This post is a while overdue. In July 2017, we traveled a lot in Albania. There is so little news about this country that even going back years I could barely find a few articles or tour descriptions to have at least basic information. A few of my fellow hikers had already been out, so we knew where we were going.
The population of Albania is mostly Muslim and traditional. This is reflected in their food, their cities, their music - which is very rich - and their hospitality.
We started from Macedonia, we left the car at a house on the shore of Lake Ohrid. The lake is also beautiful, if you don't stick to the beach, it's an ideal family vacation spot, but we didn't really come here to frolic.
Bunkers and shooting towers lined the road even before the border. We were a few kilometers past the Albanian border. The first section of the road is not particularly exciting, we drove south towards Korca in relatively flat countryside. It was getting dark even before the mountains, so we tried to find a place to stay. It's not that simple here. We found a huge, completely deserted hotel that had seen better days. From the outside, you would have said that it had been uninhabited for the last 10 years. In any case, it served the purpose. The next day we drove through beautiful mountain scenery on various roads, but mostly on asphalt. Here we found accommodation in a campsite, next to a trout. We didn't push ourselves too hard, we drove an average of 100 km a day. We also visited the Langarica canyon.
We didn't get much sleep here, as Andris continued into the canyon that evening, without a lamp or a map. Of course, he was a routine hiker, but it ended up being a search that lasted until dawn. Even the police got involved in the rescue operation, they were so scared that a tourist had disappeared. By the way, the place is really magical, you shouldn't miss it:) The next day we wound down to the Greek border, the road went through a valley of rivers with beautiful blue water. At least we could splash here sometimes, because it was so hot. The destination was Girokastra Castle. Here we waited for the other half of the team, who were only able to leave a day later. There is a military history museum in the castle, it is worth a visit.
We were already quite south, but anyway it was the middle of summer, terribly hot. The landscape has also changed, deciduous forests have been replaced by junipers or bare rock. Even the downhill wind burned in the boilers. The instrument once measured 50 degrees. In this heat, it was impossible to roll efficiently, we didn't really go fast, but we still reached the sea. We drove down to Butrin, which is famous for its Roman ruins. I think it's unmissable. We camped on the beach in Ksamil after finding the best restaurant in the area. Indeed. I have never eaten such delicately prepared, fresh seafood, garlic, butter, parsley and a breathful of coriander. Anyway, we challenged the chef separately, who at first didn't really understand what we wanted. Then, however, he was moved to tears when it turned out that this commotion was about his cooking.
By the way, it can be said about Albania that the food is very good. And they're cheap too. Everywhere there are beautifully cultivated back gardens full of delicious fruit. Fresh mutton and beef are available everywhere, as well as dairy products and pastries.