As soon as there no more honey sellers along the road, it begins to climb steeply and the road runs zigzags with hairpins bends. The part of the road from Dhërmi to Llogara pass was the first one to be improved, ie widened and getting a brand new coat. In 2007, that was already done, while no roadwork had yet begun on the southern section to Sarandë.
It should be pointed out that the segment from Llogara to Vlorë is old and was in 2007 in fair condition (I do not remember of its condition in 1988) : 2 lanes narrow road with a fair but not excellent coating. In 2009, it had not yet been improved to the new standard.
Just as we went to our car to drive to Vlorë, a herd of 20-30 cows with their calves came down from a path, upper than the pass and took the road to Vlorë. They hindered the road (photo 1) but we had to overtake them!
They had two herdsmen and one tried to restrain them to the right of the road while I overtook them one by one (photo 2). That took some time as some of the cows, somehow afraid, accelerated! (photo 3). Fortunately, at the same time, they tried to graze on the way when the temptation for a tuft of yummy grass was too strong! (photo 4)
Why donkeys would roam on the side of the road where there is nothing to graze while on the other side there is plenty to make their living? I have been searching for an explanation to this odd behavior and the only sensible explanation that I have found is that donkeys appreciate beauty and are keen to watch at the breathtaking landscape of the Albanian Riviera. This is the only possible explanation.
At Llogara pass itself, in front of the entrance into Hotel Restaurant Appolonia, a new building is almost finished (may 2009). Obviously, it has been designed as a bar and restaurant with a dining room overhanging the slopes that go down to the sea.
On top of Logare pass, fist on the left when you climb from the south, stands a bar and restaurant (sorry, I forgot to write down its name!) with amazing tables and chairs made of wrought iron (photo 1).
Photo 2 is a close up on a chair. Actually, these chairs are not uncomfortable but do not expect to just push one when you want to sit-down! You will have to lift the chair in order to push it at a short distance?
Along the new road, strong concrete walls have been build each time there is a hazard of stones rolling on the road during each strong rainfall. Actually, that means that there are kilometers of smooth but crude concrete. Why not to use it as a several kilometers long board for free advertising.
As we were there in may 2009, elections were to take place a few weeks later. If you enlarge the three photos, you will see that there are ads for the various parties running for the elections and ads for restaurants and else
The range of the Çika Mountain stretches from the Karaburun peninsula, where it is much lower, to Qeparo and Borsh. It reaches 2,044 meters elevation, not far from Llogara pass. This might be Mali i Athanasit, 2,044 m (Athanasius mount) on this photo.
If you enlarge the photo, you will see a tiny strip at the very bottom of the photo. This is the excellent road that we followed to arrive here.
I know, you will not see honeybees on this photo that was taken 20 meters away from the bee houses but look at the plants and shrubs that stand around the calf. As honeybees collect honey from the same highly odoriferous plants, no wonder that this honey is a pure marvel.
In 2009, there seemed to be more bee houses along the road (photo 1) but less honey sellers. They seemed to be better organized and most of them had now a well-built shelter for their trade (photo 2). Moreover, honey was now sold in two sizes of glass jars (photo 3). No second hand plastic bottles anymore! May be next time, honey will be sold in an air-conditioned shop!
When the road begins to climb smoothly towards Llogara pass, it is framed on both sides with honey sellers. Jars and bottle of honey are standing either on a small table (photo 1) or on the rear of a wrecked truck (photo 2 and enlargement on photo 3), wisely arranged. Photo 4 gives a general view with a few bee houses standing around.
The keepers are not by the side of the jars but resting under the shade of some bush and rush as soon as you stop you car. The honey is brownish and very liquid. When I stopped to buy some, the man made me understand that I should taste it. OK, but how? He made me understand that I should drink directly from the jar, which I did! Why not, as honey is has a strong antiseptic power! The taste was very rich, almost like the famous Greek thyme honey but with an even stronger flavor. A must taste!
About one kilometer down to Llogara pass, on its Northern side, this fountain flows freely with fresh mountain water for the travelers. I understand it is more useful for those that walk from Dukat, the first village below the pass, 5 km away. We saw several groups of youngsters that obviously made this walk. I am sure they were very glad to find the fountain. The fountain wall is a good spot for political advertising!
On the western side (sea side) of Llogara pass, a huge monument seems to be half abandoned and is not in good condition. At first sight, I felt that it should be from the Enver Hoxa era with warriors fighting for the country, etc, which would have explained its poor condition. However, on the southern end, the date “1920” shows that it is older and dates from the struggle for the independence of Albania (first photo).
The northern end of the monument (second photo) specify “ 1950 5 VI” (5th of June 1920).
This has obviously to do with the independence of Albania. After some research, I found that after the congress of Lushnjë (08/01/1920) and the formation of a new government established in Lushnjë but that soon moved to Tiranë, it took control of several zones of the country.
On February 21st, the Tiranë government took control of Durrës and the last territories controlled by the Durrës government.
On March 13th, the French returned Shkodër to Albania and on May 26 the eastern zones the occupied in Albania.
On May 29, a Committee for National Defence was built that required the return to Albania of the Vlorë region occupied by the Italian. “As Italy refused all concessions the committee started a revolt on jun 05”
Here we are !
5th of June 1920 was the beginning of the Albanian-Italian War!
Finally, on Aug 22nd, by the agreement of Tiranë, after their defeat in the battle of Vlorë the Italians agreed to withdraw all their forces from Albania.
On top of Llogara pass, a parking space is for Bar, Restorant Apollonia. The place looks very welcoming with small houses half hidden under the pine trees. However, that was not time for a meal and we have not been there.
Beginning not long after Dhërmi, the road to Llogara pass is a brand new road. It is very well designed and has an excellent condition, one of the best we have found in the whole country. Moreover, the view is stunning and is worth the travel.
Not far before the summit of Llogara pass, on the side of the Çika Mountain, a view point allows to have a superb view on Palasë beach, a strip of desert sand that lies on 1.5 kilometers. I have read that it was used as a landing ground for practitioners of air sports. The view point would be an excellent starting point for them and though we did not see any, I would not be surprised if that was a popular starting place for these sports.
Palasë is the last village before the Llogara pass. We have not visited it but it is famous for its centuries old plane tree standing in the middle of the village.