A guide to the New East

Simple pleasures: escape to Albania’s tranquil lakeside town

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With its crystal clear waters, Lake Ohrid is a slice of paradise in the southern Balkans. While most tourists head to the Macedonian city of Ohrid for its Ottoman architecture and myriad of Byzantine churches, photographer Savannah Fortis decided to take a detour to the little-visited town of Pogradec on the Albanian shore. Wanting see Albania’s natural beauty for herself, and with only a small distance between the two cities, she decided to walk there. Even though it was October, the days were bright and still warm enough to not have to bring a jumper. She assures that Pogradec should not be missed: “Pogradec’s infrastructure itself may not be as picturesque and complex as its Macedonian counterpart Ohrid, but I was struck by its simplicity. Surrounding the lake are incredible mountains and hillsides that speak for the beauty the Balkans behold. It charmed me even in October, which is considered off season.” If you’re considering Albania, she says you won’t be disappointed. “Albania has been a diamond in the rough in the Balkans since it opened up, and is slowly gaining the reputation it deserves as a desirable destination. The coffee there rivals almost all other coffee in Europe.” Besides the coffee, the photographer was met with small conversations and even invited to matches of table football. “Do make a little time for the people,” she recommends. “Albanians are warm and welcoming and the best thing you could take away from their country is a connection with the locals themselves. Don’t worry about the language barrier, I didn’t know a word!”

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