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.

Mostar: Stari Most

Mostar

Bosnia-Herzegovina

June 3, 2015

Dear Adventure Travelers,

Did you know that for a small fee of a mere 25 Euros, you can personally perform a (supervised) high dive off the most famous bridge in the Balkans?   

The Stari Most or Old Bridge of Mostar, built in the Sixteenth Century, stands 25 meters (82 feet) above the Neretva River.  By comparison, the Olympics Platform Dive is a measly 10 meters (33 feet).

In 1993, during the Civil War in the former Yugoslavia, the original bridge built by the Ottomans was destroyed.

The elegant bridge was rebuilt in 2004 and is the most recognizable landmark in the country.  There’s a lot of history here.* 

Lake Matka and Treska Canyon

Skopje

Macedonia

May 20, 2015

Lake Matka lies only about a forty minute drive outside Skopje. 

Formed by a hydroelectric dam, the lake sits below the steep sides of the Treska Canyon.  It’s an idyllic spot for a moderate hike along a narrow path above the tranquil lake.

After my hike, I returned to the outdoor restaurant that overlooks the lake.  I lingered over a lunch of delicious fish soup with salmon and vegetables, and a green salad with sautéed mushrooms and grated cheese. 

Is there a better way to spend a day?

 

Skopje

Skopje

Republic of Macedonia

Temporary name: FYROM  (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)

May 19, 2015

Sometimes I just need to take a break.

Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, is just the place.  The bank of the Vardar River is lined with cafes.  I choose one and sit! 

The view across the river is of a brilliant sunlit extravaganza of government buildings and museums.

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.

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?

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