Ep. 10: Albania - Big city life. On a farm.

Travel period: May 2021

Goodbye, friends! After a last breakfast with the trio it is time to say farewell and we drive off into different directions. We decide to take it slow and stay one more night in Peshkopi. As the campsite is a quiet place it is nice to relax in the shade and use the Wi-Fi for some online research about our next destinations.

We get a glimpse of the nicely build interior of the girls van and they leave us their Albanian SIM card as they are moving on to Macedonia. Thank you again for this little favor among travelers!

When we are on our way back from grocery shopping kids in the streets talk to us in English. Such a surprise as their English is quite good. Most importantly they already know how to flirt - „I bring you the moon“. Faleminderit, but 20 years age difference is a bit too much, though. ;)

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The next day we are ready to move on following a new track from Peshkopi to Krujë. The first kilometers are not very exciting as it leads us through some unspectacular town valleys and we are happy when the mountain road starts. Generally, it is a quite easy drive if you forget about the rattling as it mainly contains of old pavement roads. Entering the mountains and seeing the first cows we start to enjoy the ride and stop at some beautiful rock formations. From there on the journey offers some lovely views and nature hits again.

We plan not to drive too far that day and look for a campspot along the track, but what we learn quickly is when you actively look for it it always seems harder to find. Maybe we are already spoiled by the great campspots we had the last week just randomly turning up along our way. ;) Passing the peak in the Dajti national park the road turns into steady pavement but still no campspot to be found.

Gorge on a dirt track from Peshkopi to Burrel

Descending onto Burrel

Curving along we check the map and decide to keep on driving until we reach Krujë, a small town located just at the other side of the mountain. On the way we enjoy a beautiful sunset shining between the different summits and we even spot Tirana, our next planned destination, at a far distance.

Exhausted and happy we reach the little campsite which is empty expect of the owner who is very thankful that we stay a night. „Thank you, thank you, thank you.“ - will get a phrase we use more than often along the way as he said it approx. 50 times with such a cute pronunciation.

The campsite has some ratings in the internet which differ from 1 to 5 stars and we quickly understand why. If you are looking for a flashy and tidy all-in campsite this is not the right place to be. It is a small cozy garden with an old building with basic facilitations aside and a little outdoor bar and pizza oven. We would describe this place as authentic and rural, but probably not everybody looks at it that way.

Word gets around in Krujë quickly and a man comes along who speaks German and is an offroad vehicle fan aswell. After a quick chat we find out he has a restaurant nearby and we are more than happy to have dinner there as we are both not in a mood to cook that night. His Garden Restaurant is based on biological farming and we enjoy salad, vegetables and lamb – yummy! As Arbii knows some trails in Albania we get a map out after dinner and mark several spots worth seeing. Two Rakis and some stories about cultural differences between Switzerland, where he worked a long time, and Albania later we are ready for bed.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Local organic food. No dishwashing for us is a plus.

Back at the camp a little cat joins us while we are brushing our teeth and is to our surprise already cuddled up in Rosie when we want to close the door for the night. We allow her this quiet and undisturbed sleepover in our car. Good on her as at night we hear other visitors approaching the grassy camp: a horse herd smacking around us!

Approaching the big city with a detour

Krujë is not that far away from Tirana nevertheless we decide not to drive there directly but follow a mountain trail (yes, again) to Bovilla Lake. At a very small junction we turn right and a narrow rocky gravel road leads us through the mountains. Passing some remote villages, where people are carrying groceries and luggage by horses, we meander our way along the scattered hills until we reach the Bovilla reservoir. This 4,6 square kilometers reservoir provides most of the drinking water for the city of Tirana and its blue color takes our breath away. Close to the dam there are natural terraces where you can park and enjoy a picnic overlooking the lake. We hope to be able to camp here but as we arrive we notice that on sundays in summer this might not be the best idea... We are not alone. A lot of local people are enjoying a day out, hang around the terraces and climb the cliffs around the canyon. There is a paved road leading to this place on the other side which we did not recognize before. Fair enough! We enjoy a snack with this incredible view, a turtle passing by, but drive on towards Tirana as we don't feel comfortable setting up camp in such a crowded place. During the week this might be possible, though.

