Our ship made a calm crossing on the deep blue Mediterranean from Sicily to the Adriatic Sea and the beautiful shores of Montenegro, Croatia, and Albania. Our first Adriatic stop was in Montenegro. Sailing there was itself an event, winding our way through the dramatically curving coastline of the fjord-like Bay of Kotor. There, tucked away at the base of a looming rocky mountain, rested one of the jewels of the Adriatic, the walled Venetian town of Kotor, a renaissance city frozen in time and filled with centuries-old palaces and churches. Kotor was just a taste of what was to come, however, as the following day we anchored outside the monumental, almost 2-mile long walls of the Croatian city of Dubrovnik. We walked the ramparts of the best-preserved medieval city in the world, and looked out over a sea of tiled roofs of picturesque homes, monasteries, and churches. It’s hard to imagine a more splendid city. It was like a dream being there, especially walking up the wide main street, which was paved entirely in white marble.
We then headed in a southerly direction to Albania. The ancient city of Durres was our first port of call, with its Roman amphitheater and small but exceptional archaeological museum. Tirana, the nation’s capital, was our next visit, where we had a wonderful lunch while being entertained by Albanian folk dancing and music. A really fantastic performance! Later, we struck out by bus to the high mountain stronghold of Kruja, where Albania’s greatest hero, Skanderbeg, had the castle from which he challenged the might of the Ottoman Empire and fought for Albanian independence.
Today we rose early and, taking to the Zodiacs, were the first visitors ever to take our own boats up the Vivari Channel to the ancient Greco-Roman city of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Butrint was a fascinating archaeological site that eloquently conveyed a sense of the real life of an ancient city. The walk around the site was made even more pleasurable by the park-like ambience of the ruins, filled with pleasant paths shaded by a forest of beautiful trees. Now on to Greece and the Gulf of Corinth, where we will visit the oracle of Apollo at Delphi!