North to Gjiri I Palermos (on the other side of the peninsula), there is an ancient military facility. It is now entirely ruined but it seems that nevertheless, peoples inhabit inside the enclosure, protected by the sign “Zone ushtarake” (military zone). What are they doing here is a mystery! (photo 1). That does not look military anymore, except for the sign!
Photo 2 was taken in 2007, on the Gjiri I Palermos side and shows the underground harbor that had been dug under Enver Hoxha regime to hide some submarines. It is still now a military zone with military boats anchored, on watch.
There is nothing else on this photo than a lonely cow, the mountain and the sea. No human being in sight. That may be considered as uninteresting but I felt that it was a kind of digest of the Albanian Riviera before tourists! How will it look a few years ahead with herds of tourists instead of a single cow, I prefer to ignore…
The first photo shows the bay of Gjiri i Palermos (Porto Palermo) in 2009 with in the middle of the photo a peninsula (see photo 4)
The second photo shows the bay from a little further. It was shot in 2007 and on the far left, the old road can be seen, without any protecting railing.
The third photo was shot in 2009, almost from the same place, from the new road with a brand new railing in the foreground.
Photos 4 and 5 are close ups peninsula mentioned on the first photo. The fort was built at the beginning of the XIXth by Ali Pasha in honor of his wife.
Both photos show how the new road looks in the landscape. The old one was hidden in the vegetation and fully integrated. The new one has done enormous scars and they will take a long time to melt in the landscape, if they ever do. But that will change the life of those that live in these otherwise remote places.
Shortly after Gjiri i Palermos, there was an excellent, newly built single track road that left the main road. The second photo says “this road was rebuilt with the support of the European Union Integrated Coastal Zone Management and clean Up Project”.
As it could not be very long, we drove it to know what it was for but after about 3 kilometers, it ended (photo 1) and there was nothing else but a very bad path. For what exactly this road was built, I don’t know.
Instead of putting upside down Enver Hoxja’s bunkers, some are on trial for rehabilitation. It is not sure that the rehabilitation process will succeed as these bunkers have been so tightly designed for war. However, it is worth the trial, isn’t it ?
They might be used as a bar but the window for the customers is very narrow.
They might be used as a shelter when the sun is too hot but there is space only for very few people.
Could they be turned into a “typical” (of Comrade Enver’s time) hotel room but I am afraif they will not meet European standards.
Then what ?
On photo 1 ,they have been used for advertising for a pizza restaurant.
Photo 2, on the beach of Gjiri i Palermos, they have been painted to look as a part of a children’s room. Strange but why not ? Instead of hiding them, why not to paint them in bright colors and make them part of the landscape!
Any other idea? I remember in the south of Albania of one that was used by a goat as an observatory to watch around.
Comrade Enver Hoxha, wake up, they have gone mad! In the long run, you were right, Albania has been invaded. Not from abroad but from inside, by its own people. They are putting upside down those cute little bunkers that so nicely dotted the country! Fortunately, out of the several hundred thousands that you built by the sweat of your brow, no, that were built by the sweat of your countrymen’s brow, most still stand, but look at what they dared do to these! Upside down!
“Who's to say
Well they forgot
This world keeps spinning
And with each new day
I can feel a change in everything
/…/ Upside down
Who's to say what's impossible and can't be found”
Happy owners of land along the new road hurry up building. I bet this one might soon be a small hotel. Once the road will be completely finished, which should occur by the end of year 2009, there should be a rush for building new facilities! Some anticipate!
Moliana restaurant was standing in the middle of a short section of the road that had not been widened yet. While we were having dinner there were big engines that were working ferociously to widen the road.
On the left, a small road sign says “for sale” (***et). That is for sure, an add to sell a piece of land. With the new road the price has for sure skyrocketed!
This photo shows on the right the old narrow unpaved road with its narrow bridge that we crossed in 2007 and on the left, the wide new road with a brand new coating and its new bridge that we had two years later, in 2009.
The good thing is that those living in the Albanian Riviera will have easier access to other parts of the country.
The sad thing is that sooner or later, hordes of tourists will flow on.
The 70 km road has been divided in several sections. Each of them has been alloted to a company that should do the job for a given date. In May 2009, Sarandë to Lukovë was completely finished. Further, some sections were also finished, other should be finished in August or October 2009. Few sections should be finished in early 2010 but, anyway, very soon, the road from Vlorë to Sarandë will be all the way an excellent three lanes road.
The first photo shows the road as it was in 2007 and as far as I remember, almost the same as it was on my first visit, in 1988. Most of the time between Saranda and Dhërmi, it was a dirt road, mostly in fair condition. Most of the time it was narrow, almost single lane, and on several occasions, we had to maneuver to cross the, gladly, few cars (or busses and trucks!) coming in front. Most of the time, there was no railing along the precipice
Photo 2 shows the road widened to almost three lanes (sorry, not exactly the same place). In this part, it was not yet coated (may 2009).
Photo 3 is another view of the three lanes road. The olive trees have suffered but the road is almost ready. Note on the left that a wall has been built to prevent stones from the newly dig embankment to roll on the road