My Albanian Travels continue…Dardha

Almost everyone has its favorite runaway place. As a child born and raised in Tirana,  I often got jealous of my friends going to extended summer vacations at their grandparents in some village throughout the country. My ties to countryside were weak and that’s such a pity. It even made me feel a little “inferior” towards kids with childhood experience on trees’ climbing, berries’ collection, animals’ feeding, etc. I visited shortly twice my grandmother’s village, 15 km far from Saranda, but that wasn’t enough for developing a special bondage to the place.

Only years later I went with friends for a long weekend to a mountainous village named Dardha (the Pear), 20 km away from Korca, South-East Albania. After that day I never stopped going there on every possible occasion. I so enjoyed driving up the curving mountain roads during the sunset last September. Such an amazing view while searching for the hidden piece of jewelry…

Its landscape is gorgeous and inviting on every season. Snowy cold winters by the fireplace, fresh summers away from exhausting heat, vivid springs, and colorful autumns’ leaves are part of the full seasonal magic. But my favorite period of going there is spring. The freshness of the air, colorful landscape, long hikes in the forest, lovely stone  houses, scattered small churches in the forest set an irresistible desire for return. But not only. I always feel welcomed by the hospitality and extra care of locals in Dardha who can certainly offer one of the most tasteful cuisines in the country. I get never enough ordering the two foil wooden baked pie (lakror) and meat balls (kërnacka). The variety of little sweet places and restaurants makes it the choice even harder, though mine was pretty easy and a comfortable one, Hotel Dardha.

We did not lack funny situations while cruising the village’s streets, like one day when coming across to bulls with real horns which were enjoying a promenade of their own pleasure. No worries, they were harmless.

When I come to the area, a stop over to Voskopoja is also extremely tempting for me since it’s surrounded by high hills, pine and fir green forests. Voskopoja in addition to being a beautiful place it is backed by a notorious history. It used to be an ancient center of habitation dating from 1330, once a flourishing historic center with big values of medieval art destroyed and reconstructed 3 times throughout its history. Hmmmm, now thinking about these places, it so makes me wanna go back there soon…

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