Probably one of the most special trips during this holiday was our day-visit to Albania. Not only was it remarkable to go to a country that no one I know has ever visited, but to experience a culture that is so similar yet so different to my own, even if it was for just a day, was downright incredible.
We woke up early in the morning, while the sun was still rising above the mountains which made for an utterly beautiful panorama.
After a 30-minute drive via small and narrow roads, we safely arrived at the harbour of Corfu-Town. This was where the fun started. Honestly, I believe that it took us an hour to walk to the ticket office, find the right ferry, and actually board. Not having had that much sleep, and even less breakfast, this was not a particulary great way to start the day. Luckily, I had my headphones with me and could snooze a bit during the 30-minute boat ride. I’m not a big fan of boats, especially not ones that look like they might disintegrate at any given time.
We survived though (ofcourse we did, I am such a dramaqueen when it comes to big waters, ugh) and arrived in the coastal town called Sarandë. Many Albanians and Greeks come here to spent their summer, which can be seen by the many hotels and beach clubs. Albania has it’s own language and currency, although you can actually pay with Euros in the more touristic places.
At the harbour we were met by a lovely Albanian woman who would be our guide for the day. My father had arranged for a private mini-van (yes, we are spoiled), so we could ask the guide anything we’d like and move at our own pace. The guide was great, and so passionate about her country and culture. She had so much to tell us, that I don’t even know what to mention here.
Our first stop was an old church surrounded by hills. A couple of cows and donkeys grazing the fields, and farmers working their land. A small churchyard accompanied the church, whose interior is currently being restored. The small hill that it stood on offered us an overview of the countryside.
The next stop was an old Roman settlement called Butrint, which is absolutely stunning. There are still a lot of frescos in the old buildings, however they are covered as the water levels rise and fall, which damages the frescos permanently. They are only shown to the public about once a year. To be quite honest, I am not that interested in the actual ruins and settlements, that’s more of interest to my parents and brother. However, I was so enchanted by the pure beauty of the Albanian environment.
I’m such a sucker for nature. How the green and blue clash so perfectly with each other. Or what about pathways shielded by trees? I love it.
Butrint is actually an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and encircled by a natural park park in which many rare flora and fauna can be found. It’s like an oasis of silence compared to the busy touristic town of Sarandë. If you ever do happen to be in the south of Albania, please go there! It would be so worth it.
So around this time we still had not eaten anything and were up for about 7-8 hours. We were getting grumpier and grumpier, and then there we were. On a hill, eating lunch at an old castle. With views on Sarandë. So pretty.
Unfortunately, as I was absolutely starving, I downed my beer and literally attacked my food. Thus, disabling myself to take any photos. Stupid. I do remember that I had Bifteki though. This is basically a large ground beef pancake filled with feta cheese. It’s sort of like cordon bleu, except with beef instead of chicken. Although, it was really delicious, the amount of meat was enormous.
Late in the afternoon, we traveled back on a rough sea which made several people on the boat nauseous, my siblings very sleepy, and myself very scared. Yet we left with new knowledge and good memories.
Aaaand this post is getting way too long again. I did not know I had that much to say about one day. Anyways, I guess this is enough for now. The next part will also be the final one, in which I will finally talk about the nectar of the gods which is called Retsina. Be prepared.