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Another short weekend in Voskopoje.

Sometimes I think I could live up here, away from the city noise, the pollution, the people… Always man seeks what he doesn’t have, maybe the people in Voskopoje think the same about moving to a metropolis like Tirana… I wish there was some kind of service/agreement for people to swap their lives temporarily, just to see how green is the grass on the other side, without long term commitment.

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This is the famous village of Voskopoja as seen from one of the opposite hills. Pretty close to the snowy peaks and the pine forests. (more…)

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2017 Trip to Baba Tomorr

As every August 18-22 or 20-25 or somewhere in the second to last weekend of August, people from surrounding areas of mount Tomorr gather at a holy shrine midway up the mountain. There is a Bektashian holy place where the tomb of their holy man is burried. Bektashis are a liberal sect of Islam but they’re quite moderate as they drink alcohol freely and they are allowed to drink water while they fast (or so I’ve been told).

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The road to Kulmak is very bad and most people do it by 4×4. There are even small cars going up the mountain but most of them come to a forced stop midway due to overheating. Our driver was a funny guy with a dirty mouth. At least he got us up there safely. Price per person was 1,000 leke one way. Funny thing, whenever you ask for a price, whatever you buy there, they first weight you from head to toe and then give you the price.  (more…)


A short trip to Ninesh, Mallakaster

 

There used to be a famous village, newly rebuilt after the 1971 earthquake. They even had a cinema, a first for small villages. Ninesh became famous around that part of Albania, even Enver Hoxha himself went there to visit the people.

Ninesh is still there but instead of a cultural hub of the area, it has become a quiet place, with old, new and half built houses, gravel roads and a nearby lake full of fish. The villagers go on with their daily lives, work the fields, feed the cattle and sell their produce.

Why am I talking about Ninesh? I happen to have relatives there, they own a piece of land and they’ve built a small villa there, as their summer retreat while they live and work abroad. As you can see on the photos, their villa is surrounded by green hills, the lake is quite close and there are little fish that eat the dead skin out of you. Also figs, delicious figs.

While having a great time chillaxing by the veranda, me and my cousin thought it would be nice to share this experience with other people too. This way, A Piece of Albania was born. First as a Google Locations Guesthouse (without success) and then an instant success through AirBnB. French people started booking and it’s so amazing whenever we hear the notification on our phone. New bookings help other people experience what we wanted to share in the beginning, we treat our self to a nice little extra income and the village benefits too, whenever our guests decide to buy fresh produce or home made raki 😉

Last but no least, you guys can also book and pay in bitcoin if you happen to wander around these parts. Cheers.

 

 


Some more photos from the Riviera

Paragliding is becoming more and more interesting lately. If you fancy flying from Llogara down to Palase, google Alket Islami, the head of the Albanian Aeronautic Association (or smth similar). Otherwise write me here, I have a couple of contacts.10-_IGP956211-_IGP9565

This is the view from the platform they have been recently, down to the military post where Top Gear flew an old Lada down to a ravine. 13-_IGP9570

Saranda, calm as always, with small and big yachts becoming more and more prevalent in the bay between Albania and Corfu. 70-_IGP9645

Ksamil and its small dreamy islands… Always a pleasure to come here and lay on the beach, reformatting your hard drive, away from city noise and pollution.75-IMG_6048

The small island you see in the Porto Palermo bay hosts one of the many fortresses of Ali Pasha of Tepelena (or Ioannina). It isn’t an island actually, there is a small strip connecting it to the mainland. The buildings on the foreground are part of a military complex serving the submarines base at the shore. I’m not sure if the base is still functional but I do know there are no more submarines there.

This place is almost after Himare, before reaching Qeparo or Borsh. The area is full of Aloe Vera and other medicinal herbs.

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Guys, I’m seriously thinking of turning my passion for travel to a full time tour guide operation. If you ever consider visiting Albania, let me know 🙂


Ngjipe Canyon

For you guys that want to find it online, most people have tagged this place as Gjipe because N & GJ are two letters of the Albanian alphabet that never go together. The street signs of the Ministry of Transport have the correct name on them, Ngjipe.

