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The "B" Trip, Part Three, Western Balkans

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Nov 26th, 2011, 03:16 PM
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The "B" Trip, Part Three, Western Balkans

This is Part Three of my "B" trip, including Macedonia, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia (just Dubrovnik), and Bosnia.

I started the trip in Helsinki, back at the end of August: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ne-baltics.cfm

Then I flew to Serbia, before joining a tour in Bulgaria: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...d-bulgaria.cfm

For pictures, see my blog: http://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com/

I started out writing from the road, but that didn't go so well, partly because I caught a bug of some kind in Albania. I'm home now, and starting to feel better.

September 28-29, 2011: Surprised by Skopje

I stared up at the under-belly of the over-sized horse, a good 70 feet above me. Who was the kilted figure I could just make out riding the horse? Silly question. I was standing in the huge, recently renovated Macedonia Square, on the banks of the Vardar, in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. Or, as it is officially known, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The rider was, of course, Alexander the Great. Alexander the Macedonian. Unfortunately, to the Greeks Macedonia is their northern province, not this country, and they feel quite strongly about it (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13884844 ).

The central statue, dominating the square from a massive pillar surrounded by warriors, lions and an attractive fountain, was not the only sign of nationalist fervor. The socialist realist statues of the Communist era had been replaced by nationalist realist statues. I confess that my knowledge of local history was insufficient for me to fully appreciate them, and I actually mistook the Roman emperor Justinian (born nearby) for a woman before I got closer. On the other hand, the square had plenty of benches, and plenty of cafes, and I came back in the evenings to watch the pretty interplay of colored lights and water beneath Alexander.

Renovation extended beyond the square itself, and just across the 15th century stone bridge spanning the Vardar I found two brand-new museums in impressive structures. In the more classical building the fight for independence from the Ottoman Empire was celebrated, complete with “scenes” with wax figures. Unfortunately, you had to go round with a tour guide, speaking Macedonian, and I was reduced to reading the few English language labels. No doubt it does a good job of increasing local pride, but after the first few rooms I admit I got a bit bored. I had a better time across the street in the more modern building housing the Holocaust Museum, where I learned a lot about the life of the Jewish refugees who settled in the Balkans after Ferdinand and Isabella kicked them out of Spain. Unfortunately, although the Bulgarians protected their own Jewish population during WWII, once they took charge of Macedonia they instituted punitive measures against non-Bulgarian Jews there, followed by deportation to Treblinka in March 1943.

Skopje has a long but unfortunate history, having been destroyed by Slavs in the 7th century and Austrians in the 17th, and suffering through earthquakes in 518, 1555 and 1963. The 20th century quake destroyed most of the city south of the river, although the Ottoman-era quarter to the north survived. I stayed south and west of the central square, in the pleasant Rose Diplomatique. New buildings were going up around the B&B, and nearby streets were being resurfaced. I’m not sure where the money was coming from, but the construction trades in Skopje were doing well.

I would have liked to stay closer to the center, but one of the people on my Rick Steves' tour of Bulgaria had just come from Skopje and gave me a bad report on the hotel I had chosen. I walked to and from the main square, but needed taxis for the bus station. Although I had enjoyed setting off on my own from Sofia, the bus ride could have gone better. Nothing wrong with the views – lots of good, sparsely-settled, mountain scenery – but we had to wait at the Bulgarian border for one man who was closeted with the guards for half an hour, and just short of the border we had picked up a woman who talked for the entire three hours it took to reach Skopje. She talked to the driver, and she talked to a passenger who boarded in Macedonia, and neither seemed interested, but she kept going regardless. Even with Irish folk-songs playing on my iPod I had trouble drowning her out.

My first full day in Skopje I set off to hit the sights north of the river, only to find both the castle and the Mustafa Pasha mosque closed for renovations. I did get to admire the impressive iconostasis in Sveti Spas, and had a lovely time with the costumes in the Ethnographic Museum. I wasn’t overly impressed with the Ottoman quarter, although the main shopping street, with its plethora of jewelers shops and over-the-top bridal gowns, reminded me a little of the bazaar in Aleppo, except that that it was outdoors.

