The Balkans Trip Recap- Day 12: Driving Along the Albanian Riviera

balkansWhile driving along the coast we started off the day by visiting a place that seems to be around in just about every area in the Balkans- a castle/ fort. After a quick visit we drove further along, passing lots of beaches before settling on one to stop at for a few hours. From there we drove through the mountains, seeing some amazing views of the coast before getting to our destination for the evening.

Here are some of the things we did:

  • Castle of Ali Pasha
  • Dhermi Beach
  • Llogara Pass Viewing Area
  • Night time in Vlora

IMG_6126The Castle of Ali Pasha was visible from the main road but getting there took just a little extra effort. We had to drive down a dirt road and then walk a bit, up a hill to reach the castle. From where we parked, we got a glimpse of the old submarine base which looks like it was cut out of rock.

The castle was well-preserved and interesting to walk through. It was pretty dark in some rooms and we were told what some of them were used for in the past, some being prison cells.

IMG_6163Our favorite part of the visit was going up to the roof for amazing views of the Ionian Sea. Lucas enjoyed having the freedom to run around for a bit while Kim and I took turns watching him and enjoying the views.

Before heading back to the car I decided it was time for a jump.  The views were great and Lucas really loves when I hold him and jump so how could I refuse the opportunity!

IMG_6173We drove for a while and passed a few beaches before deciding to stop in Dhermi. Our first order of business was grabbing some lunch. It turned out that our driver’s friend owns a restaurant and section of the beach at Dhermi so that’s where we stopped.

After being underwhelmed (for the most part) with the food in Albania, our lunch at Restaurant Del Mare was a pleasant surprise. Kim and I had the freshest seafood, which tasted awesome. We hung out at the restaurant for a while, chatting with the owner before heading down to the beach.

IMG_6176I’m not much of a beach fan and Kim is so I did baby duty during this part of the day. Lucas had a fun time at the restaurant and was tired from running around and playing. He passed out before we made it to the beach so I relaxed in a chair with Lucas sleeping on me while Kim got to take in some rays and enjoy the beautiful water. If Lucas woke up earlier I probably would have taken a dip in the Ionian.

The beach itself wasn’t so nice since it was full of rocks but the views certainly made up for this.

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After driving up a very steep, narrow and winding road for a while we made it to the Llogara Pass which is one of the highest paved roads in Europe. It was incredible seeing the beach and other areas we drove past a short while before from so high above.

With such amazing views, the Llogara Pass was a very popular stop and there were a bunch of other people stopped here, also snapping photos.

When you look out from the viewing area, in one direction you feel like you are in the clouds while the other way you mainly see bright, blue water. It was very windy and chilly up here so we took a bunch of photos and got going soon after.
IMG_6208We arrived late in the afternoon at our final stop of the day, Vlora. After taking some time to relax we went out to check out the area.

Vlora has a pedestrian street with some small shops set up. It wasn’t too exciting but nice to walk through for a few minutes. There was also lots of vendors set up along one of the main roads. The area was very busy with people walking around and hanging out. Soon after we found an area with some rides for Lucas. He had a fun time on the car ride (shown above) before we headed out to find a place to grab dinner at. We chose a place that was very busy, Albania’s version of McDonald’s. It wasn’t very good but it was definitely an interesting experience. (More on that in a future post.)

Well that wraps up Day 12 of our trip to the Balkans. Keeping checking back for posts about the last few days of our trip!

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