I travelled to Tirana in December 2017 to participate in a work-related conference. The presentations finished already Friday mid -day and I was left with about 24 h to explore a bit of the city and surroundings before my flight back on Saturday PM.
Tirana itself is nothing too spectacular and similar in look with other former communist capitals from the European Eastern block. The architecture is mainly greyish appartment buildings with falling facades. The only notable exception are a few streets surrounding Skanderbeg Square, now turned a pedestrian zone. In December, a small Christmas market and several carrousels were occupying the square.
On our third day in Georgia, we had our Guide/driver ( see here how we found him) waiting for us at the hotel and started our tour of the Eastern part of the country.
First on the list was a visit to the David Gareji monastery. It is located in a semi-desert area in the South East of the country and close to the border with Azerbaijan 🇦🇿. The drive from Tiblisi will take about 2h30. We stopped in the way at Telliani Valley (an important exporter of Georgian wines) for a quick tour of their factory and some wine sampling.
We followed the concrete road for about 50 km East of Tiblisi and an unpaved road after that, all the way South. If you self drive, you should get a good map and clear indications as there are not many signs once you leave the main road. Do pack water and some snaks as this is going to be a long day hiking in the border area and other than a toilet, there is limited access to food or water once you get there. It was only us and a National Geographic vehicle when we arrived but in Summer it should be quite popular.
In Summer 2017, we were looking for a destination that was not yet firmly on the travel radar of Western Europeans to satisfy our thirst for off-the-beaten-track adventure. It was a trip for me and Mr only, so we were ready to step up the physical activites, be less picky about hotel accomodation as well as cover more ground in a shorter time. As we only had a week of holiday available, we focused the search on the Middle East and Central Asia. Georgia seemed to tick all the right boxes. So, even before we saw Lonely Planet’s list with the top countries to visit in 2018, we had bought plane tickets to Tbilisi.
Against my own best advice as regards travelling in August, the weather in Belgium just managed to chase us out of the country once more. This time direction France, Nord-pas-de-Calais region. Now, this is not exactly the European South so we did not expect 30 + degrees and warm seas but we did want some sun and a change from the grey Brussels scenery.
Actually, it is not that difficult to get lost, particularly in the old part of town (Medina). Just to give you a bit of context, the Medina of Marrakech is big, around 4 kilometers in diameter in places. It can also be very confusing, with winding covered streets, narrow dead-end alleys, and hundreds of dusty side streets only mopeds and donkeys can navigate.
The trip from Matera to Salerno (my jumping off point to Positano) was more tricky than initially thought. The plan was to take a Miccolis bus leaving at 8.15 from Matera, changing into another bus from the same company somewhere at Salandra and continuing to Salerno for a trip lasting about 3h30. The fault in the plan was
Arriving into Bari by train it takes about 15 min from the train station to the old city. This is the place to be if would like to get lost walking narrow cobble streets typical of old South Italian cities and taste great sea food in family run trattorias. I can only recommend to make here your base for exploring this city and it’s sea front.