I've been to Albania twice now and I suspect, twice is enough. This time, Nathalie and I were in the car and heading north from Greece, following the coastal road. Leaving Patras in the northern Peloponnese, we took our time to take it all in. The drive is incredibly scenic in places and we found a beautiful, isolated spot to camp by the sea, just south of the border with Albania. It was an informal camping ground with a small taverna by the beach. After a swim, dinner under the trees, the water lapping on the shore, some local wine.....not sure if it gets any better than this.
Northern Greece and Albania
Next day, our crossing into Albania from Greece was a bit 'problematic' though. It's a very long story but it involved the Greek border officials thinking I had overstayed my Schengen visa and me being adamant I was OK. It was very hot, the queues were long and there was a Mexican stand off for about an hour. They wouldn't stamp my passport and I refused to go. Seeing I wasn't go anywhere, the border guard eventually shrugged his shoulders, grabbed my passport, gave it a stamp and threw it back to me. We were through into Albania!
The country up until about 20 years ago was closed to the rest of the world under a communist dictatorship. It's still a very poor country and we were amazed to find large coastal cities in the south that were obviously a holiday hub for those that could afford it. I was expecting untouched fishing villages with all the elders hanging out in the town square. Instead we played a game of spot the late model luxury car cruising the coast road. Every second car was late model and either a BMW or Mercedes. We once counted 9 in a row coming in the opposite direction. Interestingly the further north we traveled, we saw less Beemers and more sheep, oxen and donkeys on the road.
Our exit out of Albania was marked by gypsy families camped by the border crossing sending their children out to beg from the cars stopped and waiting at the checkpoint. So long Albania, I still have my Albanian beach towel memento. :-)
Heading north from Patras, over the Rio–Antirrio Bridge and the Gulf of Corinth
This part of northern Greece was quite sublime.
The coast, north west Greece
Dusk at our seaside taverna, northern Greece. Middle of nowhere.
Camping by the sea, north west Greece
The last outpost in Greece before crossing the border into Albania
The Greek/Albanian border crossing. What an episode we had there!
The coastal road and scenery in Albania was magnificent
Nathalie, somewhere in Albania....
If it wasn't a BMW on the road, it was a cow or donkey
An Albanian seaside retreat
This is a car ferry, Albanian style
We were looking for a seaside taverna for lunch and found this place
Let's go to the beach, Albanian style.
Not sure what these chickens were doing here. Waiting for a bus?
The Albanian countryside, close to the border with Montenegro
Gypsy kids begging at the border crossing into Montenegro
Goodbye Albania, hello Montenegro