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Europe » Albania » West » Tirana January 18th 2017

I knew from the moment I set foot inside Destil Hostel something special was going on, but had no clue exactly what it was. I wandered upstairs in the absence of staff to come across two young lads belting out a tune over a guitar, Wow that's awesome I thought, these two are not your average hostel hacks, perhaps they are in a local band? Anyway, they directed me to the bar and I went through the formalities of checking in. While heading back upstairs to the dorm a girl was going all Beyonce with the lad on the guitar. Sounds great, I said as I was going past. Then I enter the dorm and two girls are sitting on a bed singing incredible harmonies. This was too much to take in, was it some kind ... read more
Historic Berat
Central Tirana
Skanderbeg museum

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë October 13th 2016

Day 21 - Wed. Oct. 12 - Port of call: Sarandë, Albania. Weather: Chance of heavy rain in morning, sunny with scattered clouds in afternoon, temperatures of 64°F/18°C NOTE: I chose not to write a blog yesterday as we were at sea sailing around the end of the Greek mainland from the island of Limnos to Sarandë, Albania. Sarandë, Albania has turned out to be a wonderful surprise to everyone, including the Captain. He was fully expecting that we would have to anchor in the harbour and that the tenders would be deployed to take passengers ashore. Yesterday he received word from the HAL agent in Albania that the port actually had a pier large enough to accommodate the Prinsendam. Unfortunately the ship did not have up-to-date charts of the pier area so a request was ... read more
Lecture in the rain
Site diagram
Reality

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë September 30th 2016

We wake up this morning with the ship in the process of anchoring off Sarande, Albania. Our first port of call was supposed to be Ephesus, Turkey, but the political unrest in that country prompted Holland America to switch to Sarande. Sarande is actually just across the bay from Corfu, Greece. The town (and Albania as a whole) is still transitioning to a democracy from the tight-fisted communist rule that ended in 1990. Sarande would dearly love to become the next Corfu. It boasts a rich cultural history and beautiful beaches and natural settings. What is lacking are the facilities and culture shift needed to support rich North American tourists such as ourselves in the style to which we are accustomed. We have selected a tour that focuses on the archeological history of the area. After ... read more
Greek/Roman ruins
Greek/Roman amphitheatre
Intrepid explorers

Europe » Albania September 7th 2016

We have just arrived in Kosovo from Albania, and well into our Intrepid trip so it’s high time I update this blog! We arrived in Tirana, Albania from Brussels really tired. After waiting ages at the airport to get our passports checked (no stamps) and baggage, we hopped into a cab to our hotel. When we hit the city centre it was hello Tirana!! Really hectic traffic particularly around roundabouts! After a cat nap we went to a local café and a general walk around. We seemed to be in the ‘downtown’ area or so we thought. It reminded us of a mini-Cairo, or any other city in the Middle East due to the chaotic traffic. Later we had decided to go for a free walking tour of the city at 6pm. We really didn’t know ... read more
Albania National History Museum
Skanderberg square
Views from Shkoder castle

Europe » Albania » South » Sarandë August 13th 2016

The time had finally come. I've been needing a break from travelling for some time now - I just needed to stop for a while. And so I rented out my own apartment for seven days in the beachside town of Ksamil in Albania's deep south. I had been getting more and more snappy every day; every little thing - if it was annoying, then it was pissing me off. This included the bus down to Saranda from Berat. For a start, I found out that the journey would take six hours rather than the four hours Google Maps said it would take and I soon discovered why. It literally stopped everywhere for everyone and the driver seemed to be a transporter of goods as well as one of people as one dude put an entire ... read more
Roman Baths, Butrint
Water From The Blue Eye Spring
View From The Hostel, Sarande

Europe » Albania » West » Berat August 3rd 2016

You can't really call Tirana's 'bus station' a bus station. There is no terminal building, there are no ticket offices - it is merely a parking lot full of buses. It is pretty chaotic - but then again I've seen worse. Anyway, it was from here that I finally left Tirana for my next destination; Berat. Berat's appeal lies in its impressively intact Ottoman quarter and its hilltop castle; while I had seen the rural, majestic mountains of Northern Albania and the urban, modern metropolis of Tirana, Berat now presented a trip back to Albania's Ottoman past. The cobblestone Ottoman quarter - with perhaps the most slippery cobblestones I have ever encountered - chock-full of white houses, lends Berat its nickname as the "town of a thousand windows" and a walk around i... read more
Berat By Night
View Of Valley And River
The "Giro"

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana August 1st 2016

As we approached the junction where all the buses to Tirana leave from, we get accosted by man offering to take us to Tirana in his car for just 200 leke more. 1.50€ more for a ride in a new-ish Mercedes to Tirana? Sounded good to us. Or maybe that wasn't such a good idea. There is a theory that because Albanians only had access to cars after the fall of communism 24 years ago, that they are still learning how to drive them properly. I wouldn't doubt it. Many of the drivers I have seen on Albanian roads have been crazy and unpredictable. There is no adherence to any sort of rules, it's just a dangerous free-for-all. Dawdling is a common occurrence; cars just driving really slow without pulling over and holding everyone up. Even ... read more
Mosaic
The Pyramid
Inside The Orthodox Church

Europe » Albania » North » Shkodër July 26th 2016

For me, Albania is a country of intrigue. A rare majority-Muslim country on European soil and with a language that looks a bit like Turkish - and a language where I can literally recognise nothing - its culture alone promised to make it very different from anything else I had seen in Europe to date. Which is why Albania was the country I was most interested and excited about visiting on this particular leg of my journey. It isn't really on the tourist radar either - I don't think I have ever had a friend or colleague come back from vacation telling me about their amazing holiday in Albania. Rolling into Shkoder exhausted from the all-night party I pulled the night before back in Montenegro and with the Austrians Frido and Simon that I had met ... read more
Valbona
Lake Koman
View From The Cafe

Europe » Albania » West » Durrës June 19th 2016

We were scheduled to take the Berat: City of a Thousand Windows tour but it was 8 ½ hours long. 8 ½ hours. Don’t think we can do this. We went up to breakfast and saw Skate who said she was on her own. As we finished breakfast, Michael came in and we asked him what he was going to do. He said he thought he’d take the Archeological Treasures tour. That sounded good so we took our tour tickets to the destinations desk to see if we could change them. Absolutely no problem. (Regent’s favorite words, actually.) Got to the Seven Seas Show Lounge and met up with Michael. It was cloudy today and there was evidence of rain so I brought my linen jacket. I forgot my hat and sunscreen, though, so went back ... read more

Europe » Albania » West » Tirana June 16th 2016

Donderdag 16/06/2016 -Vorë Busexcursie naar bergstadje Krujë en hoofdstad Tirana. Het is warm, zeer warm. Eerst historisch stadje Krujë, natuurlijk weeral gelegen op een hoge heuvel. Dus stevig tevoet klimmen. Maar toch de moeite. Prachtig uitzicht. Bezoek aan goed ingerichte geschiedkundig en heemkundig muzea begeleid door humoristische gids. Het bergstraatje er naar toe is een aaneenschakeling van bazarwinkeltjes. Terecht de Bazar genoemd. Tirana dan, is lawaaierig en zeer druk. De helft van de Albanezen leven hier. Veel gebouwen getuigen nog van de communistische periode en de nieuwe hoogbouw schiet hier ook de lucht in. Voor mij geen aanrader om te bezoeken. Blij dat ik terug de bus inkon. Leve de airco. Morgen verlaten we Albanië richting Montenegro.... read more
Krujë - Skanderbergmuzeum
Krujë - Skanderbergmuzeum
Krujë - Skanderbergmuzeum




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