May 23, 2012- Day 8 (The City of Stone)

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The City of Stone

Sadly we had to leave Corfu, but the next city certainly made up for our disappointment. Our next destination was Gjirokastër, a city in southern Albania. Its nicknamed “The City of Stone” because nearly every single structure is entirely made of stone (including the roofs). This city has been our unanimous favorite so far because its so beautiful and amazing. We met with the GDP (Gjirokastër Development Project) in the morning and talked about what they do and saw a very fascinating slide show about the bunkers in Albania (there are more than 700, 000! That’s 1 for every 4 to 5 people in Albania) and talked about the mysterious disappearance of several bunkers in recent weeks.

Gjirokastër, Albania

After our meeting we toured the extremely creepy tunnels beneath Ali Pasha’s castle. They were built during the Communist Era as a “safe house” for the people if America, or our allies, tried to bomb the area. Needless to say, I would NOT be happy if I had to live down their for even a day. I shudder at the possibility and am extremely grateful I will never have to experience anything like it. We are the first American group to enter the tunnels (cool right? :))

Communist Era Tunnels

Very Creepy…

This shows the double reinforcement of the bunker-like structure. It was very “safe”

After our creepy tour we walked to the site where Enver Hoxha’s statue once stood deliberating about what to do next.

The site of Hoxha’s statue

We finally decided to tour Ali Pasha’s castle. Little did I know that it would be an intense climb. Lori, Molly, and I decided to walk the “easy” way up the sloped incline while the rest of the group took the stairs.

Ali Pasha’s Gun Hall

The prison on the second floor of the castle. It was still being used to torture people during the Communist Era.

An American plane shot down in wartime

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