I arrived at my guesthouse and was just in time for a BBQ that they were about to have. I put my things away and joined a large group of traveling hippies, for the most part. You can always find a dude who hasn’t shaved in a year, a chick with dreadlocks, an old man always with a book, and a lot of other people, all with stories of their travels. Some people pick others brains to help plan their next step while others just soak it in. I happen to be sitting next to the acward Asian guy still in university backpacking on his own for the first time and the French poet. The stench of body oder was in the air along with the smell of some delicious meats cooking on the grill. We enjoyed our dinner together sharing laughs and camaraderie before heading to bed because of my early wakeup call
I did get up early and caught a prearranged taxi to the bus stop. Of course he took me to the wrong one and then charged me still for getting to the right one. I ended up sharing a seat with an Aussie girl, Helan on the trip down. The trip itself was so bumpy! It was a bit of a hellish 3 hours to get there, but the good conversation and beautiful scenery made up for it.
When we got to Berat, Helan and I ended up taking a taxi into town from the bus stop as it began to pour on us. We found a place in town that sold umbrellas and found a place to get some lunch. I had veal again, but this time it wasn’t as good and the waiter gave me the large portion instead of the small, so I couldn’t even finish it. We saw that the rain started to let up, so we started to make our way to the Berat castle.
The walk up to the top of the hill was a challenge. The road was made of slippery brick, so it took a little longer that it would have dry. But, we did make it up to the top and went around the inside of the castle. The view from above was amazing. An interesting thing I found too was that people still live within the walls. There are also four special and old churches within the walls, but I only found two of them. One of the coolest things for me to see was the stone head. This is from the Roman era, I believe.
Roman Head (Picture 1)
Church within Castle Walls (Picture 1)
View from Castle (Picture 1)
After finishing with the castle, we made our way back down the hill and found the minibus stop to head back to Tirana. When we got into town we stopped for some coffee and I was able to get connected to my Albanian friend in Korea. I was planning on meeting her sister and brother-in-law that evening for dinner.
Helan and I walked to the City Center before splitting ways. I hung around and took some pictures of things to see. The City Center is really small. So to see the capital city was a breeze. I headed back to my hostel to reconnect with my Albanian friend and work out a time to meet her sister.
Her sister arrived at the hostel to pick me up and we walked twards the city center to meet her husband. She played tour guide and informed me about the history and stories behind different monuments and buildings. When we met up with her husband, he also filled me in with even more interesting information. They ended up taking me to one the nicest restaurants in Tirana and we had a wonderful dinner of conversation about what it was like growing up under communist rule, the changes that have been made since it’s fall, and life in general. It was so nice of my friend’s sister to have taken the time out to meet me.
Tirana Pyramid (Picture 1)
City Center with Statute (Picture 1)
Tirana Turret (Picture 1)
Tirana Berlin Wall Piece (Picture 1)
Orthodox Church (Picture 1)
I was planning on renting a bike and going off to the lake in Skoder, because I heard it was pretty amazing from Helen. So I stopped there, found information and went looking for the bike shop. Unfortunately, this was an epic fail and I do ides to just catch the next bus over the boarder to Montenegro. There was an American couple that had been traveling for 8 months at the stop with me. When we got over the boarder and were sitting around waiting to catch our buses, we enjoyed some conversation and beers together before I jumped on my bus to Podgoroca, Montenegro.
Mosque (Picture 1)