Blogs from West, Albania, Europe


Europe » Albania » West » Berat October 13th 2019

We left Shkodër after breakfast on the balcony at our hotel. The drive from Shkodër to Berat wasn’t particularly scenic for most of the 3 hour journey, largely because of the haze but also because many Albanian cities and towns aren’t particularly beautiful (uninspiring buildings, litter, unfinished gardens). The roads were mostly pretty good though. We drove into Berat through the new part of town. Eventually we turned around a corner and caught our first glimpse of the beautiful old city Berat is famous for. Berat is the 9th largest city in Albania and is also home to a historic centre which, along with Gjirokastra’s, is UNESCO world heritage listed. Berat and Gjirokastra are recognised as rare examples of an architectural character typical of the Ottoman period. Berat’s historic centre consists of a castle (Kala) most ... read more
The new part of Berat
Kalaja district
Kalaja district

Europe » Albania » West » Durrës September 14th 2019

When we left the magnificent Bay of Kotor, we headed south and stopped at the town of Bar, still in Montenegro as we needed to check out of the country and this broke up the trip to the next country we will visit, Albania. We had heard that it was quite easy to check out in Bar which is always a plus when dealing with the bureaucracy of various countries. We pulled into a large marina in Bar and were pleasantly surprised when we were given a side tie – always much easier for getting on and off the boat. We were helped by a very kind marina staff member who you could tell knew his way around boats by the way he dealt with the lines - he was an older gentleman that stated that ... read more
Not The Best Photos But Trying to Show
View of Durres As We Are Nearing the Harbor
Up Went the Albanian Courtesy Flag

Europe » Albania » West » Durrës December 16th 2018

A few days’ previously, we had watched the chaos ensue near the Dogara roundabout as the road system struggled to cope with the volume. Pedestrians weaved precariously between the cars, as they attempted to cross the road to reach the Bus Station on the far side. It was our turn to join them this morning, as we had decided for our final full day on Albanian soil to take a trip to the seaside. Durres was the destination. We alighted opposite the Bus Station and decided the safest tactic to cross the road was to effectively use others as a form of human shield. If we let them take the initial plunge into the carriageway, they would get hit first. It worked. We made it the other side and the Bus Station. I say Bus Station, ... read more
Durres Venetian Tower

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana December 14th 2018

We headed to our normal table for breakfast. We were the only guests, apart from another guy who bizarrely sat and ate with his backpack on. He was either very wary of being parted from his possessions or it was surgically attached to his back. The coffee man did his duty and we asked him to translate an article on our intended football match for the day. It transpired that the fading light of the game yesterday had prompted an earlier kick off in the absence of floodlights at KF Kamza. Despite the rather confusing internet article in an online sports newspaper entitled the "match with the forgotten organisation", we also ascertained that the game was to be played at the stadium in Kamza. We set off to see the sights of central Tirana. A few ... read more
Hotel Rogner, Tirana
Dajti Ekspres, Tirana
Pyramid, Tirana

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana December 8th 2018

"Travelling is living", wrote Hans Christian Andersen according to the WIzzair magazine. It all sounds so glamorous. I can assure you the M1 at 3:30 in the morning didn't feel glamorous. The rain lashed down, as we sped south. The overhead warning signs flashed. M1 Closed. Junction 15 to 14. A quick check on the web showed long red line between the 2 junctions, indicating a serious queue of traffic. In the absence of additional information, we assumed an accident in the roadworks. We cut off on a diversion to avoid missing our flight. The alternative route worked well, so we arrived our 2nd home - also known as the Mid Term Parking at Luton Airport - shortly after 4:30. I suspect others would not be so lucky, as the morning traffic rush built up. Airport ... read more

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana September 15th 2018

We get up and have breakfast. The food’s not great but at least the chef has gone to the effort of writing the hotel’s name in HP sauce on my plate. The old man is usually the master of the all-you-can-eat buffet, but today he meets his match. An elderly lady at our table manages 6 plates to his 3. He says this an unfair comparison as she poured the entire first plateful into her handbag. I am keen to stay and see if she can manage a 7th but beat a hasty retreat when she starts stirring Nutella into her tea. We depart for a day sightseeing in Tirana. Most points of interest are on Blvd Deshmoret e Kombit; a wide, tree lined boulevard which runs between two squares, Mother Teresa and Skanderbeg. Our first ... read more
Dinasty eggs
Pyramid of Tirana

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana September 14th 2018

I have been looking forward to today; we are going to Albania. Most of what I know about Albania comes from a project I did at university in 1986, so I’m not really sure what to expect. First, the slightly surreal experience of breakfast in a wine cellar. The lack of natural light causes me to mistake jam for chutney and smother it all over my cheese and sausage. It tastes surprisingly good. A last wander along Lake Ohrid then it’s time to check out, which entails this cringeworthy conversation between the old man and the receptionist: Her: How was your stay? Him: Very nice except the shower leaked. Her: I’m sorry, I’ll get a lady to take a look at it. Him: It’s beyond that, it needs a man. And with that, we depart Ohrid ... read more
Ohrid port
Car Samoil’s Fortress
View from Car Samoil’s Fortress

Europe » Albania » West » Krujë July 3rd 2018

Though our nearly two-week tour of the Balkans already had a full-to-the-brim schedule of activities and sights from Albania to Slovenia, our time in Albania itself was relatively short and the better part of that was spent in Tirana. However, when booking our tour we were offered several varied optional excursions for an additional charge. One of these was an afternoon/evening excursion to the small but interesting and historic town of Krujë which was only a short drive of 45 minutes or so from Tirana. Weighing our options, we decided to book the Krujë tour and some others in advance of our trip. The excursion took place on our second day in Albania, and as it turned out, not only did we have a beautiful day for the visit, but it was my favorite experience in ... read more
Albania - Fushe Kruja - a George W. Bush Statue on George Bush Square
Albania - Kruje - Goats eating from trees
Albania - Kruje - Skanderbeg Museum - valley side

Europe » Albania » West » Berat May 31st 2018

Albania. Day 13. Rest day or 47 km ride to Polican. A thunderstorm passed over last night without touching us and the sun is out again today. Whilst most are riding today I am taking it easy and helping John A to strip down my bike and put it on its box ready for departure. My front wheel is buckled but should straighten ok when I get it home, and maybe other minor damage. I have a bad limp on my left leg, a bruised left shoulder, bruising on my face and a badly bashed right forefinger in a splint, otherwise I am in good health. I may need assistance to drag it out of the airport in Manchester to my taxi, otherwise it should be easy to get home on Friday. The bike was soon ... read more
my next transport?
Berat old town
The old bridge in Berat

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana May 31st 2018

Albania Day 14 Tirana Thirty degrees again today and we are bussed to Tirana. The journey crossed a huge fertile plain with a lot of activity with grass and crop cutting. Several small balers were in use and a big Class Combine was seen. It was not until we approached Tirana that we saw vehicle and tractor dealers selling new equipment of all brands. The rest of Albania only appears to sell used products. In Tirana a visit to the Bunkart (Bunker) was made, which depicted the history of the law enforcement by the gendarmerie and policia from 1913 to the fall of Communism in 1991. The museum is a huge concrete bunker with many small cells showing different aspects of the journey. Most harrowing is the way the secret police were set up and operated ... read more
Near the Bunkart
Bunker entrance
Bunker exit

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