Heather and I went to Albania! It was cool. Specifically we went to Sarande. What happened was that we were in Meteora, which is an area in Greece with giant towering cliffs with monasteries at the top. We hiked around them for two days straight, but the first day we didn’t see a sunset because we were real tired and I’d gotten us a really nice hotel room from Air BNB. We splurged, hot water? Comfy bed? All the luxuries. So the next day we wanted to see a sunset but we’d wound up really far away from the good sunset look outs so we went back and forth for a bit, but decided to hike fast throught a bunch of trails we we could see marked on my phone-map of the area, and hope they lead us to the spot we wanted to see. During this process Heather got very grumpy. However, even she agreed it was totally worth it when we managed to get to the look out with plenty of time for the sunset. But then disaster, this guy is hogging up the best view. You can’t even take a picture without this guy sitting there in the middle of it meditating like a jerk. So Heather and I, mostly I, fume at his selfishness, not even caring that there are crowds of people who would like to use the view. Anyways Heather and I decide it would be best if she asked the meditating guy to move because I didn’t want to ask and it turns out HE WAS ACTUALLY MEDIATING. He was like oh, check out all these people, yeah I’ll totally move, I must have been super meditating it’s been a while since I was actually able to tune everyone else out like that. So he moves, we get our pictures turns out his name is Steve he’s a hardcore traveler he works somewhere as a chef in England for half the year, saves up money, then travels the other half. He’s headed to Santorini next, just like us, but came down from the North in Albania. He says we should go check out this thing called the Blue Eye, it’s this river that bubbles straight up out of the ground and starts a river, it bubbles up from at least 40′ down, that’s as low as people have dived and the water is just electric blue. Heather and I are really big on vividly blue water so it made the list! And it was on the way to Montenegro. ANYWAYS the Blue Eye looks like this:
Also more about Steve later because we also ran into him 100 times in Santorini. In that last picture you can just make out a person with a yellow shirt on in the middle right of the picture. That was either Annie or Paddy of Two Londoners One Bike who are biking all over the world on a tandem bicycle. They were cool so we chatted for a bit. The tagline for their website is Complete Tandemonium, which is a great pun, in my opinion, and I wonder if that was originally going to be the name of their blog, but it was taken ’cause that URL redirects to a tanning website which is, in my opinion, such a waste. It blew my mind that these two had taken a completely different route, transportation option, left their homes on a different date than us, every variable was different, but that we wound up at this one attraction in Sarande on the same day at the same time. Crazy. Anyways here’s more pictures:
Another great place to check out in the Sarande area is Butrint which is the site of some Roman ruins. Heather and I took the extremely reasonably priced local bus there and had a funny experience with Albanian taxi drivers coming up to us and offering to drive us there, and then agreeing with us that the bus was much cheaper and telling us we were waiting for the bus in the wrong place. We were still so conditioned from India for everything to be a hard sell that it was legitimately disorienting to have the sales pitch end and useful information come out instead. We honestly didn’t believe them at first about the bus stop, my first and second assumptions were that they would direct us away from the bus stop so we’d miss the bus and they’d get the taxi fare. Man I’m chatty this blog. What was I writing about. Butrint! So we took a bunch of pictures of nature with our macro lenses. Albania colors are really great, the pallet is very pastel and there are these purple trees that are the perfect accents. Here are some pictures of around Butrint:
That last one is a road that lead straight out from Butrint which is an island. We didn’t confirm this but from the diagrams we could see that Rome had an aquaduct that ran straight to Butrint, our theory was that that dead straight road was the historical remains of that line. The colors though, right? You can see the purples I was talking about in the top of the first picture here:
On the way back we stopped at a beach, it was way too cold to go in the water but we’d heard about how beautiful Albanian beaches were so we wanted to check it out. They are beautiful! And Albania is very inexpensive so you should go.
Here’s pictures of Sarande itself where we were staying in an AirBNB with a kitchen! We were able to make potatoes! It was so great. And we got really into pudding which was cheap, grocery stores are amazing. I think I annoyed Heather because I kept buying bottles of wine that tasted so bad because they were such a great deal. Like just a dollar or two for a bottle of wine!
After Sarande we went to the capital of Albania, Tirana, and spent one night while we waited to catch a bus to Montenegro. In Tirana we saw some bunkers from the soviet era that people were definitely using as toilets, ate some mediocre pizza that by comparison to the pizza we’d had was unbelievably delicious. I finished season 1 of The Expanse, to Heather’s relief, AND we saw this cool building: