Today's blood sugars: 210 144 54 255 93
Today was Masayo’s birthday, and although she wasn’t feeling quite 100% yet, we had a good day getting out of the hotel room and seeing the excellent ruins of Rozafa Castle on the outskirts of Shkodër, Albania.
When I got up at 8:30, my BG was 210. Still at the tail end of recovering from staying up all night to watch the Super Bowl a couple nights ago. Breakfast was included in the room price, so we went down to the restaurant. It was excellent — local yogurt, homemade marmalade, omelettes, bread, juice, and large-size coffee. I hoped my Humalog shot would take care of all this, plus bring me down from 210.
It was a sunny day, and Masayo and I walked over to the tourist info office, but it was closed. I mean, closed — a free-standing round building, we peered in the window and it was gutted. No furniture, no free maps, no nothing. We stopped by a little souvenir bookstore and I bought a map of Ulcinj for 400 lek, about $4. Overpriced, but otherwise I didn’t think I’d have a map of this town at all, and I try to get one everywhere we go.
Then we got some bicycles from the hotel, which had several for use by guests. Our destination was Rozafa Castle, in the southwestern part of town. It is only three or four kilometers from the hotel, straight down a main road, and it didn’t take long.
We had to turn off the main road left up a steep hill, and halfway up Masayo was feeling very tired, almost hyperventilating. We stopped and rested, and I got us some waters from a small shop nearby. It was the only thing except for some very basic and rural-looking houses, but the view was already impressive. I checked my BG, and was 144.
We chained the bikes up to the iron door of some small abandoned building and walked, slowly, the rest of the way up. Coming around a corner, we were surprised to see some movement — mountain goats, walking up and down the steep, rocky face of the hill, grazing and watching us.
We watched them back for a while, then continued into the castle. A guy was there to take our admission money — 200 lek each, about $2. There were only half a dozen other tourists, if that.
You can walk all over; Rozafa Castle is now mostly ruins and shells of old buildings. The views over Lake Shkodër, and the town, and the distant snowy mountains (the so-called “Albanian Alps”) were incredible, and we took a whole lot of photos.
Deep into the ruins, we came across a little cafe restaurant. They had no food, the guy explained (in German), but they did have coffee. So we sat down, the only customers, at a little table in a dark little room, and he brought us Turkish coffee. It was very atmospheric; we loved it.
Then we headed back. Walking back down to the bikes, I knew I was low and so I checked to verify: 54. I had a Mars bar. By the time we got to the bikes I felt all right, and we biked back.
It had started to rain, and we pulled into the hotel a little wet. We returned the bikes and Masayo asked if we could go somewhere for a snack. There was a patisserie across from the hotel, and they had seating.
I ordered a soft-looking cookie/cake thing, and when it came to the table, it had been soaked in honey. Oh man. This was going to be tough for insulin. How to dose for this large but unknown carb-heavy thing, taking into account the fact that I biked a little but had just eaten a Mars bar at 54? I guessed, and shot up.
Back in the hotel, we rested. The power went out at one point — travel guides warn about this in Albania, but this was the first it had happened to us. It was only out for about 20 minutes, though.
Masayo was tired and didn’t want to leave for dinner, so I went back to the same bakery that I had gone to yesterday, and got some more burek for us, plus some yogurt from a market nearby.
When I got back to the hotel, I noticed that the restaurant had opened up while I was gone. I went and asked them if I could get something to eat in the room, and they said no problem. I ordered a Greek salad, with garlic toast. It would be good to bolster the burek with something else.
My BG after the honey-soaked cake was unsurprisingly high — 255. Fair enough. Masayo and I ate the food, which was nice — the salad was excellent and very healthy-looking, and I always enjoy fried burek and yogurt.
So how had all this done with diabetes? Great: at 11:30 pm, I was 93. I had a half a chocolate bar to make sure it wasn’t too low overnight, and went to sleep. Tomorrow we have another border to cross — Montenegro, which is where we had planned to go after Kosovo until our plans got altered. It will feel like we’re back on track.
Share your travel stories, give advice, or ask a question in the comments section.
“We left Albania from Shkodër by bus, riding about 90 minutes to the Montenegrin town of Ulcinj. It's a hilly town on the Adriatic coast, very scenic. My BG was ok at first but was high all midday.”