We started today’s journey in Durres, a large coastal city. We were accompanied by Beni, the artist, and Xhesi Mane (pronounced Jessie), who works with the UNDP- Albania. Our first stop was the Roman Market in downtown Durres.
We meandered our way around the Main Square, stopping in at a very interesting art gallery, and taking pictures of the beautiful White Mosque, on our way to the Amphitheater where we were able to explore beneath the stadium seats.
We left the Amphitheater and had cappuccinos at a rooftop bar with an amazing panoramic view of the city. We took a quick trip to King Zog’s palace, which we could not enter but was pretty impressive (if tackily painted) from the outside, and finished our time in Durres with a delicious lunch at Picante and even better gelato.
We left Durres and headed to the ancient Roman city of Apollonia, named for the sun god Apollo. On the way we passed many bunkers and residential areas, and began to better appreciate the paved roads in Tirana.
In Apollonia we saw some buildings that were well maintained, and some that were not… The strangest thing is that everywhere you go in Albania there are remains of ancient things that you can’t identify just laying around. Its hard for me to comprehend that some 3,000 year old stones could become so commonplace that they don’t even register as important anymore… but I digress. After leaving the amazing site, we gratefully checked into our hotel in Vlore.