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Old February 23rd, 2008, 06:41 AM   #41
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Superb Albania ! Enjoyed all pics !
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Old February 23rd, 2008, 07:48 AM   #42
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gorgeous!!!!! love it
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Old February 25th, 2008, 07:01 PM   #43
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Albania - yours to discover.

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Old March 6th, 2008, 10:42 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by SkaNdErBeG View Post
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Old March 7th, 2008, 09:18 AM   #45
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very nice, a pleasant surprise.
"Carpe diem", The world is my oyster!
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 05:31 PM   #46
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The Beaches that Time Forgot

Nick Easen
Thursday May 22 2008

The unspoilt Albanian Riviera is a snapshot of the Mediterranean as it used
to be - idyllic beaches, glorious sunshine and an unhurried pace of life, says Nick Easen

Taking it easy ... a local strolls along Vlora Beach on the Albanian Riviera. Photograph: Nick Easen

The state of the road heading in is the main reason the Albanian Riviera has escaped large-scale tourist development. That and land ownership. The road's upgrade, with help from the World Bank, is the first major overhaul since the Italian Army built it in the 1940s. It is seen as a local vote winner for a population that is close enough to Corfu to know what tourism can bring.

Countless bays cut into the coast.

The cliché that this 130km stretch of coastline is one of the last untarnished parts of the Mediterranean with deserted beaches is not lost on the deputy mayor of the sleepy seaside town of Himara. "Nature is the most important thing here, as well as the connection between the mountains and the sea," Stefo Mato says, referring to the high karst mountains that kick their feet in the sandy shoreline. "But service for tourists needs to get better. There must be more things to do here."

Llogora Pass between the Cika mountains and the Ionian Sea.

Then again, this is precisely why Albania's Ionian coast is worth visiting now, before the parasols arrive and the jet skis drown out the cricket song. Any intrepid traveller to the region should head straight to the top of the Llogora Pass with views of the Cika mountains plunging 910 metres into the sea. The spectacle encapsulates the real "Mediterranean as it once was". Pine trees interspersed with old stone farmhouses and citrus trees are all that interrupt the view.

In this coastal region inward investment, especially from overseas, is only beginning to trickle in. Land rights still remain an issue especially where the best beaches are located. And the Albanian authorities are still in the process of handing back property to owners from the pre-Communist era. Bogus title deeds and disputes over ownership have also stymied growth.

Endless curves of sand, remote Orthodox monasteries, small family-run guesthouses and roadside cafes with fresh trout on the grill are more prevalent than gaudy ice-cream boxes and adverts for suntan lotion. The only noticeable hoardings are the scarecrow dolls that hang above doorways to ward away the evil eye – this includes the unfinished hotels in Saranda.

An apiarist sells his wares.

You are more likely to chance upon old women in headscarves and long skirts ushering goats through the fragrant maquis than bronzed tourists. And interaction with locals is more likely to involve buying honey with roadside apiarists, since the bees here have more wild flower species to choose from than anywhere else in Europe.

The only tell-tale signs of old order Albania are the deserted collective farms of the Communist era and the concrete bunkers. The country has a grey "mushroom" for every four people. Hundreds of thousands dot the landscape thanks to Enver Hoxha, the long- term Stalinist dictator who was paranoid of invasion from the west.

One of Hoxha's submarine bases on the Riviera.

Albanians are now using them in novel ways that tourists can experience. You can have a seafood supper under a concrete dome in Restaurant Bunkere on the seafront at Durres; on the road to Vlora, artists have painted their roofs in psychedelic designs. According to legend, the designer was placed in a prototype, which was subsequently blasted by a tank. The bunker survived, as did its shell-shocked architect – mass production began. Nowadays, it costs at least £5,000 to get rid of one of these pillboxes.

"Many Albanians lose their virginity in the bunkers, when they are not being used for sheep or cattle," says Raimonda Nelku, a development worker with USAID. "They are in the Albanian psyche."

Saranda has the reputation of being one of the sunniest spots in Europe with more than 290 days of rays a year and midsummer temperatures around 30C. At present southern Albania's biggest town looks only partially built with half-constructed apartments and hotels scrambling up the hillside. Much of the activity is being generated by Albanians working abroad and sending money back home.

Looking across the bay at Saranda.

Here palm trees flank the promenade shading elderly men as they sip their espressos, unhurried by the daily tourist influx. Many of whom are Brits, coming over on day trips from Corfu. Now they are being encouraged to stay longer.

A major attraction, which even Greek operators are touting, is Butrint, which sits on a cliff top overlooking the Greek island a few miles south of town. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a 2,500-year-old layer cake that includes a Greek colony, a Roman city and a Byzantine bishopric. This is ranked as the biggest of its kind, second only to Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.

The fact is only 15% of Butrint has been uncovered, but then that's indicative of the country as a whole, according to Nelku, Mato and others. They hope that Albania will become "a new Mediterranean love", according to the country's new international TV ads.

The glassy waters of the Ionian Sea.

Getting there

British Airways flies from London, Gatwick to Tirana's Mother Teresa Airport in under three hours from £200 in June.

Where to stay

Hotel Butrinti, Saranda: A modern five-star hotel on the beachfront, with great balcony views across the bay to Corfu. Check out the swimming pool with its Greek columns. £64 - 110 per room per night.

Llogora Tourist Village: An amazing hotel cradled in the pine forests at 1,200 metres, with grazing deer in the actual grounds. There are wooden chalets, an indoor pool and great artwork.. £56 - 100 per room per night, includes breakfast.

