Spumoni in Albania
This month finds Spumoni in Albania (or at least his spirit) on a summer holiday in the town of Saranda. You might be wondering why I’m traveling in Albania during the pandemic. It might seem ironic but this 3rd world country has done a relatively good job dealing with the coronavirus.
Saranda is a seaside town in the southwest corner of the country. The normal population of approximately 25,000 swells up to 6 times that size during the month of August. People on vacation from all over Europe plus a smattering of Americans make their way here to enjoy the warm weather and sunshine. While there are both public and private beaches none of them have sand.
Just south of Saranda you have the smaller village of Ksamil. This little town does have some sandy beaches. But a much smaller selection of restaurants and shops. If you were to channel the spirit of Spumoni in Albania it would likely be in one of the many hidden coves.
Like most of the Mediterranean and Ionian sea beaches, in Saranda and elsewhere you will find small rocks and large boulders. There are only a handful of places in this part of the world with nice sandy beaches such as the aforementioned Ksamil.
Also, there is not a lot of foliage so it can be difficult to find shade on a hot summer day. From a distance it looks like most of the trees were cut down. In their place you will find restaurants, shops, hotels, condos and apartment buildings.
The restaurants all seem to serve the same Mediterranean food and that can get boring pretty quickly. Where is a good Thai or Chinese restaurant when you need one? And forget about Mexican food, you won’t find it or any of the ingredients to make it yourself unless you go over to Corfu. So while Spumoni in Albania is a pleasant thought, he’d likely be happier basking in the sun in Greece.
If you hop on a ferry, the high-speed boat will get you to Corfu Greece in less than 45 minutes. In typical Albanian fashion the ferry tends to run late and slower than scheduled. But you do get a spectacular view as you arrive in Corfu. The return trip provides a nice look at the southern Albanian coastline.
Corfu is much larger and more interesting than Saranda. There are many places to explore of both historical and cultural significance. Of particular interest is the Old Venetian Fort which is adjacent to a beautiful park. Close by you will find a wide variety of restaurants and shops. It’s a great place to just wander the streets and absorb Greek culture and lifestyle. A detour to the Ionian Supermarket is a great way to find local and imported food from all over the world.
A trip to Corfu is not complete without at least a few hours losing yourself on the labyrinth streets in Old Town. The stone streets are hundreds of years old as are many of the buildings. This charming city is immaculate. It seems the locals take great pride in keeping everything clean and tidy.