Trying out the cheapest hostel in Europe (Balkan Trip Part 4)

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This is the 4th part of my Balkan Trip series, if you haven't read the first part yet, make sure to do so!

The epic bus ride to Albania

After crossing the ridiculous Kosovo Albania border (One guy just collected my passport while I'm sitting in the bus, went outside and came back 10 seconds later. Yes only mine because I was the only tourist.), we drove into the big mountains of Albania.

The weather was pretty bad, but the ride was impressive. The highway is built on a mountain and sometimes spectacular with big bridges and cliffs. I suppose that's nothing really special, but compared to the roads I've been on this trip so far, it was. I was a bit worried about the weather, it was raining much and it would probably subjectively affect my impression about the country.

But as soon as we left the mountains, the climate changed completely. It felt like we're closer to the coast, almost like Italy. (Funfact: Albania uses the same road signs as in Italy, so maybe that's also why.)
I really enjoyed the view. I usually avoid night buses and I try not to sleep on the bus, because it's really an important part for me in traveling.

The best view I had

I arrived in Shkodra and I looked up on the map a bit and I saw there was a castle. So I went there immediately and after going up the hill, I realized there was an entrance fee, and I completely forgot that Albania has its own currency called Lek. They didn't accept card, but luckily, I could pay with Euros, otherwise I would have had to go to the city and back, which would take me an hour. I wouldn't mind the time, if it wasn't winter. It's pretty stressful when the sun sets early and also if you just stay in a place for only one day. In the coming days, I sometimes skipped lunch because of that.

Anyways, it was time to explore the castle... and I had the best view of the entire trip!!!

If you want to explore the view I had in 360°, here you go: it's a link to my photosphere

The view in real life was unforgettable. Not only the view, the castle itself was really nice as well!

I would never expect this to be in Albania, it kind of looks like the UK to me, because of the moss. It reminded me of the island in the movie "Castle in the sky", it really felt surreal. And I was surprised by all this, because remember when I looked up the pictures of Shkodra? It was way more interesting than what I could briefly find on the internet.

The town centre of Shkodra also felt like southern Europe like Portugal (I've never been to Portugal but it reminded me of Macau). I really enjoyed the city I knew nothing about, it was a nice accidental bonus of the trip.

Without having lunch that day, I looked for nice looking restaurants in the town centre to fill my empty stomach. So I ordered a Calamari, because I've only eaten meat the whole week and we were close to the coast, so I wanted some seafood. But as soon as the meal came, I knew I ran into a tourist trap. I think you can tell just by the picture, I mean... the serving doesn't even look good right? It wasn't even warm and it came with cold crackers, but at least the beer tasted good. It's an albanian beer called Korca, and it had a really interesting taste, a bit sour if I had to describe it.

The cheapest hostel in Europe

I was looking for a hostel online in Shkodra and I found one, where they only demand 5€ per night! I was curious, how bad can it be, but the review wasn't bad so I decided to book there. It's the cheapest hostel in Europe, at least that's what I like to claim for the sake of the title, but I also did some research if there is a cheaper one in Europe.

I came across this website and well, there technically are cheaper hostels in Moscow for 3€ and Ukraine for 2€ per night. Unfortunately, because of the current circumstances, both hostels aren't bookable right now. Which means 5€ is probably the cheapest hostel you can currently book in Europe.

First problem: I could not find the hostel. I walked around the entire block I think twice and walked up the stairs of an entire apartment building, but I just could not find it. I was probably not the first tourist struggling with finding the place, because eventually, a stranger knew what I was looking for and showed me the place. There was no sign and it was behind a gate, which was just open, to a building that looked like a private property.

I was welcomed by (I think) a british or american man and his wife, and they were really kind and talkative. The hostel was clean, they even had lockers and the bed was comfortable. It was a small hostel and it felt personal, I started thinking they're just doing it non-profit and just out of passion.

Because I was disappointed by the dinner I had, I wanted to eat an another one. I asked the hostel owner for good restaurants and he recommended me this. I was very satisfied by his recommendation, even though it was nothing new. Except for the cheese maybe, it might be the local cheese in Albania called Kashkaval, I hope at least.

