Monday, 1 September 2014

Summer holiday in Albania - part 3

The next time we decided to visit Durres, we made sure we obtain proper driving instructions, which was kind of funny. At breakfast, we asked a young waiter to give us a general guideline how to conquer the traffic loop at the entrance of Durres and eventually enter the city (as we found free navigation on our Androids rather useless). The main point of the instructions we have received was - "whatever you do, do not go straight after the bridge, defy every sense and turn right immediately after the bridge!" So we did as he said and we ended up in Durres. Thumbs up!
There are several archaeological sites in Durres, one of them being the remains of the Roman age arena. One may think that preservation of such archaeological finds would be better attended to, but again, one would be wrong. What we found quite peculiar was the fact that there were houses built within the boundaries of the archaeological site, or just next to it, without any free space between them.
To start from the beginning - we have found ourselves at the bottom of a decent size mosque, yet to find out that it was one of the rare mosques left from 16th century. Apparently this mosque ‘managed’ its way through the rough second half of the 20th century, as it was pronounced as a cultural monument in 1973, aiding its conservation.
Fatih Mosque dating from the early 16th century
We have quite liked the wide, white marble stairs and the paved area in front of the mosque, bordering with a 15th century defence wall.

Hubby posing in front of the wall
Just around the corner I spotted a staircase, rather wide and very white, so I was like – yeah, there should be something worth seeing; otherwise it would be narrow and grey. And I wanted to show this one to girls from my support group (<3 dukanice!) to demonstrate that I am not as lazy as I used to be – climbing all those stairs and no one forcing me to.

The stairs...
And you can bet there was something to see! As we were roaming around, no particular itinerary in our mind we were lucky enough to spontaneously fin the old Roman amphitheatre!

Walking around the site, we have realised the area around the Amphitheatre was densely populated from all sides! It appeared to us that the remains of were unprotected for a longer period of time, since houses that were built around it looked like they were constructed from 1950-es to 1980-es. From this spot, we were also able to see an interesting skyline and buildings closer to the sea shore.

Bridged buildings and hollow dome dominating the panorama

Amphitheatre - another perspective
And as we descended around the amphitheatre, we realised that houses were not only constructed CLOSE to it, but that a couple of them were in its arena! Seriously????

As we walked towards the sea shore, we found out that the building with the 'hollow dome' as we called it was not religious building under construction, but rather a fully constructed public building with a courtyard under the symbolic dome! Rather interesting!

Albanian University Durres
Imagine going to school just a block away from the sea shore! In such a case I wouldn't object going to school again! At the shore, a reminder of a hero-centred culture again. As I failed to remember it this statue was dedicated to a particular person, I came across this photo with a great perspective including the weird green bridged building. That colour. Ew. I had my room painted in it when I was younger. The most depressing colour of all times. I called ti it cabbagey green.  

An over sized partisan statue and myself (too scared to climb another level) 

Not far from this monument, we spotted yet another peculiar piece of architecture - a bridge connecting a building on the shore with another one over the sea!

Mhm, where might that bridge be leading to?
The bridge took us to a very nice cafe bar! On a scorching hot day, this was exactly what we needed! A cold beverage, while sitting in the shade and being caressed by the salty breeze. Totally cheesy, I know. But the breeze was really refreshing and spending an hour at his mesmerising bar over the sea was just the thing I needed if I was going to continue walking around Durres in that heat.
One hour of this (sea view below), and I was back to being my old self. 

I decided that I was wearing just an appropriate sailing outfit to match it with the Ventus bridge surrounding (see that refashioned shirt?).

After meeting Mr. - sorry - Comrade Mujo of Ulqinj (top right) I felt indescribable need to take a photo with the statue of this guy who turned in his fishing career to defend the country he felt as his own from the occupiers in 1938.

Venetian-style defence tower dating from the 15th century
Our wandering through Durres (which was actually a locals' guided search for the post office) took us to the remains of the Roman spa, which was, oddly enough, enclosed by the apartment buildings. Preservation of historical heritage, Albanian style.

In front of a Roman spa ruins
Following a dozen questions to unsuspecting locals and half a dozen useful directions in Italian (apparently, very useful language to know in Albania) we have managed to find the Post Office! Hidden among the trees! So we finally got the chance to dispatch our postcards - which arrived in two weeks time.

The post office! Finally!

To make a perfect end of the day, we returned to Golem for a late afternoon swim and fun at the beach.


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