Bovilla lake

After passing the dam and rolling through the canyon we see the first houses of Tirana and the road gets wider and bigger. A weird feeling to approach a big city when you have been in rather remote places for a few weeks. We find a promising campground in the suburban area online and decide to check it out. The driveway to Camp Daijti is very steep with tight corners but after we made it up there we get rewarded with a little oasis.

Camp Daijti is a small campground run by a lovely family and we feel like being on a little farm. There are chickens running around, cows on the grass and Jonathan even accompanies the landlady on their vegetable field where we get fresh spring onion and salad for our dinner. So welcoming!

There are a few other campers around and we recognize a dutch couple - „Where did we see each other before?“ - turns out they have been in Croatia at the campside next to Krka Nationalpark with us 5 weeks ago. What a coincidence. We also get to now a lovely lady, Sharon, from UK and her cute dog Poppy who checks on all campers now and then offering a play with her toy. :)

This place is unexpectedly relaxing and we take it easy, deciding to stay not only for a daytrip to Tirana but also to enjoy this little paradise close to the capital.

No one will get past the Camp Daijti security chicken

This is a 20-minute drive from Tirana city center

Welcome to the world!

Daytrip to Tirana

From Camp Daijti we take the bus which takes us about 25 minutes into the city center. We reach the Skanderberg Square, see the vaccination center and explore the area around the opera and museums. There are some cute little streets with cafés and restaurants and as it is a hot day many people are longing for a shady place with a cold drink.

We walk around and pass the Pyramid of Tirana, which is a former museum about the legacy of Enver Hoxha, the long-time leader of communist Albania. After 1991, following the collapse of Communism, the Pyramid ceased its function as a museum and for several years was repurposed as a conference center. Since 2001, a part of it has been used as broadcasting center, while the rest of the structure and the paved surrounded area have turned into a graffiti- and skate-park. At this time it is under construction, though, as a new project will turn the Pyramid into an IT Youth Center.

Driven by the city vibes we stroll around visit a shopping center and some shops but do not buy anything as space is limited in Rosie. ;)

To escape the heat we want to visit a museum and decide to go for the National Museum right at the Skanderbeg square. It is very classy and covers the whole history of Albania but  to our disappointment the information signs, especially those about the communism period, are hardly translated to English. So we will need to get some information online to get it all understood afterwards.

After the museum we head back towards some busier roads and find a kebap store to grab a snack. To see a bit more of the city in general and get some exercise we walk back to camp which takes us around 1.5 hours. Along the way we approach several hardware & gas stores hoping to find some camping gas for our cooker – without any success. As we left our gasoline cooker at home (god knows why) and are just traveling with a gas camping cooker at the moment it gets about time to stock up, but in Albania we did not find the right gas canisters yet. We'll keep on searching!

Entering the little campground again we are happy that we did the daytrip to Tirana and additionally found this place to stay. The next day we are woken up in the early morning by a knock on our door and the landlady yelling „Baby! Cow!“ and we cannot believe what we are able to experience. One of the pregnant cows is giving birth right next to our campspot. From a distance in order to not disturb we watch the birth taking place in front of our eyes. After half an hour the calf is lying in the grass, gets cleaned by its mother and turns up its head to catch a first sight of the world. We decide to have breakfast and while we're enjoying fresh eggs, thanks to the chickens, the little calf gets stronger and even stands up when we're finished eating. Unbelievable that humans need several months or even over a year and a calf only an hour to stand up.

Such surprises and unexpected places is what makes traveling like this special. The three nights around Tirana offered us some insights into city but also into farm life and we will always remember this experience for sure.

We say goodbye to the family wishing them all the best and drive on towards the coast as we are longing to see the ocean again!

Skanderbeg square

Et´hem-Bey mosque

Tourist and local at the National History Museum

Not even June and summer is in full swing in Tirana

If you like old Mercedes Albania is the place to be

Apparently, yellow was the color of choice 

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