Albanian Highlights Bike Tour

Albanian Highlights Bike Tour

Photo Friday

Albanian Highlights Bike Tour

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” Robyn Yong

Having been a self-employed real estate entrepreneur and investor enabled me opportunities to indulge my avid interest in traveling and cycling. I’m 70 years old, married with 3 children and 8 grandchildren, and have cycled in 80+ countries.

Additional pastimes such as music (listening and playing), books, puzzles, fine dining, friend and family time, rounds out a pretty fulfilling and satisfying life.

Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

My wife’s and my travels have opened our eyes and increased our appreciation for the wonder of this planet and its people. Wherever we go becomes our favorite place, and right now, that favored spot goes to ALBANIA!

Francis and Mary Duckworth - Tripsite Travelers
Francis and Mary Duckworth

Our interest was initially sparked some years ago by a quick pass-through on a backpacking journey through the Balkans. Albania’s outstanding natural beauty and friendly people prompted our desire to return one day. That dream materialized upon our discovery that Albania allowed Americans’ entry during this Covid Pandemic, and Tripsite offered a fantastic tour. We signed up!

The lure of Albania? Stunning geography. It’s crazy beautiful: steep, sometimes rocky, sometimes forest-covered mountains, narrow and deep canyons, and gorges, verdant valleys, sparkling rivers, undulating plateaus, breathtaking mountainous coastlines on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Yes, simply amazing. And to top off the cinematic scenery, there are historic architecture and the UNESCO World Heritage sites that drew us in as well. We were prepared for the dramatic beauty of the landforms, had seen photographs of the turquoise waters of its rivers and seas, read about historic ruins and monasteries, charming towns, but we were simply blown away by our favorite part of this fascinating destination—the food.

Albania’s cuisine is a mixture of Mediterranean, Turkish, Balkan, and Italian. Fresh, tasty, colorful dishes such as byrek—spinach pies enveloped in layers of fillo and feta, kackavallo—baked cheese with tomatoes, tave mishi—a mix of lamb, eggs, and yogurt, grilled veggies. Oh, did I forget to mention the fresh fish along the coasts? Our engaging guide, Dmitri, selected the dishes, always varied, always delicious. We anticipated every lunch and dinner encounter!

What’s next? We’ve set our hearts on the Berlin to Malchin bike/barge trip. The eastern Germany and Poland itinerary sounds delightful, and we’ve not been in that part of Germany. The bike and boat trips in Greece interest us as well. Pedaling to new places is infectious. Biking is in our blood. It’s like the Chinese proverb—

“Don’t listen to what I say, Go see!” We shall.

Delicious Albanian Food
Our unexpected favorite Albanian experience—Eating! Unbelievably colorful baked, grilled, sauteed offerings. Never ate the same thing twice, so impressive and absolutely scrumptious.
The river Vjosa on the road between Permet and Gjirokaster, in southeast Albania.
Quintessential postcard-perfect Albanian scenery. Majestic, snow-covered peaks, green valleys, flowing crystal clear rivers. This is the river Vjosa on the road between Permet and Gjirokaster, in southeast Albania. The rural areas were simply stunning, with one gorgeous view after another. Plus, very little traffic.
Biking in Albania
Jaw-dropping views prompted a gazillion stops just to take in the panorama of the entire sight.
Biking pit stop
Rest stop for cyclists……and goats! This abandoned graffiti-covered building was simply overflowing with goats: inside, outside, upstairs, downstairs. These fellows obviously getting a glimpse of us invading their space…..or perhaps they just were enjoying the bright blue waters of the Adriatic as they posed for us.
Albanian Riviera
The seacoast……Known as the Albanian Riviera! The beach view from our Hotel Nertili deck’s dining area in Sarande. So refreshing after an exhilarating day on the bikes.
Beautiful architecture and ruins in Albania
Our bike guide gave us an impressive tour of the UNESCO World Heritage site of Butrint, a fascinating glimpse into Albania’s history. It was a Greek colony, as well as a Roman and Ottoman city. The ruins included a pretty impressive amphitheater as well.
Countryside in Albania
Herds of cows, sheep, goats greeted us along our ride through the countryside between Sotire and Permet. Tinkling sounds permeated the air as most of the animals had bells attached to their necks. This herdsman nodded and smiled shyly at my request for his photo.
We cycled away from the main highway, up a graveled path, and there, far from the madding crowds was this splendid example of a centuries-old Greek Orthodox church, The Monastery of St. Michael, Dmitri, our bike guide, was a font of knowledge as we toured the site. We had the place to ourselves!
The winding road to Vlore. Tortuous, wonderful climb to the top. Yay for electric bikes! Our last day of cycling, mountains on one side and the Adriatic on the other, serpentine ribbon of highway in front. Ever upward! Onward to Vlore.
Sunset in Albainia

Sunset on the Adriatic! We stayed at this spot—Hotel Coral in Vlore. What a perfect ending to our cycling holiday in Albania.

Looking for more travel blogs about bike tours and hiking tours? Check out our Tripsite Traveler blog series with more first-hand experiences from clients about their travels.


Comments

Elaine Newman
3 weeks ago

Verified Reviewer

Wow! That looks amazing. Thank you for sharing. The Berlin to Malchin trip is awesome. We did it the opposite way, but the same. It was excellent in so many ways. We learned so much about that area & the history.

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