Our next adventure to Albania was in November 2015, the old stone house still fresh on our minds, we needed to see more of Albania and more of what the property market had to offer before we could make any decisions.
We decided to go on a road trip, just the two of us for a few days. We persuaded Grandma (Gjyshe) to fly over from the UK to look after our daughter whilst we were away, she was more than happy to do so and has been a frequent visitor to Kosovo and now Albania.
We didn’t really have a plan or any accommodation booked, this was very unusual for me; as a travel agent I normally like every detail planned and to know exactly where I am staying, although on this occasion we didn’t want to be under any time constraints, so this gave us the flexibility to just drive, explore and see where we end up.
Our aim was to head as far South as possible within the 3 days we had given ourselves, having researched other parts of Albania I was keen to explore Dhermi, Himare, Qeparo and Sarande, as well as spending some time in Vlore/Radhime where we had viewed the old stone house.
After leaving Pristina on a cold chilly November morning we arrived to glorious sunshine in Vlore around 4 hours later, it was a very pleasant 20 degrees and very few cars on the road, this is a totally different story in the summer months and has taken us over 6 hours during this very busy period. Since 2013 there has been vast improvements made to the road network and is still ongoing to this day, with much more planned. More info
We stopped for a quick lunch and after checking google maps we decided to continue on to Himare, around a 2 hour drive from Vlore. Having only been as far as Radhime we were both excited to explore further south, we had heard this drive was amazing, through Llogara National Park and is the driving point between the Adriatic and Ionian Seas.
Albania is home to no less than 15 National Parks – all of particular importance to the Country’s tourism.Simply Albania
It certainly didn’t disappoint, this journey known as Llogara Pass takes you from Orikum to Dhermi and begins in the village of Dukat. We began the ascent on to curvy roads and steep climbs, surrounded by beautiful forests. I noticed several restaurants along the way, as well as local honey, nuts and olive oil for sale on the side of the road. It was tempting to stop and sample the delights on offer but we needed to get to Himare to find a hotel for the night, we would save this for the return journey or the next time we were visiting.
After about 30 minutes driving we reached the peak, just over 1000 meters above sea level, the forest opened up to reveal the Ionian Sea below – it was a breathtaking view, full of green mountains all the way to the turquoise, tropical looking Ionian Sea.
Small unspoilt beaches as far as the eye can see are dotted along this coastline, known as the Albania Riviera the closest to the National Park is Palasë Beach, located in the municipality of Himare, 13 km from the town. It looked glorious and deserted at the time.. “perfect spot to build we thought” way out of our budget but 4 years on and this area is well and truly under construction.
Green Coast Albania – a MEGA tourism investment in Albania aims to place Palasë region on the world tourism map. Considered as one of the most important investments in the Albanian tourism sector. The first large-scale residence project spreads over 50 acres of land in this beautiful bay, now offers architectural designed individual villas, ranging from small individual villas to elite deluxe villas, as well as plans for a 5* international brand hotel, upscale service and entertainment, traditional and gourmet restaurants and a picturesque promenade along the sea.
With villa prices ranging from 1,750 – 2,100 Euro per square meter, this place is not cheap compared to other property, however if everything planned is delivered this will be a 5* luxury resort, offering a good return on your investment through their smart investment program
Our final destination for the day was Himare, we arrived early evening, after around 6 hours driving, although we had not viewed any property I was impressed with the unspoiled nature and beautiful scenery we had seen along the way.
As we drove in to the small coastal town, hoping to find a hotel for the night and a nice restaurant for dinner, we were surprised to see how quiet this place was, very few people and most of the hotels/restaurants looked closed. I had not realised at the time how seasonal the tourism industry is in Albania, especially in these smaller coastal resorts, typically runs from May – September so to find a hotel that stayed open in November here was going to be a problem, after knocking on a few doors we were directed back to the main road in to the town, the only place open was a hostel – although not my first choice of accommodation, I didn’t really care at this point, we just wanted a bed for the night and the only other option was sleeping in the car.
This actually turned out to be one of the funniest and most memorable nights we have spent in Albania, our room was huge with a large balcony opening up to the beach/sea, it was cold so we were given extra blankets and bedding but we slept with the doors open all night so we could hear the sounds of the waves crashing on to the beach, listening to Jo Whiley on BBC radio 2, we found a local bar for a pre dinner drink, witnessed a fight here then found the only restaurant open; where we had a delicious meal which ended with the locals buying us rakia and not wanting us to leave, they were very surprised to see English people in November, it was a good night and one I will never forget.
We woke early the next morning to another glorious sunny day, Himare although quiet looked beautiful, I liked the pace of life here and the people were very friendly and so hospitable.
I had seen some property for sale here so after a light breakfast we set off to explore and see if we could find the apartments advertised online. It was not easy to find and we did get lost a few times but eventually we found what was 5 luxury apartments for sale, located just on the outskirts of Himara, on the main road. First impression was good, the building looked new and recently finished to a high standard, only 3 floors and 2 apartments on each, 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, kitchen, balcony and allocated parking space.
If we were going to consider an apartment this type of property would be preferable, a smaller quiet place, not a high rise large apartment block. This one wasn’t for us though, we didn’t like the location on the main road out of Himara, too far out to walk to a beach or the center, the price was 71,400 Euro for an 84 Sq Mt apartment, fairly high we thought for the location.
We realised then that location was important, we had to consider the future tourism projects and development of the country for the investment to work as a business, a holiday home for us but more importantly a unique Airbnb property; this was the dream and the more time I spent in Albania I could see the potential for the tourism industry and I was determined to make this happen.
To be Continued…
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Other titles to look out for:
‘Top tips for visting’
‘Where we are now’
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