Berat, Albania

We were up early to have breakfast with Isuf and Drita as they had an early bus. They’re heading down to Sarande to visit Isuf’s grandmother for her birthday and they’ve left us their house for as long as we want. It seems quite strange that they would trust us by leaving us to stay in their house unsupervised, but couch surfing is all about trust.
Drita served a simple breakfast of boiled eggs, toast, homemade strawberry jam, preserved oranges, cheese, fresh milk, fruit, Turkish coffee and Rakija. It seems a bit strange to be drinking Rakija so early in the day but it’s a local tradition which they swear by, so when in Albania……..

It was such a shame that I got sick whilst in Durrës which forced us to stay an extra day so we didn’t get to spend more time with Isuf and Drita.

After they left we headed into Berat, to have a look around. Berat is a wonderful mix of old and new with Ottoman houses which date from the 13th, to the 19th century on either side of the river. The houses which stretch up into the hills below Berat castle give the city it’s nickname of the “City of a Thousand Windows”.
The university of Berat nicknamed the”White House” due to its shape really stands out from other buildings which surround it. Around the city are lots of mosques and churches almost side by side. It reflects the religious tolerance which exists throughout Albania.
In the centre of Berat a large pedestrian promenade, lined with cafe’s was packed with young guys drinking coffee. Meanwhile old guys sat in the park playing chess whilst groups of people walked up and down the walkway. It seemed everyone was out. In the larger towns wide pedestrian walkways are installed and everybody goes out walking.
We found a small restaurant at the end of the street which was serving club pittas. It sounded interesting and soon pittas like waffles arrived. They were filled with grilled chicken, onion, and salad.
The rain came in as we were eating lunch but lifted just in time for us to head back to the local Taverna Lazarus for a coffee where Enjel slipped us a Rakija to go with our coffee. It seems it’s a local tradition.

We headed back to the house for a rest, after reserving a table at Taverna Lazarus for 7pm.
Just before we were to leave for the taverna Isuf’s brother, Alket arrived home so we were able to have a chat.
Our night out turned out rather well with Enjel (the owner of Taverna Lazarus) serving us grilled pork chops, skewered chicken wrapped in bacon, skinless meat sausage, accompanied by salad, tarasamolata, washed down with a carafe of homemade red wine. It seemed every few minutes the window of the servery would open and Enjel would appear with another dish. Michele started worrying that he’d mucked the order up and there were more trays to come. As it was we had more than enough food. There wasn’t much room on our table but the last remaining space was quickly filled with glasses of Rakija, the good old Balkan digestive. Luckily he brought out fruit for dessert as by this stage we were chockas and feeling pretty tipsy. With a mix of local folk music playing in the background it really was the perfect setting for a nice night out.
After a really enjoyable few days in Berat, it’ll be sad tomorrow to head to Girokasta.

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