Author Topic: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?  (Read 1963 times)

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Offline Bob

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Back in 2004, Trisa and I had been living in Corfu for two years and although not still quite in holiday mode, we were unencumbered with animals and therefore able to get away more. We are fortunate to be acquainted with some friends who are heavily involved with the Durrell School of Corfu. As many will know, they arrange many field trips, one of which was a day trip to Butrint in Albania to view the archaeological excavations there. This was particularly interesting to us because Butrint is situated directly opposite to where we were living at the time in Vlachatika.

At this point, it is worth mentioning that excursions to Albania are frequently on offer from local tourist offices.

The 90 minute ferry crossing took us along the Albanian coastline which we understand mirrors what the Corfiot coastline looked like 80 years ago. The only difference is that the Albanian coastline is littered with gun emplacements, hopefully a relic of a bygone age!

In 2004 there was a massive amount of development going on in Saranda. This continues to this day. The irony of this is not lost on us as we now live directly opposite Saranda! We did not stop in Saranda. I suspect that this was due to the number of Americans and Canadians in our party who would probably not have felt too comfortable given the political climate at that time.

We travelled by coach to Butrint with a stop off on the way for refreshments at an excellent hotel. The journey itself was interesting, travelling through what was very much a third world countryside. There were signs of serious efforts to improve things though with the introduction of newly planted olive groves and mussel farms along the coastline.

Butrint is an amazing archaeological site. Trisa and I agree that the site was generally smaller than we anticipated. (But see following paragraph.) Our tour around the site lasted something around an hour and a half. This is not a criticism and I guess that this comment reflects the views of a layman in respect of archaeology.

Perhaps we should qualify our observations by saying that we suspect that from what we have learned on the visit that there remain a vast amount of secrets to be unearthed. There were however no signs of any work in progress in the immediate vicinity. There were, we were told, British archaeologists at work on a nearby site across a waterway.

Okay, so it's confession time! Some of you will know that when it comes to archaeological ruins I am something of a Philistine! I have even been heard to describe them as 'piles of rocks'! Trisa on the other hand is the one that gets excited about archaeology.

We have debated whether or not Tricia should now take over the commentary of the visit to the archaeological site but have jointly decided against this. We have several images and as they say, 'A picture is worth a thousand words'.

What we are both agreed on though is that being escorted by someone who clearly knew his subject was invaluable. No guide book could have been so informative. Unescorted, we would have wandered around the site, not realising what much of the ruins were and certainly not recognising the different periods from which these relics remained. We both agree that we would have liked time to investigate on our own after the guided tour.

I am not going to waffle further. Instead I am going to introduce you to a first for this forum, a slide show of the trip. Navigate through it by clicking the left or right arrow.  If you hover over the image, your pointer will change to a magnifying glass. Clicking on the image will open up the minus.com page with the album showing. Clicking on those images will bring up a larger version. I guess you all knew that anyway!

Enjoy!

Bob

Photographers are violent people. First they frame you, then they shoot you, then they hang you on the wall.
- Anon.

Offline Steve

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Re: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2012, 01:34:18 PM »
Great report Bob.

Just testing the Nexus in reply.

Steve,  8)
The "Corfu Villages Printed Book" is now available as the Corfu villages website. www.corfuvillages.eu Price 9.95 it contains 60 stunning pages in high gloss featuring 50 villages with text and unseen photographs. All money raised will go to the Corfu charities and the less fortunate on the Island.

Offline Bob

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Re: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2012, 02:40:36 PM »
Great report Bob.

Just testing the Nexus in reply.

Steve,  8)
I expect a full report in due course! Don't clutter this thread but does it have an expansion slot to take additional memory? Maybe a PM would be more appropriate!

Bob
Photographers are violent people. First they frame you, then they shoot you, then they hang you on the wall.
- Anon.

Offline Steve

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Re: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2012, 08:56:42 PM »
Ok,

I will post it on the Nexus 7 thread on GD soon!

Steve,  8)
The "Corfu Villages Printed Book" is now available as the Corfu villages website. www.corfuvillages.eu Price 9.95 it contains 60 stunning pages in high gloss featuring 50 villages with text and unseen photographs. All money raised will go to the Corfu charities and the less fortunate on the Island.

Offline tully

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Re: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2012, 11:58:44 PM »
Very interesting, we always mean to get over to Albania on a trip, but just don't seem to find the time. Must try harder
Life's short, so live it to the full

Offline nafsica

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Re: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?
« Reply #5 on: July 24, 2012, 12:11:38 PM »
Thanks for that Bob!
I was lucky enough to work with archaeological tours to Greece in the nineteen-sixties and saw the great ancient sites before they were overrun with large numbers of visitors.
You cannot get the feel of those places when there are so many other people around - you need silence. Your photos brought back those wonderful days of discovery for me.

