Albania, A Land of a Two-Headed Eagle II
The journey here was long, sometimes impassable and very bumpy, but it was definitely worth it. We drive to a narrower bay, where the water flows from the river. It is a paradise on earth. Especially when tourists leave around 3 pm and we stay here alone. We rent a room in a beautiful log cabin and enjoy the panoramas and new shades of water and rocks as the sun bends to the horizon. It's getting colder noticeably, but we can't get enough of that beauty. And what about the night sky full of shooting stars….
The next day we return, and then we head south in the direction of Durres and then in the direction of Vlore. On the way we will sleep behind the village Kavaja in the resort Spille. In the local restaurant we enjoy calamari and fish soup. The food here is first class.
Today we have a passage through the city of Vlora and a beautiful road through Logara Pass. From above you can jump paragliding and land on the beach. There is amazing fresh mountain air and wonderful views. We slowly descend to the famous Jale beach. We drive through charming villages reminiscent of Greece. At Jale beach we stay in the camp as if we were young. And according to the tempting sign, we will go looking for a nearby beach with the provocative name Aquarium. And it will not disappoint us. We swim and sunbathe and jump into the water from the surrounding rocks… In the evening we enjoy the fish restaurant again. Another wonderful day is over.
In the morning we decide to take a bath in this beautiful bay. After breakfast we set off along the coast towards Saranda. The road winds through picturesque villages like Porto Palermo with a submarine bunker. Then we go up and down to Saranda to the castle. From here there is another wonderful view on all sides and in front of us stands Kerkyra or charming Corfu. We take a picture at one hundred and six and move on again. This time to the famous Blue Eye with a beautiful crystal, but terribly cold water. Still, I decide to jump the arrow there. I like it so much that I go one more time.
We continue through beautiful mountains and wide valleys to Girokastro - a remarkable stone historic town with a fortress. I enter through a massive entrance gate and turn left into a large arcade with cannons from the First World War on display. The walls have a beautiful view of the city and the surrounding magnificent mountains. There is a plane on display, which landed here in an emergency and the poor pilot was imprisoned here. I end the tour at the clock tower. In the afternoon, we walk through winding, charming streets between rural mosques, which still resemble the 500-year-old Turkish occupation.
We get on and the road leads us along the charming river Vjoses, so we still stop for photos. Upon arrival at the beautiful Berat, a sight listed in UNESCO, I feel like Sigismund and Hanzelka, who passed through here more than 50 years ago… We arrive in Berat in the early evening and the city of a thousand and one windows is beautifully lit. We go straight to stay and see it in the morning.
We have a beautiful sunny morning and behind us rises the sacred mountain Tomori 2500 m high. It's still a little hidden in the clouds. We go up to the city fortress and enter through the Comenius Gate. The houses are still inhabited by the original owners. They can live here, but their children can no longer live here. Some houses are already abandoned, others have already been renovated as part of the UNESCO project. The evicted residents will receive compensation for leaving their homes in the care of UNESCO.
We are surprised to find that, thanks to the Turks, the city even had a sewer and a hammam. Through the labyrinth of tiny winding streets we enter the courtyard of the church of St. Marie, where today is the museum of the genius painter Onufri, who lived here in the 17th century. The frescoes in the church are in very poor condition, but the iconostasis carved from mahogany wood is simply perfect.
The most famous of the icons is Onufri's Madonna holding Jesus on the right. This is unusual. But Onufri worked here during the Ottoman Empire, which was tolerant, so he could paint his own and choose the topics that interested him most. His favorite subject was John the Baptist as an angel with a tray on which he wore his severed head. He loved this topic. In addition, Onufri mixed his own colors from natural ingredients. That is why Onufri's red… is known. He also knew how to work well with the gold color, which he dipped into the base in most of the cedar wood. That's why gold and red stand out the most on its icons.
(To be continued...)
GPS: 40°42'36.3"N 19°56'43.0"E (Berat)
Text: Sylvie Halouzkova
Photos: Sylvie Halouzkova, Pixabay.com (2)
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