Rugged beauty in this Albania mountain village

Kruje Travel Blog

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The bus starts assending - a good sign as Kruje is a mountain village. We twisted our way to the top of a plateau, fortress and snowy peaks close-by. As I exit the bus, I try to pay the driver the required 300 Leke and he will only accept 100 Leke. He said in his best English "Good Day". I thank him and he pointed me to the path up the hill to my hotel (Hotel Panorama). It's only abotu 100 meters away.....great! I check in at the resterauntand am taken to my room. We climb the stairs and walk across a terrace with 3 glass doors. The last one is mine. Wow!!! the view is UNBELIEVEABLE. A full panorama of the snow capped mountains to the left, in front is the upper plateau with the fortress, and to the right is the valley beyond with a river snaking the valley.

It's just fantastic! Good Job, Brian!

I throw everything down and immediately snap a few shots from the terrace. It's a sunny, cloudless day and I know the shots will be great. 

Ok, I'm excited by what I see.....Let's explore!

I start up the cobbled stone path to the fortress. It passes through a bazaar that has been here for 1000 years. I think that I am the only tourist in town. All of the shop owners stop chatting in street and stand by their shop as I approach. Each of them greet me and ask if I would like a souvenir. They are friendly but, a bit uncomforable. I will save my shopping for later. Exlporing is my first priority. I climb the path around the mountain and enter the gate to the fortress. I pass the, newly built but traditional in design, museum of Skandenberg.

Views of the valley are becoming more and more picturesque as I reach the summit.  The tower of the fortress before me with white capped peaks behind and green valleys below a river snaking through it. Again, WOW! I climb fortress walls that have stood 1400 years. I feel a since of history before me. It is quiet.......tranquil. I am the only person here. I love it!

All of this climbing now has me hungry. There are 2 resteraunts located up here on the plateau with the fortress. The both have fantastic views. I pick the one with best view. I have a nice greek salad and lemon risotto??? (It was very interesting) I also had a great bottle of local Albanian white wine. They didn't sell wine by the glass. So........I had the whole bottle. I have NEVER had a whole bottle of wine by myself.

I just keep refilling my glass and enjoying the view. While sitting there at the resteraunt. looking out at the mountains and the valley. I heard the most wonderful nature sounds. I heard, all at the same time, a rooster crowing , a dog barking at the rooster, the bell of a cow grazing, and a donkey's bray. It's a bit sureal! It's sublime! I savour my time here. I get up to leave......well sort of. I feel the bottle of wine. I have the waiter take a shot of me against the mountain background.

I start across the fortress and down the hill. I make my way to the bazaar and start to browse. I find a shop with a great selection of handmade fillagree. My mother would love this. The artist tells me of how it's made and has a loop to look at it close up.

He shows me picture of a recent presentation of one of his pieces to Laura Bush. I have a lively discussion with the shop owner. We talked about politics, heritage, family, and much more. I appreciate this conversation.

I leave his shop and make it as far as across the street to a rug maker. He has every size imaginable and wonderful Albanian traditional designs. I find one that will look really good in our home and it is an old design specific to Kruje. He calls my new friend over to help translate. We negotiate a bit. We settle on a fair price and he thanks me. I leave the Qilim shop in time to witness the final streaks of light as the sunsets across the valley. There are so many colors.......breathtaking.

I stop in one more shop at the beginning of the bazaar. It has traditional clothing and socks. I look and consider but, I'm tired and need some rest. I go back to the hotel and climb the stairs to my room. I stop briefly on my terrace to take in the night in Kruje. The snow on the mountains are reflecting the lights of the fortress. It's quite a sight.

Time for sleep. Tomorrow, I have to leave so, I wish for one more beautiful day.

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Kruje Hotels & Accommodations review
Mountain Lodge style with an unbeatable view........not to be missed!!!
The hotel was easy to find one off the bus. It was just up the hill on the left. Finding the enterance wasn't easy at first. You need to go to the res… read entire review
photo by: EmEm