Compared to other means of transport, traveling by car has an immeasurable advantage: freedom. Freedom to decide times, rhythms, stops and stops.
In Albania traveling by car (cycling would be even better, but do you want to put fatigue and baggage?) Is the only way to enjoy beauties that otherwise ...
From Berat (of which I say after) we're going to Zvernec, locality of the lagoon natural reserve of Vlora-Narta, where there is a small island with a Greek Orthodox monastery.
Just before arriving, an unexpected event.
A pink stripe, a giant salt pan.
There is wind at the edge of the roadway.
It is like stopping time for a moment and feeling catapulted into an alien elsewhere.
This stop was not planned.
But it's a charm.
The car navigator does not know the roads, it does as it pleases.
It makes us cross a bad stretch of road to get from Narta to Zvërnec.
An abandoned industrial area, shabby, holes and chasms that force the cars to make real gimkane.
And then there is the pine forest, beautiful: fresh and balsamic smell.
It is a pity that there is no maintenance.
The trees bent towards the center of the roadway are scary.
Some are literally broken and rest on other trees. (I foreshadow a catastrophic domino effect).
Also towards the island of Zvërnec neglect dominates: it is not so much the dirt and dusty road, as are the heaps of rubbish at the edges, the few bins overflowing.
The island, a bubble in the middle of the lagoon, is connected to the mainland by a wooden pier that at one point forks: a bridge segment leads to a platform, the ideal location for wedding photographs.
(how many brides! One here, more than one for each castle, in Berat, in Argirocastro, another pair on the steps of the Albanian College in Durres. All beautiful. I wonder. Are the photos contextual to the ritual? Only the spouses and photographers .Intimate underwear).
The walk on the bridge is lovely.
The Byzantine monastery is very pretty, even if there is an air of abandon.
To the side a small cemetery, and a little beyond a chicken coop.
Under the roof of the anonymous building on the other side of the church, a zompetta turkey. The few tourists are discreet.
The sound of the wind covers every noise.
There is a suspended atmosphere.
I would like to be a bird. From Orikum (a very ugly town, with a wide beach at its feet, bordered by the Karaburun peninsula, which I will not be able to explore), continue on the state road to get to Qeparo.
The Llogara pass
You must cross the step of LLogara, at an altitude of over 1000 meters.
Winding, with very steep slopes, the SH8 is a slow and wonderful road.
The landscape is extraordinary. From the mountain to the sea in the blink of an eye.
For a while it seems to be in the Alps, thick woods, vertical mountainous walls, a pungent coolness.
Then to serpentine towards the sea, curves that are balconies on the blue.
The coast from Palase to Qeparo is a succession of bays, inlets, glimpses of beaches (who knows how to get there).
The sea has all the shades of blue and blue.
Who cares if it takes two hours to cover about fifty kilometers.
I wish they lasted longer.
However, the villages that you cross are crowded with houses, buildings, cars and people.
Porto Palermo is a small peninsula on which stands the castle of Alì Pascià, a triangular-shaped fortification, with towers at the corners. It is well preserved and can be visited at the modest sum of 100 lek, just under one euro.
A donkey with a cowbell grazes quietly on the sides of the rocky path that leads to the fortress.
However, access to the beaches of the isthmus and the castle is not kept well. Skeletons of buildings, perhaps former factories, brushwood, a small Orthodox church closed with a bolt (attached to the door there is a telephone number) in an advanced state of degradation, debris and pieces of iron in the bushes and the sea.
The sea is of a transparency that impresses.
The water is frozen, really cold. Risking a syncope, I begin to dive.
(slowly, an inch of skin at a time. But how wonderful).
A Qeparo the sea is not crystal clear like in Porto Palermo, but it has a variety of colors that impresses.
The seabed is low, and it goes from pebbles to a large-stone area, then you get to a shoal of very fine white and soft sand and finally, with increasing depth, the seabed has dunes with algae bushes, all regular.
It looks like a sown field.
An underwater camp.
A seafront was built in Qeparo.
It is a wide pedestrian street between the cluster of houses and the beach that continues far beyond the town, following the coastline to the mountain.
It still climbs for a few hundred meters and suddenly stops in front of the rocky wall.
It is a beautiful walk, especially in the most isolated part.
There is a stream and a bridge, the ruins of an old mill (this is how Google translates the writing on the stones of one of the walls).
A shepherd from SH8, through a gap in the guard rail leads the flock to the stream.
From the low wall of the waterfront I watch the sheep hurtling towards the gutter, and then obediently ascending the little escarpment under the shepherd's command.
On my journey I did not meet herds and flocks on the road.
I saw some free cows at the edge of the roadway.
One nursed the calf, another grazed among the open garbage bags that had come out of an overflowing dumpster.
Even chickens I saw scratching free in the trash.
Perhaps it would have been better not to see.
Syri i Kaltër
Syri i kaltër it is another natural wonder of Albania.
It is a karst spring, a whirlwind of white and turquoise waters and blue gurgling in a lake surrounded by lush plants.
It really looks like an open eye in the lake.
Disturbing, of an unusual and fascinating beauty.
As much as the photographs and videos found on the net can be eloquent [one thinks of retouching, of the photoshop, of filters] - seeing it with one's own eyes is something else entirely.
It can be reached via a dirt road, a few kilometers of dust and stone bounces. Many visitors come to the nature reserve.
A long line of cars, so many that finding a parking space is not easy.
Even some motorcycles - very few I have seen on the roads, on this to the two motorcyclists a shower is not enough to remove the dust.
The lake and the forest are beautiful, but there are no paths that would allow the visit.
From the parking lot, a few hundred meters and you are in front of the eye, hacked by hundreds of divers, divers, bathers [You could not, you should not. But nobody brakes, nobody sanctions], scoured by thousands of cell phones and cameras, swirling background of countless selfies.
A crowd concentrated on the banks and clinging to the narrow walkways and platforms, for a hit and run between the spreading to the sea and the visit of Gjirokastra, just to the north.
But on the other hand, once you get to the blue eye, there is little to do, if you do not admire the source and take short stretches to reach one of the two refreshment centers and camp there.
[in the short section between the eye and one of the restaurants, on the leaves, almost camouflaged with closed and narrow wings, an electric blue butterfly.
His flight is a color sketch in the air]
Not only the eye, but the entire nature reserve deserves attention (and deserves a much broader and more responsible use. In addition to greater controls, the circumnavigation of the lake through paths would, I believe, dilute the ecstatic mass.)
Zvërnec, Porto Palermo, Syri i kaltër.
Neither unattainable nor secret.
But the outline ...
The shells that contain them should be scraped off the incrustations.
Travel to Albania
- Country of eagles and doves. Part 1
- Embarkation and disembarkation. Part 2
- Durazzo Tirana Durazzo. Part 3
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