The count down is over, the tickets are bought the 24 hour starters orders when we can do our on line check in is ticking closer and the initial packing stage has commenced.

We are about to embark on our (becoming) annual early summer expedition and this is a big one. This year’s adventure is a trip to Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia with a little dip into Kosovo. Excitement is building with more than the usual amount of apprehension. Yes I have to admit I’m a little bit more nervous than usual at adding some new countries to our repertoire. The plan is to hire a car once we arrive at Tirana. Then we will be travelling around exploring the country and taking advantage of the reportedly incredible wildlife that is there. Apparently there is outstanding wildlife and birdlife especially so we will have plenty of opportunities to indulge our hobbies of birdwatching and photography.

I love to travel and I have been lucky enough to visit a very long list of wonderful places in my time, and approaching twenty-five years with my co-adventurer I’m still excited to be visiting new places always slightly off the standard tourist trail and always returning a better person.

“Why do you go? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

-Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

I think the nerves are about the difference.  Now difference is no novelty to me, I am usually different and I’m accustomed to it. I used to find it uncomfortable but it has also been quite a surprising advantage, having been made to feel like a celebrity in places like China because of being different.  We will see.

I don’t know much about these countries at all and I’m ashamed to say that once again despite promising I would be a good girl and do my homework, I have left the research mostly to G while I have been sewing, reading, drinking wine and working on a burgeoning social media addiction since my latter-day romance with blogging and Instagram. I now have 72 hours to find out what I need to know about Albania and Montenegro despite having had months to do this.

Balkansplan

OK self flagellation aside this is a foray into a new world, new culture and it will be an amazing experience… Albania exists in my consciousness as a place in Europe but quite separate from it. Until very recently the idea of ordinary folk visiting there would not really even be an option. While we consider ourselves adventurous, I usually feel that we are still tourists. On the adventurous end of the tourist spectrum, maybe, but ‘tourists’ rather than ‘travellers’ nevertheless. We still use the usual transport carriers – British airways this time, we take suitcases rather than backpacks and we don’t veer too far from the main drag.

Anyway we are doing this, and it will be an adventure, come back and see where we get to.

Going somewhere really  ‘Out there’? I’d love to hear about it – it may go on my bucket list!

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