Balkans trip 2017: Albania, Macedonia and Greece in July and August

Jan's and Chris' trip in the Balkans 2017 with arrows

Jan’s and Chris’ trip in the Balkans 2017 with arrows

Map: https://www.google.com/maps/placelists/list/1aRQPMvEjuQEShaDCcdbFNwW0ue4

Tue 18 to Fri 21 Jul

Kassel for documenta 14 (++++), my review: http://chrisbeck.de/documenta-14/

Fri 21 Jul to Mon 24 Jul

Berlin for Rundlauf (days of the open door) in Universität der Künste (UdK, Berlin’s finest art university) and the Liebermann Villa next to the Wannsee.

Mon 24 July

Berlin to Thessaloniki, White tower (+/-), evening tour with Giannis from Roman gate to Muslim-Jew Mosque-synagoge and Micropolis (+++) for dinner

AirBnB with Konstantinos (+++)

Tue 25 July

Thessaloniki: morning tour with Giannis from Sophia church back to start, fish lunch in old market with live music, Archeological museum (+++), sunset at Ano Poli

Wed 26 July

Thessaloniki: beach, Byzantine museum, getting to know our AirBnB-flatmate from Syria who works in the EU’s asylum agency

Thu 27 July

Thessaloniki: Roman forum, Mosaic church (+++) in Ano Poli, lunch in Ano Poli, Old port (+++) with photography museum, Thessaloniki to Skopje by bus and train, traditional Macedonian dinner

Fri 28 July

Skopje to Ohrid, two nice monestaries (Saint Jovan Bigorski) in Mavrovo (???) with approachable nuns and nice view, amazing fast food, going for a beer

informal AirBnB for 80€ for 4 persons and 2 nights with wifi, central location, parking

Sat 29 July

Ohrid

Sun 30 July

Ohrid: fish soup, monastery by the water, beach with Techno music next to the foam party, Roman theater and fortress, to Skopje by car
CS with friends

Mon 31 July

Skopje: sleeping out, Disneyland-center, old bazaar, Italian dinner

Tue 1 Aug

Skopje: post office, National museum, lake Matka

Wed 2 Aug

Skopje-Tirana bus

Hotel Europa (++), very good room, with mirror on the ceiling, good breakfast yet no proper advice even on further transport

Thu 3 Aug

Tirana to Shkoder by bus, walk through Shkoder, dinner at Florian’s Guesthouse

Florian’s backpacker (+++) for 23€ in double, wifi, excellent assistance for further trips, getting to know amazing travel companions over a dinner in Florian’s Guesthouse for 5€. Location is not perfect but better than the 1st impression, shared bathroom with cold showers is simple but useful.

Fri 4 Aug

Shkoder to Theth by organised minibus, Blue Eye hike (+++), Lock in Tower (++)

Dritan Tethorja Guesthouse (++++) for 25€ per dorm bed, incl breakfast and dinner, Tel. 0685619086 or 0682449605 with amazing location, the most friendly staff and atmosphere ever, delighting self-grown and made food; camping possible; no facilities in case of bad weather, no wifi, cold showers; atmosphere might change with other travellers.

Sat 5

hike from Theth to Valbona (++++)

Guesthouse in Valbona (++)

Sun 6

Valbona to Shkoder, Marubi photo museum (+++), bus to Tirana
Vila Ada Hotel (+++/-), excellent room, wifi, with breakfast for 40€ for a 3 person room, central, but no advice for travelling

Marubi photography museum (+++), my review: http://chrisbeck.de/marubi-phototheque-in-shkoder-albania

Shkoder to Triana by bus, dinner there

Mon 7

Tirana to Fieri (–) by bus, central square and dinner in hotel
Hotel Green House (+/—, former Hotel Real) was the worse experience of our trip. Good room with wifi despite broken light but no resto despite such promise, big difficulties to organise food, lethargic staff, mostly not speaking English.

Tue 8

Apollonia (++), monastery, to Berat by minibus, organising laundry, dinner with Lorenc

Apollonia (++) is significantly less interesting than Butrint and is not worth the also otherwise ungratifying stop at Fier.

Lorenc Guesthouse (++/–), yet due to his overbooking not in his Guesthouse but in the Hotel of a friend for 23€, good fish in his garden but appaled by his support of Trump and Le Pen. Other travellers confirmed that Lorenc overbooks constantly and is unreliable when providing guidance on bus times, trips etc.

Wed 9

Berat (++++): castle with Onufi museum for icon paintings, amazing views, excellent lunch on roof top with view of garden and old town.

The museum-town of Berat is the most beaufiul place after the valley of Theth and would have deserved another day just to enjoy atmosphere and views further.

Thu 10

Berat to Gjirokaster by bus and taxi (with bus at 8h30 to Levan and from there by taxi since the connecting bus left without us; because 8h bus left full at 7h30 after Chris needed breakfast), meeting Russel and Kathy, Gjirokaster (+++) castle with excellent museum, and upper old town, dinner in iconic steep street

Hotel Sopotni (++) with the charm of old communist times for 8€ per person, perfect location, lethagic staff, shared bathroom, no AC, wifi only of neighbourig resto

Fri 11

Gjirokaster to Përmet by bus, Benja thermal springs and Rafting in Petrum

Funky Guesthouse (+++) for 23€ with excellent room and guidance for thermal springs and rafting (50€ per couple with Polish family of Barbara and Jarek with Adam)

Sat 12

Përmet to Saranda by bus, archeological site of Butrint (+++), meeting Patrick and Nikki from Canada, incl dinner with them by the seaside

XXX Hostel for 30€ (we paid 3000 Leke) in double with wifi, no breakfast

Sun 13

Saranda to Himare, city beach of Himare

Himara Hostel (++), in tent for 7€ per person + 2€ for tent with air matress in a beautiful garden with wifi, shared bathroom and kitchen, incl good breakfast. They offered us a room by mail which we indicated interest but did not clearly confirm. On arrival this was already given to others. Staff changes often, the owner is not always there but can give helpful advice when present.

Himare Kamping would have been closer to the beach and cheaper (1800 Leke for tent for 2 persons) but in the uncozy backyard of a high hotel building with noisy bar and no entrance control.

Gjipe eco camping, directly behind the beach (between Dhermi and Himare on the same road) would have been an interesting alternative that seemed cozy and perfectly situated.

Mon 14

Gjipe beach

Gjipe beach was my favorite compromise of not less people but providing infrastructure of less dense 2 lines of sunbeds (300 Leke for 2) with either umbrellas or square roofs, resto serving grilled fish (1000 Leke) and salads (350 Leke), bar with decent music, public shower. Facilities are some meters from the beach half way into the beautiful canyon behind the beach.

Tue 15

Himarë beach, peddlng to more secluded Filikurit beach

Wed 16

Himare castle, Gjipe beach

Thu 17

Himare to Corfu by ferry, Corfu old town

ferry serice by Ionian was 39€ per person, helpful to avoid the bus to Sarandë but was late (8h40 instead of 8h15 and took much more than the promised 30 mins until 10h10 in Albanian time, 11h10 in Greek time)

AirBnB with Victor, for 96€ in an entire appartment, 1 km/15 min from center of old town, for us with extra serive collecting us and bringing us to the airport

Fri 18

plane from Corfu to Charleroi, shuttle bus to Brussels

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