Shkodër, ALBANIA

With the hillside sheep at Rozafa Castle

From the travelogue 131 Days in Europe with Diabetes

Guides
Travelogues

My adventures around the globe as a diabetic. This is my favorite section!

Inspiration

Everyone needs some motivation every now and then

Diabetes

Posts about diabetes not related to travel

Gear

Reviews, packing tips, and thoughts on traveling with diabetes supplies

More

Behind the scenes at 70-130.com

Want to be on the right side of history?

Diabetes is getting cured. JDRF, the leading global T1D research organization, is getting closer... but they need donations to continue.

Give to JDRF and help 70-130 reach its fundraising goal of $2,500. So far, readers have given $660. Click to increase that number!

27%

Donate To JDRF Now

Today's BGs: 210, 144, 54, 255, 93

7-day avg 165 (32x)  /  Trip avg 188 (521x)

Hill going up to Rozafa Castle

Hill going up to Rozafa Castle

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.

#bgnow 210 upon waking in our red-lit room.

#bgnow 210 upon waking in our red-lit room.

Humalog shot at the table for breakfast again. Nobody noticed.

Humalog shot at the table for breakfast again. Nobody noticed.

Masayo watches Tom and Jerry in Albania. It still works in any language.

Masayo watches Tom and Jerry in Albania. It still works in any language.

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.

Empty tourist info office in Shkodër

Empty tourist info office in Shkodër

The town fountain had water, even though it's February.

The town fountain had water, even though it’s February.

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.

Motorbikes and a horse on a street in Shkodër

Motorbikes and a horse on a street in Shkodër

Us riding bicycles to Rozafa Castle down one of Shkodër's big streets

Us riding bicycles to Rozafa Castle down one of Shkodër’s big streets

A striking pale green mosque in Shkodër

A striking pale green mosque in Shkodër

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.

House with vines on it

House with vines on it

Bicycles chained to a building near Rozafa Castle

Bicycles chained to a building near Rozafa Castle

#bgnow 144 at Rozafa Castle

#bgnow 144 at Rozafa Castle

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.

Old mosque (it looks like) in some water outside Shkodër

Old mosque (it looks like) in some water outside Shkodër

Sheep!

Sheep!

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.

Entrance to Rozafa Castle

Entrance to Rozafa Castle

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.

Stairs at Rozafa Castle with snowy mountains in the distance

Stairs at Rozafa Castle with snowy mountains in the distance

View over Shkodër and the lake from Rozafa Castle

View over Shkodër and the lake from Rozafa Castle

Old church at Rozafa Castle

Old church at Rozafa Castle

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.

Sipping Turkish coffee at Rozafa Castle

Sipping Turkish coffee at Rozafa Castle

Masayo with a herd of mountain sheep

Masayo with a herd of mountain sheep

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.

#bgnow 54 at Rozafa Castle

#bgnow 54 at Rozafa Castle

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.

Round lights in a Shkodër park

Round lights in a Shkodër park

Multiple nations' flags on a street corner across from the abandoned tourist office

Multiple nations’ flags on a street corner across from the abandoned tourist office

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.

Honey cookie in Shkodër. It would be hard to dose Humalog for this bastard.

Honey cookie in Shkodër. It would be hard to dose Humalog for this bastard.

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.

Power outage in our Shkodër hotel room; my face is lit only by my intrepid MacBook Pro.

Power outage in our Shkodër hotel room; my face is lit only by my intrepid MacBook Pro.

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.

Did someone say Greek salad!?

Did someone say Greek salad!?

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.

#bgnow 255 before dinner. That honey cake thing walloped me.

#bgnow 255 before dinner. That honey cake thing walloped me.

New Lantus pen.

New Lantus pen.

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.

#bgnow 93 after dinner in Shkodër

#bgnow 93 after dinner in Shkodër

Next page: Day 112: Big bus, little roads: Albania to Montenegro

“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.”

About the author

Jeremy has traveled to over 40 countries, taken several road trips across the United States (and Canada), and lived on and off in Japan for several years. He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1982 but doesn't let a little thing like that stop him from exploring the world.

Jeremy writes about his travels with diabetes on 70-130.com as a way of logging his excursions and of inspiring others who might be feeling hesitant to take their own big bite out of life.

Travel. Diabetes. Emails.

Get the internet's best T1D travel newsletter — free!

Want exciting diabetes travel news and stories from 70-130.com sent directly to you?
It's like little bursts of fun and inspiration in your otherwise dreadfully dull inbox.

I'll also send you a "Doctor's Travel Note" template for your physician to fill out before you travel.
Use it to get through security checkpoints with medical supplies more easily.

Enter your info and click the link in the confirmation email. Welcome to the T1D travel community!

Free, easy, and spamless. Details and privacy information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Tweet Share Pin +1 Email Comments Donate to JDRF