luni, 1 august 2011

Day #4, Albania

It was a hard day, yesterday. We woke up early, knowing how hard it will be. But it was even harder. Beautiful, though. We crossed the border to Albania, on the shore of Ohrid Lake, pretty fast. After that, we went South, to visit Bogdan's grandfather village. Yes, he has roots here, in Albania. Thank God his great-grandfather decided to leave. 
Hocist is the last village on the map, the road ends there. Is close to Greece, but is in the mountains. The people are terribly poor and live from agriculture only, mainly of what they produce. 

But there are some interesting buildings, as this neglected church, unfortunately closed, but gorgeous.

This is the school, we had to climb the hill to reach it. Is just on the top of it, surrounded by valleys and very high mountains. When we asked about it, the boy who shown us the way was astonished. We knew the site is very old, with an ancient history, coming from ottoman times.

This is the basketball court... there were cows, either.

On our way back, we took some more pictures in the old church's yard.
Back on the road, we thought it will be better to cross the border in Greece and enter back in Albania through South, so we could take advantage of the better roads and arrive faster in Vlore. Well, we crossed the Albanian border, but in the Greek side were more than 100 cars in line, so we turned back the car, etner Albania again and attacked the terrible roads here.
Poor and with a very weak infrastructure (you cannot cross the country from East to West directly, only on detour roads), Albania has beautiful views, but no roads.

We stopped for lunch on the other side of Ohrid Lake, in this unbelievable restaurant on the lake, enjoying the view and the place. 

We ate some local great fish named Koran (some trout species found only in this extremely clean lake), at a very reasonable price: all this meal, with local beer (Korca) worth about 21 Euros. The fish was about half kilo for each of us. Don't worry, we ate it all.

From the shore, you can see Ohrid and Struga, on the Macedonian side of the lake.

Next stop, after 4 hard driving hours, on some terribly broken roads, was Berat. Don't miss it, if you have the chance to come here, it has an antique bridge and those picturesque houses on the hill.

The other side of the valley is also very beautiful, with old houses very well preserved.

On the very top of the hill is the Berat's citadel, and I will quote now from
"Berat is Albania's most charming medieval town, and the citadel is its best preserved quarter. Surrounded by ancient stone walls, the citadel protects over a dozen churches and many wonderful old houses. The citadel's biggest church, St Mary's, has been converted into the Onufri Museum, honoring Albania's greatest painter of Christian icons.
Just wandering around the citadel quarter reveals glorious views over the rest of Berat towards holy Mt Tomorri, glimpses into the courtyards of traditional houses and a sense of what Albania might have been like before the stolid hand of Communism fell on it."

The citadel is alive, there are people living in all those homes, and is very well preserved.

Is the perfect place to spend some couple of hours, taking pictures at the sunset and watching the magnificent views.

Finally, on the unbelievably broken road to Vlore, late in the evening, right in the middle of the plain, we found the above construction. It was a home, it was a restaurant, who can say?
We are in Vlore now, we will explore the coast to the Ionic See, but I think tonight we will sleep in Greece (if we'll succeed crossing the border - lol).

5 comentarii:

Ionouka spunea...

Vai ce frumos, ce apus, ce stradute, nemaipomenit!

PS: Was the fish tasty? Drooling here!

Camilleta spunea...

Beautiful pictures! As usual. =) Also, I love your dress.

The Fairy's Apprentice spunea...

@Ionouka: Pestele a fost fantastic! Pacat ca se gaseste doar acolo, in Macedonia nu aveau pe nicaieri.
@Camilleta: Thank you! The place was really nice. The dress is an old one, from an outlet Mango, in Spain. :)

Andrada spunea...

E, de rochie voiam si eu sa zic. Mi-a luat ochii. Dar tu ai o sumedenie de rochii frumoase, constat eu...:D

The Fairy's Apprentice spunea...

@Andrada: Am o pasiune pentru rochii, ca sa ma exprim eufemistic :)). Am si un blog unde mai vindeam din ele cand si cand, o sa incep din nou, ca am renuntat la day-job, in sfarsit, si am mai mult timp acum :).