For as long as I can remember, my summers have always included a trip to nearby, beautiful cities of Albania. Long walks in the beach, volleyball playing with neighbours, big lunches, long hikes, and warm, sunny days are just a few of my favourite memories. Perhaps this explains why often in the midst of school assignments, work, and other responsibilities I find myself daydreaming about this magical and beautiful country.
A short distance to Albania has provided me with numerous opportunities to visit this amazing country, which is something I always took for granted. However, upon travel to Canada and encounter with new friends at Quest, I have realized that this part of the world remains unknown to many poeple. Thus, I figured that Quest blog is a good opportunity to introduce some people with this country, such as its location, culture, food, famous beaches, and its best features. In addition, I want to write some of my favourite things to do when visiting coastal cities of Albania like Sarande.
Some quick and short details about Albania are neccessary, according to me, so that you get a clearer idea of what I am talking about. Albania is a country in South-Eastern Europe, which is bordered by Montenegro, Kosovo (my home country), Macedonia, and Greece. Even though a small country, with only around 11,000 m2, it has a coastline length of 476 km that extends along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The highest mountain is Korab, reaching up to 2,700 metres, which is well known for its panoramic views and amazing hiking trails. Albania is home to many national parks and world heritage centres including: Tomorr National Park, archaeological site of Butrint, ancient city of Apollonia, and more.
Even though famous for numerous things like mountains and ancient sites, Albania (in my opinion) has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Thus, in this blog I will focus mainly in its riviera which is well known for its beautiful beaches with crystal clear water. Lonely Planet ranked Albania as the no. 1 destination to be visited in 2011 and The New York Times ranked Albania fourth among 52 destinations to be visited in 2014. Some well-known beaches, featured in numerous websites and magazines, are: Karaburun Peninsula, Dafina Bay, Pasqyrat (Mirrors) Beach, and Tre Ishujt (Three Islands) Beach.
In the last four years, my family and I have began to explore southern Albania more often. There, we have found beautiful beaches, large monuments, famous museums, and the beautiful city of Sarande, which is situated in the open sea gulf of the Ionian Sea in the central Mediterranean. I have written a couple of blogs about this city, one of which you can find by clicking here. Some of my favourite things about Sarande are the calmness of the crystal clear sea, sunny mornings, busy streets with tourists, yoga in the beach, farmers’ markets with organic and local fruits, and old monuments and sites.
This summer, I spent most of July in Sarande; thus, I will use the last part of this blog writing down about my activities while staying there.
Each morning, upon waking up, I rushed to the balcony of the apartment where we stayed to view the skyline, hear the waves, and also do some stretching. Then, I would grab my yoga mat and go to the empty beach to do yoga, which allowed me to relax after one busy school year. I am so thankful that Quest offers yoga classes everyday, sometimes twice a day, since there I have learned so much about peace and tranquility. I have alsobeen able to share what I learned (and continue to learn) about yoga with my friends back home. Of course that I have written a bog about yoga at Quest, which you can find here.
And of course, each yoga session was followed by a trip to the farmer’s market of Sarande. A beautiful and clean maket, filled with organic and local fruits and vegetables. This was always my favourite part of the day. The colours of the fresh produce, the smiles of the shopkeepers, and the smell of fresh herbs remain unforgettable in my mind…
I hope that through this blog post I was able to give a clear introduction of Albania and its beautiful features. I look forward to exploring more countries and, hopefully, writing about them as well :).