Albania

ALBANIA, AS IT IS SEEN BY THE EAGLE

In a 45 minutes documentary Albania is shown as a  “wild country”; a production for the German public from Das Erste in collaboration with the Albanian television Top Channel. The focus of this documentary was its exceptional biodiversity.

Firstly in this documentary is shown the eagle, as the symbol of Albania and the far north of Albania, where the eagles’ nest is built. This region is known for the high mountains and for the rich flora and fauna. This region is also inaccessible making it the perfect habitat for the “Albanian eagle”.
Video : Wild Albania, in the land of eagles - Wildes Albanien, Im Land der Adler

Traveling towards the center of the country, it is impossible not to notice the large number of rivers and the 362 km long coastline. Even though most of the Albanian area is mountainous the coast has a great beauty at is valued as gem.

In the Lagoon of Karavasta, there can be found a wide rage of rare species such as the Dalmatian Pelican, which is the rarest in the world. 

When one talks about Albania, it is impossible to forget the rich culture and how ancient this country is. The site of Butrint hosts thousands of years history in its impressive and well preserved sceneries.

This entire documentary is produced by the filmmaker Alexander Sommer and the author Cornelia Nation, from the eagle perspective. 

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Dalmatian Pelican.jpg

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Bear Albania.jpg

See the Video: 

Fichier Wild Albania, in the land of eagles - Wildes Albanien, Im Land der Adler

 

Boston Globe : Albania, an undiscovered gem!

Albania and the city of Berat are considered by Boston Globe as a touristic destination for 2016. The author of this article, Christopher Muther refers to Albania as an undiscovered gem.

The author describes the lack of infrastructure, the bad condition of roads, not a good public transport and the limited access on the internet.  But according to him these are the reasons why this country is worth visiting.

In his article he also mentions’ the beautiful Albanian Riviera, referring to it as breathtaking.

Description of the Boston Globe:

This is not a place for tourists in search of luxury, or for inexperienced travelers, but I can assure you that what you get for the price you pay is really great. If you are not sure about traveling there by your own, you can contact a travel agency. For many years Albania was an isolated country, but since the fall of the communist regime it is a well - known travel destination. In Albania you may notice lack of infrastructure, bad road conditions, not a good public transport and limited internet access. But exactly because of these you should visit this undiscovered gem. The beaches along the Riviera are breathtaking.

Direct flight? NO. Best time to travel to Albania? September.          

Albania holidays

The great Eastern European road trip, part two: road trip across Albania

On their tour from the Balkans to the Baltic, Kevin Rushby and family arrive in Albania – once unreachable, now scruffy, eccentric and entirely lovable. 

 

As soon as we cross the border into northern Albania, near Shkodër, we are faced with a decision: coast or mountain? I’ve wanted to visit Albania since the 1990s, when I glimpsed its then unreachable coast from Corfu and heard it was the loveliest in the Med. But we’ve arrived in a heatwave – 40C-plus – so turn towards the cool mountains of the south-east. After well-groomed Croatia and Montenegro, Albania appears as shaggy and ill-kempt as a lovable hound, all dirty paws and enthusiastic tail.

After a night at a wayside hotel, we continue south, turning off the main road at Urakë to explore. Our guidebook says there are Illyrian tombs near a village called Selca. The road becomes a track and divides. We stop to ask directions and at this moment we finally arrive in Albania.

 

The man speaks a lot and waves his arms. I’d guess we are getting 90% Albanian and a smattering of other European tongues, none of them English. Albanian is seriously different from any other living language, but speaking it quickly to foreigners will, it is widely believed, make it perfectly comprehensible. This man, we gather, advises taking the left fork. We do so, and within a mile he is proved correct.

Away to our right is a magnificent ancient bridge, spanning the river in two impressive and wildly uneven arcs of stone. A youth appears on a horse with a wooden saddle. “Via Egnatia,” he says, pointing at the bridge excitedly. “Old!” This is an understatement. The Via Egnatia was constructed in the third century BC, probably on top of an earlier road, the only land link between the eastern and western regions of the Roman empire.

Notable feet have trodden its route, including Julius Caesar, the apostle Paul, and many crusaders. There are hopes that its remnants might become a long-distance hiking trail, but for now this bridge is unmarked. We only have the youth and his horse, which we lead over the cobbled arches that have supported so many travellers.

