This blog provides full details on crossing the land boarder from Albania to Montenegro.
We also stopped to get a tattoo in a former Communist Bunker:
Bus to Koplik
That lead us to being in a smaller city in Albania; thus making it harder to get transportation to cross the border. Getting from Shkodër from Koplik was not a problem. We were able to go to a travel agency for guidance. They did not have a bus or van that would take us but he told his where we could find one. We followed his instructions, and sure enough we found a public bus. It cost us 100 Lek a piece and then we were on our way to Koplik. We had the driver drop us off right in front of our hotel which was off of the main road.
Trying to Hitchhike
Getting from Koplik to the border of Montenegro was not so easy. We walked to an area where we saw some small buses, but they were all pointing in the wrong direction and were all headed toward Shkodër and Tirana.
We walked to the major high way which was the only way to get to the border regardless if you were coming from Tirana or Shkodër or anywhere else in Albania. We had been on buses and saw that people were getting picked up from the side of the road instead of proper bus stops (which there were not many of) so we tried our luck that way. Also this tied into Katy's strong desire to hitchhike; that she acquired after reading a few blogs on how easy and safe it was.
Waiting along the side of the major highway we didn't see any taxis. We saw one tour van drive past us but they were packed with people. We didn't have anything but strange interactions with people for a while. One car honked at us and then pulled over and opened the door. As Will walked toward them they sped off. Another car stopped and a man said he would buy us lunch from the gas station which was right behind us. The only catch was we had to leave all of our personal belongings alongside the road. Which we assume would have been stolen by one of the guys friends or associated while were were being treated to a low cost meal. He had no interest in actually giving us a ride.
Then an older man came up to us on his bike. After finding out we were from America, he said he spent some time there while he was getting open heard surgery. Clearly we were in the middle of trying to get to our next destination, but he did not seem to read the room. A car even stopped and chatted with him for a minute. The old man had nice things to say to us and wished us well in our marriage. But after the car that stopped loaded up the old man's bike, the man got into that car with no offer from either of them to take us on down the road. They sped off and we were still without a ride.
Getting a Ride
Finally we saw some a public bus which we flagged down. It was pretty packed. In hindsight I don't know how we would have fit in there. They said they could not take us to the next country and could only take us to the border (which was not a far drive). They wanted 1,000 Lek for both of us, which was literally highway robbery! We did not have this much since a similar distance to get to Koplik was only 200 Lek a person. We only had 900 Lek total, but thought that should have been enough.
He told us that no one would take us to our next city in Montenegro, but we just felt like this was too much money to not even take us to our next destination. We were still at the same spot on the side of the road by the time he dropped off his passengers and drove back by us; honking and basically mocking us.
Another public bus drove up and we flagged that one down. There was a lady on there who kind of spoke English and helped us communicate that we needed a ride. The bus driver also said he could not take us into the next country; that he could drop us off at the border. We decided to at least get to the border and figure it out from there. We basically gave them all the Lek we had left. Standing along the side of the high way wasn't getting us anywhere.
On the way there, we think they were asking us if we had just gotten out of jail and made "hands in handcuffs" mimes toward us. We think we told them "no"...
At the Montenegro Border
The bus driver dropped us off right at the border where we could see the border patrol and some cars lined up. To our left there were 2 taxi drivers. They said that they would take us to our next city (Podgorica, Montenegro) for 20 Euros total. Thankfully one of our friends gave us 100 Euros as a wedding present and we still had it with us. We gave him the 100 and he gave us our 80 back. He helped us load our bags into his trunk and we were on our way.
We drove to the first border agent. We handed our passports to the taxi driver who handed them to the agent. He let us right through. Then we saw there were some wild goats in the road that we had to navigate through to get to the next border guard. This border guard was not so easy going. He asked if if we had a PCR test within the past 72 hours. We said "no" because we did not need one to enter. He asked us where we had been - later we realized that Albania never stamped our passport upon entry. So based on our passport we just magically appeared in Albania from America. We did have to go to the side where the border patrol had the taxi driver open his trunk. They did not go through our bags though.
When we got to our destination, the taxi driver told us that he basically had to pay off the border agent and we owed him another 10 Euro. It was not our goal to have to pay off the agent, and on the embassy website it said we did not need a PCR test to enter. We think it's the fact that we didn't get stamped going into Albania. The good news is if we were on a bigger bus, it could have taken 30 - 45 minutes at the border, and it only took us 15 minutes to cross. They could have denied us entry, which we are glad they did not. We eventually got to where we needed to be before it got dark and it didn't cost us too much money. In our next blog, we will tell you about our time in Podgorica, Montenegro!
Check out our travel podcast where we talk all about our time in Tirana, Durrës, and Shkodër, Albania. Out now on YouTube!
Thanks for reading our blog on the crossing the land border to Montenegro!
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