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Rafal's Travel log

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Life is a journey - enjoy it

Log entries 121 - 130 of 197 Page: 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Jun 25, 2009 06:00 PM Along the Ionian coast

Along the Ionian coast Weather is not so great as I thought it will be. It was raining almost 4 hours in the morning. I couldn't even go for a breakfast. So when I decided to stay one day longer in Saranda sun started to shine wonderfuly. I quickly pacekd my bacpack and as there is nothing more to do longer than one in Saranda and decided to see some small vilages in the Albanian adriatic coast. There is a lot of minibuses leaving from Saranada to Vlora, I took the one at 2pm. I was surprised when the people told me that the road which has 120 kilometers will take about 6 hours... Road from the very begining is going up leaving wonderful landscapes to see. But when I could see the Adriatic sea cost the show has started (it was little bit like in Montenegro but more spectacular very often). Rough and high mountains, deep blue sea, islands on the horizon, from each corner I had better and better view. I wanted to stay in one of the two places - Himara or Dhermiu. Dhermiu is smaller so I stayed there. Village has great location, on the high mountins, 2 kilomteres down is very nice white beach, where I found my "Dhermiu hotel" (20 eur per single room). Beach is littered little bit. I spend the evening watching the sunset, eating apricots and drinking "Tirana" beer

Jun 24, 2009 06:00 PM Bunkers on the road to the Albanian sea cost resort

Bunkers on the road to the Albanian sea cost resort Saranda - even if this city is located only 60 kilomteres from Gijrokastra journeys take at least 1.5 hour. But what was a journey. At the begining we went through the Drin river valley, the we had to pass through the high mountains ( I even't don't know their name) to finally reach the city of Saranda which is located on the Ionian costs. From my entry to Albania almost everywhere I see the bunkers. Enver Hoxa (comunist leader) built 700 000 of them for each family in case of enemy attack (until today nobody knows who was the enemy). Right now they are looking ridiculous, but are part of the landscape. Saranda itself have a very nice location like horseshoe over the bay. City is suffering a little bit of uncontroled developement, so almost everywhere are unfinished buildings. I found quickly a hotel in the city centre (only 15 eur for single) and went to see ruins of the ancient city of Buthoros (now called Butrint). Place is located only 20 kilometers from Saranda, but it's not easy to find from where buses are leaving to the ruins. I have been told in TI that in front of Hotel Butrint is bus stop, but without help of some people I would not find it. Journey to Butrint takes 45 minute and lead through scenic coast with nice beaches and beautiful islands. Ancient city of Butrint surprised me a lot. I didn't expect to see so many ruins in so good condition. Baptistery, ancient theatre, ruins of basilica and venetian castle are really impressive. Come back to Saranda wasn't so easy. I had to wait 2.5 hours for a bus (don't believe if somebody will tell you that there is a minibus every 30 minutes). When I finally reached Saranda I could watch the wonderful Sunset over the Corfu island.

Jun 23, 2009 06:00 PM The stone city of Gijrokastra

The stone city of Gijrokastra It wasn't easy day. To get from Korca to Gijrokastra I had to take the bus at 6 am (there is only one bus per day), journey took 6 hours. Normally it should be very scenic road, through the high mountains, but unfortunately from the early morning I hadn't luck with the weather. Was raining heavily and very fpggy. So I used this time to read my guidebooks. Albania is different than Macedonia, much poorer. I could see even the people riding the donkey... When I arrived to Gijrokastra it has stopped raining for a while. City has a georgeus location, on a hill in front of the high mountains and the Drin river valley. It is also city where Enver Hoxha has been born. Thanks to than city gained from the begining the title of museum city and the old part of it hasmn't been touched by the comunist. Sometimes Girokastra is called the "stone city". On the top hill is located old fortress, which used to be a prison during the last century. Apart from that from the castle is stunning view over the city and surroundings. I also saw the "Zakate house" and old ottoman style house having three storeys (have been built in the 18th century). I spend a evening just soaking up the atmosphere in the old part of the city and driniking delicious turkish coffe.

Jun 22, 2009 06:00 PM I am in the Mercedes town :))

I am in the Mercedes town :)) Today was my last day in Macedonia, I packed my backpack and I went to see Sv. Naum monastery (every three hours there is direct bus from Ochrid, ticket costs 100 denars one way, journey takes 45 minutes very scenic road). Sveti Naum was an curiosity for me. Church rises on a hill above the lake surrounded by the buildings of the Hotel Sv Naum which has taken over the old monastery complex. Church has remains coming from 9th century and is really worth to see. From there I went 2.5 kilometers to the Albanian border in 35 degrees heat. First town after the border is city Pogradec, but I wanted to goo as soon as I can to the southern part of Albania. But I could reach only Korca, city which is not mentionned in any of my guidebooks, but from where I have a bus tomorrow to Gijokastra. I stayed in Grand Palace Hotel (only for 18 euro single room). But I had a funny situation when I received few times a keys to the rooms occupied by somebody else. Sixth room was this one for me :)) Today there are some manifestations in Korca, but I am going to keep away from them.
Funny thing that I noiticed in Albania is popularity of Mercedes cars. 80% of all cars in Albania are from this brand.... Doesn't matter if it is old or new - it has to be Mercedes.

Jun 21, 2009 06:00 PM The bad boy has make a picture without paying

The bad boy has make a picture without paying I almost forgot how is to sleep more than 8 hours, but here in Ochrid I am starting to remember, the air here is so refreshing. Today I decided to see another atratcion of the southern Macedonia. I went to Bitola with its fabulous old district Carsija and Heraclea Lyncestis. There are buses from Ochrid to Bitola every three hours (ticket costs 200 denars, journey takes about 1.5 hour). At the begining I went to see ruins of the ancient city of Heraclea, which was founded 4th century BC. Ruins are not so impressive but remains of the mosiacs are awesome. Also party reconstructed amphiteater is impressive. Ticket for the entrance costs 100 and for makindg photos is hefty 300 denars. I am the bad boy because I made some pictures without paying. Other part of the city rather disapoint me, Carsija is less spectacular than this in Skopie. But I had ocasion there to try some traditional Macedonian dishes like Sarmi, Taratour, Tavce Gravce etc...

Jun 20, 2009 06:00 PM Rakija for the breakfast

Rakija for the breakfast When I arrived to Ochrid yesterday accomodation found me on the bus station. Lovely lady Kate proposed me a room for 10 euros only 15 minutes walk from the old town and lake. This morning when I woke up her husband called me and asked me to drink rakija (local firewater)with him, without any breakfast, after two rakijas I was "happy" from the early morning. Qucikly I ate a burek (meat in a filo pastry) and went to see lake. I read that Ochrid lake is one of the deepest and oldest on the european continent, then I went to see highlights of the city, Sb Sofija church with impressive frescoes (100 denars - entry fee), after I went to see Sv Jovan Caneo (100 denars entry fee) church located on the hihg rock with georgeous view over the town and a lake. When I was in the church huge storm has come, we have been waiting for the end of the storm in the XIII century church and we were listening religious music... I will remember for a long time this moment. After I wen to see new church of Sv Pantelejmon where finally stopped raining. The I went to see most beautiful Sveti Kliment church. Charming lady didn't charge me for an entrance fee. Frescoes here are in very good shape and she explained me interpretation of them, very close to this church is Car Samoil castle (honestly only the walls preserved till today) from where is great view over the lake. I came back to the port through the lake (some guy proposed me a ride for only 200 denars). This day I finished with tasty Tavce Gravce and local salad (sopska salata). I dont need more to bee happy.

Jun 19, 2009 06:00 PM Another perfect gem in the Balcan world

Another perfect gem in the Balcan world Skopie during the Ottoman era was the second important city in the European continent, after Constantinopol. Form that period is the part of the city called Carsija and dozen of the mosques. Carsija is picked with old houses, small restaurants and mosques. When I visited Sultan Murat mosque came to me an old man who showed me whole mosque, explained a history and took into a clock tower from where was a great view over a city. Just imagine this perfect gem of the mosuqes and churches. Then I went to see others landmarks of the city like: old turkish Inn called Kapan Ann (second one more interesting Kursumli Ann was closed), turkish baths converted into museum Czifte baths, Daud Pasha bats (this building is converted into Art Gallery, but still we can see remains of the baths architecture), Sveti Spas - old church built below ground, as during the turkish times none of the churches could be higher than a mosque, sv Dymitrij church - not very interesting from outside, but beautiful inside. Then I spent some time on the Vardar river banks, watching the city live and famous stone bridge. New part of the city built after earthquake in 1963 wasn't interesting for me. On the afternoon I took a bus (520 denars, 1 eur - 60 denars) and went to Ochrid. Journey took 3 hours and leads through fabulous mountains.

Jun 18, 2009 06:00 PM In the cacophony of the sounds

In the cacophony of the sounds It was a really nice day. I started my journey in early morning to arrive to Skopie at 3 in the afternoon, my flight was delayed. Good advice if you are coming to Skopie by plane, because there is no public transport you have to take a taxi, that should costs around 20 eur and it is better to take official taxi. I didn't and then had some problems with the driver who wanted more and more money. I was hard and paid only 20 eur, but situation wasn't too funny at the end. Quickly I found a hotel in the old part of the town. I paid only 15 eur for a single, and I went to soak up the atomsphere of the city. It was a lovely afternoon, I haven't visited any of the museum/churches/mosques, I only strolled aoround the old city, ate some balkan specialities and drunk a local wine. When I was coming back to my hotel there was cacophony of the sounds around me - live performance in the bar next door, prayers from the mosques and sounds from the discos...

Jun 17, 2009 06:00 PM Balcan odyssei part two

Balcan odyssei part two It is already tomorow, my next trip will start. Las year I visited for the first time Balcan world and I think that is amazing part of Europe, I felt in love with Bosnia or Montenegro. That was the reason why I decided to go there again. This time I will visit Macedonia and Albania. I am starting from Skopie to finish within two weeks in Tirana. What this adventure will bring me - I hope to meet great people, visit some monasteries, see Ochrid lake and to lost in time in Albanian cities....
So dear Globies, keep yours fingers crossed please.

May 24, 2009 06:00 PM Appenzell cheese

Appenzell cheese From early morning we had a great weather. In our guesthouse we had delicious breakfast. I tried for the first time the Appenzell cheese. It has quite strong smell but generally is very tasty. Not far from the Appenzell is Stein village where is cheese factory. We could see how the cheese is maked and read about production process. From Appenzell we went to Lichtenstein, one of the smalest european countries. Royal castle is the most interesting building in Vaduz, but is closed for the visitors, as the royal family still lives there. From Vaduz we went to Basel. Second largest city in the country with stunning Rathaus, beautifull cathedral and nice city squares. Basel is divided by Rhine river. We were very surprised when we saw people swimming in the river. From the Klein Basel is very fine panoramic view over the Rhine river and the old city dominated by the cathedral. That was the last place visited druing this unexpected but interesting journey.

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