Scenery near Korca, Albania (pop 75,000).
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Korca, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Pogradec, Albania on May 12th!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Sometimes, everything just comes together

What a great day we had. It started off good, and just continued to get better. And it ended up fantastic!

Wednesday was moving day, and we had the car packed up and ready to go by the 11:00am check out time. We weren't driving a long distance, a total of about 65 kms (40 miles), but there were a couple of stops we wanted to make along the way and it was almost all on secondary roads so it's pretty slow going.

And, we had told our host that we wouldn't arrive until between 2-3pm so we weren't in any rush anyhow.

It's usually not easy to get good photos from a moving vehicle, but Ruth did really well yesterday!

Scenery along the way.

Headed to higher elevations.

Our first stop is an Albanian National Monument called The Blue Eye (Syri i Kaltër). It's a popular tourist attraction. 

Sign at the entrance road.

The pavement stops here.
We've learned that in Albania, as soon as you get off any major road, the surface deteriorates quickly. 

It was about 2 kms (1.3 miles) from the end of the paved area to the parking lot at the attraction. As expected, it was rough going. We made it about half way then decided it would just be better to walk. It wasn't busy, however we did see other people driving the entire way... including someone driving a Jag!

So, what is The Blue Eye?

It's where an underground river empties through an underwater cave approximately 50 meters (160  feet) below the surface of the water. And it empties with such force that divers can't explore that deep because of the pressure of the water coming out of the cave opening.

And the water is so clear! I don't think we've ever seen water so clear in a natural environment.

You can see the color of the water from a distance.

Zoomed in.

Crossing the foot bridge.

The water is so clear.

Like I said, it's a popular tourist spot.

Post office.

There is a small tourist booth also located there, and I would expect they sell stamps and things during busy season. We would not want to visit during busy season. I have seen photos online showing this place packed with people. 

But at this time of year, during our visit, there were maybe 10 visitors there, and a few workers getting restaurants and things ready for the summer season.

The blue eye is on the left where you can see the water coming up.

Apparently people do sometimes get in the water here and swim, but the problem is the water temperature. Even on a baking hot summer day, there aren't many people who could put up with the constant year round water temperature of 10C (50F) coming out of the cave!

The blue eye, on the left.

Looking down on the Blue Eye.

There is only a small area where you can look down. When the water comes up a certain way, you can see the cave entrance far down below, and it looks like the pupil of the eye. It's actually a really neat thing to see that much pressure. They say that if you throw a rock down at the right angle, there is so much pressure that the rock will float off to the side before dropping. We forgot to try it!

I took a video for you...

The Blue Eye.

We walked around and explored a little bit...

It's really pretty.

I can see why it's a popular area.





We walked back to the car, had a bite to eat, and headed back to the main road to head through the mountain pass.

Looking down on the reservoir created from the water flowing out of the Blue Eye.
The area relies on much of its drinking water from this source.

Scenery along the way.



Mountain village.

Coming down the other side.

Those three arched structures are actually guardrail barriers.
It doesn't look like it from the photo, but there is a steep drop off the other side,


Snow up in the mountains in the distance.

We made it to the small city of Gjirokaster (pop 20,000) and stopped at an ancient bridge just to take a photo. There were no signs explaining the history, although this area has a lot of history. We see a lot of the common brown colored directional signs pointing you to castles, monasteries, and other historic points. In fact Gjirokaster itself has a UNESCO listed historic area and castle that we will be visiting during our time in the area. 

Old stone bridge.

How many horses and carts and sheep have crossed this bridge?

We stopped at a SPAR grocery store right on our route, and picked up a few things although we will have to come back for a bigger shop soon. 

We were originally looking to stay in Gjirokaster itself but prices seemed high for what we were looking for. So I started looking outside of the city and came across a guest house located in the village of Nokovë about 10 kms (6 miles) away. 

It looked right up our alley. A small village in a mountainous area with lots of walking and hiking areas right outside our door. It reminded us of the place stayed in the mountains of Italy for a week, and we loved it there. 

The only problem is that it's a guest house, and we may not have the place to ourselves. So I contacted the host, who it turns out is the daughter who lives in Tirana. Her mother doesn't speak English, and lives most of the time here at the villa, looking after the big garden, and the occasional guests. The daughter told us that her mother has already received both vaccinations, and that we would have the place totally to ourselves for five of the seven days that we are here because her mother was going to Tirana. We thought that was an acceptable risk, and are we ever glad that we booked it!

