Travel in Macedonia, Albania 2017: Photo Journal, Click the Panoramas to Expand!

Posted on June 16, 2018

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Continued Journeys through Macedonia, calling at Lake Ohrid, then on into Albania to Vlore, Himare, the mountain town of Berat and on to the capital Tirana

Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

Views of the lake

Lake Ohrid Panorama

Potpesh Beach, Ohrid

Lake Ohrid is the largest and most beautiful of Macedonia’s tectonic lakes. It extends across the border to Albania and is one of Europe’s deepest (288m/940ft) and oldest lakes. There are more than 200 unique aquatic species within and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. In tribute to its importance NASA decided to name one of the lakes on Saturn’s largest moon (Titan) Lake Ohrid.

Churches and Friezes

Church of St John the Theologian at Kaneo, Ohrid 01
Church of St John the Theologian at Kaneo

St Petka Church, int, Lake Ohrid 01
Friezes adorning the walls and tower above the altar in St Petka Church

St Marina's Story, Icons Gallery
This painting details the trials of St Marina of Antioch. She was a beauty and the governor of Antioch took a fancy to her, but she resisted his charms and he took his revenge. He ordered her tied to a board and her body to be torn with hooks. She was then thrown in prison where it was assumed she would die from her wounds.

The next day she was stripped, tied to a tree and burned. She prayed for water to extinguish the fire and the governor ordered her to be drowned in a giant cauldron. She emerged unharmed and her chains fell away. She was attacked by the devil in the form of a serpent that swallowed her whole. She made the sign of the cross and the belly of the serpent split open, freeing her.

Eventually the governor had Marina beheaded. He was not a gracious loser.

Saint Sophia Church, Ohrid
Beautiful friezes and altar in the Church of St Sophia

Saint Pantelejmon Church, Ohrid
Saint Pantelejmon Church

Lake Ohrid Springs
Verdant freshwater springs at the monastery of St Naum on the southern shores of Lake Ohrid

St Clement of Ohrid
Statue of St Clement of Ohrid – considered to be the first bishop of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the patron saint of the Republic of Macedonia

Albania

Wandering

Beer Break Berat to Vlore
Okay, it’s a good drive from Ohrid over the border to Pogradec in Albania and then on to Berat. The signage in Albania sucks. It is either vague, obscured or non-existent. This is a beer break at a roadside cafe after a meandering drive along single track hill roads without a sign in sight. We stopped at several villages and wrote our next destination on a scrap of paper to get directions.

Berat

Check out these beautiful panoramas from the castle overlooking the mountain town of Berat. Click on each one to see them in their full glory. Berat was given UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2008 and is filled with churches and mosques. It has its own unique architecture inside the old citadel with influences from several civilisations, especially the Byzantine and Ottoman Turk empires.

Berat Castle Panorama 04

Berat Castle Panorama 03

Berat Castle Panorama 02

Berat Old Town

Berat Old Town 02

Berat Old Town Panorama 02

Public Art, Berat
Public sculpture sitting among the tree-lined promenades of the tourist strip along the River Osum

Salt and Pepper shakers, Berat
Salt and pepper shakers inside our apartment in Berat.

Vlore

IMG_4945 copy
Kitsch tablecloth and ashtray in our apartment in Vlore. The lift didn’t work and it was a mission to check in with diversions along badly lit and rutted back streets. Everything sort of feels like flying by the seat of your pants even when you have working GPS in Albania.

Day trip to Himare Beach

Keshtjella Restaurant Panorama
Keshtjella Restaurant Panorama – run along the winding coast road south from Vlore and up into the twisty mountain pass at Mount Cika and then top out at this bar and restaurant complex. The weather was hot and breezy and the views spectacular.

Himare Beach Panoramas

Click on any of these panoramas to go through to the full-size pictures.
Himare Beach Pano 01

Himare Beach Pano 02

Himare Beach Pano 03

Roadside Panoramas near Dhermi

Racing the sun up Mount Cika on our way back to Vlore
Panorama near Dhermi, Albania 01

Panorama near Dhermi, Albania 02

Sunsetting at Vlore

Vlore Beach Panorama, Albania

Zvernec, Saint Merise Monastery

These panoramas were shot a few miles from our apartment in Vlore, at St Merise Monastery in Zvernec. There was a small van selling grilled sardines and kebabs with ice cold beers. Cranes and other wading birds stalk through the shallow flats and fishermen angle from the walkway.
Saint Merise Monastery, Zvernec Panorama 02

Saint Merise Monastery, Zvernec 02
The tiny St Merise Monastery

Saint Merise Monastery, Zvernec 01

Tirana

Urban Tirana

Pyramid of Tirana
Originally a museum devoted to former Communist dictator Enver Hoxha, the Pyramid of Tirana is now a gathering point for young people who run up its flanks and walk unsteadily down.

Tirana Tower Block
Looking like a kids impression of what a tower block looks like, possibly drawn by hand and then enacted by literal Albanian architects.

Sculpture, Pyramid of Tirana
Tactile sculpture at the Pyramid of Tirana. This guy climbed up and rang the bell. He looked happy with his efforts.

Reja The Cloud, Tirana 02
Reja The Cloud – another of Tirana’s public art works.

Funky Traffic Light, Tirana
Funky traffic light that lights up totally red or totally green. Wooo, I know. Click through to get the video.

Colonial Cocktail Bar, Tirana
Everone should finish up at one of Tirana’s excellent cocktail bars. In this case the Colonial Bar on Rruga Pjeter Bogdani. All of the bars on the street corners were pumping out cheesy house and hip hop at such a thunderous level that if you were inside there is no way you would be able to hear what one another was saying. It would have been hard to breathe in there with the volume. The Colonial was a welcome respite and very chic. We can highly recommend the Radio Bar too – great music and atmosphere, but the bar staff tried to rip us off.

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