Resuming our search for the tombs, we meet an old man on a donkey who feeds us wild plums and points out the bee-eaters nesting in a mud bank. Only it’s not the birds he’s pointing to, but the dark blobs of cave entrances on the next hill. A third-century BC Illyrian king, Monum, is supposed to be buried here. We tramp around, finding three tombs in the rock, long since emptied of all treasure, much to the disappointment of Maddy, 12.

 

 An ancient bridge on the even more ancient Via Egnatia.

Later that day we drive over a pass and catch sight of Lake Ohrid, 300 metres deep and entirely fed by aquifers. Macedonia is on the far side, 10km away. Closer, on a small promontory, is a lovely village, Lin, where cottages are decked with flowers, old ladies in black sit in the shade, and all the children are out playing in boats. Just as we say to each other, “It’d be nice to stay in one of these houses,” a young woman accosts us in English: “Would you like to stay in my house?”

Rosa shows us through a gateway to her shady terrace by the lake, where her rowing boat is hauled up. She pours us a tot of raki and fetches a bowl of fresh figs. There is never any doubt we will stay: the only question is for how many years. We eat a lunch of koran, a sort of trout and one of seven fish species that haunt the deeper zones of the lake. Later we swim and explore the rest of the promontory, where there is a ruined fifth-century church with mosaics of peacocks eating luscious bunches of grapes.

“The village is half Orthodox and half Muslim,” Rosa tells us later, “But we are all happy together.”

 Floria in the garden at her homestay in the village of Dardhe.

We leave, reluctantly, next day and drive into the mountains on the Greek border, reaching Dardhe, once an important trading post but now largely abandoned. Some of the fine stone houses are being restored, as is the road – clearly there are big plans for Dardhe – but we amble out on a footpath and eventually come to a house with a sign. Is it a B&B? We can’t decide.

We enter the idyllic garden. An old lady in black greets us by kissing Sophie and Maddy, then serving more raki. She can’t understand why Maddy doesn’t swill the stuff down. She talks continuously. “I think she’s explaining about wolves in the forest,” I say. “No,” disagrees Sophie, “she’s talking about the London Olympics.”

A man appears from inside and tells us in halting English that Floria, his mother, is offering a room, but wants us to understand she will not be making lakror today – though the nearby tavern will have it.

Again, there is no doubt we will stay. At the tavern, home to a stuffed lynx but no wolves, the waiter fills our water carafes from a gushing spring and we order lakror, not knowing what to expect. After an hour he returns with a wooden block, clears a vast space, then brings out an iron pan the size of a cartwheel and lays it proudly on the table. “Lakror,” he announces.

Lakror, it turns out, is a local speciality, a bit like a Turkish börek – a flat pie stuffed with cheese and vegetables and utterly delicious. Which is fortunate, as we are eating it for the next two days. When we leave, Floria is heartbroken that we have not tried her lakror, but we promise to return. After all, we have fallen deeply for this shabby, hugely eccentric gem called Shqipëri by its inhabitants, and Albania by everyone else.

Source : http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2015/aug/15/east-european-road-trip-albania-tombs-via-egnatia 

 

I survived Albania

“I survived Albania. If you don’t visit this place you are really missing out”.

It took an English cyclist, two months 5000 km and lots of other troubles to finally finish his adventure of cycling from London to Athens.

His journey was incredible as well as at times frustrating, but this guy made it. Despite all the difficulties during his trip he got to discover new places, one of them was Albania. He recorded his voyage to Albania and he posted his video on YouTube under the name “I survived Albania”. The cyclist, Yolo Nathan states that he discovered a wonderful place, perfect to travel by bike, especially because the streets are well maintained.    

In his Facebook page he writes as follows: I found out that Albania was a very safe place, the people are fantastic and it has the best streets of the world. Everybody kept telling me that it was dangerous to cycle in Albania. But I ignored their advice by continuing my trip in this wonderful country.

   

 

See Videos : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdc6djbDrE4

                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjCXnlJtq9k

 

Source : http://yolonathan.com/cycle-route-across-europe/

 

 

Why Albania should be high on your travel list

Why Albania should be high on your travel list

 

From a trading city founded in 8th century BC to stunning Unesco World Heritage Sites: Why Albania should be high on your travel list (and not just for the Adriatic beach parties)

 

As the sun went down, a line of men in felt hats, baggy shirts and scarlet sashes performed a joyous dance on the terrace of a hilltop castle. 

