Albania – from Gjirokaster to Permet

Today we travel from Gjirokaster to Permet – and tomorrow we will continue to Korça. The usual tour programs go from Gjirokaster directly to Korça which makes a very long day in the car. I am happy that Jorik from albania2go has scheduled the stop over in Permet in the Vjosa valley which gives me more time to explore the area.

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The Viroi lake near Gjirokaster

Just north of Gjirokaster there is the Viroi lake with willows and newly made paths for hiking and cycling. Ben is very proud of this place and says the Blue Eye Spring originates here .

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The Tepelene well at the road: It is a handy “water pit stop”

Ben tells me that the road to Tepelene has been completed half a year or a year ago. Before it was a sinuous road.  Shortly before Tepelene there is a well. At this “water pit stop”, we fill our water bottles.

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Tepelene – the town of Ali Pasha and the town of mineral water

Ali Pasha, the ruler of the Ottoman district of Epirus around 1800, is said to come from a village near Tepelene. This is his statue.

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As always he is shown with a stem and severe expression on his face. It is said that his mother and sister were raped by the inhabitants of the village, when he was a boy. He took revenge, when he had become Pasha and killed all men of the village.

Ali Pasha’s severe look is also on the mineral water that comes from Tepelene.

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In his district, Ali Pasha had many fortifications built or reinforced, also the one of Tepelene. This is why the Ottomans perceived him to be dangerous for their empire. He was also nicknamed “The Muslim Bonaparte of Europe”.

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Inside the walls, there is a town with small houses and neat gardens.

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In a coffee bar, we take a break. The owner asks us to look after his bar and disappears for quite some time… Once he is back, we pass by the mill of Ali Pasha and enter the valley Bençës. For about an hour we walk along broom, salvia and camomile bushes. Ben is worried that a hydropower project might destroy this valley – the construction continues despites protests of NGOs. This is the construction site.

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After a good hour’s walk we reach Ali Pasha’s aqueduct. A stunning construction, …

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… crossing the valley and the river bed.

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There is a farm nearby and a village at the end of the valley – strong,  old Mercedes cars are commuting on the unpaved road. We walk back and continue our way to Permet.

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Lunch with roasted goat

In a small restaurant overlooking the river Drino, we have lunch – roasted goat with yoghurt.

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Crossing the river Vjosa using the iron bridge

Then we cross the river Vjosa…

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… beware of the gap between the bridge and the road.

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Bus stations – are they served at all?

Along the river Vjosa we head for Permet. We come across this bus station. A lady is waiting here. Will she ever be picked up by a bus?

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We should rather take her with us… She is very happy and we drop her at her house in Permet.

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We settle in the hotel Alvora – one of the few hotels here at Permet. Our rooms have a view of the river Vjosa. We go for a short walk climbing the huge rock called Guri I Permëtit.

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Tomorrow we plan to visit Banjot e Benjës, the thermal springs, and Canyon of Lengarica. There are vineyards around Permet – visiting a winegrower would be an option here as well.

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We have dinner at the friendly restaurant Antigone where the daughter, about 20 years old, serves the guests. She has a talent for languages, speaks English and Turkish and plans to learn German in Germany. I added a recommendation for this restaurant to Tripadvisor. This is their basket offering wines from the area of Permet.

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Tomorrow we will continue to Korça.

 

 

 

Albania – on the tracks of Ismail Kadaré in Gjirokaster

Gjirokaster – a town made of stone

How much have I looked forward to this day. Today I will follow the tracks of Ismail Kadaré’s “chronicle in stone”. I had read the chronicle a year ago. It is the story of the three to seven year old boy that observed the war as a child: The first years from 1939-1940 and the second part from 1941-1943.

Today, we slender through the town where “it could happen that the basement of one house touched the roof of another house. It was a town made of stone.” As illustrated in the castle museum:

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The houses look like fortresses:  Basement with vaults, then large windows behind which the guestrooms with the divans were.

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Rich landowners lived here. They had farmers working for them. The town was wealthy due to agriculture, trade and craftmanship (eg leather).

Enver Hoxha’s house is now an ethnographics museum showing the rooms for guests, men, children and women as well as the kitchen.

