|ABOUT THIS TRAVEL
6 days, April 06
Kind of travel: A wholly independent travel
When: 21st- 26th
How I moved: Vans
that leave when full (furgons) have been the main means of transport. Sometimes by taxi
(expensive!!) and once by a private car
Freezing or baking?: apart
two chilly rainy days, it has been a wonderfull sunny spring weather (20C)
Where I slept: small
hotels but not so cheap (10-20 euro)
What I liked: the
honesty of the people, the Ersek- Permet road and the unmissable Berat
What I disliked:
the rubbish thrown everywhere, the half-built houses, the bumpy dusty roads and the
furgons/ buses stinking of vomit
How much daily: albania
it's not so cheap. Furgons or buses: 1.2 euro/ hour of travel (2- 6 euro). Taxis are
very expensive: 30 km= 20 euro (Tirana-
airport, ufficial fare: 21 euro = 2500 lek) Hotels: 10-30 euro for a double.
Restaurants: 4-9 euro. Final daily expenses: 35 euro/day
hassles: believe me or not, I seriously risked to
break my leg in one of the several opened sewers in the walk side!!! For the rest I found
Albania a safe country
What you do need: some
motion sickness medicines in the mountainy roads, since, even if you don't normally suffer
them, the stink of vomit in the buses won't help you :-)
What a luck to meet an helpful Italian businessman
on the flight to Tirana and get a lift directly till Elbasan!!
Thank Pierangelo for your help and your company in my first
taste of Albania.
Elbasan is a small nice town, it was a pity I had no time to
have a stroll around before I jumped on the minibus to Korca (3h, 3euro). In Albania such
minibuses (called furgon), that leave when full, are the main means of transport: by
furgon you can reach almost any corner of the country.
The road to Korca is very scenic especially while skirting the
lake Ohrid where I would have like to stop over! Korca is one of the biggest towns in
Albania with a young student population. The day after I rented a taxi for a half day trip
to Voskopoje (3h, 23euro). Some centuries ago this town, 20 Km from Korca, was the biggest
city of the Balcans, while nowadays its nothing more than a typical rural village,
plunged in the mountains, where to wander around for some hours.
The trip proceeded and I really recommend you the mountainy
road from Korca to Permet, called the Tibet of Albania; even if the 6 hours bus trip can
be tiring, the view is great. In Permet I got a furgon to Gjirokastra (2h) where I hanged
around a bunch of hours before getting on the seaside in Saranda (furgon, 1.5h). Here you
can breathe a Mediterranean atmosphere, more touristy (read richer) than the inland, but
you can enjoy the pleasure to eat a good fish in any of the severals restaurants by the
The bus trip from Saranda to Berat has been long (7h) and
frankly a little bit disgusting; read the storyXXXX!
Berat is very beautiful and you cannot miss it if travelling in
Albania!!! The landscape on the way from Berat to Tirana gets flat and boring, having no
comparison with the southern part.
Tirana is a mix of styles (italian, soviet, super modern,
), but its difficult to get charmed. Anyway I recommend you dont
miss the awesome train station :-) and the nightlife at the "bloku" quarter.
The last day I had a day trip in the not so special
Kruje before flying back home.
IMPRESSIONS ABOUT ALBANIA
Travelling in Albania I was surprised both in positive and
negative. In fact since I didnt expect to find so nice people compared to the unfair
stereotype but at the same time I was impressed by the "undevelopment" of the
Few hundreds meters driving from the airport are enough to
realise about the terrible condition of the roads in Albania. The amounts of holes and
unpaved parts make each travel so bumpy and slow. Thats probably why there are
almost only the solid Mercedes cars, apart of the furgons, on the roads of the whole
In addition its a pity to see such amount of rubbish
thrown down the cliffs in wonderful mountain areas, where the people seem to have no
respect of the environment. Some aspects of the country like the railway system
(dont miss the station in Tirana) or the open sewers in the streets (I really risked
to break my leg!!) are so far from belonging to Europe.
I wondered about the Albanian incomes, since I didnt see
factories, the agriculture doesnt seem systematically exploited and the cost of the
life is not really peanuts.
On the other hand I met so helpful and honest people, who never
took advantage of me, even when they clearly had the chances. The country is safe and
travelling turned out a pleasure.
SARANDA- BERAT, A TOUGH TRIP
The view on the way from Saranda to Berat in most of the
parts is nice, the weather was sunny and fresh, but the travel turned out awful!!!
The furgon left from Saranda sharp at 8.00am carrying no more than
10 passengers, and immediately I started smelling a stink typical of a person who
hasnt taken a shower for several months. I tried to spot the origin of such stink
but unsuccessfully. I was surprised I was the only one was who was getting nervous for it:
all the others seemed untouched while I was literally choking in particular because the
furgon, having no windows, was a sealed stinking box.
Quite soon I realised I should have put up with it for a long time
but I couldnt imagine it would have been such long torture. I started breathing
through my sleeve, but then I realised that standing was the only escape. It was not
comfortable to try to not falling keeping hung in such mountainy and bumpy roads, but
anyway I improved my situation.
Everything seemed become bearable when suddenly a guy ran to the
driver, he took a plastic bag giving to an old woman on the back. I started sweating
thinking the worst could happen, and in fact it happened: she started throwing up like a
river overflowing. The stink got unbearable but I definitely freaked out when I saw the
vomit flowing under my feet. I tried to move frontward but I couldnt do that much
apart insulting the woman!
I was looking forward the travel finished but it wasnt even
the half of the trip. Then I hoped about a stopover, and every minute seemed so long to
me. Luckily some passengers began to complain since they had to wee, but the driver
didnt seem to care too much. It took five hours before the minibus stopped for the
lunch and I could breathe again.
Sometimes travelling is tough.
SCHEDULE TO/ FROM TIRANA
EU citiziens can get (and pay
10 euro) a VISA directly at the airport.
The currency is the new Lek (1 new lek= 10 lek). Beware that in several
places prices are written in Lek (old ones), hence should be divided by ten. Nobody never
tried to cheat me in such sense even thay had the chance. In fact many times I wrongly
paid ten times more, but I always got the change back.
ü Watch out
the open sewers in the towns, even in Tirana; I seriously risked to break my leg
ü On the long
bus (or furgon) journeys try to take a seat near an opening window, since likely the stink
of vomit will make the air quite unbreathable
taxis are very very expensive compared to the cost of life in Albania (10 euro per 10 km)
Since I didn't found many info in the guides about the
frequency of the means of transport between the town, I think the following could turn out
|Saranda- Gjrokastra- Berat
||8.00 am- 14.00 , everyday (6h)
||5.00- 6.30- 8.30- 9.30- 10.30 am, everyday (8h)
||5.30 am, everyday
||13.00, 17.30 every day (5,5h)
||6.00 am, 3 times/week (7h)
|From Berat (all the destinations)
Beside the buses the furgons get almost everywhere and they are scheduless
since they leave when full. Of course there are vey few long distance furgons (forget
Saranda- Tirana by furgon!!)
The Albanian railway system looks quite medioeval; don't
miss the train station in Tirana!
|Train schedule to/ from Tirana