Here are some photos of the canyon. It was dead dry this summer and the only being I saw were a couple of frogs and a small snake living in a pond. No photos of them though.


Ngjipe – Perhaps the best beach in Albania

This place seemed always so close yet so far. I have been swimming around this part of Albania for as long as I remember but I never took the time to visit this particular beach and its canyon. To begin with, there was no road until recently and the road you see on the photos can be done only with 4×4.

It wasn’t on my plans for the last weekend either but an old Belgian couple I met up in Llogara told me they were amazed and considered this as the most beautiful beach in Albania. I decided on the spot to visit it, although I had my 4 years old son with me.

The place can be found easily if you keep an eye for Ilias village as soon as you cross Dhermi Panorama. After the village there is a right turn that leads to a monastery. The road is narrow but paved with asphalt. Drive until the end and you will see a parking space with amenities for campers. Park your car, pay some 1-2 EUR to the lady that lives there and just start walking toward the only path that leads down the hill toward the beach.

The rest can be seen on the photos. I can only say that the water was crystal clear, the beach was sort of sandy with very small pebble stones. There is also a canteen for beers or water, in case you didn’t bring yours. Expect to pay 80 cents for a small bottle of water or 1.5 EUR for a bottled beer (Korca). As for toilette or shower, this place is semi-famous for travelers with tends or sleeping bags and there are amenities.

Best part, this place is almost empty of people. I’ll post photos of the canyon tomorrow or the day after.


Moonday

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Moon during the day on a Sunday.


Tirana by night

 

Not much going on tonight. What you see on these photos is the fountain of Taiwan, a recreational center in the heart of Tirana, within Youth Park or Parku Rinia. The park itself, once home to hundreds of trees, became home of more than a couple dozen of tin shanties during the mid ’90s. Thanks to then mayor’s persistence (now PM), the park was freed from all the craziness of this lawlessness and the remaining trees started breathing air again. Unfortunately the park is nowhere near its former glory but let’s say it is on the right track.

Now, a funny story about the middle building on the background. First, it is against the law. It sits next to the Swiss Embassy and the Albanian law prohibits buildings of more than 4 floors when they share the same fence with a foreign embassy. Second, it is against the building guidelines since it does not posses an underground parking. It doesn’t have parking at all. Third, its owners were in such a hurry finishing its construction that they forgot about the elevator shaft. Can you fucking believe that? I used to work at the low building next to it and we had to listen to their jackhammers all day for a whole week while they were opening a new elevator shaft from the top floor to the ground floor. To be fair though, the owners weren’t the brightest tools in the shed, if you catch my drift. Violent and scary people, like straight out of a cave. I almost forgot, it’s also too close to the building on its right and that is against the law. So, in all its greatness, this is how we used to fuck the law from all holes here in Albania until recently. If it happened 70 meters far from PM’s office, imagine what has happened in other cities. Now it’s getting better but the pace is toooooooo slooooooow but let’s discuss it in another thread.

I’m sorry my post got dark pretty soon but as you see on the photos, the sun is setting. If you ever visit Tirana, stop by Taiwan for a coffee and if it’s summer evening, the water flow on the fountain follows the rhythm of operas playing on the background. A truly relaxing experience.


German Bird

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Met this fella in Hamburg, he stared at me with his hands behind his back  and gave me the “WTF Do You Want” look. I promptly apologized, took a photo of him and continued on my way.

Seriously though, some of the most good looking girls I’ve met this year were from Germany 😉 (more…)


Hello Hamburg

A majestic city, although I managed to visit only the center. I guess I should thank the Berlin Airports Ground Operations Syndicate for their strikes during the 2017 ITB in Berlin. As there were no flights from Berlin, I had to take a train to Hamburg and fly from its airport. I really liked those couple of hours I spent there and hopefully I’ll visit it again as I have family in Kiel, one hour north.