The Balkans Trip Recap- Day 14: Durres & Kruja, Albania

balkansDay 14 of our trip brought us to a few different cities/ towns where we got to see some very interesting and ancient sites. We also stopped at a restaurant (Hotel Panorama in Kruja) which had amazing views and some pretty solid food too. Lucas loved the restaurant due to all of the taxidermy animals, some of which we decided to play with. At first I was worried that Lucas would break something but there were other kids also checking out the restaurant’s collection so I figured it was ok for us too. The staff didn’t mind and we had a lot of fun.

IMG_6484Here are some of the places we visited:

  • Durres Amphitheater
  • Kruja Old Bazaar & Fortress
  • George Bush statue in Fushe Kruja

IMG_6478After leaving Berat, we drove an hour and a half to Durres which is the second largest city in Albania. There are lots of beaches in the area but that wasn’t the reason for our visit. We were stopping here to check out the Roman Amphitheater, built in the 2nd century AD.

To get to the amphitheater you walk through the ancient city walls which also seemed a popular place for wedding photos. When we arrived at the amphitheater, there was one or two other tourists leaving the site.

IMG_6471The amphitheater was an impressive sight to see. While a good amount of it was uncovered and visible, it looked like only half was uncovered. We were able to walk through various tunnels and stairways but the whole central area was a large mound of grass and dirt. All around the site there were homes built on top of the amphitheater or close to it. It looked like they were all built prior to it being discovered but I am not positive if this is the case.

My favorite parts of the visit was getting to go through the different levels of the amphitheater and also seeing the mosaics from the chapel shown in the photo above.

IMG_6491Our next stop before heading to Tirana was Kruja. Getting to Kruja was interesting. To get there, we had to drive up narrow, steep roads. Kruja has one of the oldest (and supposedly best) bazaars in Albania so I was really looking forward to the visit. 

The bazaar is  a long and narrow pedestrian street with shops lining both sides. Merchandise is outside of most shops so you can get a idea which each one sells. The most popular items for sale were antiques of all kinds. Lots of shops sold old war items like helmets, uniforms and even guns (in awful shape).

While we didn’t buy anything, I still really enjoyed this area. Lucas was very popular and two vendors gave him little toys!

IMG_6507Kim and I were not so interested in visiting the fortress but our driver was parked in it’s lot so went- more for the purpose of finding him. I didn’t wander around the area too much but did like seeing the thick, stone walls and nearby tower. The sky was bright and clear so it made for a great photo.

As I was walking back to the car, I got the hard sell for the first time during the trip. A young guy approached asking where I was from. I wasn’t interested in what he was trying to sell or offer me so I just answered him with lots of “I don’t knows”. He wanted to show me around the area, I’m guessing for a fee.

IMG_6513On the way to Kruja we passed through Fushe Kruja. Our driver mentioned that former President George W. Bush had visited the area in 2007 and the town then thanked him for the visit with a statue a few years later. 

After visting Kruje we had to pass through the area again so we made a quick stop to check out the tribue to our former president. We took a bunch of photos and had some laughs when seeing the statue.

IMG_6530When we arrived in Tirana, our driver pointed out a sign for George W. Bush Street. He knew we’d get a laugh out of it after our fun time by the statue in Fushe Kruje. Later at night I took this photo of a sign for George W. Bush Street shown above.

Make sure to check back for an upcoming post about our last day in the Balkans.

Check out my other Balkan Trip posts:

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