While I’ve enjoyed this trip through the Balkans immensely, I keep telling Dan that we’re going to have to do it all over again. With a car. Yes it’s the perfect place to hitchhike, but it would be even more perfect for a road trip! Because oh how many times did I stare longingly out the window wishing we could stop for a photo, or turn off onto that windy road to see where it leads.
Well, longing stares begone, we rented a car!
We rented this car from Albania Car Rentals at Tirana Airport. We could have gotten a car for half the price from a global chain, but they all require credit cards, which neither Dan nor I is apparently grown up to have ever bothered getting. Whoops. But if you do have a credit card you can save 10% on car rental in Albania with this link.
But who knew that driving in our own (for the week) car would feel like such a luxury? Is this what being a grown up feels like?
Atlas in hand and a full week to drive wherever we wanted we did what any proper grown up would do: Google the world’s most
dangerous adventurous roads, find one in Albania, and get on it.
Lucky for us, this road happens to start in the Ottoman town of Berat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site nicknamed the “town of a thousand windows.” In fact, Berat might just well be Albania’s most beautiful town (Albania is more about the stunning landscapes than superb architecture and city planning).
After stuffing ourselves with some tasty Albanian food we hopped back in our car and headed onto the SH74. Now, this is the main road heading south from Berat and if you look at the map it looks like it must be a highway:
Except that in real life the road actually looks like this:
Okay, not actually.
This was just the start of the road – the part where we could still see people driving on it. Most of the 75 kilometer stretch to Këlcyrë was much worse. Think impossibly deep holes and ditches, and lots and lots of rocks and mud.
I wish I could have photographed the worse bits, but Dan was far too stressed about getting the car through to tolerate my blogger habits. And Dan never gets stressed.
I mean, it was our fault for choosing to take the “adventurous” route. But stress aside, the drive did come with some spectacular views!
After the first 5-10 kilometers, the only living souls we saw were these guys ^^
But as we approached Këlcyrë we started to pass some villages which though at first appearing to be totally abandoned, turned out to still have a few houses with people in them in amongst the vacant (half fallen down) buildings. What a place to live!
No but seriously, what a place to live. So remote, but oh so beautiful.
This was the last photo I took, because as you’ll notice, the sun was setting. Which meant really bad news for us, because those potholes would have been impossible get across in the dark.
Luckily we made it onto a paved road just before darkness really set in, and oh my goodness, how I suddenly appreciated the man-made wonder of paved roads! Seriously, how clever are we humans? (Or you know, those humans who come up with clever things like that).
An absurd number of hours after having set off from Tirana we finally arrived in Sarandë, thoroughly exhausted. But what better way to quickly regain our energy than to wake up the next morning to this gorgeous view?
Our week on the Albanian Riviera was set to be positively magical!
(And yes, that is a bunker Dan is standing on. Because Albania.)
Would you have taken the adventurous route or headed straight for the beach?