Travel notes:


Albania was on our car trip as part of a circle: Serbia -> Bosnia and Herzegovina -> Montenegro -> Albania -> North Macedonia -> Serbia.

This was the active phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the world, so any chance to escape to countries allowed to visit seemed like a luxury.

All I knew about Albania were jokes on the Internet on forums and in online games of my youth with distorted phrases “Author, kill yourself against the wall” and along with many other nonsense: “Learn Albanian.” What kind of Albanian language is this, I thought?

So, driving from the really black mountains of Montenegro, somewhat similar to what we see in films about other planets and their lifeless landscapes, we ended up in the country of Albania.

Apart from live rabbits in a cage being sold, as if by weight, right on the highway, I didn’t immediately encounter anything unusual. Frankly speaking, my hands were a little itching to take the Albanian rabbit with me. On the roads, in principle, we were accompanied by an anomalous number of animals walking everywhere in independently organized groups.

Albania is a rather large country, and to take a break we initially stopped in the port city of Durres. On the one hand, there is absolutely nothing to do there, on the other hand, wherever you go, the entire first line is being built up with giant modern hotels. There is no stopping the tourism industry.

Moving on, the road I chose turned out to be a complete nightmare with an altitude of more than a thousand meters, freezing temperatures at the peak and no bump stop. These few hours of fear and infinity will forever remain in the memory; at times it seemed that human strength was not enough for all this.

The destination was the resort town of Sarande. As it turned out, the booking reservation did not mean anything due to the hotel being completely closed for renovation due to the pandemic and the lack of tourists. We were very lucky to find through the service entrance the owner of the hotel, who not only out of the kindness of his heart gave us a luxury room with the best view, but was also with us all the days of our stay. It seemed that the entire hotel and staff worked only for us, and now I understand how presidents and billionaires relax, completely closing the hotel for private service to privileged guests. We drank wine from the owner's private collection and ate seafood freshly caught from the sea. It turned out that he had his own vineyards and olive groves in Italy, which meant he always had the best organic olive oil and his homemade grappa at the table. I will never forget the sun-rich taste of freshly picked lemons, which we picked right in the hotel parking lot. By the way, tourists from all over the world come to this hotel and, as it turns out, Albania is gaining momentum in popularity in world tourism.

The road back was more pleasant, because as it turned out, there was a second gentle path, passing not through the mountains, but through valleys, somewhat reminiscent of Switzerland.