Përmeti: Apart from the sea, we have everything else ...
By Bora Muzhaqi for #Albania/ I have a friend who has always said out loud, as Përmeti does not have. Every time he returned from the weekend in Përmet, he brought us to the office full of good food, the main thing for me was the watermelon glycogen, to lick not only the jar, but also the fingers. We decided to spend a weekend in Përmet, to see if this friend was right. The road to Permet was really fantastic, as you pass Fier and take to Tepelena, look at the town square and meanwhile gathered the ladies of the town who are sitting on the benches of the town to remember those old neighborhoods we remember from when we were kids. And then he looks at those men with namuz, with long mustaches, to remember the legends of Tafil Buzi.
Meanwhile, as you leave behind Tepelena, the most beautiful part of the road begins, as you approach the Three Bridges you can see the fantastic view of the Vjosa, the magnificent river, which has been described as the last wild and untouched river in Europe. I would strongly suggest you stop at the bridge, perhaps not by car that you block traffic on the one-way bridge, but stop the car by its side, and get on foot, to enjoy the view of the Vjosa on both sides, and take some pictures that will leave all your friends as Albanians without a mind, but mainly those foreigners. The road, meanwhile, continues with a breathtaking beauty, between valleys and green mountains, where there is no need for music, but just open the windows and enjoy the fresh air filled with the pleasant smell of sage and mountain tea.
As soon as you arrive in Përmet, at the top of the city, you notice a large wall surrounded by trees that says "Apart from the sea, we have everything else", we start making endless jokes with each other, do they have it all? And while we are throwing and waiting for jokes, we have been told about a waiting house "Funky Gueshouse", where Aveniri is waiting for us to give us some tips for everything we do all weekend in Përmet. Of course, Aveniri greets us and explains that if we have not booked a hotel, it is a pity that Përmeti is full of these beautiful spring weekends. Little by little, we are stressed that the Villa Culli that we had booked, had a problem in booking and that it had taken our booking on time. Although they had not received the reservation, we went and saw it, at the top of the mountain, a beautiful villa, where a fantastic cherry tree fell on the porch, with cherry seeds that spread the aroma of wine and added color to the villa, so if you stay in Permet with many friends definitely book this traditional cottage. Meanwhile, we return to Avenir, which after a few attempts was able to find us three rooms in the Alvero Hotel next to the old tourism, do not hesitate to try Funky Gueshouse, which these foreign friends of mine praise very much, and they really have the glikon and the pancakes (or kulac as the Vlora people call them) cried, let alone that they had a fig jam and carrots to make you leave any diet you had plans to keep before the summer. On Friday we enjoyed the streets of Përmet and of course we drank mountain teas and sage accompanied by soups as we ate when we were little, with our friend Funky Guesthouse. For dinner we decided to go to Antigonea, where among other things we ate dollma, meznik, and lamb shanks, accompanied by so many traditional antipasti that the topic of debate with the chef was whether or not chicken soup with roshnica had eggs or not. Meanwhile, we left without trying the cottage cheese stored in the lamb's skin, but I am of the opinion that in every place you go, something should be left unattended, in order to have the justification to return to Përmet. Restaurant to try, traditional cuisine, and with a super careful cook, even for those of us who have the list of allergies longer than the menu.
Meanwhile, Saturday started with the Albanian Rafting Company, a company that offers rafting activities, we had tried it in the Osum canyons, and we thought of going with them again to do rafting in Vjosa. After we got close to the area where the rafting experience began, we were provided with costumes, life jackets and cocks, and then Ardi, our guide began to explain to us how we should synchronize for a successful rafting. To our concern that it started to rain, he responded with the sentence how good it is for you that there will be more adrenaline. Meanwhile, as soon as we reached the Vjosa River, we boarded our boat and the work began, Ardi gave instructions from the end, and as obedient soldiers we all gave the shovels. A walk of 11 km of the Vjosa River, where the view left you speechless. Along the river Ardi showed us how high the river level was rising, as well as the old buildings and bridges built before, we saw the various underwater caves, and stopped to enjoy the landscape. It must be said that the rain that fell during the trip added to the pleasure of the river and rafting, so Ardi pleased us with the guide but also with the details from the world rafting competitions, where he came out in the top 10. We were pleased that boys like Ardi and his team not only make very interesting guides but compete and present Albania with dignity in the world.
