Dallas Smith's Blog


Saranda Seaside Resort


Corfu and Albania face each other across a narrow channel.  Ferries carry tourists back and forth from Corfu several times a day.  Albania is perhaps the least-developed country for tourism in all of Europe.  For many years Albania was the poorest country in Europe.  Prices are half the costs in Corfu.  This makes Albania attractive for tourists.  The Albanian landscape is very mountainous, so the tourist industry is promoting the country’s undisturbed natural attractions for adventure tourists.

Albania's Troubled History

For many years, Albania was completely shut off from the rest of the world, due to its decades-long tyrannical dictator Enver Hoxha.  Hoxha was a Muslim Marxist-Leninist in the style of Stalin.  Hoxha ruled Albania for decades as a brutal dictator, executing political opponents and anti-communists without trials.  Hoxha shut Albania off from the rest of the world, telling Albanians that other countries were threatening to invade Albania.  Thus Albania should prepare to defend itself by cutting off ties to other countries.  There was also an elaborate fence and warning system along the coast to prevent Albanians from fleeing their country. 

The period of enforced isolation followed years of close communist relationships, first with the USSR, and after Stalin’s death a close relationship with China.  Hoxha declared Albania to be the first atheist country in the world. 

Albania’s perhaps most famous native was the famous catholic nun, Mother Theresa, who became famous for her work in India.  But dictator Hoxha did not allow Mother Theresa to visit her mother in Albania, calling her an agent of a foreign power.

The paragraphs above are a very brief account of Albania’s unique history.  My primary source was the extended essay about Enver Hoxha in Wikipedia.  Readers who desire more information should check out Wikipedia’s excellent detailed account of Albanian history dominated by Hoxha’s long rule.

Visiting Sarada, a Seaside Resort City

We five Kielers took the fast hydrofoil ferry boat from Corfu to the Albanian city of Saranda.  It was a modern city with mostly new construction.  We saw one remnant of the Hoxha regime, a concrete machine gun nest.  Supposedly thousands of them lined the coast during the Huhxa regime.  Saranda’s lovely sandy beach is lined with open-air cafes similar to more familiar ones.  In fact, many of them blared American music for their Guests.

One other interesting observation is that there are absolutely no single-family dwellings!  There are only multi-story apartment buildings.  I assume that this is a tradition from the Hoxha period, when the government created housing for all, since there were no  or few individuals or families rich enough to build a single-family house.  Prices for food and drinks were just over half the prevailing prices in Corfu.  Thus Saranda hosts many day-trippers from Corfu.  The ferries were sold out.  The fast hydrofoil ferry takes half an hour to sail from Corfu.  We returned on the slower larger conventional ferry, which took ninety minutes to sail back to Corfu. 

Some tourists we met on the ferry were planning to stay for days or weeks in Albania.  I sat next to a lady from Ireland.  She was one of a twelve-member Irish group, none of whom knew each other before this tour.  They were planning to tour for ten days around Albania, including a visit to the capital city, Tirana.  The capital hosts Albania’s only airport with service from Lufthansa and Aegean Airlines.  Nature tourists explore the relatively undeveloped interior of Albania.  For decades, Albania has been listed as Europe’s poorest country.

Please check out the photo gallery accompanying this blog.  Click on individual photos to enlarge them and read the brief captions.

0 Comments on Albania