Himarë, Albania – Otherwise known as Utopia!

Himarë, Albania – Otherwise known as Utopia!

Posted by on Sep 6, 2015 in Albania, Europe, Featured

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I am not sure if it was the friendly little town, the crystal clear aquamarine water, the magnificent scenery, fresh local seafood every night for dinner, happy children playing all day in the sunshine, salt on my skin or a combination of all of the above. However I actually think back on our week in Himarë as being one of the best in my life.

We drove from Berat to Himarë (or Himara in Albanian) on the Albanian Riveria, and again despite it only being around 150km it took all day to get there. I really believe that if Albania can get their roads in order their tourism will boom! We rolled into the little town in the late afternoon and found our house on the beach that we had booked online. We had a private terrace that stepped straight onto the stoned beach, however that is where the charm stopped. The house was terrible, and as much as we wanted to spend a whole week here, we ended up staying just one night!

The next morning Scott walked the cafe lined streets and found us a fabulous 4-bed room on the top floor of a cheap hotel. It came in at 20€ a night and we had 180 degree views of the beautiful bay. The four of us spent a lot of time playing Uno on the balcony watching the sun set and drinking beers (lemon and soda for the kids). I made the mistake of yelling out “bummer” once when someone gave me a draw-4 card and ever since then the kids have called the game “Bummer”!

We didn’t do much. Each day we would wonder over the road to the beach, set up camp, swim, snorkel, kayak and watch the world go by. We bought the kids a bucket and spade set and they played happily for hours. The hotel had kayaks that we could use and we often paddled around the bay with the boys in between our knees.

It was one magical day after the other. We drank cool beer in the sun every evening before heading out and eating yet another delicious fresh seafood meal. I think I had grilled calamari everyday as well as whole grilled fish and sardines.

Honestly it was like Utopia! Every afternoon we would let Tom cross the road by himself to buy himself and Milo an ice-cream. I would give him incorrect money so he would get change and a receipt which made him feel so strong and independent. Secretly I would watch him, just to make sure I knew he was OK and I also had a wee word with the guy in the ice-cream shop, however he had no idea and it made him feel good to think that I thought he was old enough to do this all by himself.

There were a few great little restaurants and taverna’s on the beach front and we tried most of them.

Our favourite place was called Portokalli and was a lovely little local restaurant that served fresh-off-the-boat grilled sardines and calamari. I honestly think I would endure the 10 hours of driving it took to get here from Tirana all over again, just to have another meal in this restaurant. We drank local wine (very average but we didn’t care), ate like kings and watched the sunset each night. It really was fantastic.

The kids played on the beach all day. Tom set up a seashell shop and I bought a little shell off him LOL

One afternoon I took Tom on a little walk around the bay out to the fishermen’s jetty to get a little bit of unschooling sorted out. We had a good look at their daily haul and all the different sea creatures they had caught. We talked about what life would be like every day for a fisherman and also about how they would make money by selling fish to local people and restaurants. I love our little afternoons together and love being able to expose him to the many different lifestyles and cultures we have come across in our travels!

Out on the jetty there was a lovely restaurant called Esperia. We had dinner there one night. The food was OK but the view looking back across the water to town was lovely, especially as it got darker and the lights came on. You can do better in town as far as food goes, but it was a lovely experience and the ambience was perfect.

One afternoon we were having a beer on our little bacony and a bunch of paragliders came flying into town. As we were on the top floor some of them were at eye level and able to wave at us. The kids thought it was awesome and we enjoyed watching them all land on the beach or in the shallow waters.

One night we stumbled across this lovely little bar called Red Indian Rock Cafe. It was like something we had been to in the back end of Arizona 15 years ago. We drank cold beer, at yummy little tapas like dishes and the kids had a ball looking around at all the stuff everywhere. The highlight for Scott was that each beer mug came with a bell on it and when you wanted another all you needed to do was ring the bell and another beer would turn up very quickly!

All up it was just a lovely experience. We were a bit tired as we had been moving quite fast for a few weeks, so Himarë was a lovely place to stop and relax for a while. I am very keen to go back in 5 or 10  years to see how it has developed.

We also drove up and down the coastline and went a few other different beaches. You can read about that here.

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