I took a day trip from Corfu to Albania with hopes of eating good food, learning new things about the interesting country and just having a chill day. I was a bit unlucky right from the beginning. I got sick prior to my original travel day and had to postpone my trip. Then Isak got sick too so I had to go on the trip alone. Maybe I should have just cancelled the whole thing because Albania left no impact nor “wow”-experience. I can’t blame the country though.
Transportation Corfu – Saranda
I got picked up from my hotel to a bus that took me to the harbour. There was a queue for passport control which took for ages! Then there was another line to get onto the boat and pay a €10 harbour fee. The boat to Saranda took around 1.5 hours. This was still pretty okay but felt a bit of a hassle anyway. Needless to say that I preferred travelling to Albania by land from Parga or some other Greek town.
When we arrived in Albania, we had to choose the right bus according to the languages we spoke. There was one bus for English / German and one for English / Russian; they have also French and Italian on some days. The German bus got completely full so you cannot guarantee that you will get your language (I speak English of course so I didn’t really care). Then the tour company took two busloads of people to a local restaurant for coffees (there was 100 % some kind of a deal with them because we ate at the same place). After 30 minutes we continued to Butrint’s archaeological city that has ruins from four different eras.
Well, I had visited Butrint before so I knew what to expect. This time we didn’t have an as enthusiastic tour guide as on my previous trip, which affected quite a lot on the overall experience. I guess our guide thought that since the English speaking group consisted of young people (like herself) we weren’t interested in history. That was not the case but I felt that we skipped a lot of the history of Albania and we barely talked about the times of communism.
We went back to the same restaurant for our lunch. The lunch was included in the tour price (€50). I was quite sceptical but the lunch turned out to be a positive surprise consisting of meat, vegetables, meatball, potatoes, salad, watermelon, tzatziki and feta cheese. We had quite late lunch so I would advise taking some snacks with you on this tour.
After lunch we had some time to walk around in the city of Saranda. I think Saranda is a perfect place for a nice getaway or a short relaxing holiday. Prices are super low even though it is a touristic town. For example, one portion of ice-cream and water at a restaurant by the sea was €0.65. Beer and wine were around €1.5. Coffees are around €1.
So why no wow?
Okay, so the trip was really cheap so I shouldn’t complain. It included pick-up from my hotel, boat ride, bus transportation in Albania, entrance ticket to Butrint and a tour guide and lunch for 50 euros. I got to visit another country, eat nice food, explore Saranda a bit. However, the “wow feeling” was missing. I think the main reasons were, first of all, the tour guide, and the second, the size of the tour. My tour guide didn’t seem to be very interested or enthusiastic, and that can be very contagious. And when you have two busloads of people, you start to feel like cattle being transported from one place to another.
Albania, however, seemed interesting, very affordable, beautiful, full of history and friendly people. Next time I will skip all the tours and explore the country on my own.