A Place We Love – The Blue Eye

Today, we take you to one of our favorite countries, Albania. The Blue Eye is a natural phenomenon, that attracts a lot of local and international tourists.

Blue Eye is actually a water spring, located near the village of Muzinë. The biggest nearest town is Sarandë (where we were staying at that time).

Some facts and numbers:

  • Albanian name is “Syri i Kaltër”.
  • It’s the initial water source of the Bistricë river.
  • At least 50m deep.

Our GPS only covered the north of Albania, whereas our destination was located in the south. Luckily, a couple of local men showed us the right direction.

You find yourself in an environment surrounded by oaks and sycamore trees.

There is a coming and going of visitors; with a bit of patience, you can have the place to your own.

That blue is simply gorgeous! I had never seen anything this… blue!

Is a visit to the Blue Eye worth it? If you like a fascinating natural phenomenon, then yes. But it won’t keep you busy for a long time. Better combine this with a stroll in the center of Sarandë.

Have you ever been to Albania? Would you consider ever going there?


Fine Dining in the Albanian Sky

Olive oil. Fruits. Fish. Vegetables. And seafood. These are the main ingredients used in cooking in the south of Albania.

In the summer of 2013, Lars and I found ourselves in Sarandë:

We were there for a week, soaking up a lot of sun, swimming, exploring natural and historical sights. And eating and drinking… a lot. We rented an apartment and ate out every evening. The food was not expensive at all and seemed to have borrowed influences from its two main neighbors: Italy and Greece.

I had found publicity for a restaurant, but I was unaware that it was located on top of a hotel with 6 or 7 floors. Only accessible with a glass exterior elevator. And Lars and I both suffer from vertigo!

But we made it. And luckily we did. I mean, look at those views!

Let’s eat!

Pasta with fresh seafood and fish, tomatoes and flat-leaf parsley
Beef with fruit and yoghurt

Simple + fresh = spectacular! Just like the sunset…

No meal is complete without a digestive…

We had to come back a second time… Lamb on the menu.

A bit of lounging afterwards, looking at another beautiful sunset…

Unfortunately, we can’t remember the name of the hotel nor the name of the restaurant. We did some very extensive research but to no avail… But it gives you an idea of what awaits you when you eat out in Albania.

We have a special weekend coming up! And a post about a spectacular mountain drive!

The Ultimate Guide to the Amphitheatre of Durrës

After 10 years of traveling around all over Europe, I can say that I have 3 favorite countries: Poland, Romania, and Albania. These three underwent dramatic historic changes, boast magnificent sceneries and breathtaking architecture. On top of that, Albania is the best representative of Mediterranean food, with fresh ingredients such as fish, seafood, vegetables, and fruit. Lars and I also had the impression that Albania on a gastronomical level was inspired by two of its neighbors, namely Italy and Greece. But more about Albanian food in another post.

We traveled to Albania two times, once in 2013 to Sarande and the second time in 2015 to Durrës. The latter is one of the biggest cities in Albania and also one of the oldest.

We spent a week in Durrës, but on the first days, we explored the beach and swam a lot. Once we had become accustomed to the summer heat, it was time for some sightseeing: a visit to the biggest attraction of the town, its amphitheater, built in the 2nd century.

Durrës Amphitheatre

Lars and I were in Albania by car, but unfortunately, our GPS had stopped working as soon as we had entered the country. It was even by sheer luck that we had found our hotel! Luckily for us, two hotel employees accompanied us on our drive to the amphitheater – they had an appointment in the center of the town. And thanks to my excellent visual memory, we found the way back again to our hotel. In a nutshell: if you are in Durrës with a car without a trustworthy GPS, better take a taxi!

The address is: Rruga Kalase, Durrës, Albania

Some interesting numbers:

  • Length: 132m.
  • Width: 113m.
  • Height: 20m.
  • Capacity: 15.000 – 20.000 spectators.
  • Founded: the 2nd century.
  • Excavation: 1966.

The Durrës amphitheater is the biggest of its kind in the Balkans.

I can’t remember how much we paid for the entrance fee, but I am very sure that it was a low amount. You cannot visit the amphitheater on your own though, a guide accompanies you. Two words of warning: wear good shoes or proper sandals and take water with you. There is a lot of climbing to do in very hot weather!

Our guide started the tour with a funny anecdote. A professor had a lemon tree in his garden that for unknown reasons didn’t bear any fruit. One day, out of curiosity, he started digging in his garden and that’s exactly how he discovered the ruins.

She showed us the remains of a Christian chapel, dating from the 2nd half of the 4th century.

Performances, also with gladiators, took place until the 4th century.

Excavations took place from late 1966 to the 1980s. Then the amphitheater started slowly decaying because conservation efforts were only taken at the beginning of the 21st century. Moreover, the building is on all sides surrounded by houses.

In the meantime, the Durrës Amphitheatre has made it to the tentative list of Albania for inscribing it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And that seems to be a slow procedure as well. Such a shame that this magnificent building is rotting away…

If you want to know more about the past of Durrës, better visit the archeological museum.

Join us again next week, when we take you to other corners in Europe!

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