- I am a very regular traveller with Explore and would place this visit to Albania in the top one or two of my most interesting travel experiences.
Albania is a country coming out of communism and into the free world. Its history from past civilisations into the Greek, Roman and Ottoman influences enhanced the experience. The country has some of the most beautiful and varied scenery I have seen with high impressive mountains, large fresh water lakes, very fertile valleys and a long and much undeveloped coastline.
Our tour leader Edjon was a proud Albanian, who knew his stuff. He took us too many different areas, explaining the relevant history and politics of the country with true passion. This was backed up with knowledgeable local guides.
There were unforeseen local difficulties, eg the end of Ramadan when some museums were closed, and rain and mist in the mountains, which he meticulously rearranged for us, ensuring very little was missed out. I am surprised that some members of the group grumbled about these slight changes of plan which couldn’t be avoided.
Travel through the country was difficult in places as the emerging road system is still not complete. We were carefully driven by Fati; he owned the bus and ensured we reached every destination safely.
My own highlights were the huge archaeological site at Butrint, drinking raki and mountain tea in the garden of an Albanian family, swimming in a natural outdoor hot spring under a stunning Ottoman bridge (our own “infinity pool”), as well as a dip in lake Ohrid as the sun was rising…. Magical!
Explore’s reference to this as a “full on trip” was very true… lots to do and see as well as moving on.
There was time to relax or do some local exploring, over lunches made from fresh local produce (no fast food here). I would recommend future travellers bring trekking poles and boots as castles and churches tend to be on top of steep hills.
Published on: 16 October 2016