This post is about a roadtrip we did to Albania from Montenegro, if you want to read about the first part, you can find it here.
I don’t think Montenegro lacks interesting places to visit, so I’m pretty sure it was a desire to visit yet another country, that made us go for 1 day, road trip to Albania – probably, one of the best decisions we ever made while traveling! One of the youngest democracies in Europe, Albania casted off its communist shackles in 1992. Kind of forgotten part of the old continent, its people were made infamous by Hollywood in the movie Taken. Only in most recent years, tourists started to explore the country further …and my oh my, there’s a lot to explore!
Having only 1 day we had to choose a place in range of the drive and close enough, not to rush too much. Prokletije or the Accursed Mountains, as they’re otherwise called, was an obvious choice! After short online research, the village of Theth, with its picturesque church and Blue Eye pond was looking more than promising. We rented the car from Sur-Price for €25 for the day, but there was additional charge of €25 for taking the car abroad. The company contacted us via WhatsApp, dropped off and picked up the car directly from our hotel. The person delivering it, spoke good English and offered great customer service. I can recommend the company without hesitation.
Equipped with the car we went on our journey to Theth …or so we thought! We decided to take the shorter route to go and longer to come back. Going there, we crossed the border via Božaj and it took us around 4 hours (waiting at the border included). A long bridge on Lake Skadar makes it a scenic drive and there are various other attractions you can experience if you have enough time. Endangered, mostly by human disturbance, Dalmatian Pelican can be found right here. Critical Ecosystem Conservation Fund is trying hard to save population of these magnificent birds.
Božaj border can be quite intimidating at first, especially if you travelled within Schengen area, where military serviced crossing are a thing of the past. Here, unkind faces of guards, blend with old cars and uniforms straight from a movie about cold war. You may feel uncomfortable, but formalities take little time and before you know it, you’re on the other side and on your way. I even manged to make the officer smile at me when attempting to say “thank you” in Albanian.
We were traveling via E762, road leading to Shkoder, city lying on the shore of aforementioned lake and one of the bigger ones in Albania. Quality of the surface was really good, but as soon as we turn towards our destination, it changed considerably; also the width allowed only one car to travel comfortably. Paved road ends around 10km before you reach the Blue Eye (small café/restaurant is situated at that point) and we had to turn around. Our car was not a 4×4 and we were advised, by the gentleman working nearby, it’s not safe to travel further. If you planning similar trip, be prepared to walk or rent a 4×4!
I did road trips in some of the most beautiful places on the planet, including Hawaii and Iceland amongst many, but this short stretch of narrow road in the middle of “Albanian Alps” was, by far, the most mesmerizing! In the beginning of autumn, some leaves already fell, some were changing colour and some were still green. White, limestone mountains are a perfect canvas for Mother Nature! Forget Picasso, forget Monet, this was a true masterpiece and, just as speechless as I was back then, I have no words to describe it now. All I will tell you is that I was thinking to myself how much the car window was affecting the colours I see, only to realize that it was open the whole time!
Coming back we went by the coast and crossed the border via Sukobin; it took us around 5 hours including waiting time. We had to drive through the city of Shkoder and then towards the coast. While waiting at the border, kids approached our car, asking for anything we were willing to give, from clothes through food to money – sunglasses were my toll. We waited considerably longer at this crossing. While back in Montenegro, we drove by the coast, passing through few small villages and towns, until we reached our hotel back in Becici.
Come back for the last part of our Montenegro adventour!