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Marina Orikum – the only marina on the coast of Albania

45 nautical miles north of our last stop at Porto Palermo lies the Orikum marina in the deep bay of Vlora. The Italians had started building it, but then construction stalled and there were reports of smuggling going on there. That time is probably over. Even today, the marina is not quite finished, but it already looks very respectable. Floating jetties, good mooring lines, clean showers and toilets. And very friendly harbour staff. But also typically Albanian: 1000PS powerboats, extremely weird-looking large motor yachts, lots of SUVs in the car park.

But otherwise there's not much going on. We stayed for a week in total because we wanted to explore the interior from here, waited for better winds - and because it was really cosy here. The town is a 20-minute walk away, small supermarkets, a long beach, some of the hotels and restaurants still look a little socialist - which has its charm.

Here visited us Gisela‘s cousin Michael. He is on his way south with his camper-car. Destination: Armenia.

With a hire car, we drove over the Llogara Pass, then above the coast to Port Palermo and then back through the Shushica Valley. An incredibly wild and beautiful landscape, partly like the Allgäu/Alps. Then after the pass, a gigantic winding road with a view of the sea from high above, impressive. The return journey through a wide valley with a mountain stream that has a huge gravel bed - lots of somewhat scary, wobbly suspension bridges. 

We were also able to visit the highlight of Orikum: Ody, one of the marineros, drove us into the restricted military area (hundreds of small bunkers, broken vehicles and ships), where we had to hand in our ID cards, and then through completely overgrown terrain to the archaeological site, a Greek/Illyrian city from the sixth century BC, which is now largely under water.

The entire Karaburun peninsula, 16 kilometres long and 5 kilometres wide, is a restricted military area; nothing has changed in nature here for 30 years, and the flora and fauna are correspondingly exotic. However, Ody, who gave us a bottle of his home-made olive oil on the way back, told us that there are plans to build a NATO base in the restricted military area.

When we paid at the end of the week, we were given a substantial discount. We are now leaving Albania, a wild and beautiful country with very friendly people.

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