Neither the Lonely Planet nor the Bradt maps were very helpful for this area and it took me a while to locate the kebab places outside the former caravanserai Kapan An. While I waited for my shopska salad and cevapcici, I was a little surprised to see a tour group show up. The tour guide sounded rather like the tour guide from my 1999 RS Turkey tour, Meli, but she didn’t look quite the same. She seemed harried and a little annoyed and I didn’t interrupt her, but when I checked her web site (http://www.melitour.com/index.php ) later I found that she really had been in Skopje.
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Nov 26th, 2011, 04:48 PM
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Well, you have me hooked now Thursdaysd . . .

I especially like the blog with pictures although I can't quite get used to reading the posts backwards. Thanks for posting & please keep going.

Ian
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Nov 28th, 2011, 07:23 AM
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Ian - I agree about the blog order, although I've finally gotten used to it.

September 29-30: Skopje and Lake Matka

It seemed that Lyuba, the Bulgarian tour guide, didn't care too much for Skopje: she thought three nights was overdoing it. Perhaps she hadn't visited since the renovations got under way. I stuck to my three night plan - partly because I wanted to slow down, and partly because I wanted to see Lake Matka. I could easily have spent another day wandering around town, picking up some necessities in the sharp new mall near my B&B, and lingering in a cafe or two. Like Belgrade, Skopje was a full participant in the Balkan's cafe culture, but here I didn't feel that I needed to be a fashion-forward twenty-something to fit in. And missing Lake Matka would have been a big mistake.

I took a taxi up and a bus back, a fortunate choice. The hotel staff had agreed with the guidebooks about the bus route, so the change must have been recent, but instead of taking me into town, bus number 60 turned its passengers out on the outskirts, and we had to transfer to a number 5. Not a problem going back, but I could have waited a long time for a number 60 going out! My taxi delivered me to the base of the dam at the same time as a coach-load of backpackers, but after we trekked up to the hotel and dock, they took off by boat and peace descended.

The guidebook writers seem to think you're going to the lake to visit the cave churches up in the hills around the lake. I had thought so too, until I saw the hills. When you consider that before the dam was built the uphill trek would have been even more formidable, you appreciate just how much the hermits who lived in the caves valued solitude. Not only did I not feel like trekking uphill, I was feeling a bit churched-out. I settled for the one by the hotel.

I did get some exercise, but I took the mostly flat if seldom smooth path running along the lake shore. I learned later that it was nine kilometers long, so it was a good thing I didn't try to reach the end. I turned back after about an hour when I ran out of shade, but I thoroughly enjoyed the walk, stopping often to admire the soaring grey cliffs rising sheer from sparkling green-blue water.

Despite the warm sunshine it was chilly sitting by the lake, so I consumed an indifferent lunch indoors, but with a view of the water. The season, at least mid-week, was clearly over. I saw just one couple and a pair of fishermen on the path. Only two other tables were occupied for lunch, and the cafe down by the dam was firmly closed. Like the hermits, I value peace and quiet, so I was happy.

Back in Skopje I rested up in the Rose Diplomatique's pretty garden, with green tea and the internet. Dinner at the oddly named Dal Met Fu (http://www.dalmetfu.com.mk/DalMetFu.html ) wasn't much of an improvement over lunch, but I chose it for the location, not the food, enjoying the view of Alexander's fountain more than a too vinegary chicken liver salad and a tepid "risotto". (The white wine, Tikves Vranec, on the other hand, was good.) The night before I had eaten at Mulino (http://www.vodenicamulino.com.mk/ ), closer to my B&B, where the risotto had been more authentic but the sole a little too buttery. An important personage seemed to be dining there too, with bodyguards in the foyer and "protocol" cars waiting outside.

Not being an important personage I left Skopje as I had arrived, by bus.
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Nov 28th, 2011, 10:36 AM
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Gorgeous pictures on your blog, and your writing is informative and detailed without being too effusive. Thank you once again for posting about this relatively undiscovered part of Europe.
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Nov 28th, 2011, 11:12 AM
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Yes, me too. The pics are great. Doesn't sound like it's an epicurean delight, but I like the idea of all the solitude.
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Nov 30th, 2011, 08:19 AM
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October 1-5, 2011: Admiring Ohrid

Ohrid, perched on the north-east shore of its eponymous lake, one of Europe's deepest and oldest, if not largest, is apparently enormously popular in the summer. I'm sure I would hate it then. Happily, at the beginning of October there were just enough visitors to keep most of the cafes and restaurants open, without swamping the narrow streets of the old town, or blanketing the beaches with bodies. Just as I love Nice in April, I loved Ohrid in October.

