I'm at ease with living in a bubble, an happy-go-lucky bubble. What a good feeling! And maybe, that's why my visitors feel good here.
The hosteler job (at this scale) pleases me for now. It's physicaly and emotionaly absorbing, I love it! You meet people coming for 1 night and stay more, travelers more than tourists. You get used to them, links appear even habits sometimes and they go, others come. Can be emotional roller coaster.
So, the hostel makes me rich humanly. As I say sometimes, I'm not rich anymore in money but I feel richer than before, rich in experiences, meetings. I feel in harmony with my principles and this fulfils me. I feel full and free, this has no value.
Let's see how much time this can go on in this capitalitic world. But I enjoy the present time because what do we know about the future except that it is uncertain...?
Waiting next season et new stuff (or not), I go back to France with Raymond, taking my time, visiting family and friends on the way, discovering some places and hiking to discover (at least!) Corsica.
And when I'll reach Doullens, I will look for a seasonal job in the Swiss mountains for this winter (yes, I am also well-grounded and I need some money too).
But the hostel is not a so bad plan. Even I do not cover the charges and I don't think I will repay my (small) invest one day, I pretty optimistic and I hope balance the charges next year. This year I have already balanced the fixed charges. I'm on the good way, with an increase of visits: 327 visitors for 526 nights sold. An occupancy rate around 30% on the entire season (from 0 up to 95% depending the week), means 0 up to 15 persons in the hostel. I use ressources from the garden as I can and people like this (it was the plum year with kilos and kilos picked, my first tomatoes, etc). I have great reviews that pleases me (between 9 and 10 on booking and hostelworld; good rank on Tripadvisor and lots of stars on google and facebook). Well, I sould tell more to people to leave some comments but I am bored with e-reputation. And, above all, the word of mouth is working well and my biggest satisfaction: the smile of visitors leaving pleased of their stay.
So, the sector is different but my former experiences are useful: I stay in the service. My clients are not anymore technical projects managers but visitors looking for advices to discover the area, the country, in an autonomous way (more or less... sometime I'm like a travel agency and I can get bored!). So, it is always the same thing eventually! You think and repeat the same things (eh, teacher job useful too).
Apparently, people feel at home here. It's quite and welcoming. Seems to have a French touch here. Hard to say by myself... And they are surprised that there is a lot to do in Korçë and around. Many of them tell tey will come back in Albania and it is really the good time to discover it because it will be victim of its own success.
I like also interactions between the different kind of profils: families, campers, road-tripers, travelers, groups of friends, bycyclists. Depending of people, the atmosphere can change but always relax. It is also a place where visitors can meet locals because my friends like very much my garden and they come often (even, being very busy, it can be more but it's not easy to have free time when you are running alone). So, more and more friends here, nice parties, some trips (even I must stay here a maximum time because people often come without reservation).
But my Albanian language improves slowly and hardly because I speak English with my friends (a bit lazy!) and a lot English and French, even Spanish at the hostel. So, it's getting better but deep conversations will wait!
I'm leaving with minds full of new ideas for next year, projects in progress with friends (festival, climbing development). But these holidays are welcomed apres an intense season in the service of visitors, travelers and tourists. Rest and revitalization by travelling :) Let's go for a nomadic automn/winter!
Is it really summer? An awful weather here in April and May! I don't know impact in tourism but I think there was some.
Impact in the garden too with a late fruits harvest, a hard maintenance and a limited use of the garden, so the bar. Not so many aperitive boards sold for now :/ The solar panels did not have their best output either!
Talking about Mother Nature...
An unexpected event happened in this beggining of June: an earthquake. Yes, yes, one of them that shake walls and jingle tableware. The epicentre was located 17km ago from Korçë, intensity 5.3. There was some damages in the villages depending on houses initial state. At home, we note nothing with regret except one frame broken.
I experimented with the "frozen rabbit in car lights" state. Indeed, I heard as a truck passing nearby the house but that carry on and then amplify as we were next to a railway. Surprise and incomprehension rooted me to the spot.
