From Rozafa Castle outside of Shkodra Albania, we headed up into the mountains to the little village of Kruja, which sits, appropriately enough, on Mount Kruja. Ah, the view we had from our room at the Panorama Hotel (Room 301) was fantastic – the selfie above shows the view out one side of the room; the view from the other side (over Jim’s shoulders) was out to the Adriatic Sea. Really fantastic. We had a wonderful lunch (such yummy cheese-stuffed red peppers, baked in olive oil and garlic), visited the castle, did some shopping at the bazaar, and then as the drizzle returned, settled in for a nap (one of the delicious treats of vacation!).
A few memories from this stop:
1. Finding ourselves unexpectedly with a local guide explaining the castle and environs. As we approached the remains of the fortress at the top (which you see in the distance of the above photo), a young boy asked us where we were from, told us when the museum opened, started explaining a few things about the place, and before we knew it, we were walking around as he showed things. Naturally, he expected something for his time – but he was happy with a couple hundred leke (equivalent of a couple dollars).
2. Visiting the shop in the little bazaar with the loom where a local woman makes rugs by hand. Such beautiful colors and patterns. She said it takes about a month of working all day to make an 8X10 rug.
3. Eating dinner at Restaurant Ela, where the owner cooked for us, the only guests in his restaurant. Just after Jim commented on hearing the food cooking in the kitchen, the power went out. So much for cooking! We pulled out our little flashlights (I carry one in my handy ‘blue purse’ that includes anything anyone could ever want…) and wondered if we’d end up at our hotel for a meal. The owner came out, disgruntled, complaining in some variation of Albanian, German, and a word or two of English – our take away was that whenever there’s a wedding at our hotel, the hotel sucks all the power off the grid. As he headed back to the kitchen, he said in the most memorable way, with a tone of disappointment only acceptable for a local: “That’s Albania!” (Within about 5 minutes, the power came back on and we were in business.) As we left the restaurant, the owner warned us of the music that would play into the wee hours as part of the wedding reception (we’d read about it, and our room was far from the noise so no sleep stopper for us). We enjoyed the fireworks that went off as we walked back to the hotel (also part of the wedding festivities), accepting it as celebration of our upcoming wedding anniversary.
4. Waking up in the morning to clearing skies and magnificent views over the valley and out to the sea. Nice weather was the perfect gift for our longest driving day – from north central Albania down to the Albanian Riviera in the south.
For what came before:
[For photo highlights of our holiday, visit Jim and Vicki’s Travel Adventures Shutterfly site.]