On the afternoon and evening of my epic 13th day in Albania, I continued my exploration of the southern part of the country. Come with me as I explore more of the Albanian Riviera, have some amazing seafood and pasta, and make a stop at ancient Orik and a Byzantine monastery near Vlorë, Albania!
My afternoon began on the road just outside of Vlorë, one of the prettiest cities along the coast of Albania. I was looking forward to touring more of the Albanian Riviera, ancient Orik, and Vlorë, Albania!
Our first destination was Orik Archaeological Park, which is one of several archaeological sites in the area. It’s located in the middle of a military zone. My boy Erjan from Travel Media EU told me that in order to enter, you have to give them your passport. I would also have to turn off my camera as we passed through. You should hire a guide who is specially trained to show people around this area.
Orik Archaeological Park is located on a peninsula and contains lots of ancient ruins. Some were built during Julius Caesar’s time. Orik played an important role in the civil war that took place between Caesar and the city of Pompeii between 49-48 BC. Archaeologists have unearthed the circular remains of the “monumental fountain” in the park, as well as a Byzantine tower, parts of the fortified walls from the city’s Byzantine period, an acropolis, and a Paleochristian church.
Julius Caesar fought three battles with Orik. He approached the city via the sea the first two times and lost those battles, but approached from behind the peninsula the third time. He was successful the third time and conquered Orik.
I got to see the fountain and the ancient steps, which are still intact. Parts of the park have been excavated, but there’s still a lot that hasn’t been unearthed. There’s a northern gate that’s in ruins, and pottery has been found there as well.
Ancient sites begin to fall apart after standing for centuries and are under threat of being lost forever. That’s why UNESCO and other organizations come in to protect archaeological sites: to get funding to clean up, protect, and excavate archaeological sites so that they’ll remain as intact as possible.
Next, we saw some houses that had been carved into the rock of a hill. They date back to the 3rd century BC! The houses are paved with bricks, and all of them contain a well. The roofs of the houses had a system where the rainwater would drain down into the well. The well was dry when I visited in August. In the middle of the city is a huge, wide stairway that’s bordered by houses.
Next, we left Orik and left the military base. We passed a beautiful beach and headed toward Vlorë. It’s the biggest city on the Albanian coast. There were tons of palm trees, condos, and restaurants everywhere. It’s on the border of the Ionian and Adriatic Seas. We continued through the city to a bridge over the water where there were lots of newlyweds getting their photos taken.
Further on from there is St. Mary’s Monastery, which is located on Zvërnec Island. It’s a typical Byzantine church. There’s a lot of red, and the monastery has a rotunda and lots of beautiful paintings. They’re depictions from the Bible.
Then, we drove 20 minutes through an oak forest along the Albanian Riviera back to Vlorë, Albania. We parked at our hotel, the Bologna Hotel, which is next to the port and sea. The meeting point of the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea, with the mountains in the background, is so gorgeous! There’s a super long boardwalk all along the shore.
After walking for 20 minutes, we made it to the public beach. There are also private parts for hotels and restaurants. Then, we made it to Restorant Joni, a beautiful restaurant on the beach.
We ate outside, where there were lots of white tables. We started with some white wine and bruschetta. I loved the fresh, moist tomatoes and the olive oil on it! Then, we had infinite fish on a huge seafood platter. We had quiches with shrimp, tuna, crudo shrimp, sardines, figs, and more. The crudo with the lime and oil sauce was unreal!
The fresh crudo was too good. It’s rare in most places but is common in Albania. Next were the sardines, which were super spicy and full of flavor. I loved the lemon and oil.
The shrimp quiche was creamy, crispy, and golden brown on the outside. The shrimp took it to the next level! The grilled tuna had a little salt and lots of pepper and was so flavorful. The blackened salmon was also super good. I loved the mix of flavors in this platter. Some were spicy, some were zesty, some were salty. The prawns were super salty! What a meal!
Back in the kitchen, I got to see how Chef Joni makes a seafood pasta made with salted fish eggs! He showed me a huge monkfish and told me that they only use fresh fish, nothing frozen.
Back at the table, I tried the gnocchi with vegetables with more white wine. The wine was tasty and the gnocchi was super creamy. I loved the carrots and asparagus in it. There was also some cured meat shaved on top. Then, we toasted to my final night in Albania. What an incredible day exploring the Albanian Riviera, ancient Orik, and having a delicious seafood dinner in Vlorë, Albania!
I have to thank my friends at Travel Media EU, Balkan Pearls Tour Operator, and Rental Car Albania for making this adventure possible. My trip through Albania wouldn’t have happened without them. I had an incredible time and I highly recommend booking with them when you go to Albania!
I hope you liked coming with me to the Albanian Riviera to visit ancient Orik, St. Mary’s Monastery, and Restorant Joni for Albanian seafood in Vlorë, 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!