Footsteps of Alexander the Great

Trip Start Jan 01, 2014
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Trip End Dec 31, 2014


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Where I stayed
Various hotels

Flag of Albania  ,
Monday, April 16, 2007

The flight from San Francisco to Dulles (Washington DC) to Vienna to Tirana made for a very long travel day.  We arrived early in the morning, and after a walk around our hotel, I decided to take a shower and started to strip when I got a phone call from the Tour Director - that they were leaving in a few minutes to Kruje Castle.   I quickly put on my clothes, and ran downstairs without a jacket or sweater, so I was cold for the rest of the day.  Kruje Castle
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has a long history going back to the time of the Ottoman Empire with a great deal about Albania's hero, Gjergi Kastriot Scanderberg,

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who successfully repelled three sieges by Sulton Mehmet II, and stopped the Ottoman Empire's expansion into Western Europe.  

TIRANA:


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The great irony about Tirana is the simple fact that there are more Mercedes Benz here per capita (70% of cars) than most other countries; many are stolen and sold on the black market at very cheap prices, and can be bought for $500 to $10,000.  


DURRES:




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Before we coached our way into Macedonia, we had a tour stop in Durres, one of the most ancient and important port city of the country.  Before we crossed the border into Macedonia, we had a picture stop for the bunkers that line the highway built during the communist period.   They built 750,000 of them, but only about 30,000 remain.  



OHRID: (pronounced "oakrid")





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Ohrid is a lakeside village with a rather small downtown area with shops and restaurants..  When we arrived at the hotel, we were requested to wait outside, because the president of Macedonia was arriving to attend an energy conference.


We were treated to a cruise on the lake, visit to St Naum monastery (St Naum of Preslav was a scholar who with others are credited with developing the Cryllic alphabet), Orthodox Church built in the 10th century, Roman theater of Blaosnik, King Hanil Fortress, Christian Medieval Church SS Clement, and we saw Pasco Kuzman, the Macedonia's Department of Archaeology's first director.

THESSALONIKI:




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We were delayed at the border between Macedonia and Greece, because the border's custom's computer broke down.   After waiting several hours, they decided to fax a picture of our passports to another office where they approved our transit into Greece. 

Our first stop was at the Odessa Falls for lunch.


Birthplace of Alexander the Great:

Roman amphitheater:
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THESSALONIKI:

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MELNIK:

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BANSKO:

Our hotel in Bansko:


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Rila Monastery:

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PLODIV:




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16 picture description:

This group shows pictures of Plodiv and the Rila Monastery. 

NESEBAR:


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Nesebar sits on the south-western edge of the Black Sea, and is built on a man-made isthmus about five miles from Sunny Beach where our hotel was located.   The entrance of Nesebar has a fortress wall built in the 5th and 6th centuries, but Thracian history goes back to the 8 to 6th century BC.  UNESCO has declared Nesebar a World Heritage Site because of their many historic buildings.
 
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Sunny Beach was being developed into a hotel mecca for Nesebar, but whoever helped plan this city created a monster.   The roads are too narrow, and our bus couldn't even negotiate the narrow road to our hotel, Victoria Palace, where they were building more hotels.  The hotel motif done in Asian-African architectural treatments were ugly.
 

SOPHIA:


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We checked into the Sheraton hotel in Sophia to spend two full days in this capital city.  The first day was "at leisure," so I walked around the hotel area into side streets to get a "feel" for this Bulgarian capital city.  On our walking tour on the second day, we visited the Byzantine church, the Russian-domed orthodox church, the national theater, archaeological museum.   Since I wasn't feeling in the best of health, I had a half bowl of chicken noodle soup, went back to my room, and went to bed.

As you can see from this travelogue, we covered a lot of territory, historic sites, many churches, and diverse countries that Alexander the Great also traveled at some time in his life as he conquered these countries.   Having visited his birthplace was a treat, and so was visiting his father's tomb. 



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