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  • Simon Lane

The Half-Way Point

Berat, Albania

We are six months in to a year-long sabbatical and, at this point, we're so far behind on editing photos, posting and whatnot, that we decided to start in the middle by presenting the current stuff. We will also do posts about the previous locations and footage as well (we have a truckload of photos/videos from prior places to sort...) The aim is to create posts that move backwards and forwards in time, because its not as fun always writing in a lagged/past-tense capacity.

So we'll endeavour to label posts "present day" versus "happened a few months ago" etc. you get the idea. We'll put it in some kind of order eventually eh.

So without further ado, this is "present day" footage from Berat in central Albania:

View of Holy Trinity Orthodox Church and Kokovesh mountain range from Berat Castle

Southfacing view of the adjacent hillside village Gorice from Berat Castle lookout

In Albania, everything is drive through. Zuccinis, honey, whatever you need. Pull up beside someone sitting by the road and they'll sell you just about anything through the window.

East-facing view over Berat new-town from the Castle. In the background is Tomorit Mountain, a sacred site for local Muslim pilgramages.

Each town/city we have visited in Albania so far has been distinctly different. One explanation for this given by a local tour guide is that under Enver Hoxha and communist rule ('44-'92), Albanians seldom traveled beyond their villages. They were very poor, worked all the time, and didn't have cars until the reopening in '92. Travel outside of one's village was only when necessary (family weddings and funerals were exceptions). And if you were trying to leave Albania? Well, that could get you shot at the border.

Thankfully the country is free from that tyranny now, and despite lingering side-effects of communism in its administrations, is as hopeful and budding a young economy as you might find. Berat old town is nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Windows" and is heritage listed under UNESCO status. Albanians are incredibly generous, practical, and thoughtful, and Beratians (in particular our guesthouse hosts) were a prime example of this.

Visiting Osumi Canyon and Nearby Waterfalls

A short drive by Furgon south-east of Berat brought us to to the site below. Furgons are the small mini-vans/busses that take most of the inter-city traffic. They are sometimes chartered (in the case of this day trip), and sometimes have a/c...

The region gets as hot as low 40s in summer, but this little lagoon was freezing cold! Water here travels all the way from the Albanian Alps, partially underground.

Osumi Canyon from lookout (east)

Osumi Canyon from lookout (west)

Swimming Through the Canyon

Further downstream is a part of the Canyon suitable for swimming and kayaking. Thankfully the water is not as cold here (different water source) and we were able to swim and walk about a kilometer before turning back.

Back at the entrance was a small shack-like taverna where we finished the days activities with a late lunch, cold beers, and great raki.

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