After breakfast we packed and moved in the direction to Durres. First we thought we will spend few hours in Tirana (visiting the capital of the country is usually a must for the most of travellers), but finally we decided to skip it for several reasons. It was very hot and hard to walk around the city under the baking sun. Weather forecast predicts rains in several days but we wanted to swim and explore Albanian beaches a lot… (yeah I like sea much more than cities).
We saw two turtles on the gravel road that leads to camping, one was small and another one bigger.
Accidentally, we found a nice place to swim with a lot of place for parking and sandy beach (GPS coordinates: 41.2328, 19.5148). As for me I am not sandy –beach-lover, but anyway there were sea and sun, so we enjoyed swimming.
Sea is very shallow there. There were few people on the beach. We saw the city of Durres on the horizon.
After swimming we decided to explore Albanian heartland, as my friend called it and drove to Bashtova Castle. There were few small villages along the road, with a lot both nice houses and unfinished ones.
Almost all unfinished houses had a hung scarecrow, called dordolec . As you may guess the main purpose of dordolec is to prevent envy. I found very nice article about dordolec if you are interested in more information about this tradition in Albania.
Bashtova castle is situated just in the middle of the field, in 12 km from the main road.
Only walls left from the castle, but I liked the atmosphere of that place a lot. We were alone in the middle of the nowhere, walking on walls and then drinking tea with a view on houses scattered in the fields. It is not fully known when Bashtova castle was built.
One theory told it was built by Venetians in 15 century, other historians consider that Venetians rebuilt old fortress that was here from 6 century. In those times Bashtova was known as a trade harbour and centre of export of grains.
Sitting on the walls and drinking tea we were musing why western walls are higher and newer that eastern one. Later I read in wikipedia that western part of the castle was rebuilt in 18th century. Probably this is the reason of different height of the walls.
Our final destination was Berat with its castle that is listed as UNESCO object. We booked room in Villa LIli, so we drove there, left our car, take a little rest and move out to explore the city of Berat.
I liked Berat a lot, it is so charming and picturesque, with its unique atmosphere and white houses. Castle is situated on the hill.
Stone road leads to the entrance of the castle, where you could park the car just in front of the entrance for free.
We walked on foot, so we used a path that begin in the middle of the main road (it is good visible and starts with stairs) and ascend just to the middle of the castle. Castle is big with many interesting places including churches, two mosques, citadel, etc.
Church of St. George, there is an exhibition of old icons inside now.
Narrow street inside Berat castle
There are also many traditional houses in the castle, many of them are abandoned…
Church of Holy Trinity was on reconstruction
Entrance of the castle
After walking around the castle we found taverna Lazaro that was mentioned in this blog. We had a tasty dinner there that cost us 600 Lek (4.5 euro) for two meatballs, grilled vegetables and a bottle of beer. Nice end of the day.
When we finished our dinner it was already pitch dark and there were no light along the road to the castle. But we enjoyed nice views of night city.