View of Berat, Albania from Berat Castle hill.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Berat, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? South towards Greece.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Castles, hiking, and gorgeous scenery. What more could you want?

Wednesday was a travel day as we made our way south from Tirana to the city of Berat. It's only about 100 kms (60 miles) if you take the fastest route, but even the fastest route is still about an hour and forty minutes.

But we had some things we wanted to see and do along the way, plus we wanted to take a more scenic route on some less traveled roads.

We left the apartment at about 9:30am and made our way through Tirana. Fortunately, traffic was not bad.

First stop was just a few miles south of the city of Tirina at the ancient Petrela Castle.

We are headed way up there!

Petrela Castle.

The original part of the castle dates back to the 4th century. It's been added onto a few times, including in its current form that includes a wooden restaurant structure.

Ruth at the caste entance.

Heading higher.

Beautiful views.

Almost there!

View looking back at Tirana in the distance.

Me, enjoying the view!

Looking down at the village of Petrela where we had parked the car.

Beautiful views looking towards the mountains.

Looking west,

The castle restaurant.

Castle Restaurant.

We enjoyed the views and then headed back down. 

Our rental car, a Fiat 500L Wagon.

Next stop was the Eye of the Cyclops... a local swimming hole that we had read about. But we couldn't find a lot of information online about how to get there. I had the GPS coordinates though, so we knew exactly where we wanted to go... we just weren't sure of which route to take to get there!

We are headed somewhere on the other side of that village.

The road in was pretty rough, but okay if you went really slow.

We managed to find somewhere to park, and then took off on foot. We met a local guy who didn't speak any English, but he asked if we were going to the "Syri i Ciklopit" (Eye of the Cyclops). There are no signs, and lots of different little paths, so I think he was thinking that we would never find it on our own. But I showed him the trail on our app, and he seemed impressed with that.

He then asked if we were American, and we said "Canada", pointing at each ourselves. It's amazing how much communicating you can do even when you don't speak each others language. He said "Vancouver"? and we said "no, Ottawa, the capital". He looked confused, and we said "Toronto", and he recognized that one.

We find that most people outside of Canada have never heard of Ottawa despite the fact that it's Canada's capital city, but they recognize Vancouver, Toronto, and sometimes Montreal.

Glad we decided not to take the car this far!

Nice green valley.

A woman with her sheep.

It was under 2 kms (1.6 miles) from where we parked the car, but it was a fairly strenuous hike with some great views. We weren't expecting such a good hike!

More great views!

Then we had to head down to the river.

The Eye of the Cyclops swimming hole is popular with the younger crowd because it's not easy to get to. It can get quite busy on a hot summer weekend. And it's deep enough that people actually dive in off the rocks above.

We can understand why it's popular... it's a really pretty spot!

Ruth, beside the waterfall.

And me, on the other side.

People dive and jump in off the rock.

Ruth, right in the center of the picture.
Don't forget, you can click on the photo to make it full screen. 
Click on it again to zoom in.

We explored the area for a little while.

But then it was time to go!

We had a bite to eat in the car, and then hit the road. We still had quite a bit of driving to do, and it was almost 2:00pm by the time we made it back to the car.

There is a busy four lane highway that runs between the cities of Tirana and Elbasan. But we wanted to take the old route... the one they used before the four lane highway was built. It was slow going, but we were in no hurry... and much more scenic. And, there were hardly any other cars!


The road followed a ridge that had great views off either side.

Our road heading down to Elbasan.

A man and his donkey cart.

Getting closer to Berat, it reminds us of parts of Spain and Moldova.

Our Airbnb host had asked us to send him a message five minutes before we got there, so we did. He said that he had been called to Tirana for work and wouldn't be able to meet us, but his mother would be there. She doesn't speak any English, so we could contact him with any questions or problems.

But it was no problem. She was a really nice lady and showed us where to park in the underground parking of the big grocery store right next door. Really convenient! We are right downtown, so it's a great location. Berat is about 85,000 people.

She brought us to the cottage, and made us a cup of tea. They live on the same property.

We sat on our outdoor patio to drink our tea.

Kitchen area.

The kitchen is well equipped. They have put two single beds where the couch would normally go. I expect they host a lot of families. We just sit on one of the beds and it's comfortable if we watch tv.

The bathroom is tiny, but clean.

Our bedroom.

We are paying 2,900 lek ($34.90 CAD, $27.75 USD) per night for a 7 night stay.

And it's going to be a busy week. There is lots to do in the area, including many walks that we can do right from the city. And, they are calling for sunshine and blue skies with increasingly warmer temperatures! Apparently Berat has more than 300 sunny days per year. And, Berat is a UNESCO city with a huge walled castle where people still live within the castle walls. It's also the city of a thousand windows. Looking forward to showing you some of the highlights tomorrow.

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And in Canada...


  1. I'm sure you will have an interesting time exploring that area. Look forward to seeing your photos.

    1. We are sure that we will too! There is a lot to do here, and plenty of places for us to hike where we will see interesting things along the way. We are looking forward to showing you the area as well. :-)

  2. It will probably be cool in the mornings and much warmer later. Ottawa had 5 days with the temp between 15 and 20!

    1. Yes, the mornings are cool and the nights are chilly but during the day the weather should be perfect for us, especially if we are doing any hiking. We just have to hope that it doesn't get too windy!

      Sounds like Ottawa is getting into springtime mode! I hope it sticks around for you. :-)

  3. Your posts make my day! I look forward to reading them every morning with my coffee! Thank you!

    1. We are really glad that you are enjoying our posts, and we are glad that we can brighten up your morning even more with them. :-)

  4. Definitely an interesting travel day.
    Looks like you have a nice BnB.
    Looking forward to your exploring.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. It was a great travel day, just the kind that we love!

      Yes, our Airbnb is a cute little place and will function just perfectly for us and it is in a fantastic location, where we are nice and close to all the action here in town but not close enough that we get the noise that goes with it.

      We are going to have a fun time exploring this area, we can't wait to show it to you and our other readers. :-)

  5. Beautiful countryside! Love the swimming hole...enjoy!

    1. It sure is beautiful countryside! We can't wait to go out and explore the area.

      We thought that swimming hole was beautiful and we had it all to ourselves, not that it was swimming weather or anything! I'm pretty sure that we wouldn't want to be there on a nice hot sunny weekend though, it would just be too busy!

  6. Wow, what an action packed day! I can't believe all things you did today! Castles, beautiful water at Cyclops, hiking with beautiful scenery! You out did yourselfs. Top that! I'll bet you will, although I like to see the locals doing there things.
    Take care, Rawn

    1. It definitely was a busy travel day but we loved it and look forward to more travel days like that!

      I am thinking that we won't have a problem topping that, there is just so much to see and it is all going to be fantastic just in different ways. :-)

  7. What gorgeous scenery on that drive! Interesting that the grass is so green and yet the trees are barely leafing? Loved the “Eye of the Cyclops”....what a fitting name. Your host and cottage seem welcoming. Looks like you will probably have more things to do and see in Berat than you did in Tirana. Power on guys!

    1. It sure was, just the kind of drive that we love.

      I am sure that Canada gets lots of green grass before the trees begin to pop, I know that we did when we were working at the campground in Saskatchewan. We have noticed that the trees are definitely close to popping here, soon there will be lots of green around. :-)

      The Eye of the Cyclops was a pretty cool spot, too bad we didn't have more time there to explore the area further down stream. We know that there was a bigger waterfall further down but we needed to get going in order to get to our Airbnb in time.

      Yes, there is a lot to do in Berat and the surrounding area and our cottage and host are wonderful. :-)


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