Across a narrow ribbon of sea, the silhouette of Corfu ebbed into purple shadow. I had to remind myself that this wasn’t Greece but its less visited neighbour, Albania.

A two-hour taxi ride along roads lined with oleander bushes had brought me across the border from Greece’s Preveza airport.

A visit to the hillside town of Gjirokastra, a Unesco World Heritage Site, should be on the list of any holidaymaker in Albania

A visit to the hillside town of Gjirokastra, a Unesco World Heritage Site, should be on the list of any holidaymaker in Albania

Diana trying the First and Second World War weaponry displayed at the Gjirokastra fortress
The fortress is one of the city's most famed attractions

Diana (left) trying the First and Second World War weaponry displayed at the Gjirokastra fortress, one of the city's many attractions

A stunning night view of Berat shows that the fun is definitely not over as night falls at the Unesco World Heritage Site

A stunning night view of Berat shows that the fun is definitely not over as night falls at the Unesco World Heritage Site

Sheep and goats grazed under olive groves – a timeless pastoral scene were it not for a few small domed concrete bunkers on the hillside, survivors of the 700,000 built by Albania’s obsessively isolationist dictator Enver Hoxha.

How much had Albania changed in the 30 years since his death, I wondered? 

Arriving at the Adriatic resort of Saranda, pulsating techno music, squeals of children delightedly dodging a giant foam gun at a beach party, and people on jet skis zipping over an improbably blue sea suggested an answer.

From Saranda we set off for Butrint, a trading city founded in the 8th century BC, according to legend, by people escaping Troy. 

From there we wound through stark limestone mountains to Gjirokastra, a Unesco World Heritage site, where a massive oval fortress squats over a jumble of steep, narrow lanes and stone-roofed Ottoman houses.

The fortress is intact, but what surprised me most was the collection of First and Second World War weaponry displayed in its high-vaulted rooms.

From Gjirokastra we followed a river valley northwards to Tepelene, where a plaque commemorates the visit of Lord Byron to the castle of warlord Ali Pasha. 

Albanian men gather at the Old Bazaar Quarter in Gjirokastra with its trademark cobbled, narrow streets

Albanian men gather at the Old Bazaar Quarter in Gjirokastra with its trademark cobbled, narrow streets

Why not visit the Castle of Ali Pasha Tepelene in the bay of Porto Palermo between Qeparo and Himare while in Albania?

Why not visit the Castle of Ali Pasha Tepelene in the bay of Porto Palermo between Qeparo and Himare while in Albania?

Continuing along quiet roads with fruit sellers dozing in the shade, we reached Berat.

So many limestone Ottoman homes cluster the steep, cobbled streets that their windows have earned it the name ‘city of a thousand eyes’. 

Berat’s fortress also has eyes – 27 watchtowers. 

On an adjacent mountainside is the word ‘NEVER’ – a rearrangement of stones which once spelled Hoxha’s first name, and an affirmation that the bad times must never return.

That night at my hotel, I drank merlot from Berat’s Luani winery. 

It went down very well with the buttery pumpkin pie and lamb’s liver cooked with tomatoes and herbs. 

Plenty to do: The bustling port of Saranda has pulsating techno music, beach parties, and people riding personal watercraft

Plenty to do: The bustling port of Saranda has pulsating techno music, beach parties, and people riding personal watercraft

Gjirokastra is famed for its castle, roads paved with  limestone and shale- and slate-roofed houses that look out to the Drina Valley

Gjirokastra is famed for its castle, roads paved with limestone and shale- and slate-roofed houses that look out to the Drina Valley

In fact all the food I tasted was delicious, especially the fried mussels, known as midhje.

Peach and melon vendors hawked their wares along the road to Albania’s capital, Tirana. 

Driving in, I looked for signs of its communist past. 

A few dour barrack-like buildings remain, but modern Tirana seems lively and upbeat, with wide roads, sleek new buildings and smart shops.

My week was nearly over but a final pleasure remained – the coastal drive south back to Saranda. The shoreline was at times wild and rocky, at others dulcet and full of golden sands.

