Berat

We left Skhodra the day after we arrived to go to Berat near central Albania. To reach Berat we took a minibus to Tirana and then another one to Berat. The whole transition from one minibus to the other occurred extremely smoothly as our hostel manager in Skhodra told the minibus driver to drop us off at the correct stop to catch the Berat bus. Had he not done this I am sure we would have been quite lost in Tirana as minibuses in Albania don’t have a specific central station and start and go wherever they feel like it. There are also busses but they have a set schedule, is only marginally cheaper and extremely slow. Most Albanians seem to travel by minibuses.

The difference between Berat and Skhodra is huge. The streets in Berat are mainly litter free and in the old part of town, every building is styled to old Ottoman architecture. The guesthouse we stayed in was one of the old Ottoman houses. It is known as the town of ‘a thousand windows’ and is considered one of the prettiest in Albania. Naturally this city has UNESCO status.

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Our first task was to find a “Berber” or barber for M. Barbers seem to be quite common in Albania along with car washes so it wasn’t too long before we found one. The barber turned out to be both deaf and mute but he did a great job and even did a straight razer shave on M. (scary!) Through miming and using a single tiny sheet of paper we discussed politics, family and countries. He even gave us his address so we can write to him. All this cost a mere $3, we tipped an additional $2.

Like a true pro:

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What that business out of the way we went to explore the old Kala Castle. The view was amazing and there were even Ottoman houses within the ruins.

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For dinner we had delicious home cooked fish, rakia (shots of Albanian liquor) and home made red wine. Delicious.

Random observation about Albania: We have found that that while Albania is cheap for food and transportation, accommodation is not. (Out stay in Skhodra costed 30Euros while the one in Berat cost 40Euros, this included dinner and breakfast. In Sarande our accommodation was 10Euro a night per person in a 6 bed dorm) This can be due primarily to the lack of housing options for tourists or the lack of competition to bring prices down. Also Albanians love to stare at people and only men seem to frequent coffee shops and bars. Strange, but Albanians are extremely hospitable people!

Travel tip: to get from Skhodra to Berat we took a minibus from Skhodra to Tirana. The cost is 500 per person but we paid 100 more for the minibus to drop us off at the correct station. For another 500 leks we took another minibus to Berat. This whole journey took around 5 hours.

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