Hotel New York, Vlora: Worth it just to see the mad mosaic of the Statue of Liberty in the restaurant. Away from the downtown noise on the seafront, but still within walking distance of the cafes and beach. £40 - £100 including breakfast.
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Old June 15th, 2008, 07:58 PM   #47
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A week on the Albanian riviera followed by golf on the moon…

GLENEAGLES will open a golf course in outer space, Albania will become Europe's trendiest beach resort, and Scotland will be the world leader in gastronomic excellence.
These scenarios might sound like a far-fetched Doctor Who plot, but they are genuine predictions for the future, made by one of the world's leading tourism experts.

As a scenario planner for VisitScotland, Professor Ian Yeoman advised the national tourist agency on the possible impacts of foot-and-mouth, Norwegian salmon disease and conflict in the Middle East.

Now the professional futurologist has written a book outlining the major trends which he believes will shape world tourism in 2030.

Tomorrow's Tourist, which has been endorsed by the United Nations, makes a number of startling predications, the most surprising of which is the prospect of tourists blasting off into the heavens for a round of golf.

The professor of tourism management at New Zealand's Victoria University writes: "In 2030 the Gleneagles Lunar Space Station will be the world's most exclusive resort.

"Catching the Virgin Galactic from Auchterarder, space tourists will fasten their seat belts, hear the rockets roar and feel the sudden power acceleration of 4G. As the spaceship reaches the stratosphere, tourists will gaze down on planet Earth for the most exclusive view available.

"During their stay at the Gleneagles Space Station tourists will take in a round of golf, take the lunar buggy out for a spin and float around the leisure complex. They will enjoy the best of Scottish cuisine – vacuum-packed."

Yeoman, a former lecturer at Edinburgh's Napier University, insists his vision is far from a flight of fancy. "The Virgin Galactic is a real proposition starting a regular passenger service in 2009 from New Mexico.

"It is an exclusive travel experience, with celebrities and the mega-rich initially paying £100,000 for the privilege.

"By 2012 this price should fall to £37,500 which, in real terms, is far cheaper than the first scheduled flight to cross the Atlantic. By 2030 space tourism should be affordable to all."

In 2006 entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson held talks with senior officers at RAF Lossiemouth with a view to establishing a launch pad for space tourism at the Moray base.

Back on Earth, Yeoman, a member of the World Futures Society, predicts that in 22 years' time Greece, Spain and Italy will be overshadowed by an unlikely rival.

"The mountainous country of Albania on the Adriatic Sea, once a shadowy Communist prison state, will emerge as a leading southern European destination by 2030.

"This is because of its low cost of living, sunny climate, sandy beaches, stunning landscape and proximity to European markets."

He also predicts cash-strapped Europeans will take advantage of the former Stalinist country's rock-bottom property prices to snap up thousands of holiday homes.

"The price of second homes in eastern Europe could fall as a result of the present credit crisis," he says.

Previously, under dictator Enver Hoxha, Albania became isolated from the rest of the world and was regarded by Washington and Moscow as backwards and repressive.

For more than four decades few Albanians were permitted to leave its shores and visitor permits for outsiders were scarce.

Now, as a democracy aiming for EU membership, Albania is already building a fledgling tourism sector.

The self-proclaimed "professional crystal ball gazer" also predicts Scotland will undergo a culinary renaissance, which will bring tourists flocking.

He compiled a mock report for the Michelin Food Guide 2015, which he says will be replicated for real in the future.

His imaginary trademark dish for Scotland will be poached wild venison, served with a loganberry jelly.

It reads: "Scotland's cuisine is in a world of its own. It has the finest food in Europe, surpassing the best restaurants in France and Italy."

Yeoman also predicts that political change will help tourism flourish north of the border. "Scotland could emerge as an independent nation, fuelling an interest in it as a destination. The country's strong business tourism products, perception of being a safe country and proximity to Europe should also facilitate growth."

A spokesman for Gleneagles admitted the prediction that it would one day operate a corporate space station was "an unusual one".

The full article contains 713 words and appears in Scotland On Sunday newspaper.
Page 1 of 1

* Last Updated: 14 June 2008 7:42 PM
* Source: Scotland On Sunday
* Location: Scotland
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Old June 16th, 2008, 11:00 PM   #48
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Some pictures made me think of Oregon !!!
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Old June 18th, 2008, 12:38 AM   #49
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WOW! Gorgeous images, never knew it is that great in Albania, white beaches and turquoise water! I always thought it would be somewhere in nowhere with cliffs at the coast, great!
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Old June 18th, 2008, 01:17 AM   #50
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Nice to see Albania in pics! Awesome country, full of beaultiful landscapes and blue turquoise waters! Good potential for tourism!
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Old June 18th, 2008, 05:06 AM   #51
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Never hear much about Albania. Looks nice
Leuven | Antwerp | Amsterdam | Bruges | Gent | Brussels | Chicago | Costa Rica | Vasai | Bombay
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Old June 19th, 2008, 04:31 AM   #52
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Some more photos from Flickr

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Old June 21st, 2008, 03:22 PM   #53
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Looks very beautiful.
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Old June 21st, 2008, 07:23 PM   #54
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Wow!!! Lovely sea beaches!!!!
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Old July 1st, 2008, 11:17 PM   #55
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Here are some more pics from the beach of Dhërmi

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Old July 12th, 2008, 04:25 PM   #56
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wow!!! it's so beautiful!

I just can't believe they are one of the poorest in Europe!

such a nice place....

visit my main blog:
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Old August 4th, 2008, 11:24 PM   #57
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Some more mixed photos

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Old August 5th, 2008, 05:15 PM   #58
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I planned a trip to this beautiful country this year, unfortunately I had to cancel it due to some personal issue. Pity. I hope I'll find time to go there in 2010.
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Old August 5th, 2008, 06:07 PM   #59
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What a beautiful earth God has created for us.

Nice pictures
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Old August 6th, 2008, 04:08 AM   #60
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Beautiful country !
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