We were lucky enough to spend the last bit of summer with our dear friend Jen. She arrived on August 17th after travelling to Calcutta, Varanasi and London. We spent most of our days either at the beach or on the patio enjoying the weather, which was mid 30’s most days. Jen said her favourite part of the day was sitting on the patio, cocktail in hand, watching the sunset.
Our first weekend we took Jen up to Mount Tomorri for the Bektashi Pilgrimage(see our last post). The first weekend of September we went on a little weekend getaway to the beachside town of Dhermi with Jen, Dan’s friend Matt Gunn from Calgary, and Chris, another Calgarian working in Albania. This was definitely one of the nicest beaches we have visited along the Albanian Riviera. The water was so crystal clear and the temperature was perfect. We rented jet skis and had a fireworks extravaganza on the beach. The next weekend, September 10th, we had a picnic lunch out on the island of Zvernec on Saturday and then spent Sunday lazing at Kristal, a beach side pool resort.
On September 13th, Jen and I were invited out to Ilia’s brothers place to pick grapes for their wine harvest. They live in the village of Peskopi, about a 3o minute drive from Vlore. We picked muscat grapes used for wine and raki, as well as e bardhe grapes used to make white wine. As wine lovers, this was a great experience for us both!
For Jen’s last weekend we decided to take a road trip to South Eastern Albania. We drove north from Fier the afternoon of Friday, September 16th driving through Elbasan to Pogradec. Pogradec lies on the south western shore of Lake Ohrid, which is the deepest lake in all of the Balkans and possibly the oldest Lake in Europe. We had the local speciality of grilled speckled trout for dinner. The next morning we drove to Korca, a mountain town set on a high plateau between the mountain ranges of southeast Albania. We had the local specialty of Kernaca(sausages/meatballs) for lunch at Shtepia Voskopojare, hidden behind the large Orthodox cathedral. That evening we strolled down Bulevardi Shen Gjergji, stopping for a Birra Korca at the Vila Themistokli Bar. We decided to try to find Taverna Qilari for dinner, rumoured to serve some of the best food in town. We walked down the main street, passing the closed Kinema Majestik on our right, and turned down a dark side street. It was worth the effort to find the place based on the interesting decor and delicious food! The next morning we drove to the Village town of Dharda and then visited the Korca Brewery before making the trip back to Vlora.
We said goodbye to Jen sadly on Tuesday September 20th, taking her for a quick drive through downtown Tirana(stopping at the only Japanese restaurant in Albania for some much deserved sushi for lunch). We wish her well on her upcoming travels through Brussels, Amsterdam and Germany. Thanks for spending the end of summer with us Jen!