booking in advance...

We booked our anniversary getaway at King Park in advance by telephone several days earlier in the week. We even had a native Albanian speaker help with the call to make sure that everything would go smoothly for us.

Then, with eager anticipation on the appointed day, we set out with our packed bags -- carrying scrabble game and bottle of prosecco -- and elevated upward once again into the mountainside on the thrilling Dajti Ekspres.

On our arrival we were met with the sort of puzzled expressions one reserves for creatures from an alien planet. Who on earth were we and what did we want? It was obvious that the King Park staff had no clue we were coming. Certainly they had made no preparations.

What a surprise.

But quickly the staff shifted into gear and guided us up these brick stairs to a balcony with five rooms. As no one else would be staying there, they generously invited us to select whichever room we wanted.

All the rooms were quite winter cold, dank, dark and small. There was nothing much to choose from among them really, but gamely we tried to pick the best of the lot. Then they brought in a small electric space heater and turned it on, as we were informed that the central heating system wasn't working.

We dropped off our bags and left the miserable room quickly, hoping things would warm up indoors while we sauntered around in the woods outside.

Mt. Dajti, Albania, March 2012.

Graflex Crown Graphic 23, 100mm f/5.6 Sironar, Ilford HP5.