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Lefkada (Greece) - Gjirokaster (Albania)


Lefkada is an island connected to the mainland via a dike and a bridge. If there are many (sailing) boats, the bridge opens every hour and you will have to wait a while before you can get over it. We drive to Lefkada via Patras and there too we drive over a large bridge, to the northern part of Greece. We know it will be less weather in the coming week, but yes we can't control the weather gods. Please note: we have had more rain in Greece in a month than three months of Italy and the Balkans. Where it is bone dry in Spain, there is regular rain here. Oh yes, on May 1st it is a public holiday here and all shops are closed. Even the lidl is not open, while it is (so far) partly open on Sundays.


Round island

Despite the rain, we drive around the island. Looking for the beautiful beaches that the island has. First south to Vasiliki, a beautiful village with a beautiful large beach. There is also a school, where the students also play basketball outside. They are surprised to see Misty, they don't see such a big dog often. We grab a waterfront terrace for lunch and the waitress is also pleasantly surprised by Misty. It is striking that we hear many Dutch people around us (it is also May holidays in the Netherlands). We choose not to drive all the way to the South-West but to choose a beach a little further north, Kathisma beach. We have to deflect from the main road to a steep road down. As we drive down we see signs everywhere 'not parking'. In May this is not a problem we notice, but I think in the summer it is convenient to rent a scooter or something, which parks much easier.


At Lefkada we are looking for a pet store for food for Misty. In Italy we switched to Royal Canin, on the advice of the vet. Misty may have had an allergy and the food we had brought was gone anyway. According to the vet, Royal Canin was available anywhere in Europe and a good alternative. That's right too, but not the chunks for big dogs :-). In this pet store we find a very friendly seller who proposes to order the food himself. We do that, that we have to stay a day longer is not a punishment.


Rain and Nydri waterfalls

After four days of rain on Lefkada, we are a bit fed up. It makes no sense to clean the caravan, because the wet grass and wet sand will walk the mess back in. On the other hand, it's a good thing we're not going to drive today (Thursday). Just left two campers and they were stuck, with a lot of pushing and pulling they loosened. And we are also a bit done with breaking everything and leaving in the rain. An advantage of all that rain is that the Nydri waterfalls are beautiful to see. In the summer only a small trickle comes down, but now it thunders quite a bit. Yesterday morning (Wednesday) it was dry for a while and then we drove there to walk with Misty too. What a beautiful route, not a big hike, but a nice climb. Occasionally slippering because of the water and the trees are so beautifully in bloom. The whole environment is green.



You slowly walk up into the gap and as you get higher it gets steeper. At some point you have to take a small step over the water, where it is also worn out a little deeper. It was only half a metre, but with no possibility we got Misty over it. She can jump like a kangaroo, but this? Rudolf just waited with her, as I went further up. When I was gone she tried twice more to go over it, but unfortunately. In retrospect it was also good, because there were more pieces that she probably hadn't done, our fear hare of water haha. Upon returning I waited and Rudolf went upstairs. I have already ordered a Club Sandwich downstairs with coffee and tea, to have a delicious lunch. The waterfalls are definitely recommended in the spring. Beautiful surroundings, lots of water, beautiful greenery and also nice and cool.


Remembrance Day

Although you are abroad, you remain connected to the Netherlands. On May 4, we therefore want to stand (and be) still for the commemoration of the dead. At least that was the intention. Due to the many rains, several places on the campsite were not passable, but that German camper who arrived around 8 pm did not see that (Greek time). He was completely stuck, couldn't move forward or backward anymore. Fortunately, almost the entire campsite came to help get him out. We tried it with planks, stones, carpets. By the entire campsite, I mean Dutch, Germans, English and Australians. Until the English arrived with road plates, they still had them somewhere in their camper in front of Morocco. With a sigh they were out. The Germans then offered wine to everyone who had helped. So we all drank wine under the canopy at the reception. This remains a story not to forget. What we did forget was time. At 21.30 (20.30 NL) we went back to the caravan and found out that we had forgotten the commemoration of the dead. However, we did cooperate with each other, internationally and had a lot of fun and that was also very nice.


