When we were putting together our European itinerary we thought it would be easy enough to fly directly from Athens, Greece to Dubrovnik, Croatia considering they are only separated by 3 bordering countries. Unfortunately, it was very expensive and not all that common so we came across a company called Med Experience who ran a road trip between the two countries.
As this was an organized tour the below post is more a recount of our experiences VS the top tips / things to do in each city/country.
By doing the road trip, we got to see 2 more countries (Albania and Montenegro) and save some money in the meantime. 1400km later, a whole lot of sing a longs & 3 countries in 4 days we arrived in Croatia! The visits in each country were short but enough to get a taste of them.
The drive was long, tiring at times but amazing at others. Our group was made up of mainly Aussies but also a few from the USA, NZ and Peru. We were lucky to get another awesome group of people to hang with for the duration of the trip. Talking to new people, getting to know them and their travels is always so fun, everyone has a story, everyone’s doing or done something similar to you, and it’s a great way to hear any tips for areas people have been to already.
Day 1: Greece
Driving from Athens towards Albania was by far the longest leg of the 4 days. Greece is MASSIVE!
One of the first stops whilst still in Greece was a visit to the town of Delphi, an archaeological site and a modern town in upper Central Greece. Delphi was an important ancient Greek religious sanctuary sacred to the god Apollo. The sanctuary was home to the famous oracle of Apollo which gave cryptic predictions and guidance to both city-states and individuals. In addition, Delphi was also home to the panhellenic Pythian Games. It was a very interesting tour and we learnt a lot about the history, myths and how to read the Greek script on the rocks.
Jacob was very excited to also go by Thermopylae. Thermopylae is a narrow strip of coast at the foot of a range of mountains in east-central Greece. It was the site of an unsuccessful Spartan stand against the Persians in 480 bc. It was also made famous by Hollywood’s movie 300. “This! Is! Sparta!”
We spent the night in a small Greek village by the name of Kalambaka.
Day 2: Greece to Albania
We had an early start from Kalambaka to visit a pretty spectacular Monastery in Meteora, perched high on a mountain. The rocks here reminded us of Göreme in Cappadocia with their shape and formations. It was a magnificent view from the top of the Monastery and a pretty sweet place to take photos on top of the neighboring rocks.
As our Greece portion was coming to an end we enjoyed having one last Gyro in the mountain town of Kastoria before we hit the Albanian border.
Unfortunately, being on a strict schedule we only had the one evening the explore the town of Tirana, Albania’s capital. First impressions, however, were good. It was a very lively city with a lot of bars and restaurants & a beautiful park that we were able to get some much needed exercise in.
Our favorite thing about Albania? It was so cheap! We had a 3 course dinner and 2 drinks and paid €11 for everything, a 1L Smirnoff vodka bottle was €10, 2L of beer for €1.79, and a grocery shop done for under €15. Winning!
The tour company organized our accomodation at all the places we visited, so here we stayed at Milingona Hostel Tirana. It was very basic but in a good location for easy access to town. We would have loved to have seen the coast line and beaches of Albania but we didn’t have time on this trip.
Day 3: Albania to Montenegro
Crossing yet another border we reached Montenegro. Montenegro wasn’t as cheap as Albania but it was still cheap. We had some more free time in Montenegro so we hit up the beach. We went to the beach known as the “big beach” by the name of Velika Plaza. A very long sandy beach stretching 8 miles.
They had water sports here so we took the opportunity to go tubing again. Emily however wished she hadn’t this time around as it was so damn fast. If only we had captured the facial expressions!
We were pulled by a jet ski this time rather than a boat and with no communication between us and the driver, he whipped us around like rag dolls, we were flying in the air, smacking the water, flipping over and about loosing swimmer bottoms. Jacob found this tubing experience a complete thrill, but Emily called it quits and went in early!
Our favorite part of the trip was staying in the town of Kotor in Montenegro (shown above). Kotor is part of the World Heritage Site dubbed the Natural and Culturo-Historical Region of Kotor. If you are prepared to climb up 1400 stairs then you should make the hike to the top of Kotor’s Castle Of San Giovanni.
It’s recommended to go early for free entry and to avoid the excessive heat. Unfortunately, a very late night out for us meant a late sleep in the morning so we missed this but 2 people from our group climbed to the top to touch the flag.
We stayed at Montenegro Hostel 4U and it was awesome. A real party hostel which we were not expecting in this small town. The hostel was located just outside the old town of Kotor and directly on the water. The Old Town had numerous restaurants and bars and we went on a pub crawl with everyone from the hostel. To our surprise there was a rather big club here (Maximus) that we all went to and finished off the night with the group.
After leaving Montenegro it was time for us to cross the Croatian border and head to the city of Dubrovnik where we will take a cruise with Sail Croatia for 8 days to many different Croatian Islands.
Married days survived: 142