The great Eastern European road trip, part two: road trip across Albania

On their tour from the Balkans to the Baltic, Kevin Rushby and family arrive in Albania – once unreachable, now scruffy, eccentric and entirely lovable.
Last week: Island hopping in Croatia Next week: Bulgaria

As soon as we cross the border into northern Albania, near Shkodër, we are faced with a decision: coast or mountain? I’ve wanted to visit Albania since the 1990s, when I glimpsed its then unreachable coast from Corfu and heard it was the loveliest in the Med. But we’ve arrived in a heatwave – 40C-plus – so turn towards the cool mountains of the south-east. After well-groomed Croatia and Montenegro, Albania appears as shaggy and ill-kempt as a lovable hound, all dirty paws and enthusiastic tail.

After a night at a wayside hotel, we continue south, turning off the main road at Urakë to explore. Our guidebook says there are Illyrian tombs near a village called Selca. The road becomes a track and divides. We stop to ask directions and at this moment we finally arrive in Albania.

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