I hadn't bothered to buy a bus ticket ahead of time, although I did arrive unnecessarily early at Skopje's bus station. People were still rushing over to board the bus as it waited for the gate to the station to open. This time I was able to enjoy the mountainous scenery in relative peace, and discovered at the rest stop that it was already pretty chilly up high. I bargained for a taxi at Ohrid's much smaller bus station, and noticed that access to the old town was controlled. Good thing, as there was hardly room for even one car on most of the streets. I was staying at the west end, in a room above a restaurant. (I never saw anyone actually eating in the restaurant, except at breakfast.) After the Rose Diplomatique my room at the Vila Sveti Sofija (http://www.vilasofija.com.mk/ ) was a bit of a comedown, but clean and functional (and cheaper!), although the mattress dipped so much at the head end of the bed, I slept the other way round.

The lake was beautiful, the town was lovely, the sun shone... True, the food and drink wasn't always up to par, but I quickly found that better food was to be had a block or two inland (notably at the Restoran Sveta Sofija, not to be confused with my hotel). I took one short boat trip along the coast, but while the scenery was fine it mostly served to remind me that I quickly get bored on boats, and to justify my decision not to take the much longer ride to and from Sveti Zaum at the south end of the lake.

Ohrid occupied all of the flat land along the waterfront, with newer hotels filling the east end, and a shopping street running inland towards the Turkish quarter and the bus station, while the old town occupied a hill, the houses clustered together below the 10th century castle and the Roman theater. Yes, we're talking really old here, Byzantine churches rather than Ottoman mosques, and the place where St. Kliment created the Cyrillic alphabet. I got plenty of exercise trekking up and down to check out the houses and visit the castle and theater (disappointing), the icon museum (angry-looking saints), and the churches. And admire the views, which were definitely worth the climb. For me, the do-not-miss church was Sveti Jovan, just out of town at Kaneo beach. It sits on a cliff above the water and the views are lovely, especially at sunset. You don't even have to climb to admire it, as there's a wooden walkway at sea level, and it looks pretty good from below.

After I saw Meli's tour group in Skopje and discovered that we would be in Ohrid at the same time, I sent her an email, and we eventually talked on bad cell-phone connections. She invited me to eat dinner with her group, but seemed not to know where they were staying or where they were eating. Finally her fixer left directions with my hotel's front desk. Sadly, it wasn't a great evening. I liked her tour group, almost all from Washington state, and repeat clients, but the meal, at the Belvedere, was awful, and the music and dance show made conversation difficult. I don't think Meli recognized me, although I had spent most of my tour with her hopping around on crutches. And I hardly recognized her, she seemed so much less engaged and enthusiastic than the guide I remembered. A pity, I should have settled for the memories.
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Dec 2nd, 2011, 02:55 PM
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October 4, 2011: A Glimpse of Bitola

While I hadn’t taken Lyuba’s advice to shorten my time in Skopje, I did take her advice to go straight through to Ohrid instead of over-nighting in Bitola on the way, planning a day trip instead. But just as I had needed the extra time in Skopje, turned out I could have used more time in Bitola.

I took a bus over and a shared taxi back, walking to and from Bitola’s bus station through a pleasant, tree-shaded park. The park led to the main pedestrian street, lined with nicely restored buildings and lots of cafes, which in turn led to the Dragor River, hemmed in by busy roads but with a small park and an ancient clock tower on the south bank, and the Ottoman quarter on the north side.

Between the buildings south of the river, the huge Church of Sveti Dimitrija, a museum and the remains of Roman Heraclea Lyncestis, not to mention lunch, I didn’t have time for the Ottoman quarter. Maybe another time, as I do think Macedonia would be worth a second look.

The Church of Sveti Dimitrija was a surprise: it claims to be the biggest church in the Balkans, and boasts what may well be the biggest, and certainly the most magnificent, iconostasis. Gave me plenty to look at.

I really short-changed the Roman ruins, which would have been better visited in the morning, as even in October the afternoon sun was plenty hot. If I had had more time the young man in charge would have given me lots of information about the ancient town, originally founded by Philip II (Alexander’s father), later a stop on the Roman Via Egnatia, and the seat of a bishopric in the early Christian era. I did have time to see the in situ mosaics.

