Albanian College had a week long break in October. Our lifelong friends, Sarah and Marty, came to visit from Nashville, Tennessee. What a treat it was to have them here! We spent our time visiting Croatia, Montenegro and northern Albania.
Sarah spent time collecting close to a hundred pounds of books to bring to Albania to donate to our school. Wow, how very thoughtful!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
We rented a car and started driving north on our first full day together. Here we are in Montenegro overlooking the Sveti Stefan which is an islet with a 5 star Aman Resort on it. Elizabeth Taylor, Sofia Loren, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are just some of the celebs who have stayed here. Rooms go for an average of 800 euros a night. Just to go over the narrow causeway cost 20 euros per person so we simply admired it from a distance. 🙂
Next we took a 20 minute ferry ride before leaving Montenegro and heading to Croatia.
Good bye to Montenegro and hello to Croatia. With the two border crossings it took us about 8 hours to drive from our apartment in Tirana to Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Our first night in Dubrovnik enjoying Italian food in this charming setting.
Then we wandered around Old Town enjoying the beauty of the area at night.
The next day we went on a free walking tour of Dubrovnik. It was given by a retired police officer who also served in the military. He did an excellent job! In addition to telling us about the history of the city he pointed out several spots where Game of Thrones was filmed.
As part of the tour we heard, once again, about the aggression of the Serbs in the early 1990’s. Montenegro was also part of the aggression which killed 20,000 people and resulted in massive damage to Dubrovnik as shown in the map above. The bottom picture shows shrapnel damage to one of the churches.
After the tour we enjoyed a delicious lunch in another beautiful setting.
That afternoon Marty and I climbed to the top of the wall surrounding Old Town Dubrovnik and took a two hour walk all the way around. Beautiful!
That evening we did an AirBnB Experience called Eating with Locals. The Croatian couple who welcomed us to their home were featured in National Geographic Traveler a year ago.
Our hosts, Zlatko and his lovely wife Marija.
The food and drink was delicious and plentiful!
The following morning, on a run, I took this picture of the sun rising in Old Town. I feel so very, very fortunate to get the opportunity to see sights like this.
Look at the sweet little church I came across on the same run.
Locks on the bridges like almost everywhere else in the world.
Of course this picture was taken in honor of my firefighting husband.
Enjoying some fresh fruit for breakfast in one of the city squares on our last morning in Dubrovnik.
I took this picture as were leaving this beautiful city. On the day we left 5 cruise ships had just arrived and dumped hundreds (or maybe thousands) of people in Old Town. The people of Dubrovnik are happy to welcome tourists but are concerned with the amount of people the cruises bring to their community.
We have now headed south from Dubrovnik and re-entered Montenegro. We stayed in the city of Kotor which is another town on the coast of the Adriatic Sea with a population of about 15,000 people. It has a medieval old town full of narrow winding streets, squares and several churches dating back to 900 AD.
Narrow winding streets…
We enjoyed a delicious meal in one of the many squares with our friend, Jesse, who teaches with me at Albanian College.
The next day at least two cruise ships pulled into the port of Kotor. We did not need to deal with the crowds because we are now headed further south to Shkoder, Albania.
Our first stop when arriving in Shkoder was to visit the Rozafa Castle which dates back to 167 BC. The castle sits on top of a hill providing beautiful views of the Montenegro Mountains and the city of Shkoder.
Leaving the castle
This monument was built in a Shkoder park to commemorate “the dedication to the persecution, resistance and sacrifices of the people of Shkoder during the communist dictatorship.”
Look! We were surprised to see advertisements for Kodak products knowing the history of Kodak in Rochester.
This was the view out of our hotel window in Shkoder. The mosque was complete with frequent calls to prayer. Living in a country where there is widespread acceptance of different religions is refreshing.
After spending the night in Shkoder we hired a driver with his 4×4 vehicle to take us two hours to the village of Theth which is in the far north part of Albania. The road is unpaved, very steep, one lane and not suitable for us to drive there with our rental car. If you have read my previous posts then you know this is my third trip to this gorgeous little village high in the Albanian Alps. Randy and I were so glad we could share this part of Albania with Sarah and Marty.
The road to Theth is in the process of being paved and widened which will make it lots easier to get to. At the same time, some of the locals have expressed concern that Theth will be overrun with tourists.
We loved spending time with our good friends. It was wonderful to experience the countries of Croatia and Montenegro for the first time and to introduce them to Albania. We so appreciate the Karpies effort to come visit.
It has been awhile since I have updated the blog. School has been super busy including two 12 day stretches of work where we were required to do 15 hours of International Baccalaureate training for a weekend in September and then complete another weekend training in October. It is really hard to sit that much and to work for that many consecutive days. 😦 Glad the weekend trainings are complete. It is also the time of the year for parent teacher conferences, end-of-term reports and lots of extra work to prepare for a visit from the IB to Albanian College. I am looking forward to my school life slowing down a bit.