Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Furgons are a popular means of getting around in Albania. They had them in Istanbul too but I never tried it there. A furgon is a privately owned minivan that is basically a group taxi for 8-15 people. First, you figure out where you want to go to and then you ask around for where the furgons are that are headed to your desired destination.

Once you find the appropriate furgon you ask "how much?" and get in. Schedules are very fluid because the furgon doesn't leave until there's a full load. If it does depart with a couple of empty seats then it's not uncommon to trawl through the streets along the way looking for additional passengers. You don't pay until you get out.

Most furgons depart either early in the morning or in the early afternoon. After that, you're pretty much stuck wherever you're at.

Today was going to be my first furgon experience on my way to Durrës. But it turned out that Durrës is such a main destination that my furgon was actually just a normal long-distance bus. It's funny to me that, given train service here isn't what it is in Western/Central Europe, buses are so important but Tirana doesn't even have a bus station. You find the buses right alongside the furgons. The big difference is that with the bus you don't pay when you get off. After the bus departs, someone will come along later and collect the fare. So I guess I missed out on my furgon adventure today but I'm OK with that. The bus was at least a bit roomier.

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