Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Slochteren, Netherlands.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Papenburg, Germany.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Annunciation Monastery and Skotini Cave near Vanister, Albania

As beautiful as the view is from our front porch, there's lots to see in this area, so we like to get out every day. Especially with such enjoyable weather. Yesterday got up to about 22C (71F)  and they're calling for 24C (75F) today. Perfect.

We drove about 20 kms (12 miles) to the nearby village of Vanister. Up in the hills behind the village is a16th century monastery with gorgeous views of the valley below. It sounded like a good hike, so we headed there first.

Beside the village, there is also a cave. There are no signs and we missed the turn to the cave, so decided to see that on the way back.

We parked in the village itself, but there is a road leading to a parking area at GPS 40.002775, 20.180235 however it is best suited for high clearance vehicles.

We are headed up there.

The 16th century Annunciation Monastery.

It didn't take long to get some views.


Ruth tried to make friends, but they weren't interested.

The road stops, and then there is a trail with switchbacks up the side of the mountain.

Me, on the trail.

Ruth, and the view of the valley.

Lots of spring wildflowers.

There were two men doing some renovation work up there. But otherwise, there was nobody else around.

A new door.

Ruth, enjoying the view from the monastery.

We went and did some exploring. Surprisingly, it was all unlocked. I took a video of the inside, but it was dark and mostly out of focus so you'll have to make do with still photos.

My, what big horns you have!

Back at the village, we finally found the road that leads to the Skotini Cave. 

We had borrowed a flashlight from the villa in case we made our way inside. It turns out that you can go inside about 50 meters, so it's a good thing we brought it because it was pitch black in there. The cave actually goes much further than 50 meters... but you would need diving gear because it's all an underground lake! In fact, we read that they think the entire system ends up at the Blue Eye attraction 20 kms (12 miles) south of this location.

Ruth, heading into the cave.

Clear blue water inside the cave.

The village takes drinking water from the cave.

It was interesting, but not much to see really. 

We continued on to the next village of Goranxi where we thought we might make it to another monastery, but the road in deteriorates quickly (as expected) and it's a 4 km hike one way. We will go back though because the hike actually looks better than the one behind Vanister. 

Communist era bunker.

Another small chapel.

Looking down on our car and two more bunkers.

The village of Goranxi.

This is as far as we went. 

Driving back to the villa, we pass this pretty gate that someone painted.

Another good day in Albania. 

We are off to do some more exploring today!


And in Canada...

Nice deal on the Zinus 8" Memory Foam RV Mattress on Amazon.ca


  1. Hi, Such beautiful countryside. I'm interested to know how do you find such good hikes and trails? Is Albania well mapped? Coming from the UK, it was a surprise to us when walking in Europe how bad some of the maps were as many don't have an equivalent of an Ordinance survey style detailed map system. Would love to know what you use to explore as am hoping to do lots of walking as soon as Europe starts to re open more.

    1. Hi there Cat, yes the countryside here is gorgeous, we really are loving it here. This is definitely what we came to Albania for. :-)

      To be honest, some of our hikes we just go out on a road and hike it to see where it takes us. Otherwise we check Google maps to see if there are any places of interest marked off and then check them out on the internet and if they look interesting enough than Kevin pins them to his map on the phone. We also use Maps.me, sometimes it shows trails or sometimes little back roads it doesn't differentiate between the two, again if there is something of interest than Kevin pins it and we head in that direction. Unfortunately we haven't been able to find a good hiking map of Albania, either on the internet or in paper form. There is also Alltrails but it is a pay app and so far we seem to do well just the way we are doing things.

  2. Loved following your day today. The monastery looks fabulous!

    1. Thank you, we enjoyed our day too! :-)

      The monastery really was pretty cool to see, we love these kinds of finds when we are out exploring.

  3. Wow, those pictures are wonderful.. such OLD things! Is the monastery still used? Curtains in doorways? Confessional?
    Lots of farming!

    1. Thank you Luci and Loree!

      We aren't sure if the monastery is still used. It certainly looks like people still go up there and light candles but I really doubt that it is used for services anymore. We don't think the curtains were for confessionals because it just opens into one room behind the "alter". You have to keep in mind that this was an orthodox monastery and church so things are set up differently to what we are used to seeing in a Catholic/Protestant church.

  4. Monastery was quite interesting. Never seen Goats with horns like that. Great scenery.
    Be Safe and Enjoy your next hike.

    It's about time.

    1. The monastery was interesting, especially with us being the only ones there other than the two worker guys, plus the views were outstanding.

      Those weren't goats, they were male sheep or rams and that is why they had the big curly horns, not all male sheep have horns so maybe this is why you have never seen horns like that before.

  5. We are still following you, daily, and wanted to write a note to say how marvelous it has been, having this trip with you! So much of the terrain looks like it could be in Wyoming or Montana. I would love to spend some time there, but the language issue might just prove to be more than I could handle!

    1. Thank you for continuing to follow along with us and for taking the time to leave a comment, we really appreciate it and we are glad that you are enjoying our adventures. :-)

      Yes, some of the scenery definitely reminds us of Wyoming and Montana as well.

      Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone, once you have done it for the first time, you tend to be more comfortable about the language factor. We find enough people around that can speak at least a bit of English and we of course try to learn some of the basic words in local language wherever we travel to and Google translate makes things even easier. Don't let the language issue hold you back or you will miss out on seeing some beautiful places.

  6. Imagine if you had a metal detector the things you could find in a bunker like that! Ruth, you look fantastic!

    1. We figure someone has probably already gone through these bunkers with metal detectors already. Too be honest some of these bunkers you really don't even want to enter, some are pretty tasty inside!

    2. Ruth, I also thought you look slim and fit in that pic of you on the path.

    3. Thank you Elaine and Chris! :-)

  7. What beautiful views on these last two days of hikes! Perfect weather makes everything better too. Love the sheep photos.

    1. It really is hard to beat the views here. There is gorgeous scenery everywhere you look. We are really enjoying the area and we know that we will be back this way again one day in the motorhome to see the things we missed on this trip.

      Other the the first couple of days when we arrived to this area we had fantastic weather, perfect for hiking. :-)


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