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2006 Albania C: Gjirokaster and Durres

Day 7: From Ksamil to Gjirokaster


The road from Sarande to Gjirokaster climbs slowly through forests but when you reach the top and ride down all the trees are gone and bare limsestone rocks with some grasses and flowers in between form the surprisingly beautiful landscape.

 and than you will see the fertile valley of the Drino river, already inhabited for thousands of years. 
The cities of Gjirokaster and Tepelene are here and heading south you'll soon find the Greec borther.

This is the majestic byzantyne church of Shen Kolle (Saint Nicolas)which was build in the 12th century and heavily damaged during the second World War.
Partly renovated biot by bit the funds lack to renovate this fine building properly.

Gjirokaster is a little but old town in south Albania and with Berat a competitor for the title 'most beautiful town of Albania'. Its situation is magnificient, build agaist a steep hill, surrounded by mountains. It is dominated by the castle that is visible everywhere in the town.
Here you see the main street leading down to the valley and the street to the right that leads to the castle.

View over the old town (left), the mosque and the castle from the hotel which was well situated in one of the small neighbourhoods that are scattered around against the hills and in between a lot of green what makes this a pleasant town.

At the far side of the castle of Gjirokaster is a bell tower. Between the walls there are several buildings and a lot of open space.
In one of the buildings there is a war-museum.
Here you see the bell tower and the walls at the far east side looking out over the Djose-valley. The weather was changing rapidly when we were upthere and a rainbow appeared.

A view from the castle looking upon the old town and far below that the new area. On the backround the valley of the Drino and the distant mountains.

It was a very bright sunny morning so I went out early to take some pictures before leaving.
I walked up the way to the castle because I noticed the evening before that the light from this point on the towns panorama's was the best in the morning.
On my way down I noticed a lot of kids on their way to school. I looked for a place where I could get them fully in the sun in shaded surroundings with the sunbading town on the background. This is the best of the series.

There are two thing that I noticed about children going to school in Albania:
There are only girls going to school (As you see the boys are sitting on a terrace) and the way to school is always down. From al parts of the mountains girls (always dressed in jeans and colourful T-shirts)are moving downwards where there must be a school.

Day 8: from Gjirokaster to Fier

A long daytrip of 115 km through beautiful mountainous areas to a destination only good for sleeping


A beautiful aera in southern Albania is the region north of Gjirokaster.

Here a view over the castle of Ali Pasha at Tepelene

When you ride north from Gjirokaster through the valley of the river Djose you'll reach the town of Tepelene where the valley becomes tighter afetr 35 km. There hidden on a mountainslope lies one of the castles Ali Pasha of Tepelene, a famous ruler who made Albania a mighty and almost independent part of the ottoman empire in the 18th century.
He was a great militair who build a lot of fortifications. This one in his native town is one of the biggest.

Day 9: From Fier to Dürres

Nothing escapes from his attention as you can see. We were the only visitors of the majestic site of the amphitheatre of Durres. 
Just behind the entrance-gate we found the porter who had dazed off and woke up after I took this picture.

A curious place for a chapel. In the 6th century this little byzantine chapel was build in the middle of the huge amhitheatre (the biggest in Eastern Europe)of Dürres. 
In the period from the 2th till the 4th century AD the place was used for gladiatorfights and wild animal shows, in wich the Chriatians played a very special role.

magnificient 6th century mozaïcs of great beuasty in a terrible state. As I've seen in other parts of Albania the funds to preserve the great heritage of the country are unsufficient.

The center of Dürres with its pleasant streets and cafés has an Italian atmosphere.



Day 10 from Dürres to the Airport


The airport of Titanë is named after Mother Teresa, a saint in India but born in Albania.


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