The museum, at the south end of town, held a surprise. Before Macedonian independence from the Ottomans the building had housed a school for military cadets, and Kemal Attaturk had been one of the students. One room of the museum was dedicated to him, that and the other exhibits were well worth the small admission charge.

I enjoyed the town, I enjoyed a good pizza (cooked in a wood-fired oven) for lunch, and I enjoyed the scenery on the ride there and back. Turned out the shared taxi made the same trip every day, for not too much more than the bus, and the driver zipped us back to Ohrid with the speed of one well-acquainted with the mountain road. As the only female in the car I got the front seat and the best view.

(Note: lunch was at the pizzeria at the back of the Hotel Millenium: http://www.milleniumpalace.com.mk/bitolaang.html )
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Dec 5th, 2011, 08:45 AM
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October 5, 2011: On to Albania

Aside from the Finns, all the people of the eleven countries I visited on this trip were cut off from normal contact with the rest of the world from the end of World War II until the fall of the Soviet Union. Both Tito in Yugoslavia, and Hoxha in Albania kept their countries outside the Soviet Union proper, but while Yugoslavs enjoyed the freedom to travel in Western Europe, and to farm independently, Albanians were essentially isolated even from their neighbors behind a second Iron Curtain.

Hoxha was not just a hard-line Stalinist, but seems to have been paranoid as well. Not content with a huge secret police force to keep his own populace cowed, and denied freedom of expression, religion and movement, he littered the countryside with ugly little concrete bunkers intended for defense against invasion.

Not that anyone bothered to try. The world pretty much forgot Albania, and today I suspect many people still overlook it. Even the New York Times’ Frugal Traveler, working his way around the Mediterranean and Adriatic coasts on a budget, had to be reminded by his readers that there were more beaches south of Montenegro, and the living would be much cheaper there.

Some people come on day trips from Corfu to see the Roman ruins at Butrint, although while Corfu has long been a popular destination for Europeans, I’m not sure how many Americans visit it. (I took a package tour there in '73, when I was still living in the UK.) Tirane, the capital, apparently has a nice new airport, but it really makes more sense to visit Albania as part of a longer Balkan trip, and travel there overland.

From Ohrid I wanted to go south via Korca and Gjirokastra to Saranda and Butrint. I also wanted to visit Sveti Naum at the south end of the lake. Unfortunately, if I wanted to take public transport I needed to go round the north end of the lake. The Lonely Planet guidebook suggested that I could walk across the southern border from Sveti Naum and pick up a taxi, but posts on Thorntree made it clear that this was a dicey proposition even in season. I reluctantly concluded I needed a car and driver.

Meli’s fixer gave me a quote of 100 euros, which I pretty much rejected out of hand. Lyuba’s contact didn’t have a driver available. Instead I used a travel agency in town (Elida), and their driver also acted as informal tour guide at the “Bay of the Bones” – a reconstruction of a Stone Age settlement on a platform built on piles out in the lake. (The remains of the original are underwater.)

The monastery of Sveti Naum occupied a desirable site where the Crn Drim river flows into the lake. While I enjoyed the views I thought the buildings themselves didn’t quite live up to their hype, and was devoutly thankful to be visiting in the off season, when most of the souvenir stands lining the access path were closed.

I snacked on bread and cheese (chunks of bread with a scattering of grated cheese) at one of the empty cafes, before setting off for the border just up the road. My driver had to give “tobacco money” to the Albanian guard, but I had no trouble. On the Albanian side a man who might, or might not, have been a taxi driver, was washing his car windows, but otherwise the border was deserted.
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Dec 7th, 2011, 01:11 PM
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October 5-6, 2011: More Donkeys Than Cars

Korca was a disappointment. True, I was mostly there to make the reportedly scenic drive to Gjirokastra, but I had had some hopes for Korca itself. I was taken aback by how quiet and poor it seemed, such a contrast to the Macedonian towns just across the border.

I'm used to visiting poor places in Asia, but there the poverty is tempered by vibrant street life. In Korca even the lively cafe culture I found elsewhere in the Balkans seemed to be in short supply. My visit started badly: after a hot drive across treeless countryside, my first choice hotel claimed to be full (rooms had been showing as available on the internet, perhaps it was empty and wanted to stay that way), and my second choice, a former government hotel, was on the gloomy side. Then I had trouble finding somewhere to eat lunch, and later, when I finally located the Museum of Albanian Medieval Art in a maze of unpaved side streets, it was closed.

