The Balkans Trip Recap- Day 9: Next Stop: Albania

balkansTo start off Day 9 of our trip to the Balkans we were picked up at our guesthouse in Ohrid by our driver (that we pre-arranged) to take us around Albania. Before heading over the border we had one last stop to make at a site in Macedonia.

From our last stop in Macedonia, the border was a mere 15 minutes drive away. We got through border control in about 20 minutes which was great. It was nice not having to wait for long but I was a little annoyed once we got into Albania. After getting our passports back, we eagerly looked inside to see what the Albania stamp looked like. Kim and I both looked through our passports multiple times but neither of us could find it anywhere. We were stamped out of Macedonia but got nothing for entering Albania. I am hoping that when we fly home from Tirana (Albania’s capital), we’ll at least get stamped out of the country.

Our day was pretty long but pretty uneventful but we did a few things along the way.

Here are some of the things we did:

  • Sveti Naum Monastery
  • Jumping at the Albanian border
  • Drilon Park in Pogradec
  • Visiting the city of Korca

IMG_5680Our last stop in Macedonia was to Sveti Naum Monastrery. Once you park, getting to the monastery is a 5-7 minute walk through a really bad tourist trap. On both sides of the path are restaurants and vendors selling sounvenirs. The prices were ridiculously high over here for everything and I got a bad vibe right away.

While walking into the monastery grounds we saw some peacocks wandering around. We continued inside for a look at the monastery before gong to check out the peacocks. We paid to go inside the monastery and thought it was nice but we weren’t too impressed. Some of the churches we saw in Ohrid were much more interesting in our opinions. There were really nice views of Lake Ohrid from the monastery grounds as well as some views of Albania too (not that it looked like much from here).

The best part of our visit was seeing the peacocks. There were quite a few roaming around the grounds. Lucas’ reaction to the peacocks was fun to watch. He wasn’t sure if he liked them or was scared! At times he made some tweeting sounds and other moments he wanted to get far away.

IMG_5693After getting through Macedonia’s border control I was on the lookout for an Albanian welcome sign. I mentioned to the driver that I wanted to get a photo of the sign when we saw it.  As we approached, I noticed two signs for Albania- one saying Republica Shqiperise (Albania), the other saying Welcome to Albania in Albanian and in English.

I quickly got out to take a few photos. I wasn’t sure if this would annoy anyone in the border zone and we didn’t see anyone else, not even a single other car. I then had Kim come take a couple of shots of me jumping in front of the signs.

I didn’t get an Albanian passport stamp but at least I got this jumping photo at the border!

IMG_5720Once we were done crossing over the border we visited Drilon Park near Pogradec. The park is made up of a lake filled with ducks and swans. You can cross the lake over some short bridges. Around the lake there are some restaurants so we stopped at one for lunch. The food wasnt’t the best but it was fun seeing the ducks and swans swim by while we ate. We also fed some of the ducks and swans which seemed to be the thing to do while eating.

Just like at Sveti Naum, Lucas was excited to see the ducks and swans one moment and the next he was scared. Overall, Lucas liked seeing the birds and even tried to make quacking sounds at them.

Scultpure at 1st school in Albania

IMG_5746Our next stop was a short 35-40 minute drive away. We arrived in Korca, checked into our hotel and went to check out the city. In late afternoon the area seemed dead. The main street had just a handful of people sitting at cafes. We wandered around for a while on our own and then visited the Museum of Medieval Art. The museum was very interesting. It is housed in an old church which was converted (during communism) to not look like a religious building. Inside was an impressive collection of medieval art all from the area. Besides Kim, Lucas and I, the museum had one other visitor.

After visiting the musem, our driver showed us around the area. We walked around seeing an old mosque being rebuilt, stopped by a local park and even saw the first school ever opened in Albania which is now a museum.

At night the city was much livelier. It made us wonder where everybody was hiding earlier in the day.

Keep checking back for more on our trip to the Balkans.

Here are some other posts about our trip:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *