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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

21 May 2018

Fraught

30 April 2018

Final day in Albania, and we were now wandering up the Ionian coast. Seen from the cliffside road, the sea really is as wine-dark as Homer claimed.

The wine dark sea

The wine dark sea


Our first stop was Ali Pasha’s castle, on a tiny causeway-connected island in a bay. This famous despot and acquaintance of Lord Byron had dogged our steps all trip; he ruled from Gjirokaster at one point, and had another castle near Butrint. His seaside fort, mixing up Napoleonic and Ottoman ideas in my head (he’s said to have executed the French architects who designed it for him), was very atmospheric.
Inside Ali Pasha's castle

Inside Ali Pasha’s castle


The rest of the coast was pretty without being quite magic. We stopped in the forest for a kilo of spit-roast kid with salty baked cheese. Yeah, literally a kilo of meat on a plate. I thought it was some kind of “market price” thing, like with fish. But apparently this is normal in Albania. From what I’ve seen so far, I get the impression that most eating out in Albania is families and groups of friends (rather than couples) and ordering 3 or 4 dishes to be shared around is the norm. Hence, a kilo of meat. Which turned out to be a poor choice, as a couple of hours hence I would be making a dash to the loo. This was at Apollonia, a Roman site on a sunny hilltop surrounded by the flat coastal plain. It had a few more visible structures than Antigonea but didn’t have the impressive and lonely situation. Indeed, it seemed busy for what it is – probably because it’s a day trip from Tirana.
Apoollonia

Apoollonia


The final stretch up to the ferry at Durres turned out to be unnecessarily fraught. We didn’t quite have enough petrol, so I just put 500 lek in the tank to add a couple of litres. Except they didn’t register on the display. So as we got to the ferry port it was reading 0km. Cue a mad dash to find another petrol station just to make sure, which then caught us in the confusing one-way system. Finally, petrol. 500 lek more… which also didn’t register. So we were driving around Durres to get checked into the ferry and drop off the car with the tank showing zero the whole time. And the kilo of kid was still making itself felt urgently.

Still, we made the ferry in plenty of time and after a dispiriting plate of ferry food we settled down on our tiny bottom bunk in our tiny cabin to sleep through the journey across the Adriatic sea to Puglia in Italy.


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