Then we quickly made a run out to the Euromax supermarket for a few things and discovered that it has become the 'thing to do' on Sunday afternoons. Hardly anyone was actually shopping, but were lounging in the cafes drinking coffee and smoking like chimneys. On the way back into th city we received a call from A, another fabulous friend. She wondered if we'd be up for an afternoon trip out to see Petrella Castle, about 15 km southeast of Tirana. We jumped at the chance to get out of the city for a few hours and after we picked A up we headed off to the castle. It's quite a lovely place with a very evocative atmosphere.
I love this typical house set below the medieval rock castle. From here you have to walk up to the top of the mountain. It's a bit of a struggle without good hiking shoes but we managed to make it to the top. The view is incredible and you can see for miles in all directions.
There's a lovely restaurant right at the top rebuilt from the old castle. What a romantic place! You can see the snow topped mountains surrounding Tirana in the distance.
"On a clear day you can see all the way to Kruja. Emperor Justinian fortified this place to defend the settlement of Dyrrachium (now Durres). The tower in the centre dates back to 500 AD; surrounding it are walls from the Byzantine period, laid out in a triangle, with round towers at the corners. The castle was used during Skanderbeg’s war against the Turks; his sister Mamica lived here and defended the castle, but it was eventually captured and used by Turkish soldiers." (From Tirana In Your Pocket )
Look carefully at the artful seat on this donkey's back. It's thickly padded leather with an old wooden frame on top. Look past the donkey and you can see how steep it is on the path. It would be a nasty fall if you took a wrong step!
On the way down we had to ask an adorable bunch of sheep and lambs to please move off the path. It seems early but apparently lamb is now in season. And yes we ordered a platter of lamb chops for lunch!
The side of the mountain is covered in a very ancient grove of olive trees just like this one. The olive wood is fascinating in all its twisting forms.
We made it back to Tirana just in time to stop at our other friends V & M who had invited us over for homemade fish & chips- yummm-- beer battered fish! and homemade tartar sauce to boot! Can you say "FULL"?? What a great day we had!