After 7 years, I reiterated my first visit to Albania. At that time it was mainly the town of Shkodra (http://a-trips.sk/shkodra/). Now I have added a visit of Shkodra´s rivieranamely the town of Velipoja, which is only 30 km away.
If you are interested in Velipoja, have questions or just want to share, you will find us as well here.
We took this trip again from nearby Montenegro. We rented a smaller car and headed south. Our road was heading along the coast from Budva to Bar. We stopped several times on the way just to enjoy the creations of nature that stunned us from every side. The Bar is a large Montenegrin port and also a popular city for tourists. In this town we should have turned into the mountains to the Albanian border and the Sukobin - Muriqan crossing. I deliberately chose this route for its rural character despite the worse quality of the road.
Thanks to GPS, it was easy to find it. The road began to roll up the hill and the double lane became a single lane. The houses gradually declined. The Adriatic sea slowly faded out of sight, and the mountains were getting closer to us. Riding on this road is probably better slower and cautious, because probably you meet some cow on the road, as happened to us. This animal, which stopped traffic in both directions, gave us a sincere smile. This phenomenon repeated several times during the day, but I was already prepared with the camera. The road gradually waned and when we came to the turning to the town of Ulcinj, we found a new asphalt on the road, but no cows.
Soon a row of standing cars and the word “Dovidjenja Crna Gora” appeared in the distance. We said Goodbye to Montenegro quite quickly. The whole check at both borders was relatively short ... and we were already welcomed by the inscriptions "Mirë se vini në Shqipëri"1. Of course, the legendary first bunker at the Celik stop should not be missing. It is I guess the closest bunker to the border, nearly in Montenegro.
Excited by the feeling that we are in Albania, we hurried to our first stop - Rozafa castle. Kalaja2 has not changed much. Turnstiles and tourists have been added. The formerly quiet castle has now become a bustling tourist monument. Well, on the one hand, just to keep those tourists from destroying it. Rozafa gave me the opportunity to enjoy the view of Skadar Lake and the surrounding area. Under the fluttering Albanian flag one has the desire to recite verses of Naim Frashëri's poem3:
„ Ti Shqipëri më jep nder,
më jep emrin Shqipëtar
zemrën ti ma gatove
plot me deshirë e me zjarr.“4
To Rozafa we said goodbye very slowly. We did not want to leave pleasant wind and beautiful views. The three rivers that cross in Shkodra give the whole neighborhood a nice look. We pushed along a narrow steep path among the cars of incoming tourists and headed towards the center.
Driving in Albania is a special story and it would deserve an extra article if not a whole guide. There is no horizontal marking, rear-view mirrors are only used for exterior inspection. Semaphore has 3 colors, but they all mean "go!" A vehicle is concerned everything with wheels no matter where, when and how it was made. Of course, no means are limited by the number of people. Thus, an adult, a child, a pet and a purchase can fit on an old motorcycle. I have no idea how technical control works there. But I still haven't seen a single accident in Albania.
From Rozafa we got into such an atmosphere on the road. We headed to the center. The problem was just that we didn't know where the center was. GPS had a poor signal and traffic signs were all sorts of. Stopping in this wilderness and asking for directions seemed risky. So we wandered for a while and enjoyed the traffic until the sign Teatri Migjeni, a theater near the city center, appeared before us. We've already gone. Parking in Shkodra is quite a problem for a large number of cars on the road. Of course, the conveniences of a parking machines and paid parking have not yet been discovered. We left our car in a small alley opposite the "Veza ideale"5. Shop full of eggs. Everybody remembers that store. In Albania it is interesting that many shops sell only one kind of product.
Along the way from shop with ideal eggs, we saw a shop that sold only oil, other only sugar. So it was more like a garage sale. On this busy street, there were quite a few such merchants and vendors. Our brief tour started Xhamia a madhe6.Here I was not lucky again. 7 years ago I did not get in because of inappropriate clothing and now it was closed. Such bad luck had to be eaten. The pedestrian zone has been completely modernized. The good news for those who don't want to eat musaka, byrek and bakllava is that there are already restaurants withnot Albanian cuisine. So steak, burger, pizza and so on. The design of these restaurants is also similar to the menu - very modern. The waitress speaking perfect english7 also seemed more like an American than a modest Albanian. People are changing.