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In his chronicle, Kadaré talks about Hoxha. He was a communist partisan at that time and his house was a ruin. ““This ruin was his house”, Ilir whispers to Ismail in winter 41/42 and in the ruins they find this notice: “Wanted: The dangerous communist Enver Hoxha. He is about 30 years old and tall…”” (see my blog 1941-1943)

This is another example of a fortified house; it belonged to the Skenduli family.

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The entry door is horizontal – what a clever design.

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The castle above the town 

The castle above the town has been fortified by Ali Pasha around 1800 to become a stronghold that could withstand bombing. In Kadaré’s chronicle, there was a prison here. Later the whole city hid from the English bombs. ” The number of air raids by the English is augmenting. The citizens move into the castle above the town. Only Grand-Ma Selfixhe stays in the house of the Kadarés. ” (see 1941-1943)

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The vaults were thick – here is a photo with the galerie of canons.

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During his dictatorship, Hoxha added an ugly communist building (now hosting an exhibition of rifles) and in addition tunnels underneath the castle.

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The house of Ismail Kadaré – it is stronger than all other houses and the boy is proud of it…

The house of Ismail Kadaré is on a horizontal street. From above it almost looks small.

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From the hotel Kodra I can see, what a large house it is. Yes, Ismail, you are right to be proud of this house.

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Ismail Kadaré has donated his house to the state. It is being renovated and is closed. We are allowed in. Currently they are redoing the room where Ismail was born, the foreman explains to us.

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So – may be it was from this room that the boy Ismail stood at the window and watched,  how “… in summer 1940 the Italians have built an airport below the town. The boy has observed the process. The cows have disappeared… The  boy admires the parade of white planes. He is proud that Gjirokaster now also has planes… He watches the planes go south and he is always happy to see them come back.” (see 1939-1940)

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Today the airport is not in use, but there are some plans to reuse it as a local airport.

The house has a cistern that collects rain water. ” … the rain drops land on the roof of the house – not yet knowing about their fate. Their fate is to get caught in the drainspout and to be captivated in the dark cistern, until mum lifts some of them into a bucket to clean the floors in the house. During the stormy night, the cistern fills with water – too much water. The boy shouts “huuuh” into the cistern, but it is angry and does not reply. ” (see 1939-1940). This must be, where the boy shouted “huuuh” and the angry cistern did not reply… it was to full with water and had to be emptied, with the help of the neighbours.

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The foreman shows us, where the bunker is. How proud Ismail was of “his” house! “One morning the boy discovers a metallic plate next to the door of their house: “Air raid shelter for 90 persons”. Passerbies read the plate. The boy smiles proudly at them: “Look, this is a house, it is stronger than all the other houses, it is the only one with such a plate.” The adults do not notice him. The boy goes down into the vault and admires the thick walls.” (see 1939-1940)

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In this bunker the boy listened to the conversations – one of them was about Albania: “The former artillerist Avdo Barbamo says that a Dervish wanted to know from him, what he prefers, his family or Albania. “Albania, this is evident”, the artillerist answered. His reasoning: You create a family over night, after having met a woman in a café. But Albania? You do no create Albania in a night, even 1001 nights do not suffice. ” (see 1939-1940)

I am very happy to have found the house of Ismail Kadaré. The foreman does not want any money – he is too proud, but in the end he accepts. I must have been the only tourist that has come to this construction site officially closed for tourists. I dream of a “tour Kadaré” that leads to all the places of his “chronicle of stone” displaying some relevant quotes on panels. Perhaps I should suggest this to the tourist office of Gjirokaster?

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German support for border controls in the hotel Kodra

Under the square that once has hosted the memorial for Enver Hoxha there is the new hotel Kodra. We meet some German policemen that help control the border to avoid Albanians going to Greece. “Why only repression? What about coaching for business?” I ask. They answer: “Our mission is controling the border, we cannot do anything about it”. I am sighing. If only we could change the world for the better instead of only adding violence.

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Our afternoon program: Hiking on the Lunxhëri hills and visiting a small church, the hermit’s cave and Antigonea, the ancient capital of Pyrrhus

It is no longer raining, just drizzling. Ben drives our car on to the Lunxhëri hills. We walk uphill. There are herds of sheep and goats with dogs guarding them. They bark at us, angrily. We find this church… the remains of a monastery called Shën Mërisë. According to Reise Know How Albania, p. 445, it contains frescoes.

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Above the church, there is a small chapel in the rock. According to Reise Know How (p.445), this is the cave of a hermit and it is called Spile.

