What I like from south Albania
To many, visiting the south Albania Riviera and the surrounding area is funny. Middleclass Albanians goes there for holidays, while plenty of foreigners who occasionally visited Saranda and Gjirokastra (from Corfu) had had good memories. In July, I and two friends traveled south for a three days trip. So, I am describing below costs and fun that we enjoyed during these three days.
Day 1 (Transport costs)
A small Fiat Panda car with air condition, manual gears, benzene engine of 1.6 liters that cost 133 euro for three full days on Europcar, resulted in a lovely car that offered plenty of comfort. At the end of these three days it has traveled for 600 km and burned 5000 leks (40 euro) of fuel.
Departing from Tirana on afternoon, we arrived in Vlora within three hours and spent the rest of the day in a small beach called Liro, (few kilometers from the city center). The rented sun umbrella and the beach chaise lounges for three cost 750 leks (5.5 euro). There is a quite hospitable restaurant in Vlora “Gold” where a soft dinner for three people cost 2600 leks (19 euro) including a glass of wine. After dinner, we enjoyed a cold coffee in a small and very nice bar called “The Israelite”, situated in Vlora Main Boulevard with cost of 5 euro per all. A room cost 2500 leks per night (18.3 euro). The place was not something good, but anyway was clean and has hot water. The owner was very hospitable and the villa was on a hill with beautiful view and with a small garden that offered fresh air.
Total costs for the day 1: 220.8 Euro
In the second day we departed early in the morning toward Llogara. That is a very challenging track for drivers and as well for cars. Within 17 km, the road goes from sea level up to 1000 m above the sea. Drivers will find difficult to move on third gear while the road makes clear that the wise driver will not believe in breaks for the safety. Often cars has to stop for some minutes on the way if the cooling device does not manage to keep the temperature of the engine on normal levels.
On the top of Llogara, the temperature is usually 10-12 degrees Celsius lower than in the coast. During the winter, Llogara is covered by snow and ice. On top of Llogara there are plenty of hotels and guess houses that cost 40-50 euro per night. Some who do not like the hot temperatures of the coast, like to spend the night in Llogara. Restaurants there are known for mountainous gastronomy, meat from goats or sheep, excellent cheese and as well, locally produced goat milk yogurt. There is also a domestic dish called “harapash” which is something tasty and cheap food made simply by corn and fat from sheep. On the street, farmers there provide tea and different mountainous flowers used as popular medicaments for different health problems.
And then, when you arrive on the edge of the mountain, you will see the sea coast by 1000 m above. That is an excellent point for flying using … If you use a car to descend to the coast, then your heart will tremble.
I and my friends arrived in Jali beach on around 11 AM. Jali is an excellent place to swim. It is a fishermen village with houses half destroyed but anyway, there you can be sure that the few restaurants will offer bio-food. For lunch the restaurants offer is basically what the fisherman managed to catch that very morning in the sea. Cheese and excellent olives oil are produced locally. The breakfast for three cost 700 leks (5.2 euro). The lunch cost about 2600 leks, (20 euro). We ate calamari and fried potatoes with very strong drizzle. In the afternoon we walked for about 30 minutes on south of Jali to reach the small and isolated beach of “Pasqyrat”. Situated away from inhabited areas, “Pasqyrat” (looking glass) is almost every time free from tourists so, if someone has no problem for walking 30 minutes under the heavy sun, then is worth going there to enjoy the beach only for you. It is very difficult to find a room for the night in Jali, but if you like, there is a young camp with tends for rent for 8 euro per person per night. The price includes a modest breakfast and the dinner.
In the evening, we traveled again for 30 minutes by car till the place called Porto Palermo were the small castle of Ali Pasha is situated along the base of Albania’s submarine flotilla from cold war era. Ali Pasha’s castle offers plenty of legends about courses, treasuries and mysteries. The castle is situated in a former island, now linked with the mainland by a trip, was commissioned by Ali Pasha during the Napoleonic wars as a fortress aimed to control the nearby mountainous region of Himara. It could be considered a labyrinth and many people feel afraid sometimes when the night catches them inside. It is widely believed that the treasury of Ali Pasha had been hidden somewhere there. The castle was used as a prison by Ali Pasha and by the Communist Government. Some thinks that the remains of some of the victims of communism lie there, in unmarked graves. A legend tells us about Vasiliko, a Christian Orthodox girl married with the Muslim Pasha and found the courage of abandoning him. Some says that the girl took her life by drowning in the lake of Iannina, others thinks that she build a small church near the castle of Porto Palermo to make an eremite life.
The second evening has gone brusque for us. We have searched for cheap accommodationalong the coast till we reached the Livadh beach, few km in north of Himara. The room was without hot water and the bed was very un-comfort. It cost 23 euro per room. Sure, if you want to spend more, then you could find better accommodation.
Second day, total cost for three persons: about 110 euro
On the third day we enjoyed the sun on Dhermi beach, where there are two clubs who offers extreme festivities in the evening and free wireless. These are the only places beyond Vlora to offer internet access. In the afternoon we visited the “rrugwt e bardha” beach, the place near Paleste where Caesar army landed during the campaign against Pompey. That is a deserted beach on the foot of Llogara. If someone likes to go there, then he or she must think to bring bottles of water. We had dinner in Llogara. Rice, yogurt and bowels from sheep and goats were the bulk of our dinner.
We departed for Tirana in the next day after sleeping in Vlora.
Total cost for the third day: 92
Total costs for all weekend for three: 423 euro.