Mini Balkan road trip – Part 5

After waking up in Theth and having a nice hike in the area we decided to head south. Since the rain started to fall, we made changes to our original plan (which included kayaking around Koman lake) and went in the direction of Tirana. Since we were already tired and very hungry after hike we decided to stop in some restaurant In Shkoder. They did not have most things on the menu and food was very average which we learned was typical for out of the season period. We learned the hard way if you want to eat good food. stop at some restaurant next to the road, and look that there are many local families gathered and eating – than it’s a good spot;)

Shkoder is a sweet town with a spectacular castle! Apparently on Sundays the entrance is free, otherwise entrance is 200 Lek and it is well worth it, in any other european country it would be much more expensive. Its area is huge and you manage to get a wonderful look on Shkoder lake and all the surroundings, showing you the magical cultural blend of Albania. Inside Shkoder castle there is a small shop where we bought a map and a small guide-book which had great suggestions of what to visit in Albania and had a lot of stories from its history.

Even driving inside Shkoder and going by the side roads you ll have a feeling you have entered one of Kosturica movies. A great thing about being there end of october, being November was that everything was full of delicious grenades, you could just pick them up everywhere and refresh yourself.

After visiting Shkoder we headed as we thought to Tirana, we stopped on the road in some restaurant (PLLUMI 87) full of people and enjoyed delicious meal there. It was slowly getting dark and the road to Tirana seemed to be completely block and due to that we changed our initial plan and this time decided to skip Tirana and we headed to Durres. In case you have more time than we did you should definitely stop by at Kruje, historically important city of Albania. It was my husbands birthday that day so we decided that night to sleep in some fancy hotel, thing we usually do not do. So we went randomly do Hotel Iliria Internacional, for our standards very fancy hotel located just at the beach. We paid the hotel 45 euros, breakfast was included. There were lots of bars and clubs around. Also there was amasing Konditorei, where I wanted to try everything, luckyly they were closing at 22 h, otherwise I would spend all the budget on amazing cakes and icecream there;) The best part when we woke up the next morning we could swim in sea!!! It was end of october and sea had 22 C, for locals too cold for us perfect;)

Where did we go after our amazing breakfast at the beach and more about Albanians gems in the next post:D

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Mini Balkan road trip – Part 4

After leaving amazing Montenegro and crossing another border control we have entered – Albania (country nr 6). This is one of rare European countries whose language neither me nor my husband speak. Since we wanted to explore countryside, before entering Albania we decided to learn some basics of Albanian. Here are some of the phrases we found useful and learned before crossing the border;)

English                                            Albanian

Yes                                                    Po

No                                                     Jo

Thank You                                      Faleminderit

You’re welcome                             Ju lutem

Do you speak English?                 Flisni Anglisht?

How much is it?                            Sa kushton?

Beef                                                  Mish lope

Chicken                                           Mish pule

Fish                                                  Peshk

Vegetables                                      Perime

Where?                                             Lu?

Left                                                   Majtas

Right                                                Djahtas

And that’s about it;) With the exception that the first phrase we remember was Naten e Mire (goodnight) cause it consists of names of our kids;) It was enough to fully enjoy magical Albania!

Our first destination in Albania was Theth – since we did not have any Albanian money (lek) we decided to go to the closest town to ATM to withdraw some cash, since we doubted there would be any ATM in Theth. That was indeed a smart decision!:)

We didn’t book any accommodation for our trip in advance, since we were going end of October, beginning of November we were sure there would be no issues without finding something on the site.

Why did we choose Theth as our first destination in Albania and how to get there?

Theth is a small village in Skhoder county, located in the mountains in north of Albania. It is extremely picturesque and a must see for all nature lovers. Theth is located in the center of Theth natural park. Local population moved to Theth some 400 years ago in order to preserve Christian traditions. In order to reach it you should have a 4×4 car since most of the road has no asphalt or take a beautiful all day hike:) My better half agrees with me that next James Bond should definitely be filmed in Albania, we already have ideas for scenario;)

In order to reach it by car we turned in Koplik (where we had short ATM break) to the road SH21 which leads to Theth. On the road to Theth you will meet all the possible animals on the road, we have encountered donkeys, goats, pigs, cows and turkeys;) You will have to drive slow but you will enjoy every second of it, sometimes doubting are you in a dream or reality?  From Koplik you need 2 hours to reach Theth. First 30 – 45 minutes there is asphalt – and then suddenly there is no road at all;) Unless you have 4×4 better do not go there with car, you ll destroy it most probably. We had lots of luck, already it was getting dark and some guy saw on our faces that we look lost in-car cause according to our map we should already be in Theth. He spoke some English, asked as do we have accommodation we said no, he asked do we want to stay in his house, he has some rooms and his wife can cook for us. Ofcourse we said yes! He called his son to come to lead us to their home, and for the next 45 minutes we were in the car more jumping then really driving on the road – reaching the house. He called immediately his wife who was waiting for us with 3 course dinner – tomato soup, delicious lamb, salat and dessert 😀 Later we found out that they have also Airbnb so in case you plan to go to Theth we recommend you to stay at family Pashko and amazing Vera as host. We paid 14 euros in total for amazing studio (room with bathroom), huge dinner, huge breakfast and a local guide who was showing us the next day beauties of Theth and hiking together with us to the waterfall and buying as later tea at the local bar. In case you decide to go to Theth like us out of season take care – in November only 15 families stay here and you can not reach it from Koplik, we were lucky to be there on the last day the road was open. After mid November till May only very bad road is open with which you need 6 hours to reach Koplik, since in Theth in winter can be up to 6 meters of snow.

More about our Albanian adventures in the next post:D