Thursday, September 28, 2017

Albania

I had no idea what to expect in Albania. I knew it was developing as a tourist destination, primarily for outdoor activities. I looked into hikes and treks in the Accursed Mountains (too many days, too difficult logistically, the name) and finally settled on a route that would take us from Montenegro to Shkoder, Albania and then on to the capital, Tirana.

Going through Shkoder was the easiest way to take a boat ride on Lake Komani, one of the most beautiful boat rides in either Europe or the world, depending upon which travel book you are reading. Of course it rained and the trip was cancelled. We spent the day exploring the city, visiting the tourist information office (at least three times), and hanging out at our incredible hotel. We visited Rozafa Fortress for a view of the city and the Site of Witness and Memory, an excellent museum depicting crimes committed by the Communist government.

Then it was off to Tirana for a couple of days. We took a day trip to Berat which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and walked around the neighborhood inside the castle walls before going into town for yet another burek at a beautiful restaurant on the river.

Highlights of our last day in Tirana:
  • Bunk'Art 1, the largest anti-nuclear bunker built by the Communists, which has been turned into an excellent museum. We also visited Bunk'Art 2.
  • Exploring the city parks and neighborhoods and finding some weird traffic lights.
  • Realizing we only had to survive one more night at our hotel.
What I Learned:
  • Having a spare tire is important but you also need the equipment necessary to remove the flat tire and put on the new one.
  • There are an incredible number of car washes and furniture stores in Albania.
  • When reviews of a hotel only mention how helpful and nice the owner is, there is probably something wrong with the rooms.
Jail cells at the Site of Witness and Memory

Skanderbeg

Walking around the castle in Berat

Berat
Bunk'Art 1

I could eat this every day for the rest of my life.

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