A Travellerspoint blog

Day -14

Berati

sunny

I took a taxi together with to English girls and an Australian one to the bus station, and than the bus to Berati.
The girls went to a mid range hotel and I looked for a cheaper one when an elder man asked me if I'm looking for a room and offered a room at his home for 1000 leke.

It's one of Berat's classic houses that gave it the name "the town of thousand windows". The entrance is in a small alley a few steps of steep climb from the main street.

When the sun goes down it lights all "thousand windows" with fire as the all are on the hillside facing west.

Immediately after settling in the room I went up to the castle.
There are families living in the castle and keeping it in good condition, "the keepers of the castle". It's the same in the castles of Elbasani and Kruja. They call them castles but actually they are citadels – fortified towns that control the river and land ways.
Berat's castle controls Osumi river and the road along the left bank.
There are ruins of fortifications that controlled the right bank.

There are remains of churches and of a minaret of the red mosque, and one small church that is still intact. I didn't try to find out if there is a possibility to go inside. Seeing the outside was enough for me.

I went down thinking it was too late to see the ethnographic museum, but the girls I went with met me there and told me they are coming from there and that it's open till 7pm. I went in and found an old house, all covered with carpets (not Turkish Kilims like in many other places) with all the old tools and kitchenware as people lived there more than 100 years ago.
It's different than other museums as it's shows specific way of living in this area only.

When I went out to the yard I met my landlord building with another guy a new place for a new exhibition using old techniques.

The old town centre is small and pretty dull but food and drinks are expansive due to the many tourists. The new town is quite far and looks like communist workers suburb, so there is no point going there.

Posted by sapan 04:10 Archived in Albania Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Days -12-13

Peshkopia to Tirana and touring the capital

sunny

I started the day too late again. If I started earlier I could go to the turn to Kruja, see the town and the famous castle that was once Skanderbeg's residence, and then go to Tirana.
The road from Peshkopia to Tirana is another wonderful scenic road, but the minibus driver was really crazy. A poor girl on the back seat vomited because of the wild driving, and it didn't even occur in the driver's mind he could help her by driving more gently and stop taking curves so sharply, and not take over slower cars in impossible places.
I was frightened and rarely seen the amazing landscape.

At last we got to Tirana in one peace. I had to take a bus to Skanderbeg square to look for a hotel.

Tirana's prices are double than the rest of the country, so, after trying one supposedly cheap hotel that came out pretty expansive I went to the backpackers' hostel.

It's a nice place in an excellent location, central but quiet, with nice people running it. It's a well preserved old house, and this group of young people run it and live there.

It was a good change to be with other travelers and change information and ideas (first time since Pristine).
That afternoon I walked a bit around Skanderbeg square making plans for the next day, found a good cheap place to dine and spent the evening with some people at the guesthouse, some guests and some workers till late.

Next morning, surprise, I started quite early. The national historical museum opens quite late so I found myself in the market. The market is huge. Most shops sell cheap textile, quite many of the rest sell simple gadgets, toys and tourists' memorabilia and one here one there sell other stuff for the local people. Among those are grocery stores, Boryk and bread bakeries, hardware and kitchenware shops and so on.
It's a colourful and lively market and it was very nice to spend time walking there till the museum opened.

The museum is very interesting. The front is a huge mosaic facing the square.
It covers the history of the country since prehistoric era, through the Illyrian rule of most of the Balkan, periods of Greek occupation of parts of it, Roman period, Byzantine, Turkish, independence in Skanderbeg time, Turks again, Venetians, independence war on the turn of the 20th century, Italian and German occupation during world wars, communist regime and last, democracy.
There are some exhibitions of art works, clothes of different eras and of various parts of the country.
It takes a few hours to go through all of it, but it worth the effort as it gives the spectator a wide insight of the people and of the country.

After that I went around town centre, looked at mosques, churches, parks (there are many small ones), and just some streets and buildings and people all around.
I didn't go into any mosque or church because after the museum I was too exhausted to concentrate in art and such things.

It was a full and tiring day. I took a short nap, than had dinner with some other guest, got something for breakfast (its hard to find a place that serves breakfast in most of the country) and than sat again till late with a bunch of travelers.
I asked the local guys about a place with live music, preferably jazz, but they told me there are only places with popular music like hip hop and such, so I proffered the good discs they put on there and the nice company.

Posted by sapan 04:08 Archived in Albania Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Day -11

From Kukës to Peshkopia.

sunny

On this Sunday morning I was surprised to find out that people are not going to Peshkopia that day so there is no minibus.
Again, bad luck became good as a guy with a private Mercedes offered me a lift for 20 euros and settled for 2000 leke.
The driver knows the road so well, that before any pothole or bump he slows down. On this hair pinning road it was very important. Many times it's the edge of chasm.
The road was the most beautiful scenic road I passed in my life, and thanks to the perfect driver, sitting in te front of a comfortable car with open window, I could take many photos.

When we entered Peshkopia I asked about a hotel mentioned in Bradt, but the driver said it's far from town center, so when we passed hotel Brazil (with a huge flag of Brazil painted on the front and Brazilian football games on video).
It's a nice, simple, cheap hotel, but the restaurant is very good.
They have traditional dishes and grilled meats but I had the best trout I ever had for only 3 euros. The whole meal with a starter, side dish and beer cost me 5 euros.

The owner is a very nice person and we had some talks.
I told him (sorry fellows I felt it was right) he should raise the food price for tourists having different menus in Shqiptar and in foreign languages.
Town center is nice, the rest is pretty poor, but the surrounding scenery is great. I should have gone from there to Korça via lake Ohrit, but decided to go to Tirana on my way to the south.

Posted by sapan 04:05 Archived in Albania Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Day -10

Back to Shqiperia, Kukës.

sunny

I didn't get up early enough to catch the morning bus to Kukës so I took the bus to Prizren.
I was a bit weak after last day so I decided to skip town and go to Kukës soon.
Taxi drivers near the station started at 50 euros, went down to 35 and then 20. I thought I'll have to wait for the bus (3-4 euros) but than a guy approached me and offered a ride for 1o, so we went together. Of course this guy had to go there anyway but it was good for both of us.

The cheapest hotel in Bradt guide, Giallica, was upgraded and they charge 20 euros per night plus 5 for breakfast, so I went to look further. In town center I found Tirana hotel for 10 euros.

I took the room and went down to the bar, where I'd met Reshat, his brother two cousins and a friend. I had a beer with them and they refused my offer to pay, even for myself.
Reshat, who lives in Belgium and has a Belgian wife told me he's going later with his father to see his father's village and ancient tunnels dug near by.
I said I would be very glad to come' and so, in the afternoon Reshat, his father, wife and I went there. The tunnels are very deep, upto 500m. Nobody knows who dug them but local people say they are more than 2000 years old.
Today they are used for keeping food for winter, as it's cool and dry inside and things don't freeze when it's snowing outside.
Some entrances to the caves are used for domestic animals, and some were used as bunkers at Hoxha's era.
The village is on the shoulder of a mountain between the rivers White Drin north and Borjes south of the village. In the Borjes river valley by the road to Prizren, Kosova, there is a hill of copper mine debris.
This place should be researched and become a tourist attraction.
It was Saturday and there were many noisy colourful wedding parades since I came and more next morning.

Posted by sapan 04:03 Archived in Albania Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Day - 9

In bed

sunny

Dinner cost me a day in the guesthouse, close to the bathroom, going out only for bread and water that with medicine made my diet all day.

Posted by sapan 04:00 Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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