Tag Archives: beach

Albania

One week in Albania

After our whirlwind trip through Italy, we decided that we needed a beach break where we could settle in one place for a little while. We arrived in Tirana, the capital of Albania, and decided to stay a night. We were really surprised at the hospitality of the people and the food was delicious.

Traditional Albanian food:

Meatballs in a light gravy
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Albanian style grilled veg
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Hot feta dip

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Albania gets a bad rap from a lot of the other Balkan countries. A few people we met asked us why we would even bother going there. But we are so glad we did.

One night in the capital was enough and we headed straight to the coast. The town of Saranda was a lovely surprise. A bit touristy but still very pretty, cheap accommodation and lovely seafood.

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We rented beach umbrellas and lazed on the beach for two days before we made the journey to the more secluded, less touristy and highly recommended Himare.

We were not disappointed. The bus ride itself was spectacular. The coastline is pristine all along the coast. The road was a bit hairy at times and the bus took about 5 hours to go 100km but we got there in the end.

Himare is a stretch of two beautiful beaches with the clearest water, tahitian style beach umbrellas and a handful of restaurants and hotels.

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There was virtually no one there. Apparently it was still ‘off season’ but the weather was perfect every day and the sun was ‘Australian summer’ hot at midday.

Each day we would wake up in our gorgeous hotel room and pop down for a cooked brekky knowing that we would have the whole beach to ourselves. Have I mentioned that Albania is inexpensive? Our hotel room was pretty impressive for 25euro a night. And it must be the only place in Europe where the beach umbrellas are free!

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At night we would pick one of the few restaurants to get a cheap bite to eat at. By far our favourite was the Greek restaurant situated between the two beaches. It was painted all white and had a giant deck that was perched over the ocean with beautiful night views of the surrounding bay.

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The owner told us that the menu consists of whatever his mother had prepared that morning.

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We were stuffed to the brim of fresh, delicious greek style food (and a few beers) before we made our way home.

The sunsets were breathtaking, the food was absolutely delicious and we were really sorry we had only three days to enjoy it all.

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But our beach holiday was to continue with our friends in Greece so we had to drag ourselves away and make the trip across the Albanian border.

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The Algarve

Lagos —> Faro

Our spirits continued to climb after Lisbon. We travelled down to the famous Algarve coast where we spent the next few days in Lagos. Apparently in summer, Lagos turns into an Australian party town. As soon as we arrived we immediately felt relaxed. The town had a ‘surfy vibe’ and the weather was glorious. The hostel owner picked us up from the bus station in his old van and it was so refreshing to see the seats and floor covered in sand from a morning trip to the beach.

The hostel we were staying in didn’t provide us with dinner each night. This proved to be a nice change as the kitchen was well-stocked and it was fun going down to the supermarket and buying our own ingredients. We could make nice big salads and eat a few of the things that we were craving after travelling and eating out for so long. The other guests staying at the hostel had the same idea so we would eat together each night and play cards whilst watching the Sochi Olympics. We loved watching the Canadians jumping out of their seats and screaming at the computer screen when their ice hockey team made the finals.

In the mornings one of the girls running the hostel would make us banana pancakes and serve up deliciously strong coffee. We felt so much at home that Adam decided to investigate whether there were any judo clubs in the area. There happened to be one just up the road from our hostel so one night he went and joined in the training session. I’ve never seen him so excited and he had a great time making new friends and seeing how the Spanish do it.

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On our first day in Lagos, we went down through the old town which is gorgeous and stacked full of restaurants lining its cobblestone streets. At the very edge of town is where the famous Algarve cliffs begin and you can walk for hours along the edge and stopping at each of the little coves.

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We had packed our bags with our lunch, plenty of water, towels and swimmers and spent at least three hours wandering the little paths that line the cliffs.

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Sometimes they got a bit hairy in places or came to a dead end but we didn’t mind. It was such a nice way to pass the time as the weather was fantastic and the views were spectacular.

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We didn’t make it into the water but the t-shirts were out and we both had to put on sunscreen which was a nice change.

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On our second day there we hired a scooter for 25 euros and spent the day scootering up the coast.

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It was absolutely beautiful and each little town had its own vibe. Adam got used to the road rules quite quickly and we stopped at a surf beach in a town called Sagres and ate our sandwiches whilst we watched the hardcore surfers riding waves in towards the rocky cliffs.

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On our way home we were stopped by a policeman and after we got over our initial fears, we had a nice chat with him in broken English. He breathalysed Adam, checked his licence and moved us on.

Lagos gave us a little bit of respite from tourist days where you go and see monuments and wander around big cities with loads of people. We visited at a good time in the year as foreign tourists were scarce.

It was sad to leave sunny Lagos, but we moved on to Faro and spent another three days relaxing in the sunshine and exploring Portugal’s fabulous coastline.