I have been posting some of my pictures from our travels on Facebook but I know that everyone that follows my blog is not on Facebook and vice-a-versa so I wanted to update you on our travels on the blog too.
We visited this castle-ish museum which told us the history of Albania’s struggle against the Ottomans.
The museum features Skanderbeg who was probably the most significant single individual in the history of Albania. He is responsible for gathering support to resist the Ottomans.
My favorite part of Kruja was visiting the bazaar which is closed to traffic and full of authentic Albanian wares like rugs, scarves, olive wood bowls, etc.
In early September, Randy and I and a friend took a day trip to the coastal town of Durres which is about a 45 minute drive from Tirana. Once again we took a public bus to get there but his time we figured out how to do it by ourselves. 🙂 When I said we took the bus, it really means we were just in an oversized van. On the trip over the bus would stop at what appeared to be random places along the highway to drop off or pick up other passengers. There were no bus stop signs or stands just people standing along the highway waiting to board the bus.
The coastal town of Durres has been inhabited for 3,000 years! It is best known for it’s beautiful beaches which we did not get to on this trip. We did visit this amphitheater which was only discovered in 1966. It has not been fully excavated because people still live in some the houses that were unknowingly built on top of the amphitheater.
Randy is seated where up to 15,000 spectators would have sat at one time. This amphitheater is about a third of the size of the Colosseum in Rome.
Under the seats there was a small Byzantine chapel dating back to the 6th century. If you look carefully at the picture on the right you can tell that it is a badly damaged mosaic of some saints and archangels. The lower left picture is of the chapel’s baptismal font.
Also under the seating we could see the pens where the lions were kept and the tunnel through which the gladiators entered the arena. So cool!
In early October we rented a car for the first time so we could drive two hours south to Berat. We rented the car through Enterprise and it only cost $35 a day. Yay! There was not much difference between renting a car here and renting a car in the States. Driving on the highways was not an issue although the traffic speed is slower. Driving in Tirana can be quite an adventure because of the lack of lane markings (particularly in the roundabouts), people changing lanes with no signals and all the pedestrians.
We enjoyed a lovely and plentiful breakfast the next morning.
I had a week off from school in October so Randy and I decided to fly to Vienna to visit Peter Bernal Reyes and his fiancé, Julia Ellinghaus. Peter is originally from Germany and stayed with us for a year while he was in high school. It was wonderful to reconnect with Peter and Julia! Our son, David, came over from NYC to join us for the week. Loved it!
Oktoberfest was so much FUN!!!!
We went to see an opera called “Elektra”. It was very unusual but still glad we did it. The opera was sung in German but each seat had their own screen that included subtitles in English.
In early November two friends and I took a trip to the far north of Albania to visit the small village of Theth. Randy is now back in the USA for a couple of months for hunting season so he was unable to join us. My friends and I were part of a tour that included transportation, one nights lodging and three full meals at a very reasonable rate. The last hour of the drive was “hair raising” because of the very steep, narrow roads that the tour bus needed to navigate. Yikes, it was scary at times! The drive was well worth it though considering the absolutely gorgeous setting.
If you are still reading this blog post, I have to apologize for it’s length. As I said earlier, most of these pictures have already been posted on Facebook so the blog may be redundant for you.
Life has been busy with these travels plus lots of report card paperwork with the end of term one. I am going to try harder to keep up with this blog. 🙂 Tomorrow is the beginning of a five day weekend. There is no school because it is Albanian Independence Day and Albanian Liberation Day. Two friends and I are headed to Venice for a four night stay. I have never been to Italy so I am really looking forward to this trip!