This morning we we’re treated to a continental breakfast that was filled with different traditional Albanian breakfast options. But, today breakfast wasn’t the first thing you noticed when you walked in it was the amazing view. Where you sat to have breakfast had an over look that you could see the whole city and the Ionian Sea.
After everyone had breakfast and was ready our group headed off to see some ancient ruins. The city where the ruins lay is called Butrint which has been turned in to a National Park. This settlement dates back to the 4th century BC. What we saw within the walls spans two thousand years. With our group there was a secondary site with this park, we all made a friend with a four legged dog named “Gandolph”.
Gandolph is a stray golden retriever mix that wasn’t in the best shape. The site of a stray animal is not a normal site in the U.S. but in Albania they are everywhere. There are no animal shelters so dogs and cats run free. This was a hard site to see as Americans because they aren’t treated well at all. Before anyone worries no one touched our furry friend but we all became close to him. Gandolph followed us around from the start he never whined or barked he truly seemed like a guide that was taking us around his home. He would stop and wait for everyone to leave one area before he would walk slowly behind. We all would look back to make sure he was coming. All of us didn’t want to leave him behind after we made it through the ruins some of us wanted to take him back to the U.S. to give this sweet dog a better life. After the nice walk around the ruins we took a boat ride.
Our tour guide Zef arranged a boat ride with a local fishing boat to take a scenic boat ride of an outlet of the Ionian Sea. At first when we saw the small fishing boat we didn’t believe that we would fit thirteen people; but once everyone was situated in their seat we took off. The sites we saw were breath taking. This was a time where everyone just looked out on to the water and just relaxed for the first time in awhile. When we reached the point that we needed to turn around we found out that across the clear blue water was Greece. There were a few comments that we should hope over and see that country as well.
After we docked and said thank you to the captain for taking us out we saw our friend Gandolph again. But we were headed off to lunch to have some fruit of the sea or known better as seafood.
After lunch we ran back to the hotel to get ready for one of the experiences that we wanted to have, which was jumping into the Ionian Sea. Everyone put on their bathing suits and sandals and we headed towards the rocky beach. All of the beaches in Albania have a rocky shore line so no white sand beaches. All of us were a little nervous about how cold the water would be, but, everyone wanted to say that they had been in a part of the Mediterranean Sea. The guys were the first to take the plunge then followed by the ladies. The water wasn’t as cold as everyone expected it to be and the worst part was the rocky bottom. Following all of the pictures and selfies that the group wanted to take we were off to another castle.
We sat on top of a mountain and had an amazing view of the city from above. This castle had many communist bunkers that were built to “save” civilians from attacks. Everyone took pictures of the amazing views.
After we took a walk through the Sarandra at night to see a different perspective. We were looking for a late night coffee and dinner. We stopped and hung outside by the water for two hours. Estela wanted to share one of her favorite fast food meals we ate what we know as Gyros which normally comes with two types of meat chicken and pork.
When we got back to the hotel we all hung out as a group and got ready for an early start back to the capital city