Our son came to visit us in Albania for a week after spending a week in South Africa visiting his sister and her family. Can you tell from the picture below that I am very excited to see David?
If you follow Facebook then you have seen many of these pictures so you may want to stop reading now. 🙂
We have rented a car and are ready to head out for a three day tour of southern Albania.
We have stopped at one of the many coffee shops along the way. At home Randy does not drink coffee but since moving to Albania he drinks expresso daily.
We are driving to Gjirokaster first. It is a 4 hour drive from Tirana with some beautiful scenery.
We have now arrived in Gjirokaster. Our GPS has sent us up this narrow street to our hotel. Unfortunately the street ended which meant that Randy had to back down this street. His experience with driving fire trucks through narrow areas really came in handy!
We still could not find our hotel amongst all the narrow cobblestone roads so we stopped and asked this man where Hotel Kodra was located. Instead of just telling us, he jumped into our car and took us there which was so kind of him. Albanians are good people.
We found our hotel which had gorgeous views and gorgeous, delicious food.
These are the co-owners of Hotel Kodra. David works with their cousin, Ismeralda, at NYU Medical Center.
We are walking through some of the charming streets on our way to visit Gjirokaster Castle. Do you see the long, narrow rug on the right side of the picture above? I ended up buying that rug to go in our apartment. It is handmade and only cost about $35.
The following are pictures from Gjirokaster Castle which is one of the biggest, nicest castles in Albania.
Two more views from Gjirokaster Castle…
I took this picture on an early morning run before we left Gjirokaster.
The doors of Gjirokaster…
This is a lovely Greek Orthodox Church that we drove by on our way to see the Blue Eye.
The Blue Eye is a spring that originates more that 45 meters under the ground. Aren’t the colors incredible? You can tell that we had gorgeous weather for our three day tour.
On our way to Butrint we randomly stopped in a beach town called Ksamil. With the white sand and blue water it was stunning! Just as an FYI in the distance you can see Corfu, Greece.
Butrint is about as far south as you can get in Albania. It an archaeological UNESCO World Heritage Site that was home to the Greeks and Romans dating back to the 4th century B.C.
After touring Butrint we drove 30 minutes north and spent the night at a beach town called Saranda. I think I am overusing the word “gorgeous” but I cannot think of another adjective to describe what we are seeing.
The next day we drove north along the Albanian Rivera.
We stopped for breakfast at another lovely beach town.
Can you see the road we drove on? There were lots of switchbacks. Randy did all the driving even though David and I offered to help out. I took motion sickness medication to help me handle all the twists and turns. 🙂
On top of the world…
It was common to see animals being herded along the road.
We are now back in Tirana where David attended my yoga class with me. Loved it! A friend from ACT is also part of the class.
Randy took David to Kruje while I was teaching. When they saw the kids dressed in traditional Albanian clothing they knew something was up.
Next came all the entourage and it wasn’t long before Randy ended up talking to the President of Slovenia. Not sure how it all happened, you will have to ask Randy about it.
Visiting the Bazaar which is full of Albanian crafts and souvenirs.
Yikes! These types of toilets are common outside of the big cities in Albania.
That afternoon they came back to Tirana and visited the House of Leaves which is all about the spying that went on during communist times, scary!
Dinner with our good friends Edlira and Aldo.
David came to visit my classroom at ACT. It was such fun to give him a tour of the school and introduce him to my students.
Here he is explaining about how the heart works to the children.
David went to the butcher to get an animal heart and lungs so he could show the children how they work. In the bottom picture he is using a straw to blow air into the lungs.
The children were really into the whole thing and asked lots of good questions.
Good people and good Chinese food!
Our friends have a little daughter named Edie. Edie adores Randy!! I think the feeling might be mutual.
Last week Randy and Dana’s mother walked a total of 8 miles together. When they started the walk there was a miscommunication which ended in an extra long walk.
Randy took David up to the top of Dajti Mountain on the cable cars. They provide some great views of the area.
They also visited Bunk Art 2 which gives a very up close view of what it was like to live in Albania from 1940 to 1991 during communism time.
On David’s final full day in Albania they went on a two hour walking tour of Tirana which in an excellent way to learn about this country. I was sorry I could not go but am looking forward to going with future guests of ours.
On David’s last night in Albania we went out for coffee and then for Indian food with some more friends from school. I am fortunate to work with such good people.
It was hard to let David leave but I keep telling myself that in order to look forward to seeing him again he has to leave. We are truly enjoying our experience in Albania but, at times, it is hard to live so far from our children and grandchildren.
Tomorrow Randy and I are flying to Rome for a long weekend. Randy was in Rome for 12 hours several years ago and I have never been there. Looking forward to it!
Thanks for continuing to read my blog.