Albania – Tirana, Korçë, Gjirokastër, Sarandë, Dhërmi, Berat, Shkodër & Krujë

Albania is a country that our travel friends had been raving about and we were both keen to see if it would live up to the hype. We hopped on a cheap Wizz Air flight from Barcelona to Tirana and were met at the airport by Genti, the amazing owner of Rental Cars Tirana. He gave us a free ride to our hotel in town and agreed to meet us the next morning to drop off our rental. Our first night in Tirana certainly impressed with an incredible mixed seafood pasta dish for dinner. Prices in Albania were definitely easy on the wallet and we immediately understood why this country has become a budget backpacker’s favorite destination. From Tirana, we decided to do a clockwise loop around the country to see the highlights of Lake Ohrid, Korçë, Gjirokastër, Sarandë, the Albanian Riviera, Berat, Shkodër, Krujë and back to Tirana. Our original plan had us hiking the Accursed Mountains in the northern part of Albania but sadly, we were here too early for the hiking season as the trails were still snowed in. Our whirlwind week in Albania proved that this is a country that has so much to offer – amazing sights, pristine beaches, phenomenal food, affordable prices, and very friendly people. We will definitely be back as we plan to spend more time here going at a more leisurely pace.

Amazing seafood pasta at the Spaghetti House & Fish; Tirana A friendly gas station attendant Albania speed limits Robby attempting to hike to the Ancient Basilica of Lin; Lake Ohrid Double-headed eagle representing the sovereign state of Albania Lin; Lake Ohrid One of the 173,000 concrete bunkers installed by Enver Hoxha who was paranoid that Albania would be invaded during the cold war Wet donkey and horses; Pogradec Resurrection of Christ Cathedral; Korçë The historic bazaar district of Korçë has been transformed into a restaurant/bar area Swiss cheese building; Korçë Andon Zako Çajupi Theatre; Korçë Monument to Communist Guerrillas; Korçë Romanian House; Korçë Mixed grill plate; Korçë View of the drive from Korçë to Gjirokastër A spiral, defensive rock formation One of dozens of WWII memorials erected throughout Albania The beautiful scenery on our drive from Gjirokastër to Korçë Lots of windy roads on the drive from Gjirokastër to Korçë Goats checking us out; Kadiut Bridge Ottoman era Kadiut Bridge Thermal/hot spring near Kadiut Bridge Cave view of pretty Kadiut Bridge The Aqueduct of Benca was built in the 19th century Turquoise colored Vjosa River near Tepelenë The closest we got to the Ujëvara e Peshturës Waterfall Traditional straw huts near Ujëvara e Peshturës Waterfall Old Bazaar; Gjirokastër Ottoman architecture abounds in the city of Gjirokastër Children dressed in tradtional clothing; Gjirokastër Ali Pasha Bridge; Gjirokastër View of Gjirokastër at dusk Gjirokastër Castle Traditional houses in the Old Bazaar area lit up at night; Gjirokastër Old Bazaar section of Gjirokastër Gjirokastër street at dusk Our first view of the park surrounding the Blue Eye, a popular swimming hole Robby on the bridge leading to the Blue Eye The Blue Eye (Syri i Kaltër) is a water spring and natural phenomenon occurring near the village of Muzinë. The seemingly bottomless blue spring can be seen from a depth of 150 feet! Syri i Kaltër spring A floating dock at the Blue Eye spring The Baptistery; Butrint National Park Robby stands inside the Lake Gate, an ancient gate built without mortar at the UNESCO world heritage Roman city of Butrint A canon overlooks Lake Butrint and the Ionian Sea; Butrint National Park Statues at the Archeological Museum of Butrint The Archeological Museum of Butrint; Butrint National Park 3rd Century AD theater; Butrint National Park European Pond Turtles; Butrint National Park Ksamil Islands - understandably popular with tourists and locals alike! Statue of Albanian folk dancers in traditional costumes Cave view of Mirror Beach (Plazhi i Pasqyrave) View from Lëkurësi Castle of Sarandë Our seafood came fresh from these fishing boats at Taverna Fish Land; Sarandë Sarandë Beach Pegasus pirate ship; Sarandë Sheep using the railing to scratch their backs The gorgeous scenery on our drive from Sarandë to Borsh A giant snail; Castle of Borsh Mosque of Hajji Bendo inside the Castle of Borsh Ancient wall fortifications of Sopot Castle Borsh waterfall garden Borsh Beach Porto Palermo Castle Flag of Albania; Palermo Castle The well preserved Porto Palermo Castle Becky meets a friendly dog; Palermo Castle The bay of Porto Palermo