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3 AUG

TIRANA-BERAT

Early rise, still hot in Tirana, for minges (breakfast) I had petanik with fasule and a glass of cows milk. Then walked to local café for a coffee with Asim.

A big day planned . Alisa, Jurgen, Asim and I headed to the ancient city of Berat by car. My father had visited c1987. I remember him telling me about our Musaka heritage and that it lays in Berat. Didn’t know what to make of it at the time. But today I was visiting the castle after nearly 30 years.

Took us nearly 4hrs to find Berat. The roads were manic, barely any visible signs, dirt road sections appear out of nowhere. Asim did an amazing job in the stifling heat without aircon. I would’ve been lost driving on my own and I am a pretty good navigator!

We finally made it excitingly to our destination. Sweaty and somewhat exhausted already!

I asked a tour guide to take us around for 1400lek. There were several shonky operators around charging less but this guy was the official real deal – Eric was most informative. Jurgen and Alisa hung out by the car as they seemed struck by heat.

One of the first things I noticed were the words ENVER NEVER etched across a distant mountain side in letters that must of been 50mtrs each in size. The original words spelt ENVER HOXHA, which were cleverly etched to a depth of 3mtrs underground so that they couldn’t even be blown up. But the clever locals adapted and instead of destroying the words they simply changed the letters.

Asim stayed on the tour with me as we slowly went through the 3 concentric layers of walls of castle, even though he couldn’t understand a word of English. Just being at the Muzaka house in the inner walls of castle was moving. Apparently my ancestral home. More research required to ascertain the validity of the Musaka connection. I asked the guide allot of questions. I recorded all the guides dialogue and took many photos of the tour.

Go here to take audio/picture tour of Berat.

After an amazing tour we left castle and started back for Tirana. We looked for a place to eat, finally found a place, as I’d entrusted Alisa with picking a place. As tacky as it was we ate like kings for $30AU. During lunch we discussed what Asim thinks is the inherited division of the Voskop house. It was all very confusing. Another different version to what Kleva had described. There are the old Patriarchal tribal laws and the new Capitalist laws. The latter stands as far as legalities are concerned.

I slept most of the way home. Asim did a great job driving in this chaotic road system. Asim and I chatted. He continually pointed out relics of the Communist past. He is such a warm hearted man. I really felt for his past experience in the Communist Party Army c1985-87, it seemed that he was traumatized by the whole experience.

We finally made it home safely, it became more humid as we neared Tirana. Settling on the porch with iced water and great memories of the Berat experience.

I showered, put on a sarong and laid down for a 1hr rest by the fan. Once rested I took the youngens Jurgen, Axhina, Alisa for coffee, dessert zup and much laughter at an Italian joint in Tirana. We then for a few cocktails at Nga Nena bar in The Block (Blloku).

Home time. Fan on full blast!! Slept like a baby!