Hiking near the village of Shipska, Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Korca, Albania.

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

Friday, April 30, 2021

Well that was an adventure!

I'm sure that some people think we have adventures almost every day, but really we are just out seeing what there is to see in the world. However sometimes just going out exploring really does become an adventure... even by our standards.

Yesterday was one of those days! I think we used the phrase "holy crap" a few times!

We asked our Airbnb host Marika if she wanted to join us, so she came along for the adventure. The plan was to go to the village of Selcka in the mountains where there is a canyon with a rickety old suspension bridge. But there were also a couple of things to see along the way.

Our first stop was at the town of Libohova to see the Libohova Castle. It's not much of a castle really, more of a fortress.

Heading up into the mountains.

Free entry to the fortress, but as I said there isn't really a lot to see.



Nice views from the top of the castle walls though.

Whatever was in the interior is long gone.


Looking down on the town of Libohova.

Ruth and Marika enjoying the views.

In the next village leading up the narrow valley is the town of Labova e Kryqit. It is worth a stop for the ancient Greek Orthodox St. Mary Church.

They say there has been a church at this location since the 6th century, but the current structure dates to the 10th century. This is one old church!

At least the road is paved and in good condition.
We will not be able to say that later in the day!

Donkeys are so cute.

Yep, this is an impressive old church!

Marika doesn't know much more English than we know Albanian. So communication with us isn't the easiest. But it was handy having her around because she does of course speak Albanian, and whatever conversation happened between her and a guy we met after we parked the car ended up with the keeper of the church key coming in to open it up for us.

The 10th century dome.




Wow. Pretty intricate wood carving!

The guy with the key was doing quite a lot of explaining, and of course we didn't understand very much. Marika tried to help, but really it was no help. We got bits and pieces, but it would have been so much more interesting if we could understand the language.

We did understand that the wooden carving was installed later on, but there are original paintings underneath the carvings. This is one of the ones that you can still see.

Another wood carving.

That was a good stop!

And then it was on to the canyon and the bridge. I've mentioned before that when you get off the main roads in Albania, they can be in very poor condition and they get that way quickly. And yet the locals use them all the time. In fact, to get to the village of Selcka it is a 12 km (7.5 mile) drive that takes about an hour!

Picture an old single lane mining road up in the mountains made for four wheel drive only. Well that was the type of road it was. The Albanians don't seem to think anything of it because that's just the way it is here. No guard rails, and steep drop offs.

This is the beginning of the road.
It just gets progressively worse.

You can see our road in the distance.

I hope nobody comes the other way!

Yes, this is the only road to the village.

Eventually, we got to a part where there was enough room to park the car and walk.

I was prepared to keep going in the car, although there was one fairly steep downhill section where I was worried that we may not be able to get back up. But Ruth said we should stop and just walk. So we finally made it to a spot where there was enough room to park the car, and took off on foot.

A short while later, a guy in a small car like ours sailed past, bouncing along the rough road. I obviously have yet to learn how to drive like the locals!

We set off on foot.

The river water is a pretty color.

I found this dead, but fairly intact land crab.

Looking back at where we had walked so far.

We made it to the part where the sketchy bridge is located. This is not a vehicle bridge... it's just for pedestrians. In fact, I think it was actually made for the goats and sheep so they can get them to pastures on the other side.

Can you see the bridge?

We got to the bridge, and I have to admit that even I was a little nervous.

I took a video for you... it gives you a pretty good idea of the feeling of crossing something like that!

Turn your volume up...

Holy crap!

Marika also made it across, but Ruth has a hard time with things like this. Marika eventually went back and got her, but Ruth said she was still quivering five minutes later!

Ruth, thinking about crossing.

Eventually, Marika went back to get her.

So they crossed together. Not sure that was the best idea with two people on the bridge at the same time! But, my grade ten physics education tells me that weight distribution over those little sticks should make it okay!

And it was. 

We came across three guys with shovels and a big pile of dirt. One of them was sort of in the cave they were trying to access. They didn't want their pictures taken. Marika had a short conversation with them, and it seemed like they were trying to dig their way into a cave opening. I hope they find a bag of gold!

