I’m really becoming quite an expert at charades when it comes to transportation charades. I caught a few buses from Ulcinj, Montenegro to Berat, Albania (none of which appeared on the bus schedule- not shocking).
Albanians are extremely friendly, so once I arrived in Berat it was easy to find a local to help me figure out the local bus system and which stop I needed for my hostel. I hiked up yet another hill (who needs a gym or a stair master?) and arrived at my new hostel. Berat is an interesting town for a few reasons. First, it is called the city of 1,000 windows due to the unique look of the homes in the old town. The town is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Another interesting aspect of Berat is that you can really see a major cultural difference between Berat and Western culture. Gender roles are extremely prominent in Berat. When you walk down the main promenade, there are cafes lining the street, and every cafe is filled with men. Just men. Apparently, if an Albanian woman were to sit at a cafe alone, she would be considered a “loose woman.” I know it is like this in many places in the Balkans, but for whatever reason it really stuck out to me in Berat. Side note- it is fine though if you are a tourist. They know you’re a tourist.
That being said, I enjoyed the authenticity of Berat. For example, here’s a shepherd with his pants off because he just led his flock across the river. Very practical.
I would also recommend a hike up to Berat Castle in the evening to watch the sunset. NOT during the day. It is a straight uphill trek, and you will sweat, even in the evening. Make sure to wear non-slippery shoes as the way up is composed of mainly slippery stones. I’m pretty sure they built it so the locals could laugh at the tourists falling. Okay probably not, but it seems plausible once you try to hike up.
The view and castle area are worth the hike though.
Hugging the statue of Constantine just to give you an idea of how big it is:
Another ideal activity for when you visit Berat is to go on a day trip to the Bogove Waterfalls. Don’t try to get there on you own. There are no markings for it, and you need a local with you. However, the trip there is worth it. It is such a refreshing break from the heat. The water is freezing, but the tranquility of the place and the clear waters make for an idyllic afternoon. Just make sure to jump in all at once. You will be miserably cold if you try to slowly wade in.
I’m getting really spoiled with all of these natural swimming holes. It’s going to be hard to go back to pools or Texas lakes after this.