Bicycle touring southern Albania: Gjirokastër to Lake Ohrid

During my first visit to Albania, it was cold and rainy with too much snow in the mountains for fun bicycle touring up high. Those mountains looked great from below. I knew I wanted to get back and check them out. Well, Jeff and I passed through a few mountains in southern Albania, and they certainly did not disappoint. Northern Albania is supposed to be even more spectacular. Another trip?

IMG_20220410_101538 by bryandkeith on flickr

We crossed the border and holed up in a restaurant for a few hours to wait out some fairly heavy rain squalls. Oh no, this seemed familiar! Not to worry. We ended up spending about a week in Albania, and that was the most it rained.

I was still low energy from being sick so I was happy to have Jeff pull me into Gjirokastër against a headwind. We might have beat the next squall had we not stopped to take photos of this bridge:

20220410_144143 by bryandkeith on flickr

UNESCO-listed Gjirokastër was our culture/tourist/city stop in Albania. It’s famous for the fortress-like mansions built during the Ottoman period.

IMG_20220411_095013 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220410_182410 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220411_100321_3 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220411_142944_6 by bryandkeith on flickr

The çarşı area was a bit overdone.

IMG_20220410_190349 by bryandkeith on flickr

We visited one of the mansions (Zekate House) and saw this fireplace:

IMG_20220411_144039 by bryandkeith on flickr

If it all looks a bit like stuff you might see in Turkey, well, yes, that’s true. It’s similar in many ways, but I’ve never seen mansions quite like those in Gjirokastër.

IMG_20220411_100402 by bryandkeith on flickr

The breakfast at our hotel was certainly something like you might expect in Turkey:

IMG_20220411_080353 by bryandkeith on flickr

and we even found the Bektaşi Tekkesi (dervish lodge, you might say):

Gjirokastër's Bektaşi Tekke by bryandkeith on flickr

Jeff and I took a short walk out to Ali Paşa’s Bridge (really a bridge?)

IMG_20220411_110822 by bryandkeith on flickr

where a couple guys were quite casually and seemingly rather dangerously clearing the vegetation:

IMG_20220411_113106 by bryandkeith on flickr

The rest of our days in Albania were all about the wonderful scenery.

IMG_20220412_103102 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220412_114211 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220412_165447 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220413_090010 by bryandkeith on flickr

Permet seemed like a nice town:

20220412_143217 by bryandkeith on flickr

as did Petran:

20220412_155830 by bryandkeith on flickr

as did Ersekë:

IMG_20220414_115829 by bryandkeith on flickr

as did Korçë:

IMG_20220414_170642_5 by bryandkeith on flickr

I don’t know what else to say about the scenery except to show a bunch more photos.

IMG_20220413_113348 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220413_084001 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220413_092246 by bryandkeith on flickr
20220413_090826 by bryandkeith on flickr
20220414_124434 by bryandkeith on flickr

Thanks, Albania, till next time, I guess.

IMG_20220414_180905 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220411_192411 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220411_200736 by bryandkeith on flickr
20220413_121211 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20220412_140338 by bryandkeith on flickr
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3 Responses to Bicycle touring southern Albania: Gjirokastër to Lake Ohrid

  1. Mike Painter says:

    Albania was always a mysterious country when I was growing up, with its controlled politics. It’s nice to see all these wonderful pictures.

    • Bryan Keith says:

      Yes, I agree, but Albania’s been open for about 35 years now! When I was growing up, Yugoslavia caught my attention more than Albania, perhaps because the Olympics were held in Sarajevo the same year they were held in Los Angeles. SE Europe is a fantastic destination for tourists.

  2. Curt Bradner says:

    Looks like a great spring ride – Cathy and I are off to Spain in a couple of days – full summer and fall already planned (ever so roughly) for a lot of travel through fall – nice to have all of Europe outside my front door.
    Portuguese language is coming well, though comprehension of spoken language is still difficult – working on it!

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