Villages around Durres
If you can get a taxi or a car, there is little village about 1hr-ish out of Durres called Kruje, the drive there is amazing, it takes you past some of the mines dug into the hillside, and the village itself is ancient, with a very quaint 'shopping street' where you can buy intricate marble carvings and statues, to antique irons and Albanian Communist medals and everything in between. The people there are very friendly and there is an excellent restaurant in the fort that is overlooking the town and neighbouring countryside, its also a hang out of many UN and charity people over the weekend, so there are English speakers around. I don't know if he is still there but keep your eye out for a boy (now a young man I should think) that speaks about 7 different languages fluently. If you're in the area for whatever reason, its definitely worth a visit.
Xhamia e Madhe
The pearl white Madhe Mosque (Xhamia e Madhe) sits overlooking the shady town square, where the sensible old folk of the city take refuge from the burning midday mediterranean sun. It's pristine condition can be attributed to the fact that it is practically brand new. It was built in 1993 with Egyptian money after the previous one had been destroyed in the 1979 earthquake.
Sitting in the centre of the city it makes for a good navigation marker, not that you're likely to get lost in Durres. The only difficulty to navigating Durres is finding anything, as little is signposted. Once you have been somewhere, it's easy to find your way back.
Head north from the port, and you'll find yourself on a seafront promenade. The first part is backed by gardens and a lacklustre funfair, but further on are some cafes and small hotels, as well as a half-finished pier which is popular with fishermen. Keep walking, and you'll eventually arrive at a makeshift shack, calling itself "Baywatch"...don't get too close trying to look for bronzed lifeguards in red and yellow swimwear, as the only occupant seems to be a mad barking dog.
Outskirts of Durrësi
In the outskirts of Durrësi, house owners seem to have completely unleashed their inspiration for the choice of the colors to paint their house. Look at this bright blue and bright yellow house with red stripes! On the second photo, even a garage have been painted in bright blue, may be with the paint that remained from the house!
30 km away from Durrësi, in Fushë-Krujë, I will show more brightly colored houses (page not yet built).
"My time in Durres"
I lived in Durres for 5 months from November 2001 to April 2002. I worked in support of the KFOR mission at Comm Z West, I experienced a lot of life there, but maybe not as in depth as I had my own car and accommodation provided by my company. I enjoyed my time thoroughly, the people are very friendly, if not a little dodgy, but its a good place to visit just because it is so far off the beaten track, its life at possibly the rawest you will find so close to çivilised Europe (in my humble opinion).
The photo here is of a line of bunkers, during the cold war Albania invested in thousands of them and they can be found dotted along roads, in hills, all over the place, they are quite a teling relic of the past days of cold war Europe, you can imagine the Albanian government preparing for an invasion!!
"And a bit more....."
During my time I got to drive around a bit, especially around Durres, there is a history in Albania that you might not think of, including the largest Roman ampitheatre in Europe, hidden away, not many tourist signs etc, so you can still find real treats here if you know where to look....
This photo is taken from the former Kings palace, which had been commandeered by KFOR as a communications post due to its location on the top of a hill.