once served as an important secret military submarine base. Today, the tunnel is still visible Abandoned church; Castle of Himara Village of Vuno Sunset over Dhërmi Beach Robby on top of the Enver Hoxha "Big Bunker"; Llogara Pass Saint Mary Church; Apollonia Bust of a man wearing a toga; Apollonia Capital from the Church of Saint Mary; Apollonia Detail of a monster on a capital; Saint Mary Church in Apollonia Byzantine fresco; Apollonia The 2nd Century Odeon at Apollonia could seat 650 people A shepherd tending his flock Fier's Ship House Gorica Bridge; Berat Becky kissing Constantine the Great in Berat Quaint cobblestone alley; Berat Church of Holy Trinity; Berat View of Berat from the Castle observation deck Berat is known as the "town of a thousand windows" View of Rruga Antipatrea, the main pedestrian promenade in Berat Traditional houses nestled below Berat Castle Locals playing traditional music; Berat Ottoman houses in the Gorica district of Berat A communist-era war memorial commemorating a partizan battle on 20 September 1943; Berat WWII Memorial; Berat A horse-drawn cart is a common sight in Albania Monument to the Unknown Soldier (Ushtari i Panjohur);  Durrës Mesi Bridge is the largest bridge from the Ottoman era in Albania A fisherman proudly displays his haul near Mesi Bridge; Shkodër Chow chow Monument to Mother Teresa (born in Macedonia to Albanian parents); Shkodër The Lead Mosque, a historical mosque in Shkodër that was built in 1773. It was named "Lead Mosque" because all its cupolas are covered in lead View of the Buna River from Shkodër Castle Local legend states that Rozafa Castle could only be built after a woman was immured in its walls; Shkodër Black and white photograph of plis - traditional Albanian wool skull caps that must be kept white at all times; Shkodër Castle Souvenirs for sale at Kruja Bazaar Tanush Topia Square; Krujë Castle Front entrance of Skanderbeg Museum inside Krujë Castle Mural on the wall of Skanderbeg National Museum Kruja Bazaar is the oldest one in Albania, dating back over 400 years View of a mosque inside Kruja Bazaar Castle of Krujë Ministry of Internal Affairs; Tirana "SOS, Support Ukraine" mural painted in Tirana Independence Monument; Tirana Peppars stuffed with ricotta cheese; Zgara Supreme 2 Chuck Norris Counted to Infinity - Twice! "The Perturbing" mural by Gods in Love; Tirana Detail of a huge mosaic called "The Albanians" that decorates the façade of the National History Museum; Tirana Enlarged detail on an Illyrian knife sheath; National History Museum in Tirana Sphinx decorative foot of a bronze vase from the 3rd Century BC The Beauty of Durrës, a polychromatic mosaic of the 4th century BC and one of the most important ancient discoveries uncovered in Albania Head of Artemis from the 3rd Century BC found in Apollonia Statue of Commander Bato who led the most powerful Illyrian revolts against the Roman Empire Lion belt detail on a soldier; National History Museum Mosaic of Mesaplik from the 6th Century AD Epitaph of Gllavenica which dates back to the year 1373; National History Museum Silver bowl detail; National History Museum Mural on display at the National History Museum; Tirana Exterior frescoes at the Et'hem Bej Mosque in Tirana. These frescoes depict trees, waterfalls and bridges which are motifs rarely seen in Islamic art Interior view of Et'hem Bej Mosque Ornate painted dome of Et'hem Bey Mosque Bunk'Art 2, located near Skanderbeg Square, is a unique museum inside a Communist-era nuclear pit bunker Interior view of a WWII bunker that houses the Bunk'art 2 Museum; Tirana 4 Evergreen Tower townhouse complex in Tirana Ukraine peace mural; Tirana “Spiderman/I have to go” by Flavio Solo & Diamond Uncovering a teddy bear mural Tirana had tons of amazing street art that we accidentally stumbled upon “Kathmandu Girl” by Stinkfish Bunker at Ismail Qemali Park; Tirana Vodafon Bridge; Tirana Tanner's Bridge, an 18th Century livestock bridge in Tirana Olives for sale at the New Bazaar; Tirana Dried fruits, nuts and raki for sale at the New Bazaar; Tirana From Tirana with Love by the Illuminaries Robby next to an oversized quarter; Tirana Statue of Sulejman Pasha Bargjini; Tirana Mural of Albania and Ukraine in solidarity Saying goodbye to our friend Genti, owner of Rental Cars Tirana Onward to our next stop...Serbia here we come! Looking down at a turquoise colored river as we fly over northern Albania View of the Accursed Mountains (Albanian Alps) video lightboxby v6.1

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