I hadn’t known what to expect of Albania but I was very glad I’d come.

Source : Daily Mail

American actress Eliza Dushku Explores the Country of Her Father’s Ancestors

Dear Albania: Eliza Dushku Explores the Country of Her Father’s Ancestors

Dear Albania is Eliza Dushku’s love letter to the country. It is also a way for fans of the actress to join her on a personal journey of discovery, and serves as a guide for world travelers to see and learn about many of the sights in “the jewel of the Balkans.”

 

Dear Albania: Eliza Dushku

Dear Albania: Eliza Dushku – Photo courtesy of Boston Diva Productions and APT

 

“Albania is not just a place. It is a people.” — Eliza Dushku

American actress Eliza Dushka (Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.DollhouseTru Calling,Buffy the Vampire Slayer) is of mixed-Danish ancestry on her mother’s side and Albanian on her father’s, and considered a “hometown hero” in Albania along with fellow actor Jim Belushi and Mother Teresa.

For Eliza, touring Albania stemmed from her fascination with the country, as well as her desires to know where she came from and to connect with the country and its warm, welcoming people, including relatives she didn’t know she had.

 

Dear Albania: Vlora, Albania

Dear Albania: Vlora, Albania – Photo courtesy of Boston Diva Productions and APT

Over the course of the hour-long program, she, her brother Nate, and Albanian actor/producer Blerim Destani and photographer Fadil Berisha travel to fifteen cities in four countries, both within the borders of Albania and beyond them to the Ethnic Albanian regions in Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo.

Their first stop is Tirana, the capital of Albania, where Eliza learns about Albania’s history as a pre-Roman, Illyrian civilization; goes shopping at the Italian department store Coin in the tony section of the city known as “The Block”; and has a bit of football (soccer) fun with members of the KF Tirana Football Club.

 

Dear Albania: Eliza Dushku with KF Tirana Football Club

Dear Albania: Eliza Dushku with KF Tirana Football Club – Photo courtesy of Boston Diva Productions and APT

Korça is the birthplace of Eliza’s ancestors, “where the heart and soul of the Dushku family live,” and where Eliza has a brewski at the annual Beerfest, takes in a dramatic stage performance, and chats with Albanian singer Eli Fara.

Other places that Eliza, Nate, and their friends travel to in Albania include the coastal city of Durrës; Krujë, home of Krujë Castle; the “vacationer’s paradise” of Vlora, along the Albanian Riviera; the Llogara Pass in the Ceraunian Mountains; the seaside village of Dhërmi; Gramata Bay on the Ionian Sea; Tropojë, near the Kosovo border; Lake Komani; Shkodra, one of the oldest cities in Albania, and the nearby Rozafa Castle, which has quite the legend; the ancient Illyrian city of Apollonia, a favorite destination for wedding photos; and the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Butrint, where they visit ancient Greek ruins, and Berat, where some apartments are more than 1500 years old.

 

Dear Albania: Eliza Dushku dancing with Tony Dovolani and Albanian locals

Dear Albania: Eliza Dushku dancing with Tony Dovolani and Albanian locals – Photo courtesy of Boston Diva Productions and APT

Eliza also visits cities outside of Albania proper, where there are significant Ethnic Albanian populations, including Tetova in Macedonia; Ulcinj, “the center of the Albanian community” in Montenegro; and Prishtina in Kosovo, where Dancing with the Stars‘ Tony Dovolani, the two-time World Ballroom Dancing Champion, surprises her.

Throughout her journey, Eliza chats with new-found family members, other locals, and Albanian opera singers Ermonela Jaho and Inva Mula, as well as multi-genre singer Aurela Gaçe, Albania’s entrant in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. Lastly, Eliza meets with now-former Albanian President and Prime Minister Sali Berisha, who presented her with a special gift.

 

Dear Albania: Eliza Dushku

Dear Albania: Eliza Dushku – Photo courtesy of Boston Diva Productions and APT

The inspiring and quite touching Dear Albania begins premiering Thursday, 1 October 2015, on the public TV stations.

 

Source : http://theeurotvplace.com/2015/09/dear-albania-eliza-dushku-explores-the-country-of-her-fathers-ancestors/#.VgWGpOHBdmo.facebook