Before heading out of Sarandë we headed up into the hills to an old castle and a monastery. The neatest thing for me was as we looked south we could just see the edge of the Greek island next to the one we spent 3 months on last winter.
After our five days in Sarandë we headed 20 minutes south to the holiday town of Ksamil. If we had known better, we would have taken the extra couple of days in Ksamil rather than Sarandë. Not that Sarandë is bad, it is just that Ksamil is more our preferred pace of living.
As we had done a fairly decent job investigating the coastal area of Albania we chose to take a more interior route back to Tirana to return our rental car. The Stone City of Gjirokaster was our first destination as we departed Ksamil. However, enroute we had to check out The Blue Eye.
As we drove through the mountains toward Gjirokaster you can’t help but notice the number of quarries within sight of the highway. It quickly becomes obvious why Gjirokaster is known as the Stone City.
From Gjirokaster we made our way north to Berat, The City of a Thousand Windows. We spent a couple of nights here and quite enjoyed it. This is a city I could easily spend a month just relaxing.
After spending a couple of nights in Berat enjoying good food, great raki, and a wonderful Air B&B we headed back to Tirana to drop off our rental car.
Our trip to the North Macedonia border was uneventful and provided us with a great opportunity to reflect on our time in this small corner of the Balkans. Albania is truly a country with great hope and opportunity. They have already overcome more challenges than anyone in North America can even hope to conceive. At no point did we ever feel unwelcome or resented. If you are ever thinking you would like to try travelling to a country that is a bit different from the norm, yet is safe and welcoming, I heartily suggest you give Albania a try. Will we ever return? I truly hope so. I believe there is some more raki I need to sample.