Outdoor Explorers 2018: Bredhi i Hotoves

After a summer of outdoor excursions, we took our final trip to the national park Bredi i Hotoves! We traveled to the village of Frasher, learned about the environment, and had lunch in the mountains!

The morning of the final outdoor excursion in Bredhi Hotoves dawned bright and clear. There was some rain in the forecast, but luckily we missed the slight afternoon showers and stayed dry the entire trip.

We all piled into the furgon at 8:20am, and the students squeezed themselves like sardines in the backseat, unwilling to be parted from their friends for the drive into the national forest. As the vehicle bumped along the rocky, unpaved roads, the students sang songs at the top of their lungs almost the entire way. 

The view along the mountainside was absolutely gorgeous as always. We passed the characteristic sea of evergreens on our way up the steep mountain paths, and as we drove into the forest cover, it felt like we’d entered another, more enchanted world. Brianne commented later that she felt like she’d returned home to West Virginia.  Continue reading “Outdoor Explorers 2018: Bredhi i Hotoves”

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The Southern Albania Road Trip: Part 4, Permet

During Part 4 of our road trip, I finally had the opportunity to introduce my family to my new home in Permet! We spent a morning at the hot springs, climbed to the church in Leuse, and had many, many coffees!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018, 11:43pm

Morning at the hot springs

Ah, we’re finally in Permet! We began our morning bright and early with a trip to Benje! We piled the whole family into the car, and we drove off to the hot springs as the city bus was leaving from town.

It was a beautiful clear day with sunny skies and a light breeze – perfect for an outdoor adventure!

When we arrived, we crossed the Ottoman bridge and wasted no time hopping into the large pool before the crowd of tourists descended upon the hot springs. The water was still relatively clear – though that didn’t last for long. Still, Mom and my sisters were happy that the pool was salt-free and warm.

We splashed around taking pictures and laughing for at least forty minutes. It was a beautiful clear day with sunny skies and a light breeze – perfect for an outdoor adventure! Continue reading “The Southern Albania Road Trip: Part 4, Permet”

The Southern Albania Road Trip: Part 3, The Blue Eye and Gjirokaster

In Part 3 of our trip, we traveled from Saranda to Permet, stopping by the beautiful Blue Eye, charming Gjirokaster, and the Gryke of Kelcyre along the way!

Monday, July 30, 2018, 9:43pm

Morning at the Blue Eye

Our day began promptly at 8:00am with morning check out at the AirBnb. Finally on the road out of Saranda, I let out a sigh of relief knowing that we wouldn’t have to navigate the narrow city streets or deal with the crazy traffic any longer. 

The road to the Blue Eye was surrounded on all sides by towering trees with vines hanging from their branches.

Rather than head straight to Gjirokaster, we stopped at the Blue Eye on the way. The route to the water itself was along a dirt path, and I cringed as I once again took Mom off-roading. But the road was long enough to justify the extra time in the car, and we all hopped out of our Mercedes happy that we’d driven in closer to the main attraction.

We followed a well-trodden path from the parking lot through what felt like a tropical rainforest to the blue eye. The dirt road was surrounded on all sides by towering trees with vines hanging from their branches. There was also thick undergrowth and lush bushes adding to the jungle atmosphere. Continue reading “The Southern Albania Road Trip: Part 3, The Blue Eye and Gjirokaster”

Outdoor Explorers 2018: Leuse

In the spirit of last year’s Outdoor Excursion series, I organized five trips for Summer 2018! Students had the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of their community, learn new skills, and have fun with their friends! First up: Leuse!

Ah, summer. I love the sunshine, long days at beach (or hot springs, in my case), and evening xhiros. The season also means that students are out of school and looking for activities to keep them busy.

This year, I decided to continue Barbara’s successful Outdoor Excursion series – with a slight twist. Last summer, Barb organized three trips around Permet and engaged students in activities like marshmallow roasting, volleyball, hiking, and swimming.

I decided to continue Barbara’s successful Outdoor Excursion series – with a slight twist.

As I was thinking about the organization of this year’s outdoor trips, I knew that I couldn’t do it alone. So I worked with a counterpart at Bashkia Permet, who truly took the idea and ran with it! She not only fully supported the excursions, but she also found funding for vans and food, which meant that we could take the students to locations that were farther away!

But before leaving the Permet city limits, I tested the waters with an introductory hiking trip in the mountains around the village of Leuse. Koli, my good friend and hiking guide, volunteered to serve as the leader of the excursion, and along the way, he taught the students valuable lessons about the outdoors and navigation in nature.

So without further ado, here’s a quick snapshot of our fun morning in the mountains! Continue reading “Outdoor Explorers 2018: Leuse”