We followed the path back down to the river, but we were now on the wrong side of it. Ruth really didn't want to cross back on that bridge again, so we looked for a spot where we could cross the river.

Looking back at the bridge.

We took our boots off and walked through the river.

Ruth.
And Marika going back the other way.

Why is Marika going back the other way? She forgot her cell phone on a rock on the other side. She had set it down while taking her boots off and forgot to pick it up. She was trying to explain this to me, and she's pointing at her head, shaking it and saying Albanian. The she pointed at her legs and flexed her arm muscles. We both laughed. I think she was saying that Albanians are strong, but they aren't very smart! Too funny.

And then we walked back to the car. Next adventure? Making our way back up the hill. I almost thought of having the girls walk up to give us an extra bit of ground clearance. It was pretty rocky and I was worried about bottoming out. But, the extra weight would be better for traction, and we didn't have a lot of that to begin with.

There was a bit of tire spin going on, and it was rough going but we made it and somehow I managed to guide us well enough that we didn't bottom out. Holy crap, though. What a ride.

About 40 minutes later we made it back to a paved road. We all heaved a sigh of relief. I think the car did too!

We were on the road back to our village when Marika said to us in English the word "Breakfast". It took a little bit of figuring, but we eventually realized she was asking if we wanted to stop for something to eat! Of course it was now well after lunchtime, hence the confusion on our part.

She guided us to a local restaurant that we have driven by several times and it always looks busy. The waiter spoke some English, and we explained Ruth's gluten free issue, but otherwise Marika did all the ordering so we weren't exactly sure what was coming.

Can't say we aren't eating enough greens!

The darker green item is the leaves from the stinging nettle plant. Marika had pointed this out to us earlier in the day, saying that they were edible, and my comment at the time to Ruth was "no thanks". Little did I know that I would be eating a big portion of them later in the day! Not bad... kind of like spinach.

The dish on the left is some kind of zucchini and egg thing. It was really good.
And the meat is goat!

It was delicious and we couldn't finish all the food. No idea what it cost because we never saw a menu and Marika paid the bill! I had given her cash for the extension of our stay, and she wanted to thank us for taking her out. 

Wow. What an adventure that day was!

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And in Canada...


14 comments:

  1. Once again, Ruth proves she is the brains as well as the beauty of your outfit.

    Even Marika couldn't coax me across that bridge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol, not quite true, they still got me across that bridge. I honestly was still quivering for a few minutes after!

      I really don't like rickety looking things, especially over a bit of height!

      Delete
  2. Glad you don't drive like the locals!!

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  3. What an amazing day and the food looks delicious.

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    1. It was a great day and we loved having Marika along with us too, even if we couldn't do a lot of communicating between us.

      The food was delicious and we were stuffed when we left, we didn't need any food for dinner, not even a late one.

      Delete
  4. What was the material laid out on the bridge above the "sticks"? Brave of you all for crossing the bridge. I wonder if the animals cross one at a time, haha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those were sheets of tin over top the "sticks"! Not sure if we were brave or stupid, lol!

      I honestly don't think animals cross that, just humans. There was definitely a hiking path so I am sure in the summer months it probably gets used a fair bit because the waterfalls and pools below get used by the locals or others that know about the area. It is a bit of a swimming hole but not an easy one to access.

      Delete
  5. Definitely a Wow day with lots of beautiful scenery.
    The meal looks tasty.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it was another great day, we seem to be having lots of those kinds of days here in Albania. :-)

      The meal was delicious and we were stuffed when we left. We had no need for dinner that evening.

      Delete
  6. Albania was never on my radar as a travel destination but now I can't wait to go!

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    Replies
    1. We are so glad to hear that! If you love history along with old buildings and the great outdoors, you will love it. :-)

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  7. I am not sure I would have made it across that bridge. I got the heebeejeebies just watching the video and looking at the photos!

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    Replies
    1. I would not have made it across that bridge if it had not been for Marika's help or Kevin's. I get frustrated with myself because I know that they both did it and it was safe to do so but my brain just can't seem to grasp that fact! I really was quivering for several minutes after crossing that bridge, it gave me the heebeejeebies, lol!

      Delete

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