Day 9: Shkodra -> Podgorica

I just felt too bad for only paying 5€ the night so I left some tip. The hostel owner also showed me how to get to the bus to Podgorica, as you JetPunkers all know, the least guessed european capital, the capital of Montenegro. But of course I won't be staying in Podgorica, my plan was to day trip to either Budva or Kotor and then taking a night bus from Podgorica to Mostar, in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

I wanted to buy the tickets for the night bus I looked up online, but they said it's only once a week and exactly yesterday. So if I want to go to Bosnia, I had no other choice than taking the coastal route, so I bought a ticket to Kotor. And if I'm visiting Kotor, there is no way I would skip Dubrovnik in Croatia. Only drawback, I will only have a very short time in Bosnia.

The bus to Kotor departs in an hour so I had the time to walk around in Podgorica a bit. I didn't make it to the town centre in time, so I can't really tell anything about the city. My impression is that it was nice, but I agree with everyone else, that Montenegro probably has better stuff to offer.

The bus ride to Kotor

The entire ride, I talked with my neighbour. She was a chinese student living in the UK and doing her first trip in Europe. It was so much fun talking, so I didn't look a single second outside the window to enjoy the view between the mountains of Montenegro, until we came here:

Everyone in the bus went "Wooow!" and it was my first time seeing the ocean in this trip. You can see the town of Budva, which I first considered visiting. Glad I chose Kotor, because it will be more epic.

I arrived in Kotor and went for a walk in the centre. A very beautiful town with history. If you look on the map, Kotor is located on the coast, but between the mountains, which provided a good strategic position. I immediately went up the mountain to the castle to get the most beautiful view. The view was becoming better each step so it was hard stopping me to take pictures every single minute. Out of exitement, I forgot to buy a bottle of water, which was a really bad idea, because I got thirsty earlier than I expected. Probably because of the sudden dry and warm mediterranean climate (It was around 23C° in February!), so I had to watch out not to dehydrate on my way. But I eventually made it to the castle!

The view was beautiful, it almost looks like a Fjord. If you visit Kotor and have more time, you can actually even go further up the mountain. You would be able to see the whole bay of Kotor. And with even more time, you can visit the nearby town Perast. Visiting Kotor was a really good idea, even if it was short. I can definitely recommend visiting, especially in February. As in the picture, no tourists in the winter season and as warm as spring.

Day 10: Kotor -> Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik might be the most popular destination of my whole trip. I didn't know much about the city, I only knew it is a thing, probably because I didn't watch Game of Thrones. You might be surprised how it's like! Just wait for my next part :).

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Level 65
May 21, 2022
Amazing! I wanted to have an Adriatic trip a few years ago but... you know what happened.
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Level 38
May 21, 2022
Wait, is it ending...? :(

Hope to see more of your travelogues ASAP! You really take nice pictures... loved the photosphere!

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Level 62
May 21, 2022
Thank you :) I plan to do one or two more blogs of this trip, after that I might write my old travels
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Level 38
May 21, 2022
And what are the plans for future trips? Any place in specific? 🇧🇷
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Level 62
May 21, 2022
My plan for this summer is Sweden, Finland, Estonia, UAE and Japan. I hope Russia and a new Pandemic won't ruin my plans. 😅

I didn't consider traveling to Brazil yet, if so, I'd like to travel with friends, so that I feel safer and that we have a Plan B, even if I get robbed. Not sure if my worries are justified, but I met some travelers, also on this Balkan trip, who told me that Brazil was one of the most dangerous countries they've been after visiting 60+ countries. But apart from that, I'd definitely like to visit Brazil!

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Level 38
May 21, 2022
That’s nice! I would love going to Scandinavia, or even the Eastern World.

Ok, let’s go by parts. It’s really good to hear your interest on Brazil! Awesome places, welcoming people, tasty cuisine, and amazing culture. By criminality, they are not wrong, but pay attention due to the stereotype. Thank God, I never was robbed or something like that the maximum were the fightings at school bruh, although many people of my known, and even relatives passed through this terrible situation.

I made this chart specifically for this case and also for having something to do without procrastinate, containing the homicide rate at Brazil from 1990-2021. I tried to make it the most sourced possible. You can see some peaks of increase and decrease, but Brazil is still among the countries with the highest homicide rate.

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Level 38
May 21, 2022
I’ve also made long time ago this blog about the 10 worst problems with Brazil, and I pointed the link specifically to the 2nd topic, about criminality and violence. I suggest some things: traveling with friends, as you said, can make the trip way more safer and enjoyable, although it clearly won’t be for free lol. Avoid nights in the streets. It’s the perfect place for the two men in a motorcycle shout “Perdeu! Perdeu!” at you lol. If you wanna travel to Brazil, you should to have a local guide m-me...? wherever you go. But choose (Toowise)ly. Don’t trust anyone. Never. Caution is needed.

