Experiencing Albania - Jul 12 - Jul 22, 2017

Traveler: Jim G. - Local specialist: Ed Reeves

We are over the moon with getting such a taste of Albania in such a short time. We were visiting family in Europe and had limited time to visit Albania. Five days and four nights to fit in with flights into the capital Tirana. The four wheel-drive was able to get us to some places off the beaten track in just the short time. We had given just a brief outline to the team about our interests and basically left it up to them. We think we’ve got a pretty fair idea now of what Albania and its people are all about.

Being met at the airport was great when arriving in a strange place. We didn’t get dropped into the city hotel but took off straight away for the old castle city of Kruja where we liked the hotel right above the bazaar. Time to wander through it with help and lovely not to be hassled. A few purchases. Time to walk up to the old castle and also see some of the museum where we started to understand some of the history that goes way back for this land.

Of course the secret was to have such a good driver as Nesti, Albanian born and very knowledgeable of the country and its history. While it was strange to meet this tall fit young mean, it didn’t take long to relax in his care and he was fantastic in answering all out questions and explaining things as we went.

After dinner and the night there we were off next day to a great beach on the Adriatic: a colorful spot with the bright umbrellas, crystal clear water and a wonderful seafood lunch to finish. Then we went chasing a look at some of the gun placements.

Back to Tirana and the same hotel for two nights. We were able to walk around and experience how the city and its people work and live. Even did some shopping, though both items turned out to be Italian leather.

Driving around next day showed another side to the city with the civic buildings and public places. A guide met us to take us through the mosque and also the museum though it was very hot and too much to see everything so we were happy with viewing some. The history of Albania is very different from our own.

Albania is a land of mountains, or so it seemed, and we took a good road …. at least two or three, then to the off road bit to meet a special couple who provided a typical country meal. This was the time we met Ed, who joined for the drive and meal. The weather was extremely hot but sitting under the shade of the vine made for a pleasant time.

The Ottoman old city of Berat was another experience and Nesti sure knows the places to eat as well as the short way up to the castle. Joining the evening stroll down the main street made us feel part of the local scene. The last day took us back from Berat to Tirana but have to share a secret: Nesti and his mates know the best seafood restaurant ever, duly booked of course. Safely back at the airpot to catch the plane it was a sad goodbye to our guide Nesti whom we had come to regard as a good friend. So…hot weather, short trip, one off-colour day for one of us BUT it was left to Kim Kim and they organised around the weather and our interests, our photos, our interest in the history and culture even if we didn’t drive all of the roads that they know about but that’s for longer trips. We think we covered a fair bit in the short time, made possible by kimkim.
Jim and Genevieve

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Ed Reeves, local specialist, responded to this review:

Thanks so much for the kind words! We're so glad you enjoyed the trip and hope you make it back to the western Balkans some day soon! Ed & Nesti