Sunday, June 29, 2008

Around Balkans

By Gjergj Erebara around Balkans

During last two weeks, I have gone around Balkans traveling from a capital to another, to make a research about electricity trade in Southern East Region. Surprisingly, I have discovered that in some way, my country, Albania, is somehow isolated from its neighbors and is hard to reach for foreign tourists. So I think that since interest to travel through Albania from foreign tourists is increased, is important to give some detailed information about costs and routes.

From Tirana to Skopje (Macedonia)

There is not any direct line from Tirana to Skopje, but it is easy to go by bus from Tirana to Tetovo and from Tetovo to Skopje. There are several travel agencies who carry daily lines by bus from Tirana to Tetovo. The agency that I casually used is named “Pologu”. Its bus Polet, departed from Tirana at 9.00 PM for an overnight travel, from the train station almost 10 minutes walking from Skanderbeg Square to the northern end of Tirana. The ticket can be brought directly at bus. Another bus from agency “Drita”, departs on the same hour from the place called Piaca, near Skanderbeg square in Tirana. The ticket costs 15 euro. My bus had arrived at Tetovo on 5.00 AM. During the night, the buses stop for 30 minutes near a restaurant on Librazhdi. That restaurant offers vegetarian dishes as well meat based dishes. Personally I have eaten just rice and yogurt. The same bus is used to reach also Ohrid town near Ohrid Lake in Macedonia. If your destination is Ohrid, you should stop on Struga. The ticked for a travel from Tirana to Struga costs 11 euro. From Struga, probably you will use a taxi to reach Ohrid. In Macedonia usually taxis have meters. Anyway, it costs around 6 euro. The distance from Struga to Ohrid is 11 km.

Alternative route

Traveling overnight to reach Ohrid is something tiring. Since the distance from Tirana to Ohrid is only 140 km, using a private car the whole traveling will last only three hours. I have been several times at Ohrid, because I like very much the fresh air of that altitude of 700 up the sea level, especially when in Tirana become really hot. Another alternative of traveling is “typically Albanian”. It includes changing several times minibuses. You should take a minivan to Elbasan or directly to Korca, in Albanian south-east corner. Minivans depart from Tirana in the place called “Elbasani Street”, which is really near city center. In this case, only think unimportant is an agenda. Minibuses for south-eastern line depart almost in every moment. You just go to European Trade Center in Tirana, is a new building visible from far away and well known for all. There, probably will be many peoples calling you: “Elbasani”, which means that they go to Elbasan. Traveling to Elbasan will costs 200-300 lek, (1.7 to 2.5 euro). Keep in mind that usually euro coins are not accepted in Albania. You should use Albanian currency or you will pay a five euro bill and probably will be no rest for you. At Elbasani, on the same place where the minivan from Tirana had stopped take another minivan to Qafethane. It will cost 400 lek more or at maximum 500 lek. Once you have reached the border, you can take a taxi to Struga. It costs up to 7 euro, or 420 Macedonian denar. From Struga, you can use the bus to Ohrid for half euro or you can use the same taxi and pay another 5 euro.

Ohrid is a wonderful town. There are many historical building and very rich history. Pensions and motels cost up to 10 euro per person, or 20 euro for a double room.

I will publish other travel tips in the next days. If someone is interested for specific information, just send a mail to me The information is free at all. J

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