Korab villages

ALBANIA
September 2018

Walking between highland villages on the slopes of Korab mountain, and enjoying the hospitality of the friendly locals.

DAY 1 (19/9): PESHKOPI


The Peshkopi Backpackers Hostel. Perfect location in the middle of Peshkopi, with nice views over the town and surrounding mountains. The house was used by the former dictator Enver Hoxha when he visited Peshkopi, and much of the furniture inside is preserved from that era.


The view from the hostel terrace.

DAY 2 (20/9): RABDISHT

The son of the guest house we were going to stay at picked us up with his car.


View from the car, on the way to Rabdisht village.


Our wonderful hosts, Festa and Sabri.


Sabri showing us 180 years old doctor’s equipment from his ancestors, while we enjoyed the tasty fruits from their garden and nuts from the surrounding nature.


Oragnic food. Bean stew, nettle pie, stuffed cabbage rolls etc. A paradise for vegetarians! And all the ingredients were 100% organic and produced by themselves.


Making byrek the proper way.


Sabri showed us the way to some caves outside the village. They were constructed during communism to function as bomb shelters.


Scary caves can also be a lot of fun :)


600 years old pine trees clinging to the rocks above Rabdisht.


We were told that this woman was 100 years old. She sure looked strong and healthy!


Bringing back some firewood from the forest.

DAY 3 (21/9): MORE RABDISHT

This day we walked on our own. We took the path towards Zagrad village, but only to the top of the ridge to get some nice views. We then returned the same way back to the village. This section is part of the High Scardus Trail, but it still not marked or signposted. Finding the way was easy anyway.


View over Rabdisht


Lunch on the top of the ridge


View into the next valley to the north, with the villages Bellovë and Cerjan. The red dot shows where we walked the following two days.


Bellovë village


A small glimpse of Zagrad village (below to the right). This was all we saw of Zagrad, since the guesthouse we planned to stay in had to cancel because of a funeral. We look forward to go there some other trip :)


We returned to Rabdisht. We said hello to someone on the street, and next thing we knew we were sitting in their living room eating snacks, fruits and drinking coffee and yogurt.


In the evening I went for a small run above Rabdisht.

DAY 4 (22/9): BELLOVË TO CERJAN


We shared a car with Sabri and Festa, before the car dropped us of by the school in Bellovë village.


The bridge in Bellovë.


Hazelnut season. The standard snack among the locals, it seems.


“Thana” berries were in season, very tasty.


Colorful rocks


Lunch on a meadow


Bear droppings


Cerjan village


Potatoe harvest


A friendly local showed us the way, and Simon got to ride the horse :)


Here we just arrived at the guesthouse. Our host Hassan (white t-shirt) and his family were very friendly and hospitable. Finn & Simon had a lot of fun playing with their kids too.


Super-delicious pears.


Using wild herbs for tea (and medicine) is very common here. Hassan told me that he once went up to the mountains by horse to spend a whole month up there riding and picking herbs.


Making cheese


We went for a walk with Hassan & his sons, around the village.


Most inhabitants have left Cerjan. There are only about ten permanent families, but a few decades ago there were a couple of thousand inhabitants.


Many houses are in ruins. But the remaining houses are very rustic and nice.
There is no sound of motors whatsoever. Most streets look more like paths. Very pieceful and charming!


A wonderful peak of the Korab massif


“Thana” berries


Tired legs? Then you get to ride on the horse :)

DAY 5 (23/9): CERJAN TO BELLOVË


We said goodbye to our nice hosts and walked down to Bellovë by a different path.


Cerjan


Colorful rocks


View of Cerjan and the Korab ridge.


Snacks break


We just said “hello” to these ladies in Bellovë and asked if there was a bus or taxi in the village. “No bus, no taxi” they said, but gave us a big bag of walnuts and hazelnuts :)



The man in the red t-shirt came down the street towards us, waving some car keys and asking “Taxi?”. Perhaps the ladies had spoken to him. We replied “Po!” (=yes)


Then man drove us back to Peshkopi. On the way we made a short stop by the natural hot springs, where locals bathe in the hot sulfur-smelling water to relieve their joint pains.

To summarize, Albania is a wonderful country. Diber is a wonderful region. And Rabdisht, Cerjan and Bellovë are super-picturesque villages whose friendly inhabitants we will never forget.

Kotor-Lovcen

MONTENEGRO
April-May 2013

A hike above the fjord-like Kotor bay via the Lovcen mountains to the fairytale village of Svety Stefan.

DAY 0: Dubrovnik

Before the hike we spent a night in Dubrovnik. This is a good basepoint since there are daily buses from here to Kotor.


The old town was super-beautiful but packed with tourists on the main streets. The backstreets were quiet though, and we found a superb vegetarian restaurant called Nishta.

DAY 1: Perast – Svety Andrija fort


We started the hike in the small town of Perast. It is an exceptionally beautiful town of old venetian houses along steep, narrow streets. There are several churches and old palacies. It is listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO.

Matka canyon

MACEDONIA
October 2008

Just outside Skopje lies this fantastic canyon. It is the most developed place for climbing in Macedonia. Hidden among the rocks are several ancient monasteries that you can hike to.

Matka lake – Sv. Nikola MONASTERY (2010-10-03)


The entrance to the Matka canyon


The Matka lake

Nice layers on the rocks to the left. Our plan was to walk a zig-zagging trail up the forested slope between the two rocky peaks, to Sv. Nikola monastery.


We took a short boat-ride to the other side of the lake, to reach the trail.


Cyclamen flowers along the steep zig-zagging trail.


The medieval church of Sv. Nikola. To the left are rocks where people were climbing.


We camped here. It was a tranquil, beautiful spot.
To the left in the background you can see the forest-covered mountains that gave the place a feeling of being in the middle of the wilderness.


Frescoes inside the church.


Sadly it was covered by “graffiti” from visitors.
Some of them were old, we found one from 1881.


We walked out on the rocks to get this view into the Matka canyon.


The view down to the restaurant at Matka lake.


Benjamin & Eva enjoying the view


Dinner at the little house behind the church

BOAT RIDE TO VRELO CAVE (September 2018)


Suddenly a woman started singing a Maceodnian song, very atmospheric!