Round trip through Albania (4/4)

South coast beaches

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The last stage of the tour of Albania leads from ancient Butrint, over the stands of Ksamil along the Albanian coast to the Llogara pass. Diverse days lie ahead.

After the cultural days in Berat and Gjirokastra , the relaxing part of the trip is coming. My dear rental car has already carried me far and can now also rest a little. I want to enjoy the sea on the beaches around Ksamil. I am not the type of beach, but I am trying again to see if my opinion has changed since the last beach vacation. The blue waters of the Ionian Sea are tempting. The island of Corfu is almost within reach. I got it well by accident. Hell is going on here until the end of August. I arrive punctually two days after the end of the season and can enjoy empty beaches. Well, almost empty. There is still a lot going on, but according to the landlord family of my apartment, it can be much worse.

I try different beaches in the morning and in the evening. In the middle of the small peninsula of Ksamil, the authorities have closed a beach bar and freed the beach from loungers and parasols. It's sandy here, I don't find it so sandy on any other beach. But it is full during the day. So I prefer to rent a couch and a parasol for a few euros. When I come here the first evening, the beach is deserted. There is nothing else I can do but tear off my T-shirt and go for a swim. In retrospect, this is the most beautiful moment in the four days of the beach. All other beaches are not mine. Either with small stones, with large stones or simply concreted. How can you do this to yourself? A rhetorical question to myself and the note to myself: "Avoid the beach in tourist strongholds".


A map with the travel route for zooming, clicking and looking and also for download can be found under the original link .

I skilfully escape the sun with a small dive. Spontaneously I find a diving school and let myself be jettisoned in the bay of Ksamil with a diving instructor and another guest. An old patrol boat of the Albanian Navy is waiting for us. We dive around the boat several times and play Leo and Kate on the Titanic. Fun is also possible under water.

It continues just as fun on the water. It is a bit windy and wavy when I jump on the jet ski. It won't be as fun as I remember from previous trips. The waves are just uncomfortable and when I want to go a little further I am caught again. I deliver the thing earlier than agreed and am a bit frustrated.

It gets interesting and historic in Butrint. The city is now in ruins but testifies to a once magnificent city that had many landlords. The Greeks and Illyrians settled here first. The city belonged to the Epirus region, which stretched across the Balkans and Greece .

The city is incredibly interesting for me, since I visited the ancient theaters in Epirus last year and Butrint did not complete the picture, but continued to complete it. The theater in Butrint is wonderfully preserved and is the focus of the visit.

With the beginning of the Roman Protectorate in 228 BC, the city continued to grow and soon had water problems. A huge aqueduct soon connected the city on the peninsula to the opposite mainland and the city flourished. When the Slavs invaded the region in the 8th century, things started to go downhill with the city. Nevertheless, buildings and a new basilica were still built. The city remained contested for centuries. The Venetians occupied the city, at which time the castle complexes were built, which ensured the shipping traffic through the street of Corfu.

After that came the Ottomans and Butrint fell apart over time. Excavations only began at the beginning of the 20th century and exposed many parts of the peninsula and the buildings. A circular route leads me past the impressive ruins. Towards the end, almost on the summit, there is the small fortress and the museum, which shows the history and origins of the city.

Similar to the triangular fortress of the Venetians in Butrint, the Porto Palermo castle is also designed in a triangular form. It is about 65 kilometers by car north of Butrint. After all, 1.5 hours drive through the Ceraunische Mountains following the SH8. The road is in very good condition and the view over the Ionian Sea and from the Llogara Pass the Adriatic Sea. The fortress is located on a small peninsula that is separated from the mainland by an arm of the beach. I leave the beach on the left and stumble the bad footpath towards the fortress.

Inside, it takes a lot of imagination to harmonize the rooms and their functions. In return, the roof offers a beautiful panoramic view of the Ionian Sea and the mountain range on the mainland. Not far from Porto Palermo I take a room in Ilias and go to the "insider tip" Gjipe Beach. By car it is first a perfect but unfortunately single-lane road towards the sea. In the end, a bumpy parking lot awaits me and less than 25 minutes walk to the beach of dreams. The stand is not that lonely after all, but definitely very pleasant and quiet with its small gravel on the beach and sandy bottom in the water. No fixed couches, no fixed parasols. I only visit the Gjipe Canyon on the first 400 meters from the beach. According to my research, the entire route through the canyon to the road can only be done with climbing equipment. I don't want to do that. I enjoy the gentle waves on my air mattress and let myself drift towards sunset.

The next and last day in Albania I cross the Llogara pass and stop at the new park information. I take a little hike here to get a last breath of mountain air. It is quiet on the small path to the Caesar viewpoint. The short circular route is also deserted, but well marked. I'm told that other hikes need a guide, but there's a pile of signposts in one corner of the information center. I'm excited to see how the region will be next year. Perhaps it will offer even more hikers like me a home.

My tour through Albania ends with a view of the sea. I'm a little sad that I have to go home again. Now that I have fun driving again and am enriched with a wonderful travel destination. Albania may not be obvious at first glance, but people have done it to me. When I was slightly sick, I was offered an aspirin in a restaurant, when I was looking for the way, everything was left standing and dropped and I was taken to my destination. The food is fantastic: the cuisine from fish to meat and salad is very varied and sumptuous. Nature, the mountains and the lakes offer everything that hikers and adventurers want, plus the variety in the many historic and ancient cities. I was looking for variety and found it here!

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