I have read many negative comments about Vlora’s Lungomare project and the use of massive concrete in one of Albania’s most beautiful cities. However when I saw it with my own eyes I was shocked. Few months ago, the National Environmental Agency published a report about the coast which identified five extra quality beaches in Vlora and four somehow good quality beaches which means that the water is polluted and therefore swimming is prohibited. I remembered this study as I walked through the lungomare, a boulevard full of concrete and dirt instead of sand.
I could barely wait to move away from that side of Vlora and go further away from the area known as Uji i Ftohte up to Radhima where you can find lovely beaches which are strangely abandoned by beach goers. It seems that the area of Karaburun has been attracting all holiday makers of Vlora. Beaches are virgin, water is crystal clear. In addition nobody wants to hear construction noise while holidaying.
In Vlora i was left with a bad taste, but Palase, the first beach as you go down the Llogara somehow made it better. The beach is wonderful. The water is crystal clear turquoise color that takes all blues away. Services offered in Palase are limited. You can have sea beds and a small bar for a soda or coffee. There is nowhere to get food. You have to go elsewhere. Last year, there was a pizza place in Palase, but the buildings were demolished. The sea beds cost about 600-900 lek , totally worth it for the view you get. Dhermi is the next stop. It is still fashionable, full of life and parties. Prices are high as usually. Jale is the same.
We go further down to Himara. The city is nice and in order. You can accommodate in Himara but go to other beaches. We decided to have lunch in Livadh. The bay is lovely. I was impressed by the urban disproportional buildings aka hotels there. They were somehow ugly. Prices were normal, but as it randomly happens in the south, you can sometimes have your teeth in something rotten. When we asked the cook when the grilled octopus tasted like cardboard he argued that customers must enjoy all nutritional values of the octopus and as such he refused to boil it. Our jaws were tired chewing the octopus and we left Livadh to go to Lukova where we decided to spend the night. The hotel was super clean. We needed a ride to go the beach also known as ‘The Cave’. Lukova is a pleasant village with plenty of stores which we discovered few hours later. The majority of houses are for rent. The beach is extra clean and all stores are build following the same line. If you stay in Lukova, you have to eat dinner elsewhere, or even cook for yourself. That is why you can find so many markets in Lukova. There are restaurants as well but to go there you have to walk through the national road.
The next day we went to Saranda. We found a hotel close to the center and we spent the day in Ksamil. I love Ksamil, because you can do many things there. You can visit the three small islands or enjoy the small bays with a great view. The food is great and you can enjoy some of the restaurants and pizzerias. Our guests were amazed by Ksamil. They waited long to enjoy the beautiful sunset before leaving. Saranda is a lively multi cultural city. The daily walk begins in the afternoon and ends in the early morning hours. Many tourists from various world countries come here. Here, you can find many opportunities for fun based on what you can afford. Music volume is high until midnight unless you are sitting at a restaurant that meets the noise conditions.
The next day we were more than relaxed. We were not willing to go. When you are in Saranda you cannot leave without witnessing the wonderful Blue Eye. The infrastructure is bad and dusty and authorities have made no investments regardless the area’s potential. Southern Albania is beautiful. What is still natural is beautiful. Places still beyond human reach are beautiful. The rest has taken for the worse. /AgroWeb.org
*Rezarta Delisula is Deputy Editor-in-Chief at Gazeta Shqiptare working as a journalist since 1998. With 17 years of professional experience, her stories mainly focus on social concerns and environmental issues. Rezarta is also an organic products avid and gardening passionate, largely interested in green lifestyle. She is a contributing writer at agroweb.org.