Vanlife in Albania

Permet Hot Springs

Exploring Permet Springs and picking up a new four legged friend..  

We first went to get a sim card from GJirokaster. I had no expectations of this town, but I was suitably impressed. First, the lady in Vodafone was really helpful, we got a 31gb sim card that cost €17 and lasted for 30 days. Then we took a look around, it started to rain so we went up to the castle, which normally costs a couple of euros, but today they let tourists in for free, maybe because they were doing some building work. This castle is one of the biggest in the Balkans and was occupied by the Ottoman Empire in 1419 and was used as a prison during the communism times. All the little side rooms, that in the UK would be cordoned off or that would be behind locked doors, were open, and we could explore to our hearts content. I have never been in a prison in a castle before and explore here was fascinating.

After we went back into the little town and had lunch. Here I had the best moussaka I have had ever before. We then followed a classic route, which every van blog seems to tell you to do and we drove up to Permet Springs. There were about 6 other vans here, a few stray dogs and we took a dip in the baths. There are a few to choose from and we just went into the main one after an 8 mile walk. It was warm, and refreshing. We stayed here 2 nights before heading to Vlore. The route we hiked can be found on Outdoor Active here.

We went to Vlore but wasn’t too impressed with the area, just down the road is the  Ancient Greek trade colony of Apollina, which is worth a visit.

After we visited Berat, which was nice to look around but decided to keep moving.

We then went up the coast and made some great friends on the beach at Buona Vila Beach Bar (park4night location #90870). Highly recommend this location.

Another place I would recommend is the Shpella Pëllumbasit cave up the road (near Tirana). This is the second best cave I have ever been in (number 1 is a cave in New Zealand). You can park at the restaurant for free. We had some food there after our walk. Remember a head torch.

The next main spot I would recommend is Bar Ledh near Shëngjin and the Lezhe District, just south of Shkodër. I have met a few people along the road and directed them all to Mario’s (Park4Night #144655). This is a great, free, location and also where we picked Alba our street dog up from. You can read about how to adopt a dog off the street here.

The next stop on our route was Theth. After a lot of research we found that the road there was now tarmac which was great news, as without this, it would be near impossible, or just very slow!

We stayed here for a few days exploring some of the hikes and then went want to Shkodër to get Alba vaccinated before heading out to Montenegro.

My top tips:

  • Eat Trilece for dessert
  • Adopt a stray dog, or at least bring dog food to feed them
  • Do a good food shop before entering

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