After a perfectly delightful day at sea, we arrived at Saranda, Albania. Our day's excursion included a bus tour through Saranda and other local Albanian communities to Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and newly declared national park. We explored this largely un-excavated wooded site on foot and stepped back into time to view ancient ruins of a lower town, Greek theater, a fallen temple of Asklepios, and an early Christian church (now roofless). We ventured up ancient stone steps to the upper levels, where there is a charmingly small museum featuring a select collection of treasures dug up for the site. It rained a bit, but we all forged on with our sturdy walking shoes and high enthusiasm to get to the upper levels for the picture-perfect views of the Albanian countryside and the neighboring island of Corfu.
Our young guides shared their great and impressive knowledge of the history of their country and the many life challenges the citizens have endured, including a public policy of mistrust towards all of their neighbors. Their detailed personal accounts mixed in with the country's history made for a perfect visit to an amazing country that one is likely not to visit unless on a special tour such as the Adriatic Odyssey on the Sea Cloud II.