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The stairs are dizzying. There are many excrements of goats – After having visited the cave, we wash our hands in a creek nearby. The weather starts to  clear up.

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The shepherds come home and we have a chat with them.

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The rainbow does not fit on to our photo lenses – and as we move, it moves with us…

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Antigonea was the capital of Epirus in the 3rd century BC. It was destroyed in 167 BC. Pyrrhus (famous for his victory) named the town after his wife Antigone.

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We say hello to Antigonea and, as it becomes dark, we return to Gjirokaster. We have dinner in the Taverna (I believe it is just across the building where the partisans had burnt the cadasters, as observed by the boy Ismail).

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This has been another great day. Thank you, Ben.

Tomorrow, we will visit Ali Pasha in Tepelene and continue to Permet.

Albania – from Saranda via Butrint to Gjirokaster

Today is 25th of September. Butrint and Gjirokastra are on the program. I do look forward to the excavations at Butrint and to the town in stone, described by Ismail Kadaré.

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Saranda – early morning walk

It pours with rain at six in the morning, but when I get out a little later, the rain had stopped and I catch some early morning views – this is the tidy promenade along the bay.

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Butrint – heavy rain and then dry weather

Butrint is located on the half island of a brackwater lake. South of Butrint, the Vivari channel connects the lake with the sea. When we arrive at Butrint, it pours with rain again.

At the entrance gate, a panel lays out the periods of Butrint: Chaonian/Epirus/hellenistic (inner circle, 4th century BC), Roman (outer circle, an aqueduct crossed the Vivari channel, as illustrated on Roman coins; until about 300 AD), early Byzantine (Baptistery and Basilika, until about 1200 AD), Medieval times with changing rulers (Venetian tower and museum building), around 1800 used as a fortress by Ali Pasha (he fought against Napoleon). I buy the book about Butrint  by Çondi (on sale at the kiosk near the museum).

We enter the site. It has stopped raining. Lucky us. I am surprised to see the city center (agora and forum) under water. This may have been caused by the earthquake around 300 AD.

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I recognize the Roman heating – the thermae were here. Such hypocausts have also been dug out in Augusta Raurica near Basel.

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The baptistery is the place where Christians were baptized. Arranged in seven rings the mosaic contains symbols that illustrate, what becoming Christian means. For instance the fish are the symbol for the sinners that are being saved by Christ. (Condi, p. 85).

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The basilica remaining from the early Byzantine times is relatively well kept.

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The mosaic is covered with sand, but a small edge is free and gives an impression of its beauty.

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This is an Illyrian gate, almost hidden. I am impressed by the strength of these walls that withstood earthquake despite the damages. Like the Inca in South America, the Chaonians knew how to construct stable walls.

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We pass the Lion’s gate, a fountain, and more sites, visit the museum (no photos allowed) and then – with the twinkle of an eye. I take this picture of a “Roman” Opuntia.

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Butrint is full with tourists that follow their guides. The guides speak like water falls, and I can tell from the eyes of many of their followers that they are no longer listening. Perhaps we should hire the tour guide from Thun that challenges his followers by brainteasers. In Butrint, one such brainteaser could be: “Using the elements of the Opuntia, the Romans prepared a salad called Nopalae, right?” –  Wrong – Nopales is a stunningly delicious meal in Mexico, but only after 1492 the Opuntia travelled to Europe and the Old World – whereby Nopales salad has not become widely known here.

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Lunch at Ksamil village

We have lunch at the small restaurant Rilindja in Ksamil village. It has started to pour with rain now.

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The place looks romantic and the chief prepares an excellent merluc (hake) with rosemary. I hear a French accent… it is a tourist from Strassbourg that has entered the restaurant. He owns a house on the Ksamil island. He spends some days here to prepare his boat for the winter.

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Excursions around Saranda: the castle Lekures and the monastery of the 40 Saints.

The castle Lekures is located on top of a hill west of Saranda.

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It is a restaurant. The deal with the owner seems to bee: You look after the castle and you can use it as a restaurant. It is foggy right now.

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But then, the fog dissipates and gives way to the view of the bay and of Korfu.

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The monastery of the 40 Saints (manastir 40 shenjtoret) is a ruin. The panel gives an idea of what it was before.

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This monastery gave the name to “Saranda” which is “forty” in Greek.

