This morning I left the pretty town of Ohrid and drove across the border into Albania. The border crossing was quick and easy and there was even a money exchange office at the border to change up my left over Macedonian Dinars.
Once I left the border post, the quality of the roads quickly deteriorated. They were pretty bad – the worst since leaving Russia. But the open countryside is beautiful. The Garmin seemed determined to take me through all of the back-country roads and it seemed like it was taking me all over the place. But the GPS track shows that the route was reasonably direct to Berat.
The town of Berat lies about 125km south of Tirana along the Osum River valley. The town is surrounded by beautiful countryside which can be particularly appreciated when viewing it from the castle that overlooks the town.
To enjoy the views from the 13th Century Kala Castle, you first have to get there. That entails a long walk up a steep stone road, as the castle is on top of the hill overlooking the town.
The castle grounds cover 10 hectares, making it the largest castle in Albania. It contains a cathedral, eight churches and two mosques as well as other buildings. The churches and mosques are closed buildings, so they can only be viewed externally but several parts of the castle can be explored.
At the highest spot in the castle grounds is the Lord’s Fortress. Within the Lord’s Fortress is a large water cistern that stored water for the inhabitants of the citadel. It is partly accessible to visitors.
With dark clouds moving in from the mountains, I retreated to my hotel room expecting rain to arrive soon. Hopefully I’ll see a bit more of Berat this evening.
In order to include Meteora and Skopje in my route, it has snaked around a bit over the past week or so. However, the route will now be more direct as I start to make my way through the Balkans to Italy. My next destination is likely to be north to Ulcinj, just over the border into Montenegro.