Category Archives: Saranda

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

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The Southern Albania Road Trip: Part 2, Saranda and Ksamil

My family and I spent Part 2 of our road trip at the beach! We traveled back and forth from Saranda to Ksamil, braving the narrow roads to find the best beaches! We had some bad luck parking, but otherwise loved the lazy days along the sea!

Friday, July 27, 2018, 9:59pm

A Day at the Beach in Ksamil

Our beach vacation has officially begun, and I’m having fun being both a tour guide and a sister!

We started the morning in high spirits, excited to be out on the open road with a full day of the blue sky and sea ahead.

To begin our day, we woke up around 8:00am and were on our way to the beach around 9:15am. We started the morning in high spirits, and everyone was excited to be out on the open road with a full day of the blue sky and sea ahead. But I just about gave Mom a heart attack when my chosen beach destination turned out to be at the bottom of a steep hill only passable by gravel road.

With a slight change in plans, we drove to Ksamil instead. I had vague memories from my trip last year, so I was sort of able to navigate the parking situation and find the same beach. But when I went to ask about a beach chair, I was told they were all reserved. The next two beaches down the cove told me the same thing. Continue reading The Southern Albania Road Trip: Part 2, Saranda and Ksamil

The Southern Albania Road Trip: Part 1, the Albanian Riviera

In late July, my mom and my three sisters traveled across the world and reunited in Albania! We spent eleven eventful days exploring the country I’ve come to call home. We spent Part 1 of our trip in Tirana and driving down the Albanian Riviera!

One year and almost five months after leaving the United States, I finally was able to hug my mom and sisters again!

My brave family flew across the world to Albania for an 11-day road trip across the country. Our itinerary took us on a grand tour of the south, from the Albanian Riviera to Gjirokaster, Permet, Korca, Librazhd, and Tirana.

My brave family flew across the world to Albania for an 11-day road trip across the country.

With our rented black Mercedes (which my friend joked was the car of choice for the rich or the mafia), we traveled over 450 miles (over 700 kilometers)! We had luck, two borrowed CDs, and good weather on our side, though things didn’t always go exactly as planned.

At the very least, our trip was certainly memorable! It brought the entire family together, and I was so happy and grateful that I was able to share my new home with everyone!

So without further ado, here’s a collection of my journal entries, travel advice, and photos in a very long series documenting the Southern Albania road tripContinue reading The Southern Albania Road Trip: Part 1, the Albanian Riviera

Ancient Ruins in Butrint

Laurel and I took a trip to Saranda, and on our way we stopped by the ancient Roman ruins of Butrint! We had the park all to ourselves, and we took our time exploring the archaeological sites before heading back to the beach for sea food!

Friday, November 24, 2017, 9:54pm

We woke up bright and early and left from Gjirokaster around 8:00am. When we got to Saranda, I still felt completely exhausted. So many days of traveling without a break have really worn me down. I’m still happy to be on the road, but I know I’m going to be extra ready for a long break when I get back.

When we walked into the bright, sunny apartment with ocean views, my jaw almost dropped.

When we arrived in Saranda, we found our Airbnb apartment in minutes. The owner’s brother greeted us at the door, and when we walked into the bright, sunny apartment with ocean views, my jaw almost dropped. It was so beautiful and modern, and I’ve missed this aesthetic in interior design.

We wasted no time. Within fifteen minutes, we’d changed our clothes and headed out the door for Butrint. Luckily we found the bus easily, and we made it to the park around 11:00am. The ticket seller let us both in for 600 leke (whereas non-PCVs normally pay 700 leke per ticket), and we had almost the entire park to ourselves. Continue reading Ancient Ruins in Butrint

Weekend at the Beach in Saranda and Ksamil

Saturday, August 5, 2017, 11:55pm

I truly had no idea what to expect going into Saturday. My friend Ida from the cultural center had invited me on a trip to Saranda, which is one of the major beach locations here in Albania. But I honestly didn’t think our plans were going to come together since they were so last-minute.

And Saturday morning, I got a text from Ida saying that we were going to leave at 1:00pm. Then 1:00pm turned into 2:00pm, which turned into 3:00pm. And two more hours passed and I really had given up on the entire trip.

Rather than sand, the beach was covered in small grey rocks, and the bright, blue water was crystal clear.

But to my immense surprise, at 5:00pm, Ida’s friend drove up to her door and all of a sudden our bags were in the trunk and we were on the road! The route to Saranda was long and winding, but I was filled with excitement the entire time. And when I got my first sight of the sea, I almost jumped out of my seat. The water looked so beautiful against the setting sun, and it had been so long since I’d been to the beach.

When we arrived in Saranda, our first stop was the sea. Rather than sand, the beach was covered in small grey rocks, and the bright, blue water was crystal clear. We swam in the warm water and relaxed on the shore, catching the last rays of pink and purple daylight. It was truly beautiful, and I was unable to contain my joy at being in the water.

Continue reading Weekend at the Beach in Saranda and Ksamil