Offline rogernrose

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Re: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2012, 02:46:29 PM »
Bin there done that, organised day trip picked up by coach from Diellas taken to port for ferry.  I cant really say it was enjoyable but it certainely was different (makes you appreciate how good Greek roads are)

Offline Bob

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Re: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2012, 06:38:19 PM »
Bin there done that, organised day trip picked up by coach from Diellas taken to port for ferry.  I cant really say it was enjoyable but it certainely was different (makes you appreciate how good Greek roads are)

Did you go to Butrint? was was there not to enjoy? The scenery is stunning and Butrint is quite impressive ..... for a pile of old rocks!

Bob
Photographers are violent people. First they frame you, then they shoot you, then they hang you on the wall.
- Anon.

Offline rogernrose

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Re: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2012, 09:21:34 PM »
yes went to Butrint (is it not compulsory?) but dont do old rocks, but i was fascinated watching the ferry trying to self destruct with each crossing of the river. The roads thro the hills were certainely "buttock clenching"

Offline Bob

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Re: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2012, 10:00:23 AM »
Rogerandrose,

I guess we were lucky because the party that we went with were mainly Greeks, Greek/Americans or Greek/Canadians and all were academics who really wanted to be there. I have to say that on the academic front we were totally outclassed! There were some other ex-pats but we were in the minority. We were also lucky to have a great guide. We stopped for refreshments on the way to Butrint and after our visit there we went to a hotel for dinner which ended up in the manner of most get-togethers where Greeks are concerned. There was some great story telling and of course a lot of impromptu singing. We actually spent so long over this that we had to cancel the last part of the trip!

For us, the entire trip was an amazing day, that will stick in my memory forever ... and as I say, I don't get easily impressed by piles of old rocks!

As they say, 'horses for courses!'.

Bob
Photographers are violent people. First they frame you, then they shoot you, then they hang you on the wall.
- Anon.

Offline lias

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Re: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?
« Reply #10 on: August 02, 2013, 05:46:27 PM »
I went on the Albanian day-trip about five years ago with my two adult children.    It was very interesting to me to see their different reactions.    My daughter works in conflict-torn countries and was very distressed by what she saw.   She compared the lack of infra-structure to Zimbabwe, which she has visited many times.   She kept mentioning that, just across the sea, we could see Corfu and how unfair it was that a narrow strip of water could divide two places so starkly.   Corfu so privileged and Albania so disadvantaged.   

My son, on the other hand, is an historian and was completely fascinated by Butrint and Saranda.   He talked a lot to the young, Albanian, guide about the economy of Albania and its agriculture and natural resources.   When we eventually returned to Saranda for a few hours, my son seemed a bit like the Pied Piper as he attracted a crowd of small Albanian boys who misunderstood that he had been to Manchester University.   He kicked a football about with them on the beach and the poor little things thought he played football for Manchester United!   As if!  Blackburn Rovers all the way for him........ 

As for myself, I felt quite privileged and humbled by my visit.    In years gone by, Albania was always a slightly threatening presence.   I can remember a well-known Corfiot running out of petrol in his speed boat in the early 1980s and his boat was washed up on the Albanian coast.   He, and his three companions, were immediately arrested and taken to a jail in Tirana.    I can also remember seeing the search-lights each night scouring the coast and sky over Albania trying to find Albanians who were trying to flee the country (as well as the repeated sound of gun-fire).    The Albanians were always trying so hard to escape their country and  on one occasion  in the early 1980s a small boat made it across to the port in Corfu town.   They were not allowed off the boat, but many Corfiots (including us), packed up goody bags which we then threw on to the boat and the port officials did nothing to stop us.   Indeed the North East of Corfu until the late 1960s was considered a "frontier area" and you had to get military permission to drive further north than Pyrghi!

The ordinary Albanians that I have met more recently living on Corfu seem to be very hard-working and good, reliable and honest workers.   They seem to have a great talent for gardening?   I asked an Albanian friend a few years ago about the history of his country and he, rather sadly, replied, "You probably know more about it than me, we were only taught history from the Chinese perspective".

Anyway, it is a fascinating place to visit and I would urge any of you who have the inclination, to book a trip.   Just a word of warning, take some bottles of water with you if visiting in high summer as it is very hot walking around Butrint.   Enjoy.

Offline jan

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Re: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?
« Reply #11 on: August 02, 2013, 08:02:59 PM »
BBC radio 4- think it was 'From our own correspondent' last week had an item about Saranda, and the trip to Albania- go on the bBC website, it was interesting

San Stefano Estate (historical villa welcoming visitors) Benitses
www.SanStefanoEstate.com

Offline Trisa

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Re: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2013, 08:40:56 PM »
Is this the right link Jan?

http://goo.gl/TggXEE
Think before you speak! If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

Offline jan

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Re: Do you fancy something different - Like a Day trip to Albania?
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2013, 09:13:41 PM »
that's the one!

San Stefano Estate (historical villa welcoming visitors) Benitses
www.SanStefanoEstate.com

 

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