In the south the roads and towns improve and close to the Greek border it is hard to tell the difference between Albania and Greece. Except for the bunkers, thousands of them, in groups of three some ten rows deep, stretching as far as the eye can see. Enver Hoxha must have been pretty sure we were gonna invade from Greece.
No matter which road you take in Albania its guaranteed you will be off the beaten track. There are still some communist era monuments that did not get destroyed in the 1996 uprising but they are few and far between. Shkoder had huge oversized communist monuments on the roundabouts yet the rest of the main street looked like an African shanti town, very bizzare. unfortunately its all on video and not yet converted to digital.
Your whole trip to Albania is a off the beaten path.
So it won't be necessary to be more off the beaten path.
If you want to be more off the beaten path than you should go go to rural destinations.
There you can see how they earn their money.
Though Albania has a dry climate people try to do agriculture.
Some are moving forword with horses and oxen.
That you can't see often in all Europe!
These were my local 'tour guides'! The mass of water behind is connected to the River Drin which runs through Kukes.
The old town of Kukes is submerged under the lake.
The lake is used for recreational use in the summer.
Absolutely stunning, you won't be able to put your camera away.
The North-East of Albania is as much unexplored as today as it was 20 years ago. Unlike neighbouring Kosova it has received fractional if zero media attention. Probably because the area is well-known to be bound up in blood feuds and it's locals have little respect for the law, but these are local issues and it is much less dangerous than the home office website would tell you.
I know because I have been there. People are simple, kind, pro-west, not wild outback bandits waiting in the bushes on the off chance that a rich westerner will come their way. Westerners...there are no westerners there. The only westerners that ever go there are the girlfriends of local boys that have flown the nest and of course the old soldier. If you want to experience something and somewhere that cannot be seen in any magazines or brochures but offers all the breathtaking views and local hospitality then please read on and check my Albania pages marked Kukes. The scenery will not dissapoint.
most places in albania are off the beaten track, but if you take the small roads then you really get a feel of being far away from home.
this road here is a little north east of tirana, where i went on my mountainbike one day.
very cool place for biking.
The beautiful stretch of coast between Saranda and Vlore is paralleled by the most spectacular and most dangerous road in Albania, which apparently hasn't been repaired since World War 2. The many crosses along the abyss clearly show, that the road is simply not wide enough for two vehicles.
A 2000m high mountain range forms the hinterland and at the foot of the mountains there are long white beaches, deserted even in summer. The sea here has a wonderful blue color and it's easy to see why this region is called Albanian Riviera.
If you drive along the coastal highway be sure to stop at the wonderful panorama caf?, about halfway between Saranda and Vlore. The views are spectacular!
The ruins of the ancient city of Butrint south of Saranda are a UNESCO cultural heritage site. Some of the structures are still surprisingly well-preserved, esp. the theater and the public baths.
Chances are that you can explore the ruins all by yourself, even in August.
Some of the most spectacular mountain scenery of Albania can be admired on the road through the country's wild and poor North-East.
For a long time this region was off-limits for independent travelers due to banditry, but the situation has improved and the road is now heavily patrolled by the military.
Kukes itself is an unremarkable town at the back of beyond, but the surrounding area is stunningly beautiful.
a charming,unspoilt,fishing village,apart of its ancient importance,is well worth a detour to see the wooden and stone houses....and also for good sandy beach on the far side of the promontory.
lake ochrid is very rich in fish,particularly a unique member of the trout family,the "koran" ,which is delicious to eat and can often be bought cheaply from local fishermen.
this fish makes also famous macedonian city of ohrid,situated on the opposite edge of the lake....
Amantia was a typical Illyrian hilltop settlement,with an original walled enclosure about 500m long and 60m wide.The walls extend for 2200m. It was established about 350BC, probably by members of the Taulanti tribe.A large fort was built with two gates and two defensive towers to the north. It occupied an important defensive position above the Vjosa river valley to the east,and on the road to the coast and the Bay of Vlora. It appears to have grown into a prosperous and influencial urban centre quite quickly, in contrast to some of the Illyrian sites in the north where a more primitive rural culture remained dominant.
The work Coastal Passage,attributed to Scylax ,links it closely with ancient Oricum,in the Bay of Vlora.It was among the earliest Illyrian cities to mint its own coins.It was included in the Epirote League in 230 BC.
After the period of Greek colonisation it came under the influence of Apollonia.In the Roman period it declined in importance and was bypassed by the Egnatian and Candavian Ways. Amantia remained a small urban centre and in early Christian times was the seat of a bishop.It is thought that it may have been abandoned by the end of the 6C AD.
The Stadium is about 100m below the site to the south-east and is the principal monument.Excavations have revealed that it was used for athletic contests inkluding ruunning races,boxing,javelin and discus throuwing.It is 55m long and 12,25m wide.Turn left and walk along the walls to the south-west,after about 200m are the foundations of a temple of aphrodite,then about another 100m,a particularly well-preserved section of Illyrian Wall ,built of polygonal shaped masonry. About 100m down the hillside,below the section of Illyrian wall , are the remains of a small early christian church and an ancient temple.
"steel of the party":metallurgical complex,built with chinese assistance in the 1960s and 1970s.
it was called "the second national liberation of albania" by enver hoxha,and was designed to refine ferro-chrome,nickel and other ores so that they could be sold abroad in a concentrated form,rather than exported in their natural state.
with its chimneys,the tallest in the balkans,always belching smoke and emitting a stream of dangerous polluants,the city became a byword for the problems of hoxha industrial development,and soon meant that much of the prosperous agricultural area in the river valley was useless for all crops...
the largest building of its kind in the balkans,was begun in 2th c. ad,under reign of emperor hadrien.
about 15000 spectators could be seated,with entrances for gladiators and wild animals.
only partly excavated,and as you can see on photo,ottoman and modern buildings remain on sides of the arena.
they founded an early christian chapel,under the ranks of seats.
magnificently situated 135m high ;byzantine citadel,quite impregnable,built on sheer cliffs,with its own water supply and secret passages leading down to the riverside below......hence gave rise to some of the most blood soaked sieges ever seen in europe,particularly the final heroic
defence against the turks in 1479 in the siege of shkodra....60000 unburied corpses lying on the battlefield...
up,spectacular views on the surroundings and on the lake
Try and find a local - we found a school teacher with a minibus - who knows where any nearby archaeological sites are. There are no other tourists (there certainly weren't when we were there) and no Disneyland effects to bely the true nature of antiquity.
Having spent approximately 5 months in the Sheraton-Tirana, I know the "ins" and the "outs" of the...more
Rr. Veli Zaloshnja, Berati Lakes, Berat, 1233, Albania
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
Sheshi 2 Prilli, Shkoder, 1233, Albania
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
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