Tuesday, 10 December 2013


Town of a thousand windows
Tuesday 4 June: Taking the bus south to the UNESCO World Heritage listed town of Berat, I'm lodging in a pleasant old Ottoman home, Lorenc Guesthouse, on the south bank of the river Osum. North of the river is Berat proper, a rare example of Ottoman architecture where a hilltop citadel, The Kale, defends the open town below. Tiered down the rocky mountainside the oblong houses have numerous south-facing windows to make maximum use of the prevailing sunshine, "the town of a thousand windows". It's a glum day but views from the fortress summit are spectacular.
Slideshow of Berat.

Monday, 9 December 2013


Skanderbeg's castle remains
Monday 3 June: I jump on the local bus for a trip to the nearby mountainside village of Kruja, once the home of Skanderbeg, Albania's national hero. Easily recognisable by his goat-head helmet he remains a symbol of Christian resistance against the Ottoman Turks. Little of the original castle still stands but the cloud-shrouded mountain landscape makes a pleasant break from busy city life.
Slideshow of Kruja.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Albania: Tirana

Generations of architectural styles
Finally, my laptop and I are up and running again!
Saturday 1 June: Not sure what I was expecting of Tirana, Albania's capital city, but it's a pleasant surprise with only the slight whiff of isolationist Communism remaining. Tirana's restaurants and bars are modern, trendy and full of emerging middle-class youngsters and with few beggars on the streets, and no hassles, it's a pleasant city to wander around before I retire to my cosy en-suite room in the comfortable Hotel Arleea.
Sunday 2: The green Skanderbeg square, surrounded by a whole range of architectural styles, is fantastic and the fresco-fronted national museum seems worth a visit, but disappointingly, it's full of little more than old religious icons. The Galerie E Arteve is far better with a fascinating collection of Communist era art as well as historic and modern impressions.
Wednesday 5 June: Back in Tirana again I dine, for the last time, in my favourite restaurant, Era. Great messes, rich red wine, I'm sad to leave.
Slideshow of Tirana.