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September, 2019

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Following our scenic boat ride through the Albanian fjords, we stayed in the Albanian Alps at the Rezidenca, also for some confusing reason, known as Quku I Dunishes.

There were 12 rooms in a three-storey wooden building. On arrival, the only formalities were being told to take off shoes at the entrance where plastic flip flops were provided. We were right at the top, up 43 steps, with no lift. This is apparently where celebrities stay, and our guide told us Michael Gambon had recently stayed in the same room.

The room, with its pine ceiling and cream walls, was reasonably light with a large and long double bed dominating. One person had only a small gap to get in and out of the bed, whilst the other had to negotiate a furniture slalom. There was a wardrobe and room for one case. A large corner shelf was very useful as it had numerous plug points and served the bathroom. It was all pretty basic with no fridge, TV etc. and more importantly no telephone, so any questions or forgotten items required a trek up and down the stairs.

The bathroom was tiny and not helped by a door which wouldn’t fully open due to a large hot water tank. There was a shower cubicle (small but with very hot, reasonably powerful water), basin, loo, but nowhere to put out toiletries and no hairdryer (these could be borrowed but numbers were limited). Family size bottles of shampoo and shower gel were provided.

We also had a wooden balcony with two heavy wooden chairs and a table. However, we preferred to sit downstairs in the lawned garden for two reasons: it caught the late afternoon sun and WiFi was available. In the morning, our balcony was out of commission as nesting pigeons pooped on the furniture overnight. There was also a raised circular viewing deck in the garden with tables and chairs. Beers and soft drinks could be ordered, although this service was not advertised.

The place is surrounded by huge mountains with a few wooden houses dotted around. It would be very tranquil with the sound of running water from a nearby stone water feature, if it were not for a jack hammer going hell for leather nearby. However, there appeared to be an agreement that if people complained, the work stopped.

We were slightly surprised that for such an isolated place, only breakfast was served inhouse with the associated hostel, Rilindja, having the restaurant option for lunch and dinner. This was a good 20-minute walk on a steep road, but fortunately our driver stepped in and drove us down and, more importantly back up. Having seen a display of wines in the breakfast room, we wondered why they didn’t provide evening meals.

The menu at Rilindja had several traditional dishes (including a number involving organs), pasta and risotto. On our first night we chose a shepherd’s salad for two, and also an appetiser, Diath Furre, which was described as “yellow cheese baked in the wood oven with extra fresh butter – like an Albanian raclette”. The bowl of melted cheese went well with the large complimentary basket of bread and salad. We also shared half a litre of white wine and with a bottle of sparkling water, it was less than £10.

The second night we opted for more traditional dishes: fli described as “an enormous layered crepe pie baked with an ember heated lid” and fërgesë “traditional baked tomatoes and peppers in ricotta style cheese salad”. The pie was a wedge and so wasn’t as huge as we’d feared, unlike the spinach pie we’d had at “Kroi”: in Kruja. The fërgesë was warm and very good and as with the previous night’s cheese, went well with the bread. We finished with coffee and a plum raki. The third night, our driver took us to a different nearby hotel for dinner.

Breakfast (7am to 10am) was simple with muesli, yoghurt, sliced apple, bread, cheese, tomato, cucumber, hard boiled eggs and a plate of hot sausages as well as jams and small biscuits and excellent machine-made coffee. Silver foil was available along with plastic bags so you could make up a packed lunch.

This was simple accommodation, but we felt relaxed and chilled and could have stayed a little longer.

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