Albania - the most interesting holiday country
13 Aprile 2012
Lonely Planet has ranked Albania as the most interesting holiday country at the moment and the Mediterranean's new love. Eurostat has ranked Albania as Europe's cheapest holiday destination. There are miles and miles of beautiful beaches. The water is azure and the rock formations long beach is interrupted by small, hard to reach coves and bays.
One can find very small isolated beach beads, says Cecilie Endresen, who has both lived and traveled extensively in the country. When we visited the southwestern coast in the fall, we could walk for miles along the deserted alleys of Dhermi almost without seeing people. Then we went to the beach, which was a mixture of sand and pebbles, was interrupted by a rock that cut into the sea, we climbed up on it, to see what was behind it. Then there appeared a small, magnificent bay, which was surrounded by dense forests and steep cliffs. To our surprise, there was a single man sunbathing nude there. These formations are typical of the Albanian coast.
If you want a quiet holiday with virgin beaches, it's perfect here. This is the final secret on this planet, it's lovely, but no one knows about it, says Romeo Bollano, as we met at his bar in Himara.
The lower half of the southwest coast is very nice, in some of these beaches you can get snow blindness, because the sand is so white, said Endresen who have apartments in Saranda, which she describes as "a nice little beach town with a nice boardwalk, fine restaurants and an old castle with spectacular views. "
The beauty is, however, disturbed by trash. In many places flowing garbage. At the same time semi-finished and dilapidated houses in a row. This is very far from a tourist grooming machine.
The coastline varies from the finest sandy beaches to pebbles. What you do is to put on your walking shoes, pack lunch and go on a picnic, says Marit Endresen, mother of Cecilia, who because of her daughter's interest in the country also began to go there - she fell in love with Albania.
The beaches are fantastic in the Ionian coast, said the Norwegian businessman Kjell Høibraaten, who has been living in Albania since 1993.Nature, Albania's rich history, mythology, the quality and prices of food and drinks. You can pick the fish from the sea, olive oil from olive trees and the cheese from the goats, he said.
You can find the most beautiful small restaurants with fantastic seafood, and eat and drink what you can bear for a little more then ten bucks says Marit Endresen.
Besides, you can safely eat and the food is really good and very cheap. The accommodations are clean and neat.
April and May and September are my favorite months in Albania, says Cecilie Endresen. When we visited the coast in October, there were still people swimming at the beaches and it was warm enough to sunbathe.
Albania is safe
Albania has gained a reputation as being closely linked to criminal gangs. But Albania is not a scary destination. Albania is safe, you can leave your wallet there and it is not taken. According to their culture, the most important thing is to take care of the guests, says Marit Endresen. Albanians are very excited to tourists. They go out of their skin to help foreigners and make them feel good, says Cecilie Endresen.
The traffic in Albania is not like in Norway, but the country has received several new, large and fine roads in recent years.It is very easy to drive in Albania, but you have to drive defensively, because it is one of the toughest states to run in. They did not have a driving culture for more than 20 years, and it pops out people and animals everywhere. You have to follow the main road and not stray into the roads, says Marit Endresen that run around a lot in Albania.
If you're young and looking for party and beach, Albania has also something to offer.Dhermi is where young people should go and enjoy the night life. It's like Ibiza. A couple of years ago, DJ Tiesto organized a concert at the beach and there were approx. 25 000 people participating. Albania has also the cheapest beer in Europe, according to pintprice.com
Combine your beach holiday with culture and history
Albania is fantastic for those interested in history and culture.Cecilie Endresen, who has researched extensively on Albania, points to the following locations:
- Gjirokastra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is very mystical, with its stone streets of the tiny old town.
- Berati is a borgby with lots of nice, small and narrow streets. The place looks a bit like Greek cities, with black-clad widows and white brick houses.
- In the north, among other things, there is a valley called Valbona, which is spectacular and it reminds me of the Norwegian national romanticism.
- Tirana, with lots of color everywhere. The city probably has the major number of bars per capita in the world, lots of good and very cheap restaurants, cozy cafes and people - as well as an interesting and rare opportunity to see the old Communist statues, now lined up in the garden behind the National Gallery.
- Høibraaten also identifies opportunities to go hiking in very nice terrain north of the country, between Thethi and valbonadalen.
Getting to Albania:
By air to the Albanian capital, Tirana, and then 3-4 hours in a car down to the southwestern coast of Albania.A number of airlines fly to Tirana. From Oslo you can fly through several different European cities.In the summer, flying from Norway to Corfu. From Corfu there is a ferry to Saranda and Himara. It only takes 25 minutes to Saranda.
Ryanair flies to Athens, the Greek capital. From Athens you can take an hour flight to Ioannina, which is a half hour drive from Saranda.
Both Norwegian and SAS flies directly to Rome. From Italy there are a number of ferries to Albania. From Bari, Ancona and Trieste to Durres. From Brindisi to Vlora and from Bari to Shengjin.
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