It was a scary experience above all the next days withaftershocks. They are more or less strong and unpredictable. We never know when it will stop and during the night, I had the impress that there were few small movements. Well, it's like a little rocking motion. I had not avoided sleeping. On the contrary, a friend told me she spent the first night in her car, scary to stay in her appartment. What a confidence in their building...
Now I am well informed about what to do in case of earthquake. The last one was 6 years ago so let's hope that this experience will not reproduce soon!
Now, I have my little hosteler rythm. I walcome guests almost every day. A few bookings but many people come directly. The word of mouth works very well that makes me happy (and pretty proud). I have to be there all the time and this avoids moving a lot. But it's fine. I am busy here, between the maintenance of the house and the garden, there is stuff to do! And a few fittings here and there.
However, I keep on exploring to suggest plenty of activities: development of climbing, tracking hikings (with Wikiloc App for people who know it), wineyard in Korçë that we can visit with a wine taste (beer and wine in the same city, it's great!), and handcraft that set up in the old bazar. The city is changing quickly and becomes more and more touristic. It's nice to be part of this!
By the way, here is a short "promotional" movie I put on YouTube et Facebook: https://youtu.be/G_eC7SQHyZM
A few French friends visits also after family in April: Lucie the Albanian, Renaud and his motorbike from Sofia (delighted with the visit and the ride, thanks :)), Virginie and her family traveling in campevan for 3 months, Sarah the temporary nomad who was my roommate for 2 weeks.
Still lovely meetings also... Nice people attract nice people according to an universal law, established with the help of some raki...
For the second year, I organized the "Summer party" the 21st of June, with Albanian friends. It is also the Music fest in France and we celebrated well with musicians, singinig, dancing, with homemade dishes and French breverage. Thanks Sarah for helping! She helped so much that people thought she worked at the hostel!
As well, I started paper work for visa extension. This time, it must be for 2 years but I overpass the deadline so I apply again for 1 year. It is in progress but as the same time I registered on the "French abroad register". That's it, I'm a bit expat...
Eventually, I begin the high season peacefully because the first results are good and I am pretty well-proven now. But there was a huge decrease in June, general all over Albania. So, let's see in September the gobal result!
Looking forward, enjoy summer at home or traveling!
Well, yeah, spring is in the air, the sun rises again, buds are on the trees but, but... the rain is here too and the coldness. So, unlike last year, I could not do without heating. Supply of wood and use wood-burning stove!!
My first moments were cold: it's invigorating!
Then, in three weeks, I could observe the season change, even it's still cold now.
However, I could warm myself organizing the hostel:
- big cleaning, tidying up, weeding, planting, etc
- a few fixings: the hot water tank (remove calculus, change the thermostat and resistance -> we find everything in kit form here, it's great!), water saving nozzles, shower heads which didn't like freeze
- to supply my local products stockand to show them proprely, I hope
- and some new fittings, works: a tender for my many laundries and small "archs" in the garden to be protected of the sun, put a limit in the bathroom for the shower (seems nothing but changes everything), curtain rods and a brand-new mattress in the studio, a sheld at the reception, decoration especially in the big room (I recycle, do new with old!).
No sooner open again than family and friends arrived. Guests too: a busy start!
Finishing some other fittings between all this and take my mark again as hosteler: I haven't seen April!
Because, hosteler can be, in the same day: chimney sweep, plumber, gardener, wood cutter, removal woman, cleaner, cooker, touristic guide, decorator...
And, also, business woman with my first balance account "made in Albania", for the last season. Some administrative tasks which take time, to do them all right.
So, I'm not getting bored. I'm still meeting nice people, especially during this starting season because there are people who take their time, sometimes atypical profils, more than tourists in a rush (but, well, are there stressfull people in Albania ??).
You will find a few pictures on my Facebook page, at this link:
Anyway, I look forward to enjoying the garden, picking up fruits which are growing now and keeping the small bar running during nice evening parties.
I will tell you this in a next message, during summer... Since there, be well and happy!
Page 1 of 4