Tag Archives: Albania

Mini-bus magic: tips for traveling in Albania

Followers of Picnic at the Cathedral will recall that this fall my husband HOB and I spent two weeks in the country of Albania.  If you haven’t had the chance to visit, allow me to highly recommend it.  Albania has spectacular (surprisingly mountainous) geography, an interesting mix of classic Ottoman architecture and Communist era monuments, and a […]

Funniest Travel Moments of 2016

I needed a bit of cheering up today so I decided to research my end of year blog stats on the WordPress admin site.  I ignored the numbers and charts and went right to the juicy part: search terms.  These words and phrases that curious web searchers type into their search engines never fail to restore […]

Korçë, Albania: come for the tolerance, stay for the Modernist architecture

The people of Korçë are proud of their tolerance and I like it in them.  “We are a tolerant people” we heard several times and surely this is true.  After all, this Southeastern town is famous for having the first girl’s school in Albania and still has an intellectual and cultured vibe (bookstores and museums, hooray!) […]

A Roman amphitheatre, Byzantine mosaics, and an emergency picnic with bragging rights in Durrës

Our rushed day in Durrës went like this; rain, walk, rain, walk, rain, where the hell is the amphitheatre, rain, walk, oh there’s the amphitheatre, oh there’s the archeological museum, oh man am I ever hungry, torrential rain, thunderstorm, emergency picnic, walk, rain, salad, mosquitoes, vagina lamp. I have the impression that Durrës, due to […]

Where to store your bags of weed in the Ottoman houses of Gjirokastër

If you want to visit Zekate House, a traditional Ottoman home in Gjirokastër, Albania, walk up a steep hill, make a right, ask directions from a man tending his grape arbor, go up hill a bit more and then find the building with it’s two wood-capped towers and go inside.  No, Zakate house is not locked and no one works […]

These 14th century frescos in Mborja, Albania have something to say about the US election

This Wednesday, November 10, 2016, I finally gave up on  trying to sleep, slammed down two espressos and started looking though images of the apocalypse.  Wednesday morning’s art binge was not out of character, given my love of medieval apocalypse manuscripts and Romanesque church art with all it’s fabulous carvings and frescoes of sinners tormented in […]

Lost in the Orientalist painting that is Gjirokastër, Albania

Our furgon (minibus) arrived in Gjirokastër, Albania in the lower part of town and since we didn’t have a map and the old city is built on a steep hill we took a taxi to our guest house.  When I say we took a taxi I mean we paid a guy who was using his […]

Post-communist rainbows fade to hipster in Tirana

Here’s what happened to Tirana, Albania: communism screwed it over for 40 years, destroyed much of its historic architecture—mosques, Orthodox cathedrals and an Ottoman era baazar—and then replaced those once beautiful buildings with architectural train wrecks. Architecture train wreck case in point: this so-called Pyramid of Tirana was originally the Enver Hoxha Museum.  (For those of you […]

Starlit xhiro in Berat, Albania

Now if I told you that there’s a town called Berat in Southern Albania with UNESCO protected Ottoman era houses, a romance novel-worthy castle, and an exquisite icon museum, you’d probably want to go, right? Berat is gorgeous but also relaxing and super-duper friendly.  Let’s make that gorgeous, friendly, relaxing and budget friendly too—-our lovely guest […]

The view from Albania so far; Shkodër, Lake Koman and that one ubiqitous haircut

This morning we woke up in Shkoder, Northern Albania, ate a ginormous breakfast at our  hotel and met up with a driver who drove us two hours to get on a small boat through Lake Koman. Lake Koman is actually a reservoir formed inside a dramatic mountain gorge in the 1970’s and it powers a hydro electric system.  We cruised […]