The Times calls Albania the most mysterious country in Europe. The country has