Brazil is a wonderful place, but needs to have more attention, in the both senses of the word.

But I can’t wait for the next part of this wonderful series! You came up very recently, but I can say you’re one of my favorite bloggers ever! :)

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Level 62
May 22, 2022
If I will travel to Brazil, I will let you know, so that you can be our tour guide :). Btw, what places in Brazil would you recommend?
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Level 38
May 22, 2022
I’ve already tried to organize a trip to Brazil with BigGeographyGuy, but I couldn’t handle the pressure after security problems, budget, and my too high dreams and plans. So, for going to Brazil, it’s clear you can’t do it on a single trip, but let’s see...

I clearly suggest Rio de Janeiro, but with a lot of caution. Like, never do favela tourism. Certain places in Rio are very dangerous, as like in the whole country. São Paulo as well, and Brasília. The Amazon Rainforest is a wonderful places, but a guide is of course needed. You won’t know what kind of animal or problem you’ll find there like that fish that enter on the... the... you know what I mean. The beaches of Northeast are stunning. Bahia, Pernambuco, Ceará, Alagoas, Rio Grande do Norte, and never forget of Maranhão with the Lençóis Maranhenses. Everywhere on Northeast coast is wonderful. The South is also amazing, and never forget of eating a cheese bread with coffee down here in Minas Gerais! :)

I can say lot more :)

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Level 62
May 22, 2022
Oh yeah, now when you mention it, I remember that Minas Gerais has some beautiful towns, I assume also everywhere on the southern coast on the mountains. I'm not really a beach traveler, so I'm not sure how the northeast will attract me, but in the end, I want to travel every single corner of the world so ^^
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Level 38
May 22, 2022
Serro, Sabará, São João del-Rei, Tiradentes, Diamantina, Mariana, Congonhas, and, of course, Ouro Preto, have big historical collection. Minas Gerais and mountains is like rice and beans. Minas is full of hills, and don’t forget of the modernity of BH.

And idk how Northeast beaches can’t be attractive :)

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Level 62
May 22, 2022
Ohhh wow that looks really cool! Where is the last picture from? And yeah, with mountains I meant hills 😅
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Level 38
May 22, 2022
Don’t worry! Brazilians always confuse mountains with hills. It’s like the question of city/municipality/town...

By order:

1. Morro Dois Irmãos, Fernando de Noronha (PE) (island under jurisdiction of Pernambuco)

2. Praia do Espelho, Trancoso, Porto Seguro (BA)

3. Porto de Galinhas, Ipojuca (PE)

4. Parrachos de Maracajaú, Maxaranguape (RN)

5. São Miguel dos Milagres (AL)

6. Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, Barreirinhas (MA) (this picture always attract anyone 😝)

I also forgot showing beaches like these four: Jericoacoara (CE), Praia do Forte (BA), Ponta Verde (AL) etc. and beautiful cities like Salvador, Maceió, Fortaleza and Recife.

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Level 62
May 22, 2022
That looks so cool! Thank you so much :D. Didn't know about it, even though I played so much GeoGuessr.
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Level 38
May 23, 2022
The whole Northeast is beautiful. You’re welcome!

Any more questions? I quite liked this conversation :)

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Level 62
May 23, 2022
What local foods are there in Brazil?
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Level 38
May 23, 2022
A bunch of them. I would need a blog to write the most of them. I think we could create a group to talk more, for don’t overflow your blog :)
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Level 62
May 23, 2022
Sure, invite me to the group then please :)
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Level 38
May 24, 2022
Done!
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Level 75
May 22, 2022
Really enjoying this blog series, I am very envious of you.

Especially Dubrovnik, I haven't been to that city although I have been to many in the region. I actually delivered the construction equipment to Mostar after the war to help rebuild the famous bridge.

@MG....Nice pun ! (just to make it clear, you would be ill advised to choose myself as a guide to Brazil, I know very little about the country itself, except for what I hear and read about)

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Level 62
May 22, 2022
Helping rebuilding a world heritage site sounds even more impressive tho!
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Level 75
May 22, 2022
Not really, I just delivered the scaffolding, I arrived in the afternoon, spent the night in a partly rebuilt hotel, and delivered the next morning. then it was a quick drive back to Split for a reload back to the UK.
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Level 38
May 22, 2022
Unfortunately, probably just when there be 222 years (akj blog) lol