Out for a hike around the Lin Peninsula at Lake Ohrid, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Pogradec, Albania.

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

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Our first day trip in Albania

While we are itching to get up into the mountains to do some hiking, there is still too much snow up there. The temperatures are definitely trending upwards though, and we'll get there eventually. In the meantime, we are sticking closer to the coast.

The capital city of Tirana where we are currently staying is located only 35 kms (22 miles) from the coast. And it is even closer to the start of the mountains. It's such a great location. The only issue we are noticing is traffic getting in and out of the city itself.

Part of that is a construction problem very close to where we are staying. In fact, it takes about 20 minutes to get to or from the main highway that is located only 1 km (less than a mile) away!

Leaving our underground parking garage.

Made it onto the main highway.
Clear sailing now!

We've driven by this fancy building a couple of times.

I finally looked it up. It's the new Hotel Amadeus Resort that was scheduled to open in 2019, but is still not open. I couldn't find any English language information as to why it's still not open.

Apparently this is only the first stage.

It doesn't take long to get into the countryside.

Scenery along the way.

Made it onto a secondary road.

Sheep crossing!

More scenery.

We can see the sea!


The road is getting a little rough.

Yes, it's only our first day out but based on that, road conditions are not as good as they were in Turkey. 

We were headed for the Cape of Rodon... a spit of land that juts out into the Adriatic Sea. There's an old church and an old castle and a beach located in the park there.

It took us an hour and a half to do 55 kms (33 miles).

But, we had stopped for gas along the way. The rental car only comes with less than a 1/4 tank of gas. And we were switching cars at the end of the day so they could give us something nicer. I put in 2,000 lek ($24.15 CAD, $19.30 USD) and that got us back to 1/2 a tank. Many things are inexpensive in Albania, but gasoline is not one of them!

We paid 500 lek ($6.00 CAD, $4.85 USD) to enter the park at the Cape of Rodon... 200 per person, and 100 for the car.

St. Anthony's Church, built some time in the 14th century.



Old drawings still show up, including the two headed eagle that is also on the Albania flag.


It's not beach season yet. The high today was about 14C (58F) but there was very little wind and when the sun was out is was quite pleasant. But the forecast is calling for highs of 20C (68F) by the end of next week, so it's getting better.

Me, at one of the bunkers.

A short explanation of the bunkers...

Albania was under Communist rule from 1946 until 1992. For most of that time, the leader of the country was Enver Hoxha. His regime was hostile towards just about any other country, including the other communist countries. From 1967 until his death in 1985, they built concrete bunkers of all different sizes as defensive positions across the whole country. They ended up building over 173,000 of these bunkers. They are literally everywhere. In the mountains, on the beaches, in the vineyards, and even in the cities.

They were never used for their intended purpose. 

You can read more about it here if you are interested... Bunkers in Albania

Three more bunkers on the beach.

Littered with plastic from the ocean.

As I said, it's not beach season. So the beach hasn't been maintained all winter and there's lots of trash lying around. Not very nice, and it's pretty sad to see how much plastic washes ashore after only six months or so. 

Here is a photo of what the same beach looks like in summer...

Cape Rodon Beach during summer.

We went for a walk along the shore.

More bunkers.

Ruth, inside one of the bunkers.



More bunkers.

We went back to the car and had the lunch that Ruth had packed, then headed out to the tip where the castle is located.

That's where we are headed!

Larger bunkers.

Inside the bunkers.

Unfortunately, this is as far as we got!

There were some steps leading down a fairly steep section of the path, and some of it had eroded away. It was muddy and slippery, and there was nothing to hold onto. Rather than risk slipping, we turned around. 

You can see the castle on the right.
Don't forget, you can click on any photo to make it full screen!

Pretty spring primroses along the way.

We made our way to a higher viewpoint.

And then we thought that if we made our way back to the church, maybe we could walk along the beach to get back to the castle. The tide was out.

Another shot of St. Anthony's Church.

They've built this new walkway down to the beach, but we thought it was a bit much. 
It doesn't really suit the area.

More ocean garbage.
Terrible.

