Sunday, April 15, 2012

Albania's northern landscape

After so many trips to Albania, I still have not managed to see its intriguing north, which I know offers breathtaking views and unrivaled hospitality.  I travel to and from the country to accomplish projects that I dreamed all my life of accomplishing during my retirement, and I am succeeding at that, although at a pace a bit too slow for my taste and experience.  

My volunteer efforts in favor of my country of origin have engulfed me for years now, but this has given me great satisfaction. It has exposed me to new fields of unparalleled life experiences, some of which hard to overcome, but it has rewarded me by expanding  the horizon of my family history and providing me with fantastic rediscoveries of where I and my ancestors came from: the northern region of Albania and part of current Montenegro.
During my stays in Albania I was and am lucky of being surrounded by relatives,  and an ever-growing number of friends,  who freely host and shuttle me around by car to visit and experience new places and local customs.  So far I have traveled east (to Pogradeç, Lake Ohrid, and into Macedonia), inland toward the south (to the ancient cities of Berat, Gjirokastër, Korçë)  and all along the beautiful Adriatic and Ionian coasts (to Saranda and the Albanian riviera).  Now it's time to get to know the north: the region of the so called Highlanders (Malsore), where my  paternal family members lived for centuries.  

At my age I may not be able to withstand trekking up and down mountain paths, but I certainly intend to see as much as I can of these zones that are opening up to civilization now, and are more accessible also by car. I am fascinated like everyone else about them!  Meantime, while re-reading the adventures of English Lady Edith Durham that visited, more than once (on horseback),  this entire region and most of the Balkans in the early 1900's, I also enjoy the latest accounts and pictures online of today's young travelers, or new Albanian sites on the web

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