🇦🇱 In the footsteps of vanished Cultures

Diary Entry

Between Tepelenëand Gjirokastër we pass a place just off the road where all hell breaks loose. You can tap fresh water in many places in Albania, including here. There are also many traders who take the opportunity to make it clear to the people stopping by that they are also missing honey, nuts and fruit. You can also grab a coffee while you’re there… We actually buy some grapes and nectarines, which taste incomparably good in this country, and then quickly hit the road again.

Shortly afterwards we reach the so-called Blue Eyes. These are actually incredibly beautiful blue lakes in the middle of the mountains, but now there is a lot going on here. Ignoring every queue and every traffic jam, Albanians, but also Italians in particular, squeeze past waiting cars and create traffic chaos.

I don’t want to do that, turn the car around and leave the blue eyes behind us unattended to spare our nerves.

More soothing is a visit to an ancient church along the way. Of course, nobody cares about ancient churches. The church dates back to Byzantine times, as some reliefs testify.

Only when there is a waterhole somewhere on a hot summer’s day do they all run to it. It’s no different in Germany either. At least we make a stop beforehand for the now obligatory lunchtime salad. Usually with fries of course! Only Uwe is not impressed by the salad because he hates tomatoes.

We still try in vain to get our car locked. In addition to the torn underbody, the defective tire pressure sensor and the slashed tires, the locking function of the car is now also broken.

Next we stopped at the archaeological site of the ancient city of Antigonea. This dates from the time of the Illyrians and was founded by the famous king Pyrrhos, who is not particularly good at victories, around 300 BC. founded. About 400 years later, the Romans destroyed the city again.

The ghost town is lined with modern, but also rotting, bunkers. The Balkan wars have left deep wounds in Albania and apparently also in this country a landscape full of small bunkers in which anyone who just had to fight someone else could hole up. In a hell of a heat we climb around on the rubble.

We come through Saranda, a holiday metropolis by the sea. This place also offers water and therefore attracts crowds of people. We leave the place behind us. Was it still nice when we visited this lonely waterfall in the mountains.

Next comes a place called Ksamil, which is just a little less touristy. To our right we see not only the wide Mediterranean Sea, but also the large Greek island of Corfu.

Our goal is Butrint. Now in ruins, this was once an important Roman city, used until the Middle Ages when it fell into disrepair. Like Antigonea, this city was also founded by the Illyrians, albeit a few centuries earlier.

The pillars of ancient temples still rise up between the pine trees, mosaics on the floor are still witnesses of everyday life and an amphitheater is still intact enough that actors could easily perform there in front of an audience. Only frogs are giving us a performance today.

The place is very fascinating, but the heat gnaws at us here too.

The sea and the nearby wetlands make the climate unbearably humid. The border with Greece was extremely close here. But there is no suitable accommodation nearby and our naive idea of simply staying somewhere on the beach is done away with because the land in this area merges into the sea via a swamp. We have to go back to Ksamil.

Only in Ksamil do we find a complete apartment for all of us at a ridiculous price by asking around.

Uwe and I cook spaghetti aglio i olio for everyone and we enjoy the evening on our veranda.



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