Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Slochteren, Netherlands.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Papenburg, Germany.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

They say these things come in threes

Yesterday was day three of clouds and drizzle, but we needed to go into the small city of Gjirokastër (pop 20,000) to get some supplies. We also looked up a couple of possible places to have lunch while we were in town.

Ruth went to feed the cats, and she tried to unlock the front door, but it wouldn't unlock. So I went and tried, and sure enough it would not. The key would go in and turn a quarter each way, but it would not budge the lock. To the point where I was afraid of bending the key. 

This happened when we were in Berat as well and they had to replace the lock mechanism. It seemed to be exactly the same problem. That's it... Ruth is not allowed to use the door lock anymore! 

There is only one door to this house, but there is a window beside the door. I jumped out the window and tried the key in the outside of the lock. Nope, no go. Very strange. I guess we are using the window to come and go!

We went down to the car. Hopped in, turned the key and the engine might have turned over once and promptly died.

Dead battery. 

I don't see how anything could have been left on. We hadn't used the car for two days, so if anything were left on you would think the battery would be totally dead without even enough power to turn over once.

We tried push starting it, but couldn't get up enough speed and we didn't have much of a runway to try with in the first place.

Hmph. Now what? We decided to walk into the village and see if we could find anyone to give us a boost. Because it was a drizzly day, not many people were outside, and the village is pretty quiet to begin with. But eventually we came across older guys (about my age!) sitting under a veranda talking. We approached and said good morning in our best Albanian. Then I asked if anybody spoke English, and I got blank stares, as I expected.

I used google translate to explain our problem and ask if anybody had booster cables, and showed one guy the phone. He read it out loud in Albanian and as he did so, one of the other guys lit up into a big smile and raised his hand. Yes! He had a truck and booster cables! 

He quite happily drove us back to our car.

Mitros, getting the cables out.

Hooked up and ready to go.

Me, inside firing up the car.

And it fired up right away, which is great but I was still concerned about why the battery went dead to begin with. Yes, it could be that it just needs a new battery. I tried to give Mitros some money for his assistance, but he refused to take it.

Well, that's problem number two... and they say these things come in threes.

Anyhow, we headed into town.

It was pretty busy in town. We parked at the lower part and walked. We figured we would go wander around the old part, find somewhere to eat, and then go back to pick up some groceries.

As we were walking up to the old part of town, we went by a tavern and a guy called us over in English. We got to talking to Antonio who owns the restaurant. He had some lamb on a spit, and eventually sliced off a hunk for us to try. We were sold, and decided to eat right there. Nice friendly guy, and great food!

This is the place.
If you ever find yourself in Gjirokastër, you have to eat here!

Enough salad, roast lamb, and chips for two people.

Including a half liter of beer for me, and a glass of homemade wine for Ruth the bill was 1,900 lek ($23 CAD, $18.50 USD).

Antonio with his roasting pit.

Checking reviews after the fact, it turns out that Antonio is the "lamb master" of the area. He told us that his small restaurant goes through 6-7 full lambs per day and during busy season up to 14 per day. Local people from the area even bring him their own lamb ready for cooking, and he cooks it for them.

It was delicious and we will probably go back again before we leave this area.

With full stomachs, we went and wandered around the old section for an hour. We didn't go up to the castle because we are purposely going back into town today because on the last Sunday of every month entrance is free.

Home from the 1700's.

This fixer upper needs some work.

Old town tourist section. Pretty quiet on a drizzly day.

We walked back down to the new part of town and did some grocery shopping.

Back at the car, I turned the key... and got absolutely nothing! Totally dead, no dash lights... nothing!

Ruth says "Maybe there's a bad connection?"

I opened the hood and poked around at the battery terminals. Sure enough, the negative one came right off in my hand. Not sure how we didn't notice that it was loose while we were doing the boosting earlier. Anyhow, I put it back on as best I could without any tools and got it fired up.

