>Travel Pictures



I decided to bypass the capital Tirana (concerns about the car's safety playing an important role in this decision) and head to the coast and the city of Durres. Durres is an ancient city - known in the past as Epidamnos. Its history stretches back at least to 625 BCE, and the port has long been its defining characteristic.
It was the beginning of the Via Egnatia from Rome: the extension of the Appian Way across the Balkans to Constantinople and a regional hub of trade and commerce in every kingdom and empire since. There is an archeological museum in town, and while the Byzantine and medieval exhibits were closed, it was fascinating to see the maps of the reconstructed city from antiquity. 
There is not much left extant of the oldest settlements, but a threadbare amphitheater and some forlorn columns along the seaside walkway hint at what the city used to be.
While photography was forbidden in the archeological museum, the caretaker said I could snap a photo of this gravestone. 

For some reason, it really struck me. Here are a man and wife, who had lives full of love, hate, happiness, pain, laughter, anger, adventure, boredom - all the things that make us human. He is looking lovingly at her, touching her knee, and she is gesturing lovingly towards him. 

Then I noticed that the faces are completely weathered down. Not only are they gone, but they have been gone for a long time. What then do all those experiences mean? Think of all the people who have come before us and will come after we're dead. 

Anyways, it brought a little feeling of inconsequentiality to my life on a sunny day in Albania...

And speaking of inconsequentiality, heaped among the broken columns and scattered rocks of 2500+ years of history are pieces of gigantic Communist-era statues. The heroic worker no longer waves his fist in the air, but instead is consigned to the weedpatch of the past.

Luckily enough, at least this statue remains along the boardwalk.

And what a boardwalk! Even though there is no beach (or real way into the water) along the main promenade, the walk itself is beautiful, as are the Miami Beach-ish apartments that line the waterfront. These new buildings with bright pastel colors are an indication of the revitalization of the area that is slowly but surely taking place.

People in Durres

As I walked around the town, I noticed the signs of life that ebb and flow as they did in the past:

Old men gather for a morning chat (at the local BB gun shooting gallery)

Fishermen clean out and mend their nets along the garbage-strewn waterfront

A man baiting his line for the day's catch

Boys waiting for business at a children's minicart rink

Preschoolers are taken for a walk (while a man tries to read his paper in peace)

Cigarette salesman at water's edge

My waiter for dinner with the night's menu on a platter - total cost for a heaping plateful of calamari and fries with 3 beers plus tip - $8

Woman enjoys the sunshine at the end of the pier

A tourist has his picture taken below the statue and in front of the Albanian symbol

And a new restaurant reminds him of his cabin in the woods...
Back to scenes around AlbaniaOn to south Montenegro

Sights in the Albanian countryside
back to the Albania page...
To the Stutz's Welcome Page