It was very warm outside all day. After lunch we were in a state the only place we could endure was the beach. Therefore, a sign with the word “Plazh”8 seemed like a paradise. We immediately headed in its direction. Beach was located in the town Velipojawhich is about 30 km from Shkodra.
A good quality road leeds to Velipoja (a new asphalt road without a single mound) through fields and beautiful natural scenerywhere the plain was mixed with smaller hills. On the way we saw a lot of cattle on the pasture, some herds even wandered on the road. Be careful in Albania because the herd of cattle on the road is quite common. Cattle still have a very high value for the local population. So, for each cow, you should be careful not to hurt her. Finally, we looked forward to every new piece of cattle discovered on the road.
After about 40 minutes we found ourselves in an under construction area, which, according to billboards, indicated that Velipoja was not that far away. Velipoja is basically only a villagethat is slowly developing and starting tourism.We stopped at its center. In this part a complex of several buildings is being built to serve as hotels, restaurants and apartments. Velipoja is a smaller destination which still need a time. There are some hotels and restaurants, it needs more clients from abroad. Parking was smooth. At the local market, we have replenished the supply of fruit liquids and have already run to the beach.
After a slight disappointment from Ulcinj, I was a little worried. Thankfully the beach and its service were absolutely fine.It is equipped with deck chairs at an affordable price about 500 leks (3.5 €). Immediately at the lifeguard's watchtower, çader me dy shezlonge9was waiting for us. The çuni me çadra flickered like a flash10 and he probably guessed correctly and immediately began "the price is five hundred lek per day". I was really surprised by his English because we were the only strangers on the whole beach. Me with my blond hair and my fellow passenger with a height of almost 190 cm and lighter skin did not fit into this picture at all, but neither of us felt uncomfortable.
Sand is darker gray - black in contrast to other Albanian beaches. The entrance to the sea is gradual, ideal for children. The water is clear. The. sea is calm and suitable for bothnon-swimmers and swimmers.Sellers of various snacks roam on the beach, but not as much as in Durres. This beach is known and popular mostly by Albanians. I was delighted with the petulla, which are local mini donuts, which I always like to stand by.
The refreshment in the sea was good and it was a nice conclusion of our day spent in Albania. With sunset we went back. We greeted sheeps, horses and cows, which had already been put to sleep. The Albanian sun gave us goodbye in Muriqani, where we had to wait a lot with other tourists. Here we experienced some funny situations and the cow was to escort us to the border. With a pleasant feeling, we greeted a tired Albanian policeman who complained that he had had enough. We stepped on the gas, and as we were racing, we were in hurry to our temporary home.
I still think that northern Albania and its coasts are quite nice for a 2-3 day trip. In Velipoja you will enjoy the sun and water. This village is calmerwhich can suit families with children. There are plenty of accommodation facilities of different quality. There will also be no problem with restaurants, bars, markets and entertainment. For culture, you can go to nearby Shkodra. Those who would like to relax can spend more days by the sea. Certainly there is no point to have any concerns.
Velipoja is a small village and needs its time. I suppose in a few years it will be a huge tourist resort with everything that goes with it. Of course, it will also bring profits to Shkodra itself and thus improve service. Currently, Rozafa´s city is a pleasant example of an Albanian town with a rich history and Velipoja seaside village with a pleasant and peaceful atmosphere. Who wants can find beauty in every place. The postcard from Rozafa reminds me that there is no need to worry and just go there.
1 Welcome in Albania
3 Codifier of Albanian
4 You give me honor, you give me the name of an Albanian, you have cooked my heart, full of desire and fire.
5 Ideal eggs
6 Big mosque
7 Speaking perfect English
9 Umbrella with 2 deck chairs
10 Beach boy