reason that it takes so long is that it operates the same way a furgon works. It seemed that every ten or fifteen minutes we began heading for the side of the like to stop at some point in the rocks or trees where a handful of people would clamber on board. Sometimes there was a discernible road nearby or a collection of houses somewhere within eyesight but often it just seemed that these people had randomly emerged from the woods. At one point the boat stopped where there was a boy standing in the trees with a big cooking pot. Thirty minutes later we stopped at another point in the woods where someone left the pot on a rock. Someone on the boat told us that the pot was a rakia pot.
More passengers waiting to be picked up
No regrets there
One of the ferries heading up the other direction
After a few hours the boat reached the end of the line in Koman. There were a collection of minibuses collecting the various passengers and shuttling them off to various places. There were some people loading a calf into the trunk of a minivan. Most passengers from the boat were either Shkoder or Tirana bound. There were no buses going to Pogradec, but the German said that he was going to Shkoder, so I figured I’d just head back to Shkoder for a day and make my way to Pogradec from there.
Arrival in Koman
I rode in a minibus to Shkoder with three Poles who had been on the minibus from Valbone to Bajram Curri the day before, and then whom I had seen on the ferry. I was quite weary from waking up so early that morning, so despite the two heavily caffeinated beverages I had drunk in quick succession, I was conked out for most of the journey through the mountains to Shkoder. We were all dropped off in central Shkoder and I met Andy, an Albanian with an Irish accent. He had had lived in Brighton for a number of years but had mostly worked with the Irish, thus explaining his accent. He now worked at a tourist agency in Shkoder, who told me that I could get the train to Pogradec the next day but that nothing was running that day because it was the last day of Ramadan. He directed me to a cheap hotel near the train station (I would have loved to have stayed at Florian’s again but funds were low for a guest house and I needed a bare bones shack for the night). Andy said that the train left at 5:45 in the morning, so it would be another early one for me.
My second time around in Shkoder was uneventful. I walked through the center briefly, went to an internet café and found a cheap gyro for dinner. My evening was spent drinking cheap beer in the hotel room, reading and writing until I went to sleep. My next destination was my last destination in Albania, Pogradec, on the Albanian side of Lake Ohrid, where I’d be heading the next day. I was excited to be exploring Albania on yet another form of transportation. I’d been about the country by bus, furgon, taxi, feet, horse (albeit very briefly), and now the train to Pogradec. At the same time the melancholy was beginning to set in. I was sad to be leaving Albania already, soon to be back in Istanbul, back to my known world and away from the transient hobo life I’d been living for the past few weeks. All things must pass, however, and my time was drawing to a close for when I needed to be back in Turkey for my next summer teaching position.