Sunday, March 9, 2014

SUMMER RECAP 2013: Saranda, Albania

I had one full day in Albania. Normally I like to slow down when I travel and spend more time in different countries, especially ones I have never been to before. However, I did not get that chance because I had a job waiting for me in Croatia that I needed to get to within 4 days, so I didn't particularly have time to waste getting there.

That meant that I arrived in Albania on Monday night, and had to depart again Tuesday night. I rode a ferry from Corfu to Saranda, and the whole ride was less than an hour!

So I spent Tuesday exploring. There were 2 big things I wanted to do in Saranda- The brutrint ruins and the Kasmil beaches. Both were fabulous!

I made a friend at my hostel and we headed out first thing in the morning to see the ruins. It was a 30 minute bus ride and very easy. Tomi, the hostel owner, gave us exact directions on how to get there which made it easy. The ruins were not crowded at all so we had a really easy time getting it and walking around.

You can walk at your own pace and basically just build a trip to see whatever it is you want to see. We walked around and saw everything. The ruins were beautiful and space out along a "path" of sorts so you just followed the route through. There were amazing views of the water as well. They were some of the most interesting ruins I have seen with so many years of history being built on top of each other!

After the ruins, which took us about 2-3 hours, we jumped back on the bus and rode to the beaches which are about half way between the ruins and the city.

Kasmil beaches are so famous because they were stunning. Seriously more beautiful than all the beaches I saw in northern Greece. They were beyond perfect. There are the main beaches and then there are a series of 5 small islands right off the beach.

The beaches were very crowded when we were there. No denying that. We had to look hard for some beach chairs. There were 5 of us and we only found 2 chairs but they were in a corner so we spread the towels out in front and took turns on the benches. The sand was white and gorgeous and the water was perfect!

Bee and I decided to swim out to some of the islands. It was easy to get to the first one and then we climbed up. Each of the islands had beach chairs with people reading and relaxing and they had little bars where you could buy drinks. It was adorable and idyllic. Then we swam across to another island. That was a little tough swimming between because it was more of a channel with a current but still doable.  Then we swam to the third island before returning to the beach. It was glorious. We were trying to figure out how everyone had gotten out to the islands with there stuff and then we saw the little paddle boats ferrying people out! Such a smart idea.

We walked back to the bus stop after hours of sun and returned to our hostel. I think I made the best I could of my full day in Albania. It was a beautiful and cheap country. The south felt safe I thought (north was a different story) and there was a lot to do!

I caught a bus out of Sarande that night to make it through Albania and into Montenegro!

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