Back at the house, Ruth was opening the window to climb back inside, when I jokingly said "hang on honey, I've got the keys, why don't we just use the front door?". I was just kidding of course, but I put the key in the lock... and it turned! How could that be? I had tried that several times earlier. Looking at the lock mechanism with the door open, I honestly think that it just needs some lubricating oil. 

Anyhow, I found some tools and went and properly cleaned and tightened the battery terminal. The terminal itself is worn, but I used an old mechanics trick of screwing in a small screw in between the terminal and the lead post. There is definitely a good connection now! So hopefully it was the bad connection that was causing the problem to begin with. 

Later in the day, we went to have a shower. There is an electric hot water tank in the bathroom itself, and the water is definitely hot. There is a gauge showing that it's hot, and you can hear when it comes on to keep the water at temperature. But do you think any hot water would come out of the tap or the shower? Nope. It makes no sense. Yes, there is an outdoor solar hot water system, but with three days of clouds and rain, that was not supplying any hot water. I contacted our host and she's confused as well. I thought maybe there was a valve somewhere that I should have to turn, but she says no.

Very strange. 

I stood there staring at the fairly new looking hot water tank wondering what could cause a problem like this, and I've come to the conclusion that it's not hooked up properly. The cold water input line is warm to the touch, and the hot water exit line is cold as can be. I think because the house normally uses hot water from the solar system, and with the fact that this bathroom isn't used very often, perhaps nobody has ever noticed the problem. I could be wrong, but I can't think of anything else. 

But, the sun is shining bright today, and is supposed to for the entire week! With temperatures between 20-24C (68-76F) it's going to be a beautiful week. So, we should have hot water again by this afternoon, but that still doesn't fix whatever problem exists in the system.

We are getting an early start to go up to Gjirokastër Castle. It's a popular tourist spot, it's a Sunday, it's free entrance day, and this is one of Albania's three UNESCO listed sites.

Nice price drop on this Precision Golf Rangefinder

And in Canada


  1. Replies
    1. Just another day of adventure, lol! At least we got two of the three things working properly again.

  2. Hope you don't get many days like that!

    1. If that is the worst of our days, we are ok with that! :-)

  3. You guys sure know how to roll with the punches!

    1. You definitely need to be patient and flexible. It really wasn't a huge problem, although it really would have been nice to have got the hot water working again!

  4. A day of frustrations and good luck thrown together.
    Be Safe and Enjoy your tour.

    It's about time.

    1. Even the frustrations that we had, weren't all that bad. We are glad that we got two of them working again, now if only we could get the hot water working properly again!

  5. Gremlins! Our on-demand water heater shut down and no water. There is a valve inside with a little ball that opens and closes (I know nothing about this but this is what the guy said) and we took it in for repair.

    The food looks fantastic.

    1. Yep, that must have been the problem, gremlins lol!

  6. Hi Kevin and Ruth. I just came across your site when searching boondocking in Canada (don't even have an RV---just binge watching Youtube in the pandemic) It's so refreshing to find Cdn content, or at least, Cdn traveler content, on the internet. Wonderful experience you seem to be having. Wishing you all the best in your travels.
    Brad Bates

    1. Thank you Brad, and thank you for taking the time to comment, we really appreciate it.

      Yes, we are having a wonderful experience and we are really enjoying Albania.

      Are you thinking about getting an RV?

  7. Glad you were able to successfully deal with the issues that came up.

    My cousin and I got stuck inside a camping cabin with a lock issue once in the US. The window was very difficult to climb out of, and I was 6 months pregnant. Luckily my cousin was able to get out and come back with help. We impressed upon them how dangerous that would have been if there had been a fire. It is no good to be locked in somewhere.

    1. Well we were successful with two of the issues but we couldn't get the hot water to work. We do have hot water now that the solar hot water has been heated up by the sun again but couldn't get the hot water with the electric tank to work.

      I am glad that you guys were able to get help to get the door unlocked. It is definitely a good idea to every house/building to have an emergency escape of some sort but I expect it isn't often that there is an issue getting the main door to open.


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