Transiting through Albania in a Transit

Albania ended up being mostly a transit country for us. We did in total spend about 2 weeks there; 5 days making our way from our petsit in Montenegro to one in Greece for Christmas and then 6 days on the way back up to Montenegro to collect some bits that our new friends had brought back from England for us - essentials like ale, gravy granules and gas bottles! We also then wanted to go to Kosovo through Albania, but sadly when we got to the border at Kosovo they needed us to take out border insurance for our van Luna, which was going to cost €138, which was a a lot of money considering we were only going to be there for a few days. So we turned back around and went back through border control, and then got the most thorough search we’ve ever had through border control, by the Albanian police intent on finding drugs! I tried explaining to them we’d only been in Kosovo for 5 minutes, but I don’t think they quite understood!

This was the closes we got to North Macedonia, just across the lake,
as we would have had to pay high border insurance for there too!

Anyway, back to Albania. It was a country for us of Christmas spirit, good food but also sorrow. We first visited Albania just before Christmas and so were on the hunt for a Christmas market. Luckily the capital Tirana provided us with a lovely one and we enjoyed moseying around it, and had a drink under the very big Christmas tree. We also then enjoyed a fantastic meal out of traditional Albanian food: Dolmas (mince wrapped in cabbage leaves), stuffed aubergine, meatballs, Piscili (a puff pastry with cheese and spinach inside), and peppers in a soft cheese sauce. And like every Albanian meal, it was finished off with a shot of Rakia! 

Our delicious Albanian meal
The peppers in soft cheese sauce

Our romantic table!

We also enjoyed the town of Lezhe twice: the first time we enjoyed its Christmas twinkling lights, and a yummy (and very cheap) pizza, and the second time we stayed up at the top by the castle with stunning views below, even though we had a terrible nights sleep with high winds and torrential downpour!

We were sure to pop to Berat, the wine capital and UNESCO world heritage site, and treated ourselves to a bottle of Albanian wine. 

But the sorrow part of Albania for us was just the huge amount of stray dogs (and rubbish everywhere). We stayed at one spot where there were 2 puppies and as much as we wanted to take them home, it was not a position we were in. Some locals do feed the stray dogs, but It’s still heartbreaking when there’s so many of them. Sadly due to the extreme poverty in Albania, it’s not something that will be sorted anytime soon. We really saw a crazy difference between the wealth, sometimes we would be driving through a shanty town, and then the next minute we are surrounded by Mercedes and Porches. 

We visited the picturesque Ksamil, with stunning sunsets. 

A lunch spot with a view!

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