Vita and her husband waved us off as we left Gjirokaster in our coach. We were heading to our last stop in Albania; a place on the coast called Saranda. On the way we took a mini detour to visit Syri i kaltër (The Blue Eye Spring); a deep natural spring bubbling up from below.
During the trip we have seen countless concrete bunkers dotted around the countryside. Albania is famous for them; built between 1950 and 1985 for an invasion that never came, there are around 800,000 in the country. They are too expensive to remove so remain in place and are sometimes used as a loveshack for teenagers.
After arriving in Saranda at our hotel we dropped off our bags and got straight back on the coach to go to Butrint. Butrint is an ancient site (and another UNESCO World Heritage Site) with flavours of Greek, Roman and Ottoman history built next to the picturesque lakes of Butrint.
With the rise of the Roman Empire, Butrint expanded to become a flourishing Mediterranean city, with public and private buildings of every kind built – temples, fountains, baths and monuments. Having been to many sites like this in Greece and Italy Butrint struck me as being quite special – it wasn’t overrun with tourists, and you could explore almost all of it without restrictions. Some small areas were cordoned off but hardly any and on some sites you could even walk on the ancient mosaics or climb over walls to see what lay beyond.