Today marked our third country of this voyage – Albania! We came alongside the industrial port of Durres early in the morning and took coaches across the countryside up into the mountains for a morning in Kruje. Our local guides shared the deep turmoil that has shaped the culture here over countless generations, back to the time of the ancient Illyrian tribes. Hearing firsthand accounts of what it was like to grow up during the Communism era, the inflation and Ponzi schemes that decimated the economy in recent history, and the commitment to weeding out corruption in the court system was eye-opening for many guests who were getting to know Albania for the first time.
The morning’s adventure took us through a bustling local bazaar with handmade filigree silver, traditional rugs made on looms, and a variety of antiques dating back to World War II. Guests had the opportunity to visit the Skanderberg Museum, a showcase of Albania’s most well-known fighter who defeated the Ottoman Empire with battle tactics such as flaming goat horns in enemy campsites.
An internationally accomplished folk music and dance troupe entertained us over a delicious lunch full of local fare including feta cheese, cucumber tomato salad, lamb, and potatoes. The traditional dance costumes and music brought smiles and applause all around. Upon returning to Durres, guests had the opportunity to visit an ancient Roman-era amphitheater that is still being excavated by the government. The layers of history in Albania are fascinating to discover, and we are looking forward to another day in this beautiful country tomorrow!