Friday, May 5, 2017

The Police in Albania....!

Recently I took a trip to Greece, and I had several surprising interactions with the police and the Greek border patrols.  

On my trip to Greece, I was pulled over in a small town in Albania, about 30 min from the border.  The road was blocked off with signs saying "STOP, Police".  So...I slowed down and one officer put his hand up, palm facing me...and I stopped.  The officer came up to my window...I was looking to be sure I had all of my documents in hand....and he said, (in Albanian), "Why did you stop?", "What do you need?".  I am stopped me, what do you mean "Why did I stop?".  There was a short dialogue to determine he didn't want to see my documents, and he told me to leave. I left...! 

A short time later I was crossing the Albanian border and the agent asked me, "Is this your first time in Europe?"  I told him no, that I have been living in the Balkans for nearly 10 years. He then said to me, "Why are there no stamps in your passport?"  "What?"   Then I realized I had a new replacement passport, and explained to him that the US Embassy in Tirana recently gave me a new passport. He said ok...stamped my passport and sent me to the Greek side of the border.

The agent there, asked me, "Where is your "visa" for your car?"  "My What?".  I had all the insurance, all the inspections...everything, but no "visa" for the car.  She told me that she could not let me into Greece without it. So....I went back to where I keep all my important car papers, and found a piece of plain paper with blue stamps on it and dates...that was my "car visa". She stamped it and sent me on my way.  

Whew....!!!  It is always an adventure driving in this part of Europe.  Who knew that I needed a Greek visa for my car...?  I didn't even know that I had it or what it was for....!  I will keep stopping when the police hold up there hands facing me...even if they don't know or understand why I stopped...!