15.09.2008 - 16.09.2008
I had to catch an early bus to Korça. There was just a drip outside and now I had my raincoat, so the ten minutes walk to the bus stop in the clear air wasn't bad. I had a good coffee near the bus stop with a sandwich I prepared earlier.
The road along the Drinos river valley and later Vjosa river is another beautiful scenic road, but the dark gray sky and the condensation on the window prevented full appreciation of that wild beauty.
In Korça the weather was a bit better, but still gloomy.
I went immediately to Hani Elbasanit, an old Turkish caravan Han.
Ground flour is not stables area any more. Instead it became a part of the large market around the Han.
The second flour thou, continue to be a guesthouse as in the old days.
The place is amazing, all made of old wood that looks like museum exhibit, cleaned thoroughly all day long and taken care of as well as it should.
There is a little difference between local guests and tourists.
The local guests use authentic Turkish bathroom, but tourists pay 100 leke more (less than 1 euro) and get a key to modern bathroom with hot water (one have to unplug the washing machine and plug the water heater in 30-45 min. before taking a shower).
The total cost of a room was 400 leke a night.
The market outside the Han is an interesting one. Like most old markets, there are whole streets and alleys of similar shops, like shoes street, hardware street and so on.
I intended to go to Pogradec to see lake Ohrit, but the weather was still too bad for that, but good enough to walk around.
On the main square there is a big cathedral and near by nice cafes and fancy fashion shops.
Korça looks different than other Shqiptar cities, much more like a city in central Europe, with wide avenues and a lot of vegetation on the streets and avenues, and especially in the many large parks all around.
There are interesting museums there, but there is a problem visiting them.
One is the museum of education in the building of the first school in Shqiperia. The building lopos nice and well preserved and in the yard there is a statue of the letters A, B and C with an inkstand and a quill pen.
That's nice, but they have a bell to notify them of visitors. I rang the bell and nobody came. I tried again, knocked on the door and nothing happened. I went away and came back after two hours or so, within their opening hours, and nobody replied.
There is a special museum of orthodox icons. I was looking for it, but nobody seemed to know what I was talking about, including travel agents, until I found someone who told me in German how to get there.
The icon museum is behind a church and a monastery and has a unique collection of icons I have never seen such.
Even the earliest icons there, dating 14th-15th century have depth like more modern works of art, and not like most orthodox icons that still follow the Byzantine flat style.
It's a nice collection of art works even if one has no idea or interest of those saints.
My reception in the Han included. Like every other tourist staying there, acquaintance with Ilia, a local retired teacher who lives there. Ilia and I had some conversations, I told him about Israel and he told me about Shqiperia and especially about the operation of the communist regime he opposed in minor deeds because he didnwt want to be expelled from teaching. He's a pessimist about the future of his country, unlike most Shqiptar.