I spent over 4 weeks in Saranda, a little town in the south of Albania. A place took my interest not because it’s something new and exotic but because I didn’t have many options during COVID times. It was either Turkey, some African countries, or here.
The interesting part about Saranda is that it’s hard to reach. The absence of an airport requires people to go through a 6-hour adventure on a bus. This is not something you want to do on vacation because you basically lose 2 days on the road. Not cool! I didn’t care about this much. I was there to work, not to fry my skin off. I was a bit wrong about the last part but whatever.
There are a few things I’ve learned about this country that are kind of amusing. First, the internet is very unstable. It might be okay to lose the connection for an hour when you’re chilling but having this when you’re working is tough. Imagine your ISP to shut down because of the weather, how would you feel about that? Confused, dazzled, pissed off? I was somewhere in between these three.
But the scariest times are often the ones when you start losing people during the video call because 5 Mbps just can’t handle it. The more people hop in, the greater the chances to miss something. To give you an idea, I was kicked out 3 times during 30 mins call. Nice!
If you need good WiFi, head over to the beach bars. I didn’t know this one but turns out they have a great connection because they have to serve a large crowd of people with excellent internet.
I had quite an uncertain and flexible schedule during that time so I just booked Airbnb. It was quite expensive (~$600/month), so try to search for Facebook groups in that area or book a hotel for 2-3 days and check with locals for prices. I’ve seen people spotting nice places being there. I also recommend testing Ksamil, which is often called European Maldives. Trust me, it is excellent.
While the internet is quite bad, the people turned out to be the opposite. They do things you don’t expect and try to help you always. My Airbnb hosts liked me so much, they brought food several times a week. I’ve been in over 20 countries but I’ve never met anyone who did such a nice frequent gesture just because they wanted to. My brain tells me they are simply bored but my gut tells me this is genuine. Apparently, you can’t put everyone in the same box but I haven’t met anyone with a bad attitude there during my stay.
Saranda is a place with fairly cheap seafood and lots of fruits. I was eating mussels 3 times a week and wanted more because they are so good there. Don’t forget to try crabs and every type of fish you can get your hands on. You won’t regret it.
In any case, living there is fun but this is not the place for remote work yet. It’s fairly small, and there are 0 co-working spaces in that area. It is good for swimming and eating tons of great food : )