On a more positive note, I did admire the aggressively new cathedral, with its traditional-style frescoes and elaborate wooden chandelier, and I had a nice chat with a retired Tasmanian school-teacher who was making the Balkan circuit in the other direction. He assured me that the scenery would be worthwhile. But I didn't feel very welcome in Korca.

I was able to arrange a car and driver, although the fixer, who spoke no English, absolutely refused to bargain. After an exchange mediated by the phrases in my Bradt guidebook and pen and paper for the numbers, we shook hands on the route and price. Not entirely satisfied, he borrowed a young English-speaking woman from a nearby bank to make sure we were in agreement.

After breakfast the next morning (no coffee!), I learned that my fixer had sent someone else to drive me. When I walked out of the hotel a young man hurried over and took charge of my bag. But as we reached his car an older man intercepted us. Since he had the slip of paper I had given the fixer with my name and hotel, he was clearly my driver. I still don't know whether the young man was waiting for someone else, or was poaching.

Gjirokastra is a fair distance from Korca, maybe 55 miles or so in a straight line, but the road doesn't go anything like straight. First we headed south practically to the Greek border, winding up and down and across moorland, and over the more forested Grammoz mountains to the Barmash Pass. Then we turned northwest up the Vjosa River valley to the small town of Permet, where we ate lunch, before a final swing back south on a better road following the Drinos River. According to Lonely Planet the bus takes six or seven hours. It took us about five and a half, with a coffee stop at a lonely hotel an hour or so south of Korca as well as lunch. My driver spoke hardly a word of English, but he was a fine driver (Tel: 06 93 56 08 85, car license KO-417-A).

Aside from greater comfort and greater speed, I had been willing to pay for private transport so I got a better view, and it was absolutely worth it. I didn't take many photos, because in my experience mountains don't photograph well (at least when I'm taking the pictures), but I can assure you that the scenery was magnificent. And wild. We met a few trucks, and a bus, but barely a handful of cars. Instead, horses and donkeys were in use as beasts of burden.
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Dec 12th, 2011, 02:36 PM
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Anyone still reading this?

October 6, 2011: Old Grey Town

The guidebook writers – Lonely Planet and Bradt – were enthusiastic about Gjirokastra. I thought a town built of nothing but grey stone was likely to look depressing, but there seemed to be no better place to stop between Korca and Saranda, and perhaps the interiors would be interesting. I planned a two night stay, and booked what sounded like a neat hotel with good views.

While it’s notable that so many 19th century buildings survived, thanks to the town’s status as the former dictator Hoxha’s birthplace, I lasted just one night. Now it’s possible my less than ecstatic reaction to Gjirokastra was colored by a bad experience with my hotel. Or by the difficulty of walking on the steep streets with their acutely angled, narrow cobblestones, not to mention the difficulty of finding my way around. Or maybe a totally grey town really is depressing.

Gjirokastra is actually two towns: a Communist era one in a valley, and an old one on a hillside crowned by a castle. The main road runs along a ridge on the edge of the new town. My Korca-based driver had some difficulty finding my hotel, at the far side of the old town, and I was glad I wasn’t trying to drive the narrow winding streets myself.

When I reached the Hotel Kalemi, and roused someone to let me in, I was surprised to find that my bathroom was across the hall instead of en-suite, and that the rest of the small hotel was full of students. If I’d been traveling with my backpack I might have left, but I didn’t fancy trying to roll my wheeled case over the streets I’d just seen. And I figured the students would have someone keeping order. Wrong. They were still awake, and keeping me awake, at 3:00 am.

So I spent just one afternoon checking out the town, and not finding a whole lot of interest. True, I didn’t make it up to the castle, or to the one or two house museums, but I did walk most of the streets, take a look at a couple souvenir shops and find a few coffee shops and cafes.

