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Albanian Road Trip – Part 2

Welcome to the Albanian coastal city of Vlorë. This was such a delightful find after our disappointment in the city of Durrës. Not that Durrës was awful, it is just a classic port city, enough said. We stayed a couple of nights in a lovely hotel run entirely by women. It is what you would expect. Clean, efficient, and a pleasure to stay in. In my eyes Vlorë benefits from the fact that the more popular coastal destination in Albania is 160km south of them. It feels a bit more authentic and much less intense than Sarandë. And it has a castle! Then again not many places in Albania don’t.

As you approach Kanine Castle it is quite impressive considering it is supposed to have been built in the 3rd century BC and it is mostly ruins.
Then you turn around and you realize what a spectacular vantage point it occupies. There is not a lot left other than some walls, but I think it is worth the trip up.
The view of Vlorë from Kanine Castle
The town of Vlorë is quite nice. The main square has a monument to the successful struggle to overthrow the Ottoman Empire in 1912. The pride the Albanians feel in their national identity has come through in a number of sites we have visited.
The more pedestrian place to check out is the Old Town, by day…
Or by night. Nice restaurants and bars to be investigated here.

We headed south toward the city of Sarandë with high hopes. We had been told the coastal road and the Llogara Pass were absolutely breathtaking to drive through. Unfortunately our first day of crappy weather in Albania descended on us on our travel day.

The only sight we were able to see was this graffiti covered bunker on the descent from Llogara Pass.

We were initially booked into an apartment for 3 days in Sarandë. However, after poking around we felt it needed more time so we tacked on an extra couple of days.

Sarandë is considered the heart of what is called the Albanian Riviera. Because of the steep rocky hills surrounding it, it is a very congested, crowded city. Even in the shoulder season.

One of the reasons we chose to extend our stay in Sarandë is that it has easy access to the Greek island of Corfu. We have never been to Corfu, so off we went on a day trip.

Choosing to look at the positive side of things, when we arrived in our little pedestrian ferry, The Flying Dolphin (foreground), we found there were three cruise ships in port that day. The positive side I was mentioning is that because of that, everything in Corfu was open for the day. We were finding this was not the case in most places we had visited on the coast.
We hopped off the ferry after our 40 minute crossing and purchased tickets on the Hop On Hop Off bus in the port. We could have gone the more budget way and utilized the public transit buses, however we had decided to go full tourist this day. Our first stop was the far end of the city of Corfu at an outlook over Mouse Island. No mice there, the story goes that either the island is shaped like a mouse, or it is a small as a mouse. Who knows.
The Corfu windmill was interesting, however…
When you turned around you got a view of The Old Fort. More impressive to me though was the locals swimming along the jetty. Stairs and railings have been installed all along the jetty and there were easily a dozen local men and women either swimming or just floating out there chatting with each other. For me, that is living.
We did the obligatory walk through the Old Town which was very pretty. When we stopped for lunch we were informed that all the toilets in the Old Town were not working. If you are ever having a bad day, just imagine being the person in charge of water supply when three cruise ships offload in your town and the water supply to the most tourist intensive areas decides this is the day to rupture.

Corfu was fun, and for us was the equvailant of a shore day from a cruise ship. But when it was done I was glad to be heading back to Albania. There was a bunch more to investigate. One item on our list was to drive back to Llogara Pass on a clear day and check it out.

The top destination for me, thank goodness for Karen’s patience, was Porto Palermo Fortress. It was a key installation in Ottoman leader Ali Pasha’s defences.
The views out to the sea from the roof were awesome.
Matched only by the views toward land.
You certainly would have the high ground advantage on anyone trying to approach the fortress.
For those of you with an interest in castles and such, the internal construction was very cool.
The other item I wanted to check out in Porto Palermo was the World War 2 German submarine pens. Once again, very cool.

I am going to wrap things up here for part 2 of our journey in Albania. There is one more part coming which I’ll get done once we have crossed over into North Macedonia. Truly this country is amazing. There is no denying the challenges they face in catching up to the rest of the world after their forced isolation, but the words Hope and Promise come to mind.

Welcome to our travel blog. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to say, "I'm out of here?" Well we did, and in 2013 we made it a reality. We sold or gave away all of our possessions other than what fit in our luggage and we set off on an endless adventure. Part of our goal is to share our experiences with others and hopefully provide some information, motivation, or just a moments escape. The general idea was to look for a place that would be ideal to settle down in. However in the meantime it is about experiencing life in different countries amongst different cultures and learning how to understand and appreciate each other. A large part of our time is spent housesitting which provides an excellent opportunity to experience more of the "normal" neighbourhoods as opposed to the tourist locales. Though we make sure to enjoy those as well. So through plenty of photographs and a running commentary come and share with us our life on the road.

2 comments on “Albanian Road Trip – Part 2

  1. Rosemary Hosking

    Thank you so much for your interesting posts. As armchair travellers we really enjoy following your travel adventures around the world and hearing about the places you stay and animals you care for

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