Tag Archives: beach

Wishing I was at the Beach…

It’s still wintry and rainy in San Francisco, and I’m really wishing that I was at any of these beautiful places….

Picture credits can be found at sites linked through the above images. Sadly I didn’t take any of them! Sigh…

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Sueños Albaneses

Right now, I’m sitting in the 94 degree heat (that’s 34 degrees for you non-Fahrenheit folks) in Sacramento, California, considering my future as a soon-to-be gainfully employed San Franciscan.

I would totally rather be here:

Dhermi, originally uploaded by jhoolko.

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Himara

Himara, originally uploaded by jhoolko.

We only stopped in Himara out of necessity. We were in Dhermi, loving it, when we realized that we were going to run out of cash and there was no ATM in sight. Nobody accepted any kind of card either, so we had to decide whether to leave Dhermi earlier than expected and move on, or head out in hopes of finding an ATM quickly, then coming back to enjoy the beach (and amazing woodfired pizza). We chose option #2.

We hiked out of Dhermi at about 8am, up the winding, nicely paved street from the beach to the main road. From there we hiked another 20 minutes or so until we reached a fierce bend in the road right at the entrance to old Dhermi. There was a little hotel being built and a cafe, shaded by trees, and we decided to stop there and have a coffee and wait for a furgon to go by. There was also a great natural spring that came out of the ground right behind the cafe, so in addition to the shade of the trees we had the sound of rushing water, as well as a little fountain that had been built where people could fill up their water bottles. Furgons heading north would stop at the fountain and people would get out, fill their bottles, and wash up in the fountain that ran along the side of the road. After about 15 minutes we caught a southbound bus and hopped on.

Himara is closer than what they tell you in Dhermi. Maybe 25 minutes in a furgon. 35 max. When we got there we asked a woman in a market about a bank and she pointed us towards the beach. On the road that runs along the water there are at least four banks with ATMS, so ignore whatever the people in Dhermi or the guidebooks tell you. You CAN get cash in Himara and it’s a heck of a lot easier and cheaper and shorter than heading back to Vlora.

And the view wasn’t bad! We were in a rush to get back to Dhermi, which we eventually did by taxi for 2,000 lek or so, but the beach in Himara itself was rather nice. Especially a little to the south of the town, there was some really clear beautiful water. I noticed that almost 100% percent of the time the beaches directly to the south of the towns were the nicest. That was certainly true in Vlora and Himara, and driving down the coast I saw the pattern continue. Generally the in-town beaches weren’t the best, Dhermi being the exception since it wasn’t really a town at all.

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Our Secret Beach

Our Secret Beach, originally uploaded by jhoko.

Directions to Secret Beach: Take a bus from Dhermi to Himara, get off at the faded sign for Jal Beach. Keep an eye out for stray goats. Hike one hour towards the beach through olive orchards, past the little white church. Hitchhike the remaining mile or two. Take a break to have a Korça and some fresh fish on the beach. Continue hiking down the dirt road that looks like it leads nowhere. Walk until you can’t hear people or dogs, until you can’t see any more trash or chickens. After about 20 minutes, you will pass a white pebble beach and one big olive tree. Keep going. If you’ve hit the shady old olive orchards you’ve gone too far. Look for a freshly dug ditch on the right. Hike along it until it turns into a narrow old footpath. Keep going until you reach the cliff. Climb down, pitch tent, build fire, go for a swim, repeat.

*update! Some awesome Flickr user named Edi 9/11 commented on this photo on my Flickr page with a GREAT map of Albania that shows exactly where this spot is for anyone who is interested in visiting this beach (called Aquarium) or any other parts of Albania! http://wikimapia.org/#lat=40.1129851&lon=19.7114897&z=16&l=0&m=b

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Nerja

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We took off a little earlier than expected from Cordoba for yet another 5-hour bus ride to Nerja, since Lindsey and I were both really hoping to make it to a nice beach. The weather had randomly changed from rainy and chilly to warm and PERFECT, so we were off straight to the Mediterranean to take advantage of it.

Nerja is absolutely wonderful but also COMPLETELY overrun by tourists. It’s like a Disney-fied Spanish town in that respect. Everyone there speaks English (or is English), so it wasn’t exactly a linguistically challenging trip, but the beach made it easy to understand why the town was the way that it was. If I were an English retiree, I would probably move there too. We spent a full day at the beach there and stayed at the BEST cheap hotel I have ever been to. It was so clean, the people were so friendly, and it was 30 euros per night for a full-fledged double occupancy hotel room with a nice clean private bathroom. I think it was really cheap because they just changed the name and it has zero reviews on Hostelworld, making it a risk to book it online. If anyone goes to Nerja anytime soon, ignore the lack of reviews and stay there. It’s called Easy Nerja, which is a stupid name, but it’s awesome.

After our lovely, wonderful beach day, we took yet ANOTHER bus inland, to one of my favorite cities in the world and the place that I was really, really hoping to call home this year. Granada. 

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