In Norway, June of 2022.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Manotick (Ottawa), Ontario. Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Greenwich, Nova Scotia, Canada on October 3rd.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

We never know how long we'll be gone!

We ended up hiking 17 kms (10.5 miles) yesterday! Certainly didn't plan on that, and we weren't really prepared, but that's what happened.

There are several easy day trips that can be done from where we are staying in the city of Korca. Yesterday, we chose to drive into the mountains to the town of Voskopoja. It's only about a half an hour drive.
Voskopoja is a worthwhile day trip because the small town of about 2,000 people has 10 ancient churches all in various states of repair.

Heading up into the mountains, there are several small villages.

Hmm. Looks like a nice waterfall in there.

Zoomed in.

Scenery as you get to Voskopoja.

Voskopoja dates back to the year 1330. And in the 1700's, it was in its heyday. Historians think there were 30,000 people living there at the time and at the time it was one of the largest cities in the Balkans. But over the next 200 years there were a lot of problems and eventually the town was all but abandoned. It's only in the last 50 or 60 years that people have begun to move back there and now it's a kind of a tourist town with lots of small hotels, and wealthy people from the city have weekend and summer homes there.

In the 1700's there were as many as 30 churches in the surrounding area. But only 10 remain. We figured we would try to see all of them, so we parked the car in the center, and walked from there.

Church of St. Nicholas.

As we are finding with a lot of churches, it was locked. We walked back to town and asked the pub owner if he knew if we could get inside. He made a phone call and I spoke to some lady who said it was not possible, and the only church that was open to the public for viewing was the monastery.

The Church of the Archangels.

Built in 1722, apparently this church had a lot of fancy woodcarvings inside, but they were destroyed during a fire in WWI. 

Old gravestones.

Church of St. Harralambos.


Not much left of this one.

Church of Prophet Elijah.

Built in 1751, this one was interesting because they dug down to build it. So as soon as you enter the doorway, you go down some stairs and it's actually much taller than it appears from the outside. Also, someone left the door unlocked!

Ruth, inside.

One house we walked by had a really nice garden with lots of tulips!

At this one, even the front gate was locked.

This is a photo of an engraving done in 1742 that depicts what the town looked like.

Looking up at another church and more modern cemetery.

This church was originally built in 1378, and has been recently restored.

Communist era bunker in behind the church.

You can clearly see the original walls and the restored walls.

Looking back at the town.

The monastery is located up a hill. It seems that's where they always put a monastery! It was a bit of a climb to get up there. The road is paved, and you can drive... but we needed the exercise!

Scenery along the way.

These four caterpillars were crossing the road. The blind leading the blind.
"Okay guys, follow me! I'm sure we can make it!"

The Monastery.

View from the monastery.

So the lady on the phone had told me the monastery was open, but the church inside the monastery was locked!

We sat and enjoyed the view and had a snack. We hadn't brought a lunch with us, but we had snacks and lots of water and we had originally planned on being back to the apartment by around 2:00pm. 

That wasn't going to happen!

We had seen some trail marker signs leading into the forest, and Ruth wanted to go for a hike. She said "We don't have to go far...".

Yeah, right. We've learned that when we set off on a mystery tour, we never know how long we'll be gone!

This very rough dirt road actually leads to the next village of Shipska. 
Parts of it would be tough even in a 4x4.
Pretty sure people have been walking this path for hundreds of years.

We went almost 2 kms in the forest and it was really nice. But there were too many trees to actually enjoy any kind of a view. So, we thought about turning around and heading back. But I checked the mapping app, and I figured out that it was 4.5kms back to the town if we went the same route back. Or, it was 6.5 kms if we continued on through the village of Shipska. Only two more kms, and we would get some different scenery, so that's what we did.

Scenery along the way.

Ruth, enjoying the views.

This old bridge likely dates back to the 1700's.

Looking down on the old bridge.

We're actually glad we made it to the village of Shipska. There, the Church of St. George dates back to around the year 1700. It was restored between 2008 and 2012, and it has won several awards for being such an authentic restoration project.

Church of St. George is Shipska.

Heading back to Voskopoja.

By the time we got back to the car we had done 17 kms (10.5 miles). Holy cow, we were done! My legs were actually tired, and are a bit sore this morning. You would think that with all the hiking we do, we should be able to do the odd long one and not feel the effects. But for some reason, we still do.

Maybe the fact that we only sat down once during that 17 kms! Gotta learn to take more breaks.

Heading back to the city.

Can you see the big cross on the hill where we hiked the other day?

We didn't get back to the apartment until almost 4:30pm!

Our week here in Korca has flown by. Today is our last day here, so we are doing another day trip. No, we won't be doing any long hikes!

Record low deal on the popular and highly rated Eureka PowerSpeed Bagless Vacuum.

And in Canada...


  1. Methinks you were tired because you are not 25 any more (lol).

    1. Lol, that could be but we never hiked that far even at 25!

      I think we just have to do more longer hikes. We used to think 10km (6mi) was a long way, now we think it's nothing when we go that far!

  2. The rests may help your legs feel more rested but continually walking is a fat burner.
    Beautiful Scenery. Maybe with time more of the churches will be restored.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

    1. I think when you are hiking 17 km (10.5mi) you need a bit of time to relax, especially when you are hiking at a quick pace like us, plus I don't think we need to worry about burning off any fat. :-)

      Most of the churches that we saw in this area have been restored and that is why they are locked up so that nobody can do any damage to them.

  3. I think I sent you a link to the Chouters blog several months ago, but in case I didn't....they recently arrived in Germany with their RV.

    1. Yes, you have sent us the link before and Kevin does sort of follow them but not regularly.

      We think that it is definitely easier to cross into Germany via land borders, however it is harder to fly in at the moment. For us though, it is still hard to get into a EU country that would be beside Germany. As Kevin mentioned though, it looks like more of the EU countries are starting to open up so with any luck we will be able to get into Germany by the middle of next month.

  4. Amazing the number of religious building that exist in Albania, a country with a history of conflict. I guess that's true of just about anywhere in the world. We love visiting religious sites when we are on the road as they provide historical information. I guess it's all about hope. Funny, isn't it?

    1. It really is amazing, especially when you consider that the communist regime tore down so many, it makes you wonder why some were left untouched!

      We enjoy looking at the churches, partly because of how old many of them are over here in Europe but also for the architecture and them both inside and outside.


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