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Crossing the mountains on the way to Gjirokaster – a stop at the Blue Eye Spring (Syri y Kalter)

The Blue Eye Spring is a favourite stop over for tourists and Albanians on the way to Gjirokaster. The spring really looks like a blue eye.

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Gjirokaster – the town that I already know from Ismail Kadaré

We reach the fertile valley of the Drino.

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This is the valley of Gjirokaster, the town I already know from having read Ismail Kadaré’s “chronicle in stone”. The town has steep and narrow streets, and it is not a pedestrian zone. Cars are omnipresent. We look for our hotel Kalemi 1, land in Kalemi 2 first, have to drive backwards and turn around rectangular corners – I admire the driving skills of Ben.

My room is small and the toilet does not work. The manager is very kind and gives me a huge room with a great view of the town, the Drino valley and the Lunxhëri mountains.

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Tomorrow we will follow the tracks of Ismail Kadaré’s “chronicle in stone”. I do look forward to that.

 

 

Albania – from Llogara Village to Saranda

Today we go for an early morning walk in the Llogara hills and then drive down to Saranda along the beautiful Albanian Riviera. It is now 24th of September 2015.

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Early morning walk to see the Ionian Sea

Ben and I meet in the hotel reception early in the morning at six. Great that the coffee bar already serves an espresso. We walk up to the neck coming across this interesting electrical installation.

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Flag pines are our companions on the way up – they are called “pisha flamur” in Albanian.

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From the neck we climb uphill towards a peak. There is a gorgeous view of the Ionian coast line. In Albanian “jon” means “our”, Ben explains to me. Hence for the Albanians the “Ionian Sea” is “Our Sea”.

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Clouds are announcing that the weather will change soon. There is also a cloud covering the peak in front of us.  We return to our hotel to have breakfast. The coffee is so bad that I refuse to drink it. But milk with honey is fine…

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The young guy at the hotel reception has an excellent American accent. “Where have you studied English”, I ask him. “In Utah”, he answers. Aha, in Utah, in the beehive state? Are the Mormons present in Albania? Yes, he is a Mormon. His whole family has converted. His friends are just on their way to Switzerland, because the nearest Mormon Temple in Europe is in Berne. Albania seems to be open for all religions – I like that.

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Driving back to the neck and along the Albanian Riviera 

We load our car and drive to the neck now. There are German bunkers here – looking down to the coast line and the bungalow resort “Green Coast” that is planned in the bay.

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Between bushes of thyme and salvia we find a stand that sells honey. Ben tries the honey and likes it. We buy a pot. A herd of goats is crossing the road. They seem to think that cars are strange animals…

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Stop in Dhermi with the monastery and church Shën Mërisë 

Now we are in Dhermi. White houses are greeting us. Above them is the church Shën Mërisë. On a small path, we climb up. Most of the tombs are Greek here.

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There are the frescoes inside the church.

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When we walk down, a car from Poland comes up the steep and sinuous street. The priest is following fast in his Mercedes. It is almost eleven and he must soon ring the bell.

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Our next stop is Himara

The Illyrian town Himara lies on a rock at about 150m above sea level. This town has the oldest castle in Albania (7th century B.C.). Himara withstood the Ottomans, kept its orthodox religion and stayed somewhat independent.

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The village is now decaying. This romantic spot would have potential for tourism. Now there is no touristic infrastructure, even not a kiosk selling souvenirs or drinks.

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A Greek minority lives in this area. My mobile phone beeps and  says “welcome to Greece”. But we are still far from Greece. Ben mumbles that here he once got caught and had to pay roaming fees, though he was still in Albania. I am surprised – a kind of battle takes place between the Albanian and Greek Telecom companies.

Below Himara village we stop in the sea resort Himara. It looks ugly. The buildings are decaying. The fountain is falling apart. Only a few tourists are here – to me they look like “old 68’s”.  A ghosty atmosphere. I want to leave this place immediately.

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Porto Palermo with the castle of Ali Pasha and the submarine garage

Porto Palermo has always been a natural port. Ali Pasha built a fortification in 1804, with the help of French engineers, as an engraving shows. Later this fortification has been a prison and it was also used by the Italians and the Germans in the second World War.

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In an unfriendly restaurant, we have lunch (at least the fish was fresh). Then we get the key from the guard who has escaped the pouring rain by retreating to his apartment. With a group of students from Poland we explore the fortress.  The students have come here from Saranda, driving in a convoi of small cars from Sipa Tours. A cheerful group of young people – dzien dobry!

