Saranda AlbaniaMay 3 in Albania
Today is our wedding anniversary - 32 years... how about that! So where do we celebrate it but Albania!! To be honest, before now we really didn't know where Albania was. (It is a small country below Croatia)
What else do we know about Albania? Well, Mother Theresa came from Albania as did the actor Jim Belushi (according to our guide). They have a rather striking looking flag - a double headed black eagle on a red background; and I guess they are a fairly poor country - the average wage being about €200 per month.
Saranda is not a usual cruise ship port and I think our ship was the first of the season so to celebrate we were meet at the dock by school children who presented us with friendship bracelets with Saranda beads , welcome to Saranda stickers and children and adults dressed in traditional costume doing their traditional dancing.
Our tour took us to look at some ancient ruins in Saranda featuring beautiful mosaics.... but the mosaics were covered underground for protection and all we saw were some canvases of pictures of the mosaics, so I don't really get the point of this stop. Next we travelled up to a castle ( was a castle but now a restaurant) for the view over the town. Would have been a very nice view on a clear day but unfortunately it was fairly overcast and hazy.
Then we visited the main attraction - the blue eye lake. Essentially it is a bubbling spring whose source is very deep and gives it a very deep blue colour in the centre - like an eye. The water is the clearest water I've ever seen but very cold, about 10°C. Unfortunately, one lady went to feel the water and slipped on the bank and fell in. It was a bit of a struggle to get her out.
Finally, there are 750,000 bunkers in Albania.... yes, three quarters of a million little concrete structures. These were built by the dictator of the country (can't remember his name) during the cold war around 50 years ago. He was convinced that both USA and Russia were going to invade Albania and so he spent millions of dollars they didn't have to protect his nation. Many have been pulled down to reuse the steel, or they have been repurposed as shops etc.
So Albania was kinda interesting... at least it wasn't crowded like many of the other ports we have been to. We finished of our anniversary in one of the specialty restaurants on the ship so that was a nice ending.Read more