Blogs from Sarandë, South, Albania, Europe

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Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë August 22nd 2013

We're here and we are chugging along quite nicely. Leaving Corfu was a breeze. Up early, grabbed a taxi to the new port with our tickets in hand, through passport control and onto the ferry. The boat was a hydrofoil, I think that's what it's called, and it raced across the short channel between Corfu and Sarande in no time - about 30 minutes. Our first view of Albania at Sarande was of a bland townscape, many low multi storey and apartment blocks over looking the port and climbing the hills behind the port. The usual "don't mess with me" types walking the wharf. Port workers seem meaner somehow but I am a bit of a wuss. We could see our van on the other side of fence. We had to go through passport control again ... read more
Balkan Road Trip
Butrint
Roads

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë May 24th 2013

What a difference a good night’s sleep can make! We woke to bright sunshine on a sparkling Ionian Sea. What a shame yesterday hadn’t been as fine and sunny as we had come down that mountainside from the fog as we might have had a different impression of the scenery that the guidebooks had raved off.However, it looked like at least today we will see the better side of what the views of the coast in the vicinity of Sarande has to offer. The apartment we have is quite spacious with a separate bedroom, bathroom with HOT water!(we both had l o n g showers this morning) And a well equipped kitchen opening out to a small terrace from where we get a peak, between a couple of finished but not furnished apartment blocks of the ... read more
Sarande city in the distance
Sarande
Cafes on the promenade,Sarande

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë May 23rd 2013

Gelato off the menu today,too much else to think about,but did have an ice cream similar to a Trumpet but half the price! Gretchen thought she had dreamed last night that she was back living in Wellington, such was the strength of the gale force wind in the night.And I slept through it all!At one stage she thought the sign on the roof of the hotel was going to crash down.She reckoned too that the building creaked in the tempestuous wind and wondered what might happen if the building fell apart!It must have been bad.And to add to it all the power went out as well.! It was still fairly breezy when we both awoke at dawn and the there were showers coming across the city below us.Not a great day,if it stays like this for ... read more
These types of hotels attached to petrol stations on the highways are everywhere
Arriving into Fier
Lookalike McD's sign at takeway restaurant,Vlore

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë September 14th 2012

Resumo: Um pouco de frustacao; Escolha certa tomada; Alegria e Criatividade de volta; Estou bem. Sempre digo e repito: A vida eh feita de escolhas. Obviamente devem existir muitas excecoes, mas na maioria do caso eh verdade. No meu, por exemplo, eh fato. A minha vida eh a soma das minhas escolhas/decisoes. Sai de Tirana para voltar a Saranda (Sul da Albania), onde eu tive o melhor trabalho volutario ate entao (vide post antigo). Voltei pelo fato de conseguir aqui acomodacao "na faixa". Ok, iria trabalhar no periodo da manha como "faxineira" do hostel, sobrando assim a tarde e a noite para ficar com as criancas do orfanato. O que seria a melhor semana da Albania transformou-se em uma semana um pouco frustante e emocionalmente desgastante. Obviamente as altas expectativas atrapalharam um pouco. 1) No orfanato ... read more
View from the Balcony
making dolls

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë August 21st 2012

Resumo:Vida dificil esta que estou tendo - brincar/cuidar das criancas na praia (rs); Consegui finalmente um esquema bom para acomodacao; Estou bem. Sou voluntaria no orfanato de Saranda. As criancas chegam de todos os cantos do pais. A cidade aqui eh muito linda e tranquila. Do ladinho da Grecia. Da aquela coceira de passar alguns dias em Corfu (ilha grega que fica a 1hora de ferry). Como esse papo de "esta do lado" nao tem fim e eu ja conheco a Grecia, vou ficar por aqui mesmo. Tenho o melhor trabalho voluntario ate agora. Cuido das criancas na praia! Fico das 10h as 13h e das 16h as 18h brincando com eles no Mar Adriatico que eh super tranquilo (sem ondas). Depois saio com eles para passear de noite das 19h30 as 21h. As criancas sao ... read more

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Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë July 15th 2012

Just south of Saranda is the small city of Ksamil (pronounced SA-meel). It is an adorable beach town with much less traffic and noise than Saranda. Just steps from the beach are 5 artificial reefs, aka shipwrecks. Each of these retired wreckswere cleaned out and then purposely sunk by the US Navy for the Albanian coastline. Certain parts of the coast are only covered with sand and seagrass which only allows for certain organisms to grow. Give the bottom a little structure and all sorts of different species and organisms can flourish. These shipwrecks allow for that structural development, plus they are really cool to dive on! We only dove on one of the wrecks, bit it was pretty spectacular. The entire wreck was only 18 meters in length, but the water clarity and ... read more
Artificial Reef 2
Dive Boat
Elaine on Boat

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë July 14th 2012

All of the diving we have done so far has been during the early morning / afternoon. Visibility has been 50 feet in all directions, limited currents, a cool 65 degrees and really ideal conditions. Night diving adds a new perspective to your diving profiles. Taking away visibility = buoyancy fluctuations, stress, more air consumption, a new challenge with video and a list of other possibilities. It can be even more stressful if you have problems with your equipment. Earlier last week we did a daytime dive on the Probitas to get oriented with the layout of the ship. It's laying on its port side and you can swim down the length of the 400ft deck from the bow all the way to the props. The props are my favorite spot on most shipwrecks for some ... read more
Elaine-CCR-day

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë July 14th 2012

The Albanian Center for Marine Research's main objective is to train divers (consisting of students, grad students and phd students) in the art of scientific and archeological diving. This includes learning how to transect and map underwater fields. Making a list of acurate measurements is hard enough on land let alone underwater. The students did an amazing job with their diving even with the added stress of collecting data. Practice practice practice...that's really the only way you can master this technique. The students here have gotten spoiled with great diving conditions. Can you imagine trying to measure / map an area when you cannot see more that 2 feet in front of you? or if there is a 3 knot current pushing you off the bottom? It is difficult to simulate those conditions in Albania because ... read more
Planning
Underwater
Petra

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë July 6th 2012

What an incredible anomaly of diving! I am in shock that there are still ancient amphoras and pottery just steps from the beach here in Sarande. So many of the amphoras are in excellent condition too! I've really enjoyed learning about the history of the Balkan region, and now it's nice to "know" what to look for underwater. The other interesting things to see are the echinoderms. There are loads of a cucumbers and starfish all along the reefs. We dove off radar cove whichjust about 20 minutes south of sarande and saw lots of echinoderms as well as pieces of pottery scattered alonbeach shallow reef. We did our second dive on the Probitas: Inside the Bay of Saranda there lies an Italian cargoship. It was sunk during the II World War by German Bombers on ... read more
Probitas I
Probitas II

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë July 3rd 2012

Two amazing days in the city of Saranda with our first couple of dives for the field school. Led by Derek Smith, one of the program coordinators and ecologists with the Marine Center, he led the students on a dive just off the coast. Max depth was approximately 75 feet and we had not only great visitbility but interesting sea life. Lots of sea grass and mussels. The mission of the dive was to find artifacts (or something that looked like it was one) and mark it with a lift bag and reel. After the dive, we mark the bag with GPS, record it, cut the line, then go to the next bag. It was an interesting learning process about how to collect data for submerged collection items. Our boat Captain, Howard and I chatted for ... read more
Dive Base 2
View from balcony




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