Albania – from Prizren to Kruja

A short morning walk in Prizren

We say good morning to Prizren The Hamam is being repaired.

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Nearby, in the parking lot of a tiny house, there is a car from Berlin. “Ick bin een Berlinaa..?” No, I do not think that this car is owned by a guy from Berlin. It is not “een Berlina”, but might be a Kosovian living in Berlin.

There is the star of the Jews at the minarett… I love the coexistence of religions.

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This small cobbled street leads to the Ottoman bridge.

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Back in the hotel Central, the owner invites us for a coffee… he wants me to meet two Swiss “girls”. They are ladies of my age. The daughter of the first lady is here with Kfor and has asked her to come. Her sister-in-law has just become widow 3 months ago; she loves to exchange with me, as I know, what she senses. We review our experience in Kosovo enjoying the relation of Switzerland to this country. “Have you read about the mass collision after a local car has overtaken?  Six Swiss cars were caught. Well, we do not think that there were Swiss inside those cars… “, we laugh.

On the motorway to Kukes

We take the motorway towards Albania. “Look, how well everything is made here, there was a proper quality check”, Ben says. Indeeed, the motorway is perfect. On the Albanian side, the terrrain is more difficult. Most bridges are only half completed. Kukes is where Ben comes from (actually from a mountain village two hours away- on foot). A car stops entering the motorway on an unpaved path and the driver shouts “hello Ben”, as he saw us taking fotos.

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In Kukes, we visit the bar and garage of a relative of Ben.

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We have Boza, a local drink from Kukes, made with milk, wheat, corn and some sugar. Delicious and refreshing!

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Kukes to me looks like a sad town. During communist times, it has been far more prosperous, but now the city has lost some ten thousands inhabitants. Many houses are decaying. “This is the city center”, Ben says. I see an empty, unorderly area that they are planning to refurbish.

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When the plans are completed, it will look good… I keep my fingers crossed, because the scenery of Kukes  is great. The black (and deeper) Drin is joining with the white (and less deep) Drin . In the background are the Alps of Albania.

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A huge hotel is overlooking this scenery.  Ben has been in his hotel during communist times. But now the hotel has joined the large number of crying houses with dark windows.

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Ben dreams of opening up the shelter tunnels for tourists and offering hikes to the mountains.  Also the hospitality of Kukes could be of touristic value. It has hosted something like one million of refugees from Kosovo in 1999. and was named for the Nobel prize for peace, Ben tells me proudly. A menorial reminds of that.

On the motorway to Kruja

We continue on the motorway to Kruja. It pours with rain. We cross a tunnel that is about 5.5km long.

In lower Kruja, there is a memorial for George W. Bush. He has visited this town and supported the local industry. At least here they like this president.

Arriving in Kruja

Our car climbs uphill. Kruja lies on a “terrace” On about 1000m. Ben is happy and recites: “Kruja, oh blessed city, wait and wait for Skanderbeg, so he’s coming to liberate the motherland where he was born and where he was grown.” I can imagine now, how much the Ottomans attacking Kruja in “les tambours de la pluie” hated this place sitting in their tents (novel by Ismail Kadaré).

The Panorama Hotel has a great view of the Skanderbeg castle.  The rain has stopped and we have lunch with pepper.  There is a wedding on the groundfloor. People dance in their traditional dresses.

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We walk through the Bazar that has been renewd with the help of European funds.

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We reach the castle and visit the Ethonological Museum in the house of The Toptani. Workshops are on the ground floor,  the living rooms for women and men on the second floor.

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Next we visit the Skanderbeg museum. We flollow the story of ths great leader that Skanderbeg was withstanding the Ottomans for 25 years, supported by his men and his favorite sister Mamica.

In the evening I enjoy sitting on balcony of my room with a phantastic view of Skanderbeg’s castle. With me is a glass of white house wine from the region.

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One thought on “Albania – from Prizren to Kruja

  1. albaniansummer says:

    Hi there,
    glad to hear you had good moments in this trip! I also live in Kukes and i’m sorry for You and for my home town which gave You a bad taste, in fact it is a sad town but more sad are peoples that lives in here.

    “Peoples make the civilization”

    Can you please edit something about Boza, for the traditional and local Juice. Boza IT IS NOT made of milk, just: Corn flour, Wheat flour, Water and Sugar!

    It’s pleasure to visiting our town and hope you will visit again!

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