Southeastern Europe

Shkodra: A Pizza and A Fortress

Shkodra (pop 135,612)

Republic of Albania

Republika e Shqipërisë 

May 11, 2015

Buongiorno,

Pizza. Pizza. Pizza!

Isn't there anything else to eat here in Northern Albania?

Apparently not.

My driver, Mr. Edmond * and I search and search and search for some local or traditional Albanian fare along the main pedestrian promenade here in Shkodra (Shkodër).   Finally we find an outdoor café and order, you guessed it, pizza.  We also order a salad and a meatball dish that passes for “local” food.

Butrint: Archaeological Site

Butrint

Albania

May 15, 2015

A Fascinating Day

Butrint is surely the quintessential archeological site of Southeastern Europe.

Butrint became an urban center in the 4th Century BCE and was settled for several centuries before that.  And even before that, this whole area was settled in prehistoric times. 

The ancient Greek tribe Chaonians, the Romans, Byzantines, Ostrogoths, Bulgarians, Venetians, and Ottomans all occupied Butrint over the centuries.   Even the French were here for a couple of years.  Finally, Albania gained its independence in 1912 and rightfully took possession of this ancient city.     

On the Road: Apollonia

Saranda

Albania

May 16, 2015

My Driver and Me

So here’s what happens:

Sometimes I ask my driver to stop at what I consider to be a particularly lovely spot.  For example, we find a quiet agricultural scene in the mountains and a lakeside retreat.

Occasionally my driver will insist on taking me to an important site.  The ancient city of Apollonia is his choice today.  The Greek columns are grand, of course, but I continue to be enthralled by the sculptures.  How is it possible to convert a hunk of solid marble into a costume of diaphanous gauze?

Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid

Macedonia

May 17, 2015

Lake Ohrid was my first stop after crossing the border from Albania to Macedonia. *

Here are a few facts about this unusual lake:

Lake Ohrid straddles the mountainous border between southwestern Macedonia and eastern Albania.  It is one of Europe’s deepest and oldest lakes, preserving a unique aquatic ecosystem that is of worldwide importance, with more than 200 endemic species.

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