Sunday, October 28, 2007

Korca Itself

Ok, I got so frustrated trying to format that last post, I ended it. I couldn't get those last two pictures to separate. So I'm starting another one of Korca itself. And I'm not even going to try to find the correct 'c' for Korca anymore. So once in Korca, we visited the beer factory, the first Albanian school, Entela's family, the Orthodox cathedral, and the market. Pictures follow. (Can you tell I'm slightly frustrated

?) Korca is really a beautiful city, though. There are many lovely old buildings and about half of the city's streets are cobblestone. The traffic is far less than in Tirana, almost sparce. So it was a really peaceful weekend.

The Korca Beer Factory. It was nice, but mostly I'm glad to say I've been there. The beer at the factory wasn't as good, though, as it is in the bottle. I've heard that with Guiness, it's better the closer to the factory you have it in Ireland. I guess it's not the same with all beers. When Entela told our Taxi driver what I said about its been bitter, he blamed it on the German manufacturing process. Hmmm.

The first school ever in Albania, I guess, was not really open when we went there. There were men inside wearing dust masks and doing renovations. They were really friendly though and, although only construction workers, still offered to show us around. It is a museum now.

Here is a picture of the school's courtyard.

This is the new Cathedral. They were preparing it for a wedding, but we still got to go inside and see it. Certainly was lovely, both in side and out. Inside, there was a wooden chandelier about as big as our living room. Majestic, indeed.

This is probably the most famous of old buildings in the town.

Market pictures.

And one last shot of a lovely side street in Korca. They all looked like this. I like the blend of modern and traditional, too, with the In Accessories store on the corner.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Weekend in Korça

We had an extra day off from school for Mother Teresa Day (She was Albanian, you know) and went with our friend Entela to her home town in the mountainous south. She had tried to get us a room at a cosy little villa, but when an important politician decided to stay there the same weekend, we magically lost our reservations. So we stayed at a pretty nice hotel called the Grand Hotel (included decent breakfast in a very cold room). Here is a picture of the lobby.

The trip going to and from Korça was one of the most interesting aspects of the weekend. By some unforeseen luck, a car was provided for us so we didn’t have to take the bus, which was really nice, in retrospect, since on the way back we had to take the bus. That was quite an experience.
The winding road with hairpin turns and switchbacks up and down the sides of mountains were enough to make several of our fellow passengers lose their lunches (Did we tell you the bus driver always passes out plastic bags for that purpose at the starts of these trips?). However, both going and coming, the views were incredible.

Here is another view. These pictures aren't the best since they were taken out the window of a moving bus.

We also passed through several towns along the way. Elbasan is an industrial city. Tons of factories spilling out gray smoke there, but we also passed a nice market place. Again, not the best pictures since taken from the bus.

And here's a guy on his cart, driving through town. This seemed to be a pretty common form of transport.

The other cool town was Pogradec. It's beside beautiful lake Ohrid so I took a lot of shots there. Interesting man there selling peanuts off the back of his bicycle and selling the passerby a chance to see his or her weight. I guess that helps you decide whether or not you really need the peanuts.

There were some lovely swans on the pond too. I don't know, maybe it was a waterway that connected to the lake, somehow.
And here's a boat on the lake. The day was cloudy, it rained on and off, and we were chilly when we got out of the car to take photos on our journey to Korça, but the pictures still turned out nice.