This is the start of an Intrepid trip called Albanian Adventure. I first used a group travel company in 2007 when I went to Thailand with Explore. I loved it so much I returned to Thailand with Explore again in 2010. I’ve never used Intrepid before but I liked the sound of the trip and it fit in with my schedule so I decided to just book it and see what happened!
Day one of Albanian Adventure: London to Dubrovnik
I arrived at the Villa Dubrovnik Garden on a hot August afternoon. The agent of the apartments gave me a key to the garden and told me not to try lifting my suitcase up the many stone steps of the city. “Just drag it up, that’s what the plastic protector is for” he said. Fair enough.
The so-called villas were rooms that the locals let out in the high season to make a bit of extra cash. It was quite a nice idea, and even though the old couple who owned my one didn’t speak English they were still lovely and we managed to converse with smiles, pointing and a bit of shrugging. The apartment had a huge balcony with a sea view, and a great social area in the kitchen/diner. The complex was a bit hit-and-miss though as some of the group were given basement rooms and the agent looking after the properties was quite disorganised and kept swapping people from room to room.
As I emerged up the final steps to the garden, sweaty and dishevelled, I saw a group of people who instantly chimed “hello!” and followed quickly with “come and have a beer!” They were my kind of people.
I soon discovered that one of the five people in the garden would be on my trip through Albania; the rest had just finished an Intrepid trip from Vienna and were heading off to other exciting places in Europe and the rest of the world. All of this group and my own group were Aussies and I like Australians a lot so I knew I was going to have a good time.
Day one was a day for meeting people and trying to acclimatise to the heat. It was also a day for discovering that mosquitos reeeeeeally love me. It was instant attraction, and the running joke throughout the trip was that everyone should stick to me if they wanted to avoid being bitten. If someone had a bite it wasn’t long before I heard “that’s because you weren’t with Lauren!” I couldn’t complain, it was true.
In the evening we ate at a restaurant that overlooked the crystal clear sea and the old castle of Dubrovnik. When we returned to the villa I sat out on the balcony staring at the stars in the warm air; a perfect start to my trip.