"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


i guess i did it

This was one of the most random 24-hour periods ever.

Last night I had dinner with a couple of diplomats. One is an American. We'd never met, but it turns out (natch) that we know tons of people in common, including, believe it or not, my "brother." The other is a German royal. That's right, he's a von-something-Kaiser-something whose family would be in control today if it hadn't been for that pesky Weimar Republic. Apparently their most storied accomplishment was "convincing" the Estonians to be Christians. (And since I asked, I can tell you that the "convincing" was by the sword rather than by reason.)

As you can imagine, we had quite the time.

Today I got up early. Steve had arranged a ride for me from his office car service (thank-you, European taxpayers!) to a city called Prizren, in southwestern Kosova. It's a neat place with lots of history, a castle, and Turkish baths and such. Even more random, however, is the fact that I ended up being taken to Albania for coffee by the driver's friend. None of them would let me go to Albania alone. And neither the friend nor the taxi driver who took us there and back for 20 Euros speak English. It was quite the amusing ride to and from a city in eastern Albania.

Albania looks exactly like what you'd think Kosovo looks like. As soon as you cross the border, the road becomes Congo-quality, before turning into a DIRT ROAD. It's dirt because they are building a highway to Tirana, but for now, you're on the dust on the curvy mountain roads. With the sheep, and the sad looking farmhouses, and more concrete foxholes than I've ever seen anywhere. There are spectacular mountains everywhere, but you can't hike in them because no one knows where all the land mines are.

After coffee at the Bar Amerika (you can't make this stuff up) in Kusus, we went back to Prizren, stopping for a very expensive lunch of fresh trout at a riverside restaurant, then, after being dropped off, I went for a walk around the city. Tomorrow I get on an 8-hour bus to Montenegro, then I'm not sure what I'll do after that.

For the record, Albania is technically country 30, although 3 of those are definitely in dispute. :)


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