I know they clean up the beach area, but I bet the rest of this part of coastline never gets touched.

We still couldn't make it to the castle!




This is an RV Campground!

It looks like it's still under construction, but it's kind of neat how they have terraced sites.

We met our guy from Go Rent Albania on the way back to the city. He brought us a nicer car. The one we had originally was okay, but it was a 2013 and had some issues that needed attention. This one is a Fiat 500L Hatchback. I'll get a photo of it another day, but this is what it looks like...


And of course it didn't have any fuel in it either. That's the way it's done in many countries... you pick it up and the first thing you have to do is to put fuel in it. Then, you attempt to bring it back with very little fuel as well. 

So the first thing we did was fill it up. We'll have it for at least a month and likely longer. 

Like I said, fuel is not cheap in Albania. Good thing it's a small country and the cars are fuel efficient. Gasoline costs the equivalent of $1.89 CAD per liter, or $5.71 USD per gallon. It cost 6,700 lek ($80.50 CAD, $65.50 USD) to fill it up.

It's got high miles, but it drives nice. It will do fine. The car is costing us €210 ($313 CAD, $250 USD) per month.

Fighting with traffic to get back to our apartment.

So, not an amazing first day out, but interesting nonetheless.

They are calling for weekend showers but then a really nice week from Monday to Friday. So we may not stray far from the apartment this weekend, although we are definitely going for a walk. We have rain coats!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

14 comments:

  1. Hopefully all countries would clean up their coastlines which would be good for the environment. Still lots of nice things to see.
    Be Safe and Enjoy your explorations.

    It's about time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I doubt that will ever happen unfortunately! What would be easier to do would be to ban all single use plastic containers or put a really high deposit price on them, then maybe people would be less likely to through them away and if they did, there would be more people around that would collect them and turn them in for the money.

      Delete
  2. It saddens me to see litter. On our beach walks in Europe we always carry a grabber and a black bag to get any litter but never seen anything like that.
    Nice Mountain View’s.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Us too! It is such a shame to see this. :-(

      If there was just a little litter on the beach we would be doing the same but with this much, we would have a bag full in no time and we wouldn't even make a dent in it! We often do this along the trails that we hike on though.

      Delete
  3. Interesting story about those bunkers.... kinda a sore sight to see in a small country like that? Also interesting how the castle ruins were hugging the coastline. Must have been erosion from that area? Still an interesting day overall. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is actually quite interesting to see them when we are out and about. It really makes you think about the past history of the country and nice to think that things aren't like that any more.

      A bit of the castle walls have eroded due to the waves from the sea but really not a lot has disappeared since this castle was built in 1500.

      Delete
  4. What hiking boots or shoes do you recommend?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had always been Merrell people but the last couple of times that we bought their hiking shoes/boots we found that they just didn't last long. So about a year and a half ago we bought these Oboz hikers and we have been really happy with them. I think that over the past eighteen months we have done some really hard hiking in them and they are only now starting to wear out. The boot itself is still in great shape but the soles have been worn down a lot! We wouldn't hesitate to by this brand again.

      Delete
  5. Nice bunkers. I can think of a lot things to do with them. They make for great storage, a boutique hotel, restaurant with separate dining areas. I think you guys have picked a good country. Looking forward to the next couple of weeks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We knew you would love the pictures of the bunkers Chris! Actually Kevin has read where a couple of the bunkers have been turned into restaurants, perhaps we will even go and eat in one of them. :-)

      Delete
  6. You're doing a find job of letting us know what's going around the next corner! Is the water cool? It's
    Looks like it would be with snow on the mountain. Well take care, Rawn Stone

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are glad that you are enjoying our post Rawn. I have no doubt that we will have lots to show you about Albania over the next couple of months. :-)

      Delete
    2. Oh are you 2 staying for a couple of months?

      Delete
    3. Yes, that is the plan unless Germany opens up before that, so that we can get in and pick up our motorhome. Or if by May the rules for going back to Canada change then will be head back there.

      Delete

We love hearing from you! Please take the time to leave a comment...