The ground floor of the fortress is groomy, damp and dark. We are happy to climb to the roof and find fresh air with a view of the bay.

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Not far from here is the garage for submarines that has been built during communist times.

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After a stop in a bar that sits on top of water falls (Borsh – unfortunately closed), we drive to Saranda.

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Saranda is a vibrant sea resort in a beautiful bay just across Korfu

We stay in the Kaonia hotel directly facing the sea. Saranda has been an Illyrian and Greek settlement, but in ancient times it has always been dwarfed by Butrint that is not far from here. The name “Saranda” derives from the “40 saints”.

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Korfu and Greece are just across the bay.

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We walk along the seafront. Some palm trees are beautiful – like this one -, while some have caught a disease – just the stems are left. Saranda makes a good impression. Real estate is on sale, in English and in Russian.

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The public beach is clean and the water would invite for a swim… well, not today. It is raining.

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Tomorrow we will see Butrint – the Unesco World Heritage Site south of Saranda – I look forward to that.

 

 

 

 

 

WordPress – some lessons learned from a full media library

A lot of pleasure with WordPress for two and a half years – now I am blocked

When retiring, I set up my WordPress site with the “dusk to dawn” theme, wrote more than 100 blogs and uploaded many, many photos to my media library. About a month ago, I receive the howdy-message that I have reached the free limit of 3GB. I can no longer upload photos. Well, I have to admit, I have blogged a lot, I have never looked at the size of my photos – and I knew, now I have to start thinking about all that first.

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Why have I hit a limit in WordPress in the first place, though all my blogs sit on a private server?

All my petrapeters.ch blogs sit on a private server and not in the Wordpress “cloud”. So, why have I hit a WordPress storage limit in the first place? As I understand eventually, the media library is in the WordPress cloud and not on the local server. I do not understand why, but I can also not figure out, whether it would be possible to change this. Okay, I accept the fact that my media library has to fit into the storage space provided by WordPress. Freely available are 3GB – more space is available at a price.

My conclusion: Plan for the premium upgrade, but try to understand more before doing so.

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Can I resize my photos in the media library – after the fact?

I look at the size of my photos and understand that they are 4-5MB large. Well, I know I should have thought about this before.

So I start to tidy up my media library. I delete all unused photos – a very handy feature in WordPress. The howdy message becomes less frightening: I am at some 97% of my maximum storage (and no longer 99%). Next I start to downsize the used photos by editing them in the WordPress media library. After some time, the howdy message becomes frightening again: I am at 101% now. Why? I have downsized so many photos and as a result I use more space? Yes, WordPress has ADDED the smaller photos TO the existing ones. My wish to WordPress: What about adding a feature that allows to resize photos after having uploaded them AND delete the larger versions at the same time?

My conclusion: Resizing the photos can only be done BEFORE uploading them to the media library. Oh dear.

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What image editing software is recommended to resize the photos before uploading them?

For image optimization, this WordPress support blog recommends various image editing software programs, on top of the list being Irfanview. I find it straightforward to use. I will set up a shadow media library in my picture folders for my downsized photos. The blog also tells me that smaller photos will make my page load faster, when people look at it.

In addition I learn that JPEG is the recommended format for photos, PNG for details such as text (e.g. maps)  and GIF for line art such as logos.

My conclusion: Resize photos using Irfanview, keep a shadow media library and upload photos to WordPress after resizing.

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What number of pixels and what file size are optimal for my photos, before uploading them to WordPress? 

File size: An entry in the wordpress codex teaches me: “Typically, large high quality images should be kept between 100K and 60K.” Oh, sorry, 4-5 KB might have been a bit much. I resize some photos to about 100K and find them slightly less brilliant, but I will have to live with that knowing that loading will be much faster instead.

Number of pixels: The handle I am using to resize the photos is the number of pixels. What number is optimal? The wordpress codex article indicates that for each WordPress theme there is an optimal number of pixels. What is the optimal number for “my” theme which is “dusk to dawn”? I am confused by various recommendations in the internet, and ask the happiness engineer. He writes to me: “Suggested header images are 870px x 220px. The content of the page (left sidebar plus articles) is 870px wide. The left sidebar is 282 px wide. The right article area is 588px wide. And actual content of posts are 472px wide without padding.” Okay – 472px.

My conclusion: Resize photos to 472px wide which will resize them to some 60K to 100K.

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Now buy the premium upgrade and start over again

Now I buy the premium upgrade. I discover that premium includes having a private domain (which I have paid for so far anyway), and I can have a discount right now. For all the pleasure I have had with WordPress, I am happy to contribute the premium price.

Immediately I can upload photos again. But from now on I restrict them to 472px wide and upload them only after having resized them. I also start to resize some of the photos in older blogs – but this is quite cumbersome and will take time.

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May I restate my wishes – why does WordPress not allow to resize photos in THEIR media library and – at the same time – ONLY keep the small versions of the photos deleting all other versions? And why does the media library HAVE TO BE in the WordPress cloud – why cannot it not be moved to the local server that also keeps the blogs.

Albania – a day in Berat

Hotel White City – great view of Mangalem from the balcony

The hotel White City serves breakfast on the balcony of the hird floor. From the balcony, there is a great view of Mangalem, the city under the castle. I can see where the name “white town of 1000 windows” comes from.

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Walking up to the castle hill

Above Mangalem is the city castle. On the way up we stop in the ethnological museum which is hosted in the house of the noble Xhokaxhi family.

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On the groundfloor there is an exhibition of clothes – noble ones made from silk embroidered with gold for the Pashas and plain white ones made out of wool for normal people. On the first floor the guest rooms with sofas, tea equipment and weapons have been arranged, as well as the kitchen and the rooms for the women.

We continue to the castle and pay our entrance fee.

 

Walking around the wall

The castle was first built in Illyrian times, and their solid walls remain. In Illyrian days, Berat was called Atrantia. The names of one of the streets and a restaurant remind us of that.

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We walk around the castle walls. Berat saw changing rulers: the Bulgarians (they called Berat “Beli Grad”), the Byzantines (two times), Epirus (one of the streets is called after Mihal Komneini from Epirus) and the Serbs under Stefan Dušek. From those Christian times there are churches on the Berat castle – most of them are ruins today. This is the Shën Triada Church.

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For 500 years the Ottomans ruled over Berat… also their mosques are mostly in ruins. This is the Red Mosque.

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A lady sits in a room under the castle wall – she fabricates embroidery – one napkin takes a week and she earns perhaps 10 to  20 dollars by selling it.

Hidden inside the castle walls is a city with narrow streets. The Turkish style houses are from the 18th/19th century.

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Also animals live here, cocks with their hens, sheep and also turkeys.

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Our highlight: The Onufri museum

The Cathedral of St. Mary is now a museum. It takes its name from Onufri; he was an icon painter in the 16th century. On display are icons from him and from other icon painters.

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Anila has just started her tour with a Russian group. She explains the icons in English and the Russian tour leader translates for her group. Very professional. Father Onufri’s icons are vivid and adorned with a bright red colour – here are two Theodors.

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Source: Leon Cika and Ylli Drishti: “The icons of Berat”, Mali Preshti Printing house.

This is the Last Supper taking place at a round table with vessels, forks and knife in the Ottoman style.

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Source: Leon Cika and Ylli Drishti: “The icons of Berat”, Mali Preshti Printing house.

And here the icon painter added a mosque with a minaret, as a reference to the Ottoman rulers in the country.

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Source: Leon Cika and Ylli Drishti: “The icons of Berat”, Mali Preshti Printing house.

 

Lunch at Klea

We have lunch in the Klea: Vegetable soup, Byrek with eggplant and spinach, musakka – everything home made and delicious.

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New town and Gorice

We stroll around the new town with the Bektashi centre and an orthodox church. I like this hairdresser, called “berber” in Albanian.

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We cross the Ottoman bride to Gorice, …

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… accompanied by goats crossing the Osum river in the water.

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The small church of Saint Mehillit (from the 13/14th century) is unfortunately closed – this is the view from the castle hill.

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We finish off this day by walking along the busy main street of new Berat and climb the castle hill from behind. On the way up, we meet a elderly woman with friendly eyes that limps down the steep street. Ben has a chat with her. She wishes us a long life. Thank you.

We return to the Kea restaurant and guest house. In the garden we have a beer, a glass of red wine and some goat cheese. Excellent. Whenever I come back to Berat, I would like to stay in this guest house. I made an entry in Tripadvisor. Back at home, Ben called me to give me the “thank you” from the owners. It is me that has to say thank you!