Aug 27, 2018 - Sea Cloud
Following some dramatic early morning storms, we arrived in our first Albanian port of the tour under overcast skies. We were greeted at the industrial port of Durrës by cheerful Albanian youths promoting tourism in this small Balkan country. After boarding coaches, we traveled inland to our destination through a fascinating landscape of small, bustling towns amid agricultural fields and a surprisingly high number of gas stations. During the drive, we saw bronze statues of diverse figures such as Mother Teresa, who was Albanian, and George W. Bush.
By midmorning, we arrived at the mountain town of Krujë, the medieval capital of Albania, and proceeded to tour two fine museums: an ethnographic museum, based in an Ottoman-style house, and the Skanderbeg Museum, a 1980s Communist-era homage to Albania’s great national hero, George Kastrioti, who halted the Ottoman advance in the western Balkans in the mid-1400s. Exhibits in both museums provided additional detail to our understanding of this complex nation, which only gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912.
An impressive spread of Albanian delicacies awaited us for lunch at a nearby restaurant, and following the meal, an Albanian folk music and dancing troupe entertained us with a spirited performance. Following this, a brief but torrential downpour scoured the castle’s cobblestone paths, and we braved the challenging terrain to visit the local, medieval market.
Departing Krujë in the early afternoon, we journeyed back to Durrës, where some of us headed back “home” to Sea Cloud, while others opted to explore the Roman amphitheater excavated in town. After an excellent dinner in the ship’s stately dining room, we enjoyed a viewing of Around Cape Horn on the Lido Deck.
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