Greece

Definitely has some very beautiful areas such as Lefkada, Olympia, Peloponnese, Pelion, Athens. The roads are good, they drive 10x neater than in southern Italy. They speak good English, throw less waste along the way than southern Italy, but it is there every now and then. Strikingly many cars are rusting away in the craziest places, seen many old / antique Volkswagen vans. The toll is expensive and every 50 km there is a toll station, so driving on is difficult while it is not busy on the highway. Gas stations along the highway are not there from Thessaloniki to Turkey, but from Thessaloniki to Athens are again. We often refuelled locally, and the diesel was cheap. Well what is cheap? Between €1.50 and €1.70 (highway). Rudolf has not seen white houses with blue accents, like in Santorini. So the thought that this is the case throughout Greece is not correct. Little setback for him :-).


Gjirokaster - Albania

We were supposed to go to Meteora, but the weather would be a bit rainy again and in Albania only a few days later. Plans adjusted and we drove to Gjirokaster in Albania on Sunday, May 7.


No problem at the border. Only passport, car papers and caravan paper checks and we were wished for a nice trip. Since we (Rudolf) still have too many wine bottles in the caravan, we were very happy with this. Around 2pm we arrived at Family campsite in Gjirokaster and it was fairly busy. The campsite was almost full, but luckily we found a nice spacious spot at the end of the campsite. (and on Monday the campsite was empty again except 5 places :-))


Gjirokaster, who doesn't know it yet. The city from 'Who is the Mole' where the participants had to put the centre full of carpets. Great hilarity everywhere, and it was almost impossible to discover who had 'melted'. In addition, Gjirokaster is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We manage to park the car close to the castle, but still it's a tough climb up. The city is too steep to allow a lot of car traffic and cycling up, even with E-bikes is also tough. So it doesn't matter, it's spicy.


Gjirokaster means 'Silver Castle', named after the castle that stands above the city. From the castle you have a beautiful view of the city and its surroundings. You can look far on sunny days. Inside it is cool, outside it is very hot on sunny days. The castle is also used every few years for an international Folklore Festival. Participants come from many Balkan countries. There is also an American plane, about how it will come about two versions. The Albanian version is that the plane entered their territory and was shot down. The American version is that the plane got into trouble in bad weather due to a shortage of fuel and then landed. Very nice that they tell both versions, because not every country does that. It is often chosen to proclaim only the version of your own country. The castle is definitely worth a visit.




After the castle we first have lunch at Taverne Traditionale Kardhashi. A great traditional tavern with lots of colour. Don't be tempted by sitting in the old town, opt for a tavern at the castle and then we can definitely recommend Taverne Traditionale Kardashi. There are many flowers on and around the terrace and there are also roses on the table. The old waitress (grandma) wants to put them away and I gesture that they can stand. She puts them back and I say 'faleminderit'. A big smile appears and she touches me on my back for a moment. Faleminderit means 'thank you'. Welcome with a bottle of water and a small homemade berry drink (without alcohol). We order homemade meatballs, tomato salad with a lot and also only tomatoes and a sandwich. Of course they have a lot more, you have it for choosing. After lunch we got another piece of cake from the house. Lovely place to sit for a while. And when we leave, the grandmother says thank you again for faleminderit. A small word of Albanian, but so appreciated important.


Rudolf had thought that we could also walk to the Zekate house. Not knowing that this was 800 metres further with a 10% increase. We made it, but the atmosphere had dropped to zero for a while. The house is definitely worth it. Beautifully preserved Ottoman house, above the city, original frescos all the way into the upper room, authentic toilets :-) and a friendly host. The host is married to a direct descendant of the family. And he knows Cruyff, van Basten, Gullit and Frenkie de Jong :-).


The bazaar is our next point. You can't leave Gjirokaster without a dress, handmade. Five streets come together in the old centre, a five-jump. Each street has a number of souvenir shops, restaurants and shops where they sell rugs, carvings, embroidery or crockery. It looks atmospheric, but also immediately touristy. I doubt everything is handmade, especially if you see the same patterns and colours in multiple stores. Nevertheless, it is wonderful to see all those colours. I do see a very nice rug, but this one is way too big for the caravan. She doesn't have a smaller one in the same colours, the saleswoman tries to sell something that looks like it, but if in doubt it's no in this case.



Only one more day left in Albania and how the country has already surprised us. Even if the rest of the country is nothing, at least I advise you to go to Gjirokaster. Wow what a beautiful first day in this country. Pershendetje in ngrohta Gjirokaster








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