We walk the strip along Rruga Kolë Idromeno eyeing up the patios for any good grub. These joints are cool but we decide to mosey a little further passed the main area and see what else is around. As soon as we come to the roundabout that Taxi Napper originally dropped us off at it becomes apparent that there isn’t actually much else passed the main drag.
There are a lot of mangy looking mutts hovering here and there by the road. Getting their snouts into whatever stinky business they can find. “What is this a Honduras border crossing?” “Seriously. I’d read about stray dogs being a problem in Albania actually. That they’ll form up in packs and can attack people and whatnot.” “Oh fuuun! Well it doesn’t look like there’s much that way anyways.”
We backtrack a bit. “I dunno. Whaddya think?” “Yaaaaaa, not much here, eh?” MacKay points to a nearby building, “Looks like a sweet rooftop patio up there.” “Oh yeah, there is. Are we hunting for marshmallow vodka again?” “Well that commie place worked out.” “This one’s called Chicago, haha.” “Nothing says traditional Albanian food like Chicago.” “What if it was owned by the band Chicago and they’re playing up there right now?” “Ha shit. Let’s go find out.”
Bar Restorant Piceri Chicago
Looks like the rooftop patio is part of Hotel Chicago so now we’re a couple of aimless drunk dudes in a somewhat fancy lobby. We avoid the confused glances from the front desk and beeline straight to the elevators. “Here we are. Bar Restorant Piceri Chicago.” “Up we go.”
The elevator doors open up to a completely empty restaurant. “Well. There’s that.” “Would be a cool scene if there were actually people here.”
A server spies us and makes his way over speaking in Albanian. Young looking guy with blonde hair and glasses. “We’re sorry, do you speak English?” “Yes, of course. How can I help?” “Are you still serving food?” “Yes yes. Please.” He motions to the tables. MacKay points to the patio, “Can we sit outside?” “Of course, of course.” He leads us to the balcony and sets down some menus.
“Think I’m feeling a beer after that three hour gin session.” “Ya me too. Food looks decent.”
Temp is nice up here right now and there’s a good view across to a beautiful mosque and off into the city interior.
Hotel Rozafa, named after the castle we were in earlier. Super quiet in Shkodra tonight.
The server comes back with some beers. “Yes?” “I was thinking I’d do this meatball and yogurt casserole.” “Oh no, they cannot do the casserole. I’m sorry. It’s busy.” MacKay and I exchange some wtf looks. I motion to the completely dead seating area, “This is <airquotes> Busy? </airquotes>” “Oh no no. Haha. Sorry. Sorry. There is an event. So limited menu tonight. Nothing complicated.” “Your English is excellent.” “Ah. Thank-you.” MacKay’s pointing at something, “Ok, how about this risotto with mushroom cream sauce?” “Yes that is fine. And the meatballs too. Just no casserole.” “Alright. Sounds good, my man.” “Ok great.”
We settle in with our beers and try to scope out anything happening in town from our vantage point. “Still nothing obvious.” “Let’s ask the server dude.” “Metal bar?” “Seems like a stretch, but sure.”
Good balcony. No Chicago though.
Server dude comes back with the food and we ask him if there is a metal bar anywhere near here. “Metal bar. No I don’t think so.” He points out towards the city, “There is a 24 hour bar here on the left. If you want live music, over here maybe.”
The food is simple, as he mentioned, but it should sponge up some gin and that’s all we really need at this point.
The server guy is really nice and ends up kicking it with us on the patio for a bit between running to the kitchen and checking on things at the event. He’s working here and saving money to go to college. He’s not sure what he wants to do. He took English lessons for the opportunities that affords. Seems like a bright kid. We have a couple more beer after we’re done, joking around with him.
“Alright man. Gonna go find a metal bar.” “Ha! Well good luck with that.”
We get back to street level. A little food in the guts and a nice level of silly drunkies going on. “Go a couple streets up? See what’s there?” “Yep.” “Stop for a quick blessing?” “Nope.”
The Albanian Dog Posse
We go a couple streets up and there are just businesses. Not really any beverage prospects. There is a narrow greenspace here though. Could be a nice detour through the park and back towards the main area (which we probably shouldn’t have left in the first place). We keep the pace up and bear to the right into the park on our mission for more drinks.
Soon into our park strut we’re reminded of the whole stray dog thing. Right. Of course they would gravitate to this. We spot a few here and there throughout the area. Looks like they just curl up and sleep here at night. Makes sense.
We come around a tree and MacKay almost steps on one. “Whoa there, sorry fella.” The dog’s head shoots up quickly. Oh he’s awake now. “Ahh you’re pretty cute.” This yellow mutt pops up and strolls over, keeping pace just a step behind. Seems happy to just join the strut. “Ha. Look at this lil guy.” We keep trucking through the park. Other dogs are starting to take notice.