After rafting, and after convincing the two guides of a photo set on the road where we blocked traffic a little, but meanwhile we laughed and enjoyed the scent of sage, Ardi suggested we try thermal baths, or the famous spas of Përmet. But after rafting, we definitely needed a pie, we tried Nemercken Restaurant, on a lawn by the Vjosa, with fresh village vegetable salads, some homemade brandy and definitely don't forget to order a pie with onions, meat and tomatoes, a few hours after go, that pie was fantastic, we finished full of a pan, and we wanted it again.
In the afternoon, I suggest you drink a cold frappe, wear bathing suits and go to the spas, try it all. Of course, don't forget to make a conversation with any of the residents of the area, so that they can start explaining why each slice is there, that some were for rheumatism, some for the skin and some for the stomach. If you are afraid of heights, I wish you luck, because the bridge over the river is an architectural masterpiece, but I was a little scared to cross the bridge. The view, meanwhile, sitting in the spas, with the moss to massage the feet, was of the river and the bridge, it looked like you were in one of those "infinity" pools that in the world is paid pretty much to enjoy. Meanwhile in Përmet you can enjoy this beauty completely free of charge, and even with the residents' commentary on the curative properties of the spas.
Of course, going to Permet without booking, the need arose to find another hotel, we went to Hotel Atika, which I also suggest. Not only for the hotel, but mainly for the owners, a very interesting couple. He asked us if we wanted to eat, and when we asked for the menu, he told us what came to mind that we all do. Although in Përmet, for dinner we ordered the lady to cook us dollma, meatballs, potatoes, xaxiq and salads. And after the order, he went out to the garden in front of the hotel to collect tomatoes, cucumbers and grape leaves to prepare dinner for us. Of course, he offered us all kinds of recipes and possible glycos for desserts, all made by himself and even for some he started explaining the recipe to us, without worrying that we would take the profession. Of course, after cooking the order was made for the next lunch pie.
On Sunday we had a meeting with Avenir, who would take us for a horseback ride on the lawn of the village of Delvinë (not Delvina town, as I was confused and the geography did not go well then). After drinking our morning coffee with Avenir, we boarded an offroad jeep with him and set off on the unpaved roads, or otherwise the mountain sheep paths. A super miracle, endless forests, diverse trees, the abyss on one side and endless water springs on the other, eventually some of us, thought that driving alone was enough adventure. The horse-drawn lap started varied, with Balin, the rebellious laurel I chose who was a fantastic horse but had a few jealousy issues with William, my friend’s horse. As Avenir and Olsi, the son who cared for the horses, explained to us, the stories of the horses are similar to our stories. Once upon a time, when they bought Bali and William, they both had the same boyfriend, so the jealousy continued to this day. Although we were unable to complete the tour, the boys took us on a fantastic lawn, telling us the stories of the area and the horses. Eventually, we fell in love with the fantastic view and riding though we were all beginners, and had rarely ridden a horse before.
To close the morning we went and ate the fantastic pie accompanied by buttermilk at Hotel Atika, accompanied by the interesting conversation of Mrs. Gjirokastra showing her pie recipe. Then we decided that we wanted an adventure before returning to Tirana, we decided to return from Këlcyra and cross the old road of Leskovik, although a little longer.
Along the way we stopped at Sotira Farm, another place where you can take a horseback ride on the lawn and enjoy the beautiful fish and small lodges where you can spend the night in the middle of the forest.
Along the way the most beautiful part is the segment from Erseka to Leskovik. You will reach a roundabout this gentleman of the adjacent restaurant, he tells you to take to the right that it is shorter, even GPS also says to the right, but in the meantime I suggest you take to the left. The road on the left passes by the mountain, and you will be able to enjoy Albania like never before, with mountains, lawns, and breathtaking views. The road is really old, it took us a long time, GPS suggested, because every 10 minutes we wanted to stop to enjoy the view, to talk to a shepherd, to see the wild horses running, to see some interesting zhapik waiting for us on the road, or to see large herds of meadows.
Of course, the return to Tirana was long and we would very much like to sleep at Bujtina Sidheri where we would eat petanik (bean pie) again, but that this will remain for another weekend.
So, Përmet really had everything except the sea.