I this is the last of the three posts that cover our mega day last Wednesday. As I mentioned in my first post of the day (which will probably show up to you as the third one), we are now in Rome pushing hard with the last part of trip. But back to Albania.
We finished our day visiting the major fortress of Gjirokaster. Like so many spots in Albania it has been the site of towns and fortifications for centuries on end. But the current fortress is more modern. It was built by the famous/infamous ruler of Southern Albania in the late 18th/early 19th century, Ali Pasha. As the Ottoman Empire was weakening local leaders became minor potentates in their own right. Ali Pasha was both admired and reviled because he brought organization and order but also filled his how pocket extensively. Gjirokaster was the site of one of his major defensive sites to protect himself from Ottoman power. Although attacked many times, it was never successfully taken.
The mighty fortress
It is also the home to a weapons museum that includes a rare Fiat Tank of 1930's vintage
Yet on the fortress grounds were wonderful colors
And vistas of the Albania mountains
Views of Gjirokaster
The town is a as popular as the citadel because it maintains its 18th century look
Our guide took us to a place that specialized in traditional cooking
Fried rice cakes
A melted cheese casserole and grilled vegetable salad
Vegetables were uniformly tasty. Our guide said this was because 'farm to table' which is trendy back home, is the only way things work in Albania.
Another fritter with spinach
A thick yogurt sauce that you could eat by itself
Kofte, ground lamb grilled
A dish with wild spinach and lots of dill between a corn bread
And our guide pointed out
They have fried potatoes!
We washed this all down with a couple of glasses of raki :)