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

 

 

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Mini Balkan tour – or how did we travel across 7 countries in 7 days

We have always dreamt of making a big Balkan tour, but we seem to postpone it ever since. That is why this year we decided since we live in Austria we should use the opportunity and make a mini Balkan tour. On the picture below you can see our tour:D

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Starting from Austria (country Nr1) we passed through Slovenia (country nr 2) which we visit regularly so we decided not to stop this time. In case you have never been to Slovenia do not miss the opportunity to visit lake Bohinj, Bled and Ljubljana, each of which tell you an amazing unique story. Our favorite spot in Slovenia is Bohinj, lake is truly spectacular and there are amazing hiking routes around it.

We continued to Zagreb (capital of Croatia, country Nr 3) to leave the kids with grandpas since we wanted it to be our romantic mini Balkan tour;) Zagreb is in a way like mini Vienna, you should not miss it during Advent.

Our first night of mini Balkan tour we spent in Novigrad close to Zadar. It is the place from which I originate, so as you might guess big plus of it is that we could sleep there for free. That on side, Novigrad is truly a beautiful little fisherman town which you should visit if you ever happen to be close to Zadar. There is a very small fortress on the top of the hill. You don’t need to be very fit to climb the small hill and reach magnificent fortress from the 13th century. During climbing you become aware how huge complex this was long time ago. You can visit a chamber where once queen Elizabeta Kotromanic was kept – more known as mother of famous queen (in Poland known as king) Jadviga. According to the legend her older daughter Marija was saved but the queen Elizabeta was killed and thrown to the river of Zrmanja. Being there you must feel special – from the fortress you can enjoy the view of the amazing sunsets in Novigrad. Also you should be aware that till beginning of 19 th century Novigrad was more like an island there was no road to reach it you could reach it only via boat – it used to be isolated pearl of Dalmatia. You can also see on the first level the well which was found out recently.
Climbing the stairs you can notice holes in which once cannon balls were – which are at the moment kept in the museum of Novigrad. Definitely a must visit – either just for romantic sunset, amazing history or view.

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In the next post comes our adventure number 2 and crossing other two countries:)