Thursday, 15 October 2015

Albania: Pogradec to Tirana

We were looking forward to visiting Albania again as Aaron as well as me fell in love with this country during the first visit. Probably for different reasons, nevertheless, we both consider it one of our favourite places.  
The starting point was Pogradec, a town by the lake Ohrid, just about 30km from the town Ohrid, the last stop in Macednia. One could think it was the convenience of Pogradec location that brought us here but you couldn't be more wrong. We visited Pogradec last year and attempted to go off road from there through the hills to another town called Elbasan. Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful at completing the track. I guess it became a bit of a challenge and this time, armoured with more experience, a ground anchor and a new set of tyres we set off again to tackle mud, puddles and side slopes. And we made it!

I guess once upon time it was a sealed road. Not much of it left now. 

And we're on the track.

First obstacle

And it's roughly here that we decided to turn around last time. 

Lake Ohrid in the far background

I gave this rock a name: 'Lovers'

Not an unusual sight in Albania: there are lots of roads in there that are simply tracks but lots of what we expect to be tracks has been either sealed or is work in progress like in here. Considering the country's terrain and economic status it is going to take a while to seal all the major roads and even longer, if ever, to have small roads sealed.

Post Office

Petrol station - yes, that is it!

On the way to Tirana, the capital

Tirana - although it has a population of less than 500 000 people, the city suffers from heavy traffic and lacks car parks.

A little road user we spotted on the way to our campsite

An afternoon nap at our campsite, a few kilometres from Tirana. The weather improved a lot by that point and we loved the surroundings so much that we simply enjoyed just hunging around the campsite.

On one of the evenings, the lady, the campsite owner, brought 'raki', alcohol brewed by her father in law. We prefer wine but just out of curiosity we had a little taste. It was very strong and similar to vodka in taste. I don't think we'll be having any more of it in the future.

Another perfect fit

Breakfast al fresco

Selfie

It was a lovely wee campsite, the only one in Tirana, and one of just few in Albania. It was the first season it was open and hence there was still work going on there to improve the facilities as the owners learnt they needed to provide more. 

Afternoon in Tirana.
The campsite owners were very helpful in organising the trip to Tirana. The city is hectic and only Bucharest had more traffic and worse drivers. Aaron didn't feel comfortable driving there at all so the advice we were given was very helpful. We simply parked the car on a car park by a shopping mall not far from the campsite and took a bus provided by either the city or the shopping mall that took us to the very centre. We returned the same way. 

Skanderberg Square

Clock Tower of Tirana

National Historical Museum, the biggest in Albania 

                                        Skanderberg Monument


Familiar sight from London: bikes to rent

Although she knows exactly what she is going to have, Micky still insists on reading the menu.

Obviously chocolate ice cream!

My little helpers. I had to give them separate jobs to avoid arguments. 


30 September - 4 October 2015

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