Our first day off, so we took a short 90 minute trip north to the city of Gjirokaster
(pronounced Gee-row-kast-ra). The ride itself is like a roller coster, bumps, curves, tall hills and definitely danger... there are some crazy drivers here! Along the way there are small "markets". It mainly consists one or two old men with boxes of fruit and small snacks for people to purchase for road trip snacks. We stopped at one and apparently you're supposed to buy fruit by the kilo, but I only wanted one peach. The little old man was so cute he wouldn't take my money! I slipped a buck into his tip dish though when he wasn't looking 😊
Once we arrived in Gjirokastra we immediately saw the castle. It towers over the entire city like a fortress. The castle is the second oldest Balkan fortress, and the photos really do not do it justice. Our group of 6 was there for about 2 hours investigting every nook and cranny there was to explore.
We then wandered down to the town center which consists of restaurants, cafes, shops and antique stores. I bought a scarf from a little Albanian woman who didn't
speak english, but she was so happy she threw in a doily for the purchase. We also caught some ice cream at a little cafe because it was so dang hot! I picked out a delicious ice cream sandwich / crunch bar that I'm determined to find in the States. Yum!
Following ice cream was an ethnography museum tour, then lunch to test out the local cuisine, specifically Qifqi (proncounced Cheef-Chee). They are rice balls with herbs and mint - a very interesting taste, but very good!
Post lunch, we wandered through more of the shops then traveled back to Saranda. We were all hot, tired, and in a food coma. Overall I am so thankful we had Bushii (our driver) to take us over to Gjirokastra for the day. I highly suggest it as a stopping point if you ever find yourself in southern Albania!
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