A couple more lazy mutts napping in the park raise their heads and spot us. They wanna know what’s going on so they come over and join in too. MacKay and I keep struttin just laughing at these dogs following us. They seem super pumped about whatever’s happening here. They aren’t being aggressive at all, just liking the pace I guess.
This thing dominoes quickly and soon we’ve got a pack of 10-12 dogs following us through the park. We haven’t really engaged them, we’re just cranking it through the park. But all of these dogs have caught on to the energy of it or something and want in. “Dude, what the fuck is happening? We’ve got a dog posse here.” “Game respects game, yo.” “Hahaha this is stupid! What is this?”
We come out of the park and onto the streets on the other side. We’ve still got the Albanian Dog Posse in tow but it’s even more surreal now that we’re out of the park and surrounded by buildings. A car comes down the street towards us and 6 of the dogs streak out like furry lasers and start barking at it. They’re trying to bite the rotating tires and getting awkwardly in front of the car causing it to slam the breaks so it doesn’t hit two of them. Oh shit this sucks.
I yell out at them, “Hey! Hey! Enough. Stop that!” I’m motioning for them to come back. MacKay joins in, “Hey! Get back here!” and these fucking dogs actually listen to us, immediately stop, and return right to the critical mass of our dog posse. MacKay is wide-eyed in disbelief. “What the fuck, dude?! They’re, like, listening to us?” “Ya. Guess we own an Albanian dog posse now.” He’s doubling over laughing, surrounded by a dozen dogs. “Dude. This is fucking nuts. What is going on?”
Now they’re just hanging around looking like they want direction. This is absurd.
We keep moving down the street and our dog posse is keen to keep up. Tongues out. Tails wagging. They’re so happy. Oh wait. No they’re not. There’s a guy on his phone across the street and they rush over to accost him for some reason. Damn they’re getting scary with this guy. It looks like they’re gonna bite this dude and he’s trying to keep them at arms reach, fretting, swearing in Albanian. I would not want to tango with three, possibly disease-ridden, stray dogs. Or twelve.
“Hey! Stop it!” And the little terrors come back. This is weird. Fuck, these dogs are kind of a menace, like those travel advisories had mentioned. This is a problem. Well, not for us, for some reason. Maybe game does respect game? Does that even make sense? (Does MacKay ever make sense?)
“I don’t get why they aren’t bothering us at all.” “They like us.” “Do dogs smell fear? And we’re just too drunk to care?” “You might be thinking of bees.” “Hmmm I think dogs too right? And vampires.. maybe?” “Well we’re clearly not afraid. Or a threat. I think they just like our vibe.” “Sure. But we’re almost back to the main strip and I really, really, reeeeeeeeally don’t want to take this dog posse down there.” “Good point. How can we ditch these lil fuckers?”
And right then a police car comes around the corner and the whole posse bark-rushes over to nip at the tires. Oh perfect. The cop car is surrounded and can’t move. All of the dogs are barking like mad, teeth barred. We quicken our pace in the exact opposite direction and go a little ways up the street away from our initial goal just to get away from them. “Fuck, I hope this works.” We dip down an alley.
We get a little ways down the street. Look back. “Ok, I think we’ve done it.” “Dude. That was ridiculous.” “Ya, what the fuck was that?!”
Getting back to the drag, we walk passed City Hall. It’s a massive old-timey building with soft lighting and breast cancer awareness ribbons.
Back to the strip and it is dead AF. Not.a.single.soul.here. All of the garage door style store fronts are rolled down and locked. The whole area is shut down. Wow.
“What the hell is this? It’s still early, right?” “Maybe they heard our terrifying Albanian dog posse was coming this way.” “Hahaha well shit. Now what?” “Ya, I don’t know. All the places the guy at Chicago pointed at seemed far away.” “We could just call it early. Get into Montenegro tomorrow at a good time?” “Ya, might as well.”
We get back to Hotel Carmen and the front desk area is dark. Man, Shkodra shuts things down early.
We split ways in the hall and go to our totally unnecessary separate rooms. Flying leap onto the bed. Comfy time. Getting a little tired actually, after the initial energy burst from our dog posse. Ahhhhhh having your own room is priceless. All the space and the nakedness. Time to get settled in. Wait.. There’s a blood stain on my duvet? I’ll just… cover that up with the sheet. Ahh there’s a snot stain on that? There’s hair under it… Ok fuck this bed. Move to the other one.
I do a brief inspection of bed 2 . There’s a brown spot. What’s that? Ah whatever, I’m over it. Sleepy time.