My hotel wasn’t happy that I was leaving a day early, but as I explained to the young man in charge: if the students wanted to treat the hotel like a dorm, they should reserve the whole place. (And although I had a couple of pleasant chats with the women students, the men didn’t seem at all pleased to have me around.) The hotel did call a taxi to take me to the bus stop on the main road, where I picked up a mini-bus to Saranda. In addition to locals, I shared it with a couple of backpackers, who had enjoyed their stay at the Kotomi B&B just down the hill from my hotel. Next time. Perhaps.
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Dec 12th, 2011, 03:12 PM
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I'm still reading.... and enjoying a TR of roads less traveled.
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Dec 12th, 2011, 03:45 PM
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I'm still reading too. And enjoying.
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Dec 12th, 2011, 04:36 PM
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I'm enjoying your report and anxiously awaiting the Bosnia and Hungary portion.
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Dec 12th, 2011, 04:53 PM
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I'm still here marvelling at your determination to see every nook and cranny of the world.
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Dec 12th, 2011, 05:31 PM
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me too....
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Dec 12th, 2011, 05:46 PM
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Good to know someone's out there!

@Marija - lot of world still to go, lol! Although I doubt I'll be visiting any Caribbean or Pacific islands.

@Katyt - there will be Bosnia and southern Hungary (great Art Nouveau!) but I have the full length of Albania and Montenegro to go first...
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Dec 12th, 2011, 09:08 PM
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I admire your courage and determination to discover new
destinations.
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Dec 13th, 2011, 01:42 PM
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October 7-9, 2011: Ruins and Rain in Saranda

In Saranda, it dawned on me that I was no longer traveling in shoulder season, I was traveling out of season. While this got me a cut rate at the clean and comfortable Porto Eda (http://www.portoeda.com/new/index.php ), and peace and quiet at Butrint, it also meant that a lot of places had shut down for the season. While the hotel seemed short on hot water (only available in the morning), besides providing a good view from my balcony, it was just across the street from an actually open restaurant, where I ate a lot of pizza. The restaurant/cafe/bar was particularly useful when it rained, which it did a lot.

There didn’t seem to be much to Saranda, aside from hotels and apartments and (mostly closed) cafes, but I had really come to see the Roman ruins at Butrint. I took a very crowded mini-bus south to Butrint, passing a lot of unfinished – often, hardly started – buildings on the way. I lucked out with the weather, as the rain didn’t start again until I was safely ensconced under cover in the garden of the Hotel Livia waiting for the bus back. While lunch there wasn’t memorable, I did enjoy the tame rabbits hopping around the place.

I also enjoyed Butrint, sprawling over a wooded site by the water. I regretted missing out on the mosaics, covered with sand for protection, but appreciated the Roman theater and Byzantine religious buildings. Even the small museum, locked until I turned up, kept me occupied for a while. My only complaint was that I got bitten! I’d had no problem with insects for so long, I wasn’t even carrying the Cortisone I use to cut the itching.

Aside from seeing Butrint, I mostly used Saranda as a place to rest and plan the remainder of my trip. I discovered I had a week less than I had thought initially, which simplified matters: I would skip Slovenia and northern Italy and go straight north through Bosnia to Hungary. I also decided, regretfully, to skip the Albanian coast. The reports on the scenery were very tempting, but one young couple I talked to said that their B&B had to open up for them, as it had already closed for the season, and given all the closed cafes in Saranda I was worried about getting fed. Plus, I could raise little enthusiasm for the 5:00 am bus I would have to take. Instead, I’d get up a bit later for the 8:00 am to the capital, Tirana.
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Dec 13th, 2011, 02:07 PM
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Did you like the Lion of St Mark on the walls of Butrint? Those Venetians got everywhere. I think I have some pictures of the mosaics which were uncovered when I was there but some tourists had a hard time keeping off them and didn't seem to see why they should.
It poured when I was in Sarande too, and turned the streets into rivers.
There were a lot of half-finished hotels which made me wonder if the tourist trade was as flourishing as they hoped. I remember your hotel quite clearly, we had some coffee outside on the esplanade (if that isn't too grand a word).
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Dec 13th, 2011, 02:33 PM
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Don't remember a Venetian lion at Butrint, but the Venetians owned that whole coast for a while. Yes, lots of over-building around Saranda. Some of the shells had fallen over, but I think I heard that the police do that when the developers haven't paid their taxes.

My hotel was fine apart from the water problem, much nicer than the ones in Korca and Gjirokastra. I was on the top floor, too, with the best views.
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