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holiday in Albania

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Lee, United Kingdom
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3 posts
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holiday in Albania

Hi,

We are visiting Albania for a week in late September. We arrive in Tirana at 23.20. We want to explore the history and especially the sites of Roman remains. We are happy to split the visit into north and south if that is necessary and then return for a second week at a later date. We would like to keep our budget low if possible.

Please can you advise on:

Where to stay on the first and subsequent nights

How to travel around - do we need to hire a car?

Any areas or regions where we should not visit

The most important sites for Roman remains and their locations

Any other information you think would be helpful

Thank you

Lynda

Where to stay the

Cape Town Central...
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46 posts
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11. Re: holiday in Albania

We have just returned from 8 days in Albania, flying In and out of Tirana. We decided to do it cheap and planned our own itinerary. We had no trouble at all, apart from the RIP OFF by taxi drivers. We took the Rinas Bus from airport, leaves hourly, to Tirana, 250 leke each, bus dropped us off almost on the main square, this is where the rip off came in, we had our luggage and although our hotel, Nobel Hotel, was only 100m from square nobody could tell us which way it was, due to language barrier. Along came an English speaking taxi driver and was happy to deliver us at the front door, even as far as reversing down a one way street to get us to the door. I had the purse and his head was in my door I gave him 1000 leke which he would not take and said it was 2000 leke, I knew it was 400 to 500 leke within Tirana by Taxi, be warned this is the price and set it BEFORE getting in. Our hotel was great and the young man at Reception was a star. Gave me some tips to work around about setting a price etc. The following day he arranged a car who took us to Kruja for the morning which we walked around, it was truly worth the visit. He stopped off at a cemetery for us to look at and dropped us off at the cable car in the afternoon. Beautiful views from the top and we had a really nice lunch in the Restaurant, 2 hours later he was waiting for us to drop off at hotel. We walked to the Mosque and Cathedral that evening had a meal out, all in the vicinity of the hotel. The following day we did our own walking tour of Tirana and had a delicious late lunch in the heart of the Blloku area. The Restaurant was called Era and well worth the 12 Euros. Had delicious crepes about 2 doors down from hotel that evening.

The next day we decided to take the local bus to Gjirokastra, in the Unesco ranks since 2008. Our hotel called a taxi who explained which bus rank we needed charged us 500 leke, got there at 07.45 for the 08.00 bus,cost 1000 leke each for a 6 1/2 hr journey. We stayed at the Kalemi Hotel overlooking the beautiful town, with its cobble stoned streets, the Castle hovering above and the Old Bazaar area. There are a multitude of Byrek stands but standard food, meat and veg we found hard to find. The first evening we took a taxi 400 leke into town for a meal, to purchase water and if you like your tea and coffee invest in a travel kettle and mugs and take your own tea and coffee with you. We did not come across one cup of English tea apart from our last evening of our tour! The following day we found stairs about 20 meters from the hotel which took us down into the town and all the tourist areas which we did not foot.

Loved this place. After two nights we got a furgon (mini bus taxi) which the hotel arranged for us to Berat. Left at 09.00.Trip took about 3 hrs but the beauty of it was that we went through all the non touristy towns and villages picking up and dropping off passengers all the way. The ride was comfortable and as we were tourists all the locals picked up did not squash us at all, this is what we had heard! This furgon dropped us about 50m from out hotel - Hotel Mangalemi and that trip cost 750 leke each. Hotel Mangalemi is a gem, in the centre of everything....the Manager and Staff were simply the best. The Restaurant at the hotel was superb and we had a table which gave us a view of "the thousand windows" watching the sun set and the lights starting to flicker on. We had time in the afternoon to get to the Castle, the small church below the castle wall, the 16th century Sultan's Mosque and after dinner walked down to the river to see both the bridges lit up. In the morning before moving on again we had more than enough time to walk in the new town. Berat is beautiful,to say the least, my favourite but on looking at my pictures they were all picturesque, with beautiful landscapes, stunning mountains etc. We again got the local bus to Durres on the coast, cost 300 leke and took about 3hrs. Again a very interesting journey, and our last stop before heading home from Nene Theresa Airport. Durres is probably the most modern city we stayed in. Our choice of Hotel was in the right place on the sea front, around the corner from the Amphitheatre and underground Byzantine Churches. We had a delicious dinner in our Hotel Arvi that evening and felt ready to take the 25 euro transport from the Hotel back to the airport. We are both elderly one just under and the other half way over 70, nobody gave us any trouble, we had a great time. I got our travel guide from Lonely Planet Publications and only bought the section on Albania which comes direct to your email account. Hope some people may find this interesting and get themselves ready to take to the roads in Europe on a budget. Great fun!

At the time of travel, September 2012 the exchange rate is 130 leke to 1Euro.

Cape Town Central...
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12. Re: holiday in Albania

If you have not yet left please read my loonnnnggggg post here under. If you are already in Albania maybe you could still read it as it may come in useful. happy travels and a lovely country.

San Francisco...
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116 reviews
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13. Re: holiday in Albania

Albania, it's a great destination. There is a lack of infrastructure which probably limits visitors. The people like Americans and the younger ones often speak English. I would advise to travel in a cooler season than early September since the A/C never worked very well except in one hotel. If you eat meat and like wine and raki (grappa, not the Turkish variety), there is an abundance of both as well as grilled veggies, pastas and salads. Food is clearly Italian influenced. Water is safe so no problem eating salads, etc. Tomatoes actually taste like tomatoes! Salt water fish is only available by the coast but inland there was even live trout.

We felt perfectly safe. We did go with a private tour which certainly costs more but i think worth it. Don't even think about driving yourself. Trains are mostly non-existent. Sounds like busses are OK.

Our private tour had the advantage of best hotel choices and expedited travel over the terrible roads. Got to see more in less time.

Vancouver, Canada
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14. Re: holiday in Albania

Albania's beautiful, have fun!

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