A week before Christmas, Julien had a couple of days off, so we rented a car and drove south, first to Berat, to visit an ancient citadel, then to a mountain pass for a bit of snow and a view of the sea. Wouldn’t you know, as soon as we decided to go on a trip, the fine weather turned rainy and drear.
Because the roads are so poor and hazardous, we arrived after dark in Berat. It was chilly out but the constant rain had stopped, so we decided to walk around the newer part of the city where our hotel was. When I say “newer,” I only mean in relation to the citadel. We stayed in the “old” city where the streets are still paved with stones and the houses are several centuries years old, made of white stone in traditional (at least for this part of the country) Albanian style. How charming after all the soulless concrete of Tirana! See photos of that night walk here.
Sadly, the next day, the rain came back with a vengeance.
I felt like a wimp asking at the hotel if we could take the car up to the citadel. I didn’t know how far it was, I just knew it was uphill. It turned out to be very uphill--so uphill our car almost didn’t make it because it couldn’t get traction on the wet paving stones--and very far uphill. By the time we reached the top, my wimpiness had a nice rosy glow of smug about it.
We paid the entry fee and set out at a swift clip to explore because the rainy had a decidedly frosty nip to it. An Albanian followed us and offered his services as a guide. We accepted, and he obviously felt the nip, too, because he proceeded to take us on a speedy tour.
Please forgive my photographs. Not only were the gray skies unforgiving in the light department, I was trying to take pictures while holding an umbrella in a contrary, capricious wind. First two panoramas:
See? Very uphill. :P
There was a lovely Orthodox church that survived the destruction of the Communist regime that obliterated an obscene number of mosques, churches, cathedrals, tombs, synagogues, etc. I believe the number was something like
A typical door knocker in the village citadel, which is still inhabited by some tenacious Albanian families and guesthouses.
And a collection of black and white photos because, really, the day's light was horrible, sapping the color and life out of everything:
If you want to keep following me, I have more in store for you...
After a very small rant, that is. ;)