Walking on the beach at Pogradec, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Pogradec, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Shkoder, Albania on May 19th!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Day trip to the coastal city of Durres, Albania

We woke up to blue sky and sunshine on Tuesday morning, and that kind of weather is supposed to stay with us for a while now here in Albania!

So we hopped in the car, put our sunglasses on, and headed for the nearby coastal city of Durres.

Durres is Albania's second largest city next to Tirana. Tirana is 500,000, and Durres is about 175,000. But because it's located only 35 kms (22 miles) away, it's pretty built up the whole drive.

The city of Durres is one of the oldest in the world and has been continuously occupied since the 7th century BC. 

Leaving the city of Tirana.

It's only a 40 minute drive to Durres from Tiarana. 

Durres is kind of spread out into two sections... the beach area is separated from the downtown area by the shipping port. We parked near the shipping port, and walked along the beach area first.

It's a wide beach with a shallow bay.

Written on the side of one of the many beach bars, restaurants, and cafes.

Many people from Tirana own summer apartments here.



We sat on a rock pier and had the lunch Ruth had packed.

This is a restaurant.

The beach goes for 10 kms (6 miles), but it's broken up by a military installation so you can't walk the whole beach. But that's okay, we wanted to see some things on the other side of the shipping port as well.

We walked back on the main road.

Safety first!

Walking along the sidewalk, you are responsible for where you put your feet! If you fall in, it's nobody's fault but your own for not watching where you step. There are many broken areas of concrete, left over bolts and steel rods sticking up, and of course deep holes. The last place we saw with this many safety obstacles was in Chisinau, Moldova.

Don't fall in!

You would think an earthquake went through here.

We're going to have to talk to one of the locals and find out what the story is with some of the buildings in Albania. We've seen some that have obvious problems like the one above, but they are being lived in, and stores are operating on the ground level and people are coming and going in areas that have obviously been subject to falling rubble. But while the apartments in most cases are owned, we wonder if there is maybe no condo fees, and nobody is responsible for the general condition of the building itself. We don't know. 

Edit: But now we do know. I only just looked up the earthquake history of Durres. A 5.6 hit here in September 2019, and a 6.4 only two months later. Widespread damage, collapsed buildings, and 51 people died.

And of course it's not very many that are like this, but enough that it made us take notice.

Looing back at the 10 km long beach.

Then we walked around the shipping port. There's also a big ferry terminal with boats running to Italy.

Old trains.

Several apartment buildings are covered in polka dots!

This is the tallest building in Durres, but it is unfinished.

There's obviously some kind of story behind this unfinished building. There are occupants on many floors, but obviously the top floors are not complete. It shows up on a google streetview image from 2016, and doesn't look much different than it does now. And yet there are tenants, including a bank, on the ground floor, and obvious apartment occupants as well.

The top floors are not finished, and it's been like that a long time.

Check out the big hole!
And the woman hanging her laundry.

Another view.

The church of Apostle Paul and Saint Asti.
Built between 1994-2002.

Rodeo Drive?
You might think so, except for the mosque in the background.

Hollywood!

Durres Castle.

Castle walls.

This was well done!

Traffic circle statue.

This statue looks left over from the communist years.
If you click on the picture and zoom in you can also get a better view of the unfinished floors of that highrise.

Roman gladiators?

Not a swimming beach in this area.





We walked inland a bit to see the ancient amphitheater. It's not in the best of condition, and apparently it had been buried and built on top of and only discovered in 1966.

The amphitheater.


Houses on top.

There was more to see, but our feet were getting tired and we still had to walk almost 4 kms (2.5 miles) more back to the car.

By the time we made it back to the car, we had done a total of 14 kms (8.7 miles).

Heading back home.

Today is a travel day!

We are driving 130 kms (81 miles) south to the UNESCO city of Berat for a one weeks stay. There are a few things we want to see along the way, so it should be an interesting drive.

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14 comments:

  1. I wondered why a building would have polka dots and found this - "When artist Edi Rama was elected mayor of Albania's capital in 2000, he decided to transform the city into something, aesthetically speaking, entirely different. Geometric patterns, polka dots and giant trees started appearing on the walls of the city's five-storey buildings. Today the city looks completely different from the one left by Stalinist tyrant Enver Hoxha two decades ago, even if the inside of the high-rise flats has changed very little."

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    1. Thank you for checking that out and letting us know. We sort of figured that it was probably to brighten up the boring old communist style buildings that everyone had to look at and add some colour to the city. We really enjoyed seeing these buildings and in the city of Tirana we saw other buildings that had rainbow type of colours on them in nice geometrical lines and another few buildings that had clothes hanging on a clothesline painted on them. It really did make things brighter and more cheerful. :-)

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  2. Wow! Ive got some competition for the incompleted-
    projects award! Can't wait to show this to the wife.
    Residing in those damaged and unfinished buildings would never fly here in San Diego.
    Thanks for the posts

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    1. Lol, like in Mexico we see many building started but never finished but I think this is one the first where we have actually seen businesses using the building and people living in it too and not having the building completed. This would not fly in Canada either!

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  3. Very interesting city. Maybe the cost of repairs after earthquakes put a stop to those unfinished buildings. Except for a couple of photos, the beaches and sidewalks are deserted. I'm wondering if most of the young folks have gone elsewhere to live.

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    1. First of all, I don't know how you can tell from the pictures whether the people that are in them are young or old! Second you have to remember that the weather is still very cool and not beach weather and thirdly, it is a work/school day so we would expect that these are a few reasons for not seeing lots of people in the pictures. We certainly saw people out and about and many love to sit outside the cafes and enjoy a coffee or tea.

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  4. The Theater reminds me of the Alamo. History buried under progress.
    Earthquakes do so much damage. The question is will those buildings survive the next one.
    Be Safe and Enjoy your trip.

    It's about time.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes, it is odd to see something so old surrounded by today's modern day buildings. It was the same in downtown Mexico City when they found the ruins of an ancient Aztec temple. It is the story of old meets new!

      We would expect that some of those building would not survive another earthquake. Another question to ask, is when will the next earthquake happen?

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  5. Interesting city and history! Loved the gladiator statues and “Aquaman”.Lol. Too bad about that unfinished high rise...it would have added to a pretty skyline. The bay and beach area reminded me again of the Bay of Banderas especially around Puerto Vallarta.

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    1. It was an interesting city with some nice history. I loved the "Aquaman" statue which is actually a statue of Redon, the Illyrian God of the Seas and Waters. It was really neat to look at and has so much detail.

      Yeah, we can see how the beach and bay area would remind you of the Bay of Banderas, it does look a little similar.

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  6. The X cracks in the building walls are classic signs of earthquake damage. I grew up in Anchorage, the 1964 earthquake caused many buildings to have those X cracks. Building for earthquake resistance has come a long way since then.

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    1. Yep, Kevin had mentioned in the blog that an earthquake had happened in the fall of 2019, actually there were two of them and that yes, the damage was a definite result of those two earthquakes. We still can't believe that some people and businesses are still using some of these buildings!

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  7. So, now that you know about the quakes, would you still live there? I know earthquakes can happen in many areas, but I wouldn't want to live in a spot that was earthquake prone.

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    1. Not in this city we won't but we won't have lived in that city to begin with. There are other areas of the country though that we would consider. It is the same in Turkey, heck even Ottawa, our home city has tremors. I think that the chances of one hitting are pretty low.

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