January 11, 2007

wild seas, gladiators and a day trip to Durres

Started out in the rain in Tirana, I waited by the Skanderberg Statue and recognised Flori who had been playing the drums in church a few days before – where I had met Marieke and Peter who had invited me to come along with them for the day out to Durres. Flori had a big umbrella and so, inspired, on the way to the train station we bought a couple of umbrellas at the side of the road. I have a nice red one now :) The bus trip was fun, we talked away and were glad we were at the back not with the man in the row in front who had to sit with his umbrella up against the window as the rain was poring in!

After exploring the sea port and the old castle walls, the palm trees and old statues we had a coffee in the castle tower. The steps up to the top were huge big steps and it was cool to find a dusty old gramophone in a corner. We drank cappuccinos in the smoky tower with loud music on and talked of travels and wondering the world!

Ready to explore we climbed the uphill cobbled street, found some beautiful oranges growing on a tree then came across the second century amphitheatre. It was amazing to be there. We paid the 100 Lek to the old guy who sits in a little shed by its gate and soon we were reading about how the gladiators and slaves would be sent out to fight for entertainment. We found all sorts of treasures like a cross symbol and a mosaic and tunnels and steps and hidden passages. It was fun. I could almost hear lions roar.

We trundled back down the hill to the sea and in the wild wind and rain walked out along the pier to be as close as we could get. On the way back there was a really nice old shed out on the sea front that Marieke and I both quite liked the look of and we tried our best to take photos of it – though it was too far away for our camera lenses. It was cool finding out that all three of us girls had grown up internationally and all spent time growing up in Africa. Good to meet people with some kind of common background which is quite rare for “third culture kids” as they call our brand of childhood! And cool to think that each one of us ended up in missions in Albania too... These guys live in Tirana – but will be great to meet up with them again when I'm down there, or they may travel up north one day...

Our day ended finding a nice restaurant and lots of pasta and seafood before sheltering under a canopy in the dark while night fell and a hail storm blew through, but soon enough we were all getting toasty and warm on the overcrowded bus back to Tirana. A great day out!!

These photos are of children's painting that were printed large across a wall in Durres. They all represent hope for Albania. One says “flying together with the dove of peace” Have a look at the photos of the day in Durres in Beth's Photos. They are quite fun!

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