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 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.
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.
Follow my career gap travels from London through Europe and Asia to the Pacific, then on to the Middle East and Europe. Photographs and text copyright Dave Irvine 2009 to 2015, all rights reserved. You can e-mail me via my profile: