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While on holiday in Corfu this year we took a day trip over to the small town of Saranda in Albania. Security was very tight, passports were scrutinised and armed police were swarming all over the port when we arrived. We were quickly whisked away by coach to a very posh hotel for coffee and to buy postcards. We were then taken by coach to the acient ruins of a town called Butrinti. The roads were terrible, some no more than dirt tracks and they passed through or by small villages with tiny shacks for living in and decrepid old bulidings all but fallen down. The ruins at Butrinti were magnificent, we were split into groups and followed a tour guide around who told us everything about the place. It was an amazing site, very well protected and cared for and well worth the twelve pounds we paid to see it. On returning to Saranda we were given lunch, nothing spectacular but quite a nice mixture of cheese, salad vegetables and meat, buffet style. After lunch we followed a guide around Saranda, she pointed out the important things like the school, hospital, town hall and police station etc. We were never allowed to go anywhere on our own, we were told it was for our own safety. While we took the tour of Saranda we were followed by about 5-6 small children between the ages of 6 & 10, they were selling hand croched table mats that their mothers and sisters had made, thet were very persistent but on the other hand sweet and innocent and amusing. My expectations of Albania were very different from what I saw, the streets are terrible and away from the centre of town it is like a grotto, a lot of derelict buildings decay and rubbish. A lot of money needs to be pumped in to make it a serious tourits place but if you are looking for a different sort of travel experience then this is the place to go, but only for the day.
I reckon that this is an old review, but the situation in Albania nowadays has changed a lot. Butrint is a very good place to visit, but cheaper than what it is written. Saranda is not as scary as you describe and I see nothing written about the beach. It is just a quick and underestimated journey.
heideroosjes 22.02.2004 19:49
Needs more info as to what to do, prices etc. Alex