Me and my French friend Juliette, who is also volunteering in VCS, decided to make a road trip around South Albania and Greece to discover this wonderful part of Europe. We chose to make 6 stops during this journey, 2 in Albania and 4 in Greece, let me show you our trip 😉
Dhermi was first stop of our trip in South Albania, we left Skopje on Friday afternoon to go there, to be honest the road was long (9 hours with some stops) and quite dangerous considering Albanian drivers … but landscapes were so beautiful. Just before arriving to Dhermi, we stopped on the mountain road during the sunset for a panoramic view of Dhermi’s beach and we felt this travel was going to be incredible.
First, we were surprised by the smallness of the town but the day after our arrival we discovered this beautiful place by boat. We went to pirate cave, swam in the turquoise sea and chilled on the beach. When the temperature was less hot we decided to go to the village on the top of the hill to see the monastery. To go there we passed cute little streets welcomed by Dhermi’s children. We went to the top, unfortunately monastery wasn’t really interesting but the view and atmosphere was amazing and so relaxing!
Next, we left Dhermi to go to the second destination, Saranda. Before going to the city we went to see Blue Eye, such a beautiful place where turquoise water was coming from the source, we felt like in the jungle surrounded by these plants. Despite ‘no swim’ restriction we found a quiet place to swim a little bit in this so beautiful and so COLD water.
After this refreshment we decided to go to Ksamil beach to enjoy the sun but during the trip we were stopped by the hail… it didn’t stop us, we went there hoping it will get better, we spent some time there, had a lunch with seaview and decided to go to Saranda to take a rest and enjoy Albanian food.
The day after we headed to Greece, a word of advice: never follow GPS in Greece because you will get lost … obviously, we got lost (first and last time during the trip!) and it took us a long time (3 hours more) to get to our next step in Kryonéri close to Mesolongi in the West part of Greece. These days were a little bit messy for us and we were exhausted after the trip. We chose this location just to sleep close to a port before going to Greek island! But we didn’t miss on eating our first real Greek Burger and testing Greek beer in cute town of Mesolongi.
The next step of the trip, Zante Island, took us a full day and for me it was the best part of the trip, the day I realized my dream!
During Greek part of the trip we wanted to go to an island but a « cheap » one and not so far from our itinerary (it was hard to find). But I dreamt about seeing the shipwreck of Zante Island for a long time.
So we woke up early in the morning to take the ferry to Zante Island with the car. The day before we easily found port, boat, hotel and information on how to go to the famous shipwreck beach accessible only by the sea. We decided to take a boat from the north of the island from the little port of Porto Vromi. The trip to port took one hour by car and it was an opportunity to discover Zante that is quite a big island!
We boarded and navigated to the beach in around 15 minutes. I was so excited to see the beach that I awaited to see for such a long time (this 15 minutes lasted forever for me!). We passed a huge cliff and the incredible shipwreck beach emerged, we saw turquoise sea and white beach surrounded by a huge cliff, it was even more beautiful than in comparison with my dream!!! We berthed on the beach I felt like a child in a candy shop, I ran everywhere with shiny eyes, for me it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. We spent one hour to take photos, videos, climb on the shipwreck and swim in this paradise. After this (so short) hour the boat came back to pick us up but we were not that much disappointed because we had yet another fantastic plan for the day!… ship captain had some idea on how to make this day more awesome and on the way back he decided to show us some caves and little beaches. He stopped the boat close to rocky inlet and asked if someone wants to swim a little bit in this amazing landscape « Is it a question? Of course we want!! ». We dived into the water from the front of the boat and I had a doubt about this day, was I dreaming or not?!
After that we came back to the port and went back to the hotel for the next activity of the day… Horse riding!! It’s one of my passions and I wanted to share it with Juliette, it was first time for her. She was a little bit stressed but she got on the horse and tried to relax because two hours of horse riding waited for us. After one hour way we arrived to the beach and we were surprised when we understood we will swim with the horses in the sea! It was also the first time for everybody and yet another dream too. So we swam with horses in warm water during sunset, I wanted it to last forever, we came back to the stable with smiling face. Exhausted we came back to the hotel to drink cocktails and to go to sleep because a long road waited for us the next day.
Third Greek destination of the trip was Athens! It was a long road to the capital but we were so happy and excited to discover the famous city. We didn’t know Athens but with a help of internet we found a place to drink a cocktail with a beautiful view « A for Athens », I drank there the most delicious cocktail ever with Parthenon sunset view, awesome!
We stayed two whole days in Athens, I can’t relate everything in a small article, we visited famous Parthenon, Agora, we saw a lot of ruins, we went to botanic garden to get some fresh air, and we walked around the market and tried some delicious Greek specialties as well as local beer. We made touristic shopping and almost died cause of the temperature, we were looking for free tour of the city all day long but finally we found it and discovered a part of Athens’ myths and history. Finally we left this beautiful capital and headed to Greek mountains.
The last step of the trip was Meteora place with monastery built on the top of the cliff in the north of the country. When we arrived in the little town of Kalambaka we felt a bit nostalgic to finish this trip. We walked a little in the street with cliff view and we were really curious to see monasteries the day after. We went to the monasteries by car and visited three of them, the atmosphere was quite touristic. Landscape was amazing we felt so small surrounded by these cliffs and immensity of the mountains. Unfortunately it was time to come back to Skopje but not without last meal of the trip: Tzatziki! It gave us motivation to come back home with the next trip on our mind ;).
Author: Laurene Duvert