May 24, 2012- Day 9 (Berat)

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We left Gjirkaster and headed for Berat, our last Albanian stop before heading to Kosovo for 4 days. We hit a slight snag on our way when we came across a road block due to repavement of the road. Luckily Zamir, our driver who we had come to know and love by this point, came to the rescue and got us through the block and back on our way. We stopped in for a quick bite, and potty break at a gas station. One cool thing about gas stations in the Balkans is they are HUGE and almost every one has a restaurant inside. We all packed into the elevator like sardines and predictably the light came on telling us we were too heavy. We pushed Elijah out and that seemed to do the trick because the doors closed and the elevator began to rise. However, a few short moments later the elevator jolted violently, we screamed, and Elijah cackled from his safe position outside as the elevator slowly inched its way back down. After a quick lunch and refuel we were on the road again.

Zamir comes to our rescue!

Horse drawn carts are a common mode of transportation in the rural areas of Albania.

We toured another Ethnographic House in Berat upon our arrival. This one, while very similar to all the others we’d seen thus far, was clearly set up to focus on the richness of the inhabitants rather than an accurate portrayal of their living quarters. Expensive looking dinnerware from a different time period and place was set out on the tables and newer “artifacts” were displayed on the walls and in the various rooms. It was beautiful if a little false.

Berat, Albania

After the house we went to an old Catholic Church, turned museum. There we encountered our first crowded tourist site. The area was flooded with young people on field trips. Right away we recognized that they were not Albanian due to their style of dress and some indescribable aspect of their appearance. Turns out we were right, they were Serbian and Kosovar.

Hordes of Serbian and Kosovar Students

Inside the Catholic Cathedral (we weren’t supposed to take photos… oops)

We next ventured into another castle, same old same old right? Wrong, this one still had people living in it! There are currently over 100 families living on the castle grounds. It was a very strange sight to see homes nestled in amongst the castle ruins.

The Inhabited Castle
Berat, Albania

The Inhabited Castle
Berat, Albania

After this delightful day we headed back to our hotel where Kelsey and Feagin discovered a kitten on the roof outside their balcony that they could hear but not see. They tried valiantly to rescue it but to no avail, I hope it made it off the roof safely…

My and Cady’s hotel room (very ’70s chic)
Berat, Albania

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