Day 8 of my incredible adventures in Albania began in the historical UNESCO Ottoman town of Berat. Come along with me as I enjoy a traditional Albanian breakfast in Berat before I check out Elbasan Castle on the way from Berat to Pogradec, Albania!
My morning began at Castle Park Hotel, where I grabbed an early breakfast! I’d have some delicious petula (a type of Albanian fried dough) that you eat with honey and jam, and then I’d hit the road!
First, I met with Alma from Castle Park Hotel, who took me into the kitchen, where I watched the cooks fry up some petulla. They make smaller ones that they eat with butter, honey, jam, and cheese. They churn the butter themselves!
They also baked some delicious and sweet-smelling bread made with corn! Then, they began to make the butter by putting water and yogurt in a wooden butter churn and mixing it rapidly. It takes 10-15 minutes of churning to mix it together to make butter. I tried it myself, but it’s really hard! It’s much harder than it looks!
Then, I met up with my boy Erjan from Travel Media EU to eat! They brought out the homemade butter, which we had alongside our feast, which included eggs with herbs, hard-boiled eggs, fërgesë, petula, gliko, fresh cheese, olives, and the yogurt with water that they drain off the butter. It was super fresh!
Berat is the number one producer of olives in Albania. They were amazing, and the fresh butter on the bread was fantastic. The butter melted right away and I loved the corn in the bread. I don’t love butter, but it was the best butter I’ve had in my life! The eggs were also fantastic with the red and green peppers. The fërgesë also contained scrambled eggs, cheese, and red and green peppers. The fresh goat cheese made it so good!
Next was the petulla, which I tried with the jams. The dough was soft and golden. I loved the quince and cherry marmalades! Then, I tried gliko, which takes 16 days to prepare and contains whole, un-mashed fruit, unlike the marmalade. It was gummy and sweet. The fig gliko exploded in my mouth and was down in a sugary syrup.
The weather was nice and cool and perfect for a morning of eventually exploring Elbasan Castle and Pogradec, Albania. We set off on a one-hour drive to Elbasan. On the way, we passed through the town of Kuçovë, which is famous for its oil refineries. Further along, we saw a machine extracting the oil from the ground. The refineries are all privatized, so the town isn’t rich.
We passed goat and turkey herders and olive groves and turned right to Elbasan, which means “the conquered city.” We stopped to save a tortoise that was crossing the road on the way. We passed a park, cafés, and restaurants, but the main attraction is Elbasan Castle, the perfect stop along the route to Pogradec, Albania. It was built in the 15th century by the Ottomans.
There were lots of towers and it reminded me of the city walls of the city of Lugo in Galicia, Spain. It dates back to Roman times when the Romans built Via Egnatia, a 1,120 km road that ran from Rome to Istanbul. It’s a living castle, so people still live there. Because it’s not a UNESCO site, people can rebuild their homes in modern styles. Most homes are new and modern, but there are some old stone homes, too.
Inside, we visited King’s Mosque, which was built in 1492. It has been renovated. The left side is for woman and the right side is for men, and the second floor is for women. There are faucets outside so the parishioners can wash their hands before entering. Across from it is Kisha Apostolike e re Elbasan, the Apostolic Church of Elbasan.
We walked along Via Egnatia. There are parts of the road where you can still see the original stone. I had visited some of them in the past, like in Sofia, Bulgaria. Next, we visited a gorgeous restaurant along the castle walls. They have a garden area and some beautiful terraces. Down the staircase exiting the restaurant and under the building are Roman ruins! There are walls from the old Roman city down there! I had never seen a restaurant in a castle like this. Elbasan Castle is a must-visit when you’re on your way to Pogradec, Albania!
Next, we headed on to Pogradec. The only way to get there is to pass through Berat. Pogradec sits on the shores of Lake Ohrid, which borders Albania and North Macedonia. It’s the deepest lake in the Balkans and the oldest lake in Europe. I had visited the city of Ohrid on the other side of the lake in North Macedonia, which has 365 Byzantine churches! Roughly five years earlier, I had visited the Monastery of St. Naum, which is located
The route to Pogradec is gorgeous. There are lots of natural parks along the way. We climbed a hill, and over it, you can see Lake Ohrid. It’s so beautiful! We stopped to get some views of a village on the lake shores and continued on to the village of Lin on the western shore of Lake Ohrid.
It’s a small, beautiful village that offers gorgeous views of the lake. There are lots of restaurants on piers on the crystal-clear water. Pogradec was another 15 minutes away. This part of Albania was stunning. The clear skies and blue waters were incredible!
Pogradec is the only Albanian city on Lake Ohrid, and I couldn’t wait to spend the next 5-6 hours exploring it! What an awesome morning of traditional Albanian food and exploring Elbasan Castle on my way to Pogradec, Albania! Massive thanks to my friends at Travel Media EU, Balkan Pearls Tour Operator, and Rental Car Albania for making this road trip possible!
I hope you liked coming with me to explore Elbasan Castle as I traveled to Pogradec, Albania! If you did, please give this video a thumbs up and leave a comment below. Also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss any of my travel/food adventures around the world!
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