The villa where we are staying for the next week!

You know how I sometimes post a photo of a beautiful place with a view, and I say "Here's a guy with a great view"... well for the next week, we are that guy!

This old village is right next door. 

Ruth, admiring the scenery.

Never seen so many wildflowers!

The mother welcomed us, and showed us around. Her English is about as good as our Albanian. She also speaks some Italian and some Russian, but those don't do us much good either. She led us to the living room, and proceeded to present us with a little treat.

Some kind of fruit brandy, and a little sweet treat.
Both made with fruit from her huge garden.

It's amazing how much you can communicate with someone who doesn't speak your language. We used google translate occasionally, but otherwise she showed us the workings of the house, and I'm pretty sure we understood correctly.

Home for the next week.

View from the front porch.

Our room.
The bed is super comfortable!

Our bathroom is tiny.

But it'll do.

We have our own private balcony off our bedroom.

Looking the other way.

It's such a beautiful area. We are really looking forward to exploring. And a week may not be enough time. We're already thinking about asking if we can extend our stay.

And for 2,700 lek ($33 CAD, $26.50 USD) per night, it would be rude not to!

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And in Canada...


22 comments:

  1. What a fantastic spot to spend a week, gorgeous. Loved the photos of the blue eye. Albania has a huge amount to offer. Definitely a place to visit.

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    1. It sort of reminds us of our ​Portugal stay, we even ended up on a mystery hike yesterday, lol!

      Blue eye was really cool, we love the colour of the water there and how crystal clear it was. We just wish that they had some hiking trails there, it would have made the visit there even better.

      Albania does have a lot to offer and we haven't even got to the best part of it yet, at least the best part for us. It is a definite must visit country, in our mind! :-)

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    2. Ha ha, just read about your interesting hike and I thought the same, this reminds me of our adventure in Portugal. Amazing how welcoming people are, lovely.

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    3. The only difference between the two mystery hikes was that on this one we didn't have to walk miles to make our way back "home" and we didn't have to fight our way through any thick thickets, lol!

      Yes, it is amazing how welcoming people can be to total strangers! :-)

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  2. The Blue Eye looks like a natural wonder.
    Your Scenery from your Balcony is making us Jealous.
    Be Safe and Enjoy the view.

    It's about time.

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    1. It is definitely a natural phenomena, which makes it so interesting to visit.

      We are loving the view from our balcony and also the one of the main floor looking out front. We can sit and have a drink and watch the sun set behind the mountain in the evening, when the sun is out of course, lol.

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  3. Replies
    1. It certainly is and we sure will, thanks!

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  4. OMG what a gorgeous drive and village in mountains is breathtaking! Love, love, love it!!

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    1. That definitely was our kind of drive! We are really going to love this area, there is so much hiking to do and so many things to see and explore. :-)

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  5. Wow what an amazing day. You really are in a beautiful spot.

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    1. It was another great day here in Albania.

      We are definitely going to love this area. Lots to see and do and plenty of hiking to be had. We are "Happy Campers"! :-)

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  6. Replies
    1. Thank you, we are glad that you have enjoyed them. :-)

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  7. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! I know you will enjoy your stay! Have fun!

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    1. Yep, it sure is a gorgeous area. We are right in our element. We know we will enjoy our stay here too! :-)

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  8. Replies
    1. Thank you Sue! Glad that you enjoyed them. Hope that both you and Roy are doing well. :-)

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  9. The blue eye is stunning! Loved the video and your gorgeous photos, which actually do it justice. I love your views and the place you're staying. One of your prettiest spots ever, I think!

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    1. It really was, the color of the water was phenomenal! Our only wish was that they had some hiking trails in that area but unfortunately they didn't.

      We think it might just be one of our prettiest spots ever as well. The views are beautiful in all directions and there is so much hiking available to us right from our front door. We are "happy campers". :-)

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  10. My first reaction after reading your comment about "tiny bathroom" was, "after how many years traveling in an RV you are talking about "tiny bathroom"! :) That bathroom is far larger than what you had in your RV. :)

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    1. Yes, this was a bit bigger but not by much and the layout isn't very efficient, plus the fact that this one is a wet bath so everything gets wet. Sherman's bathroom and shower were separate and we had shelving and cupboard space in Sherman, which this bathroom does not have. Kevin also has to watch his head as the ceiling is low in a couple of spots. Anyways, compared to the size of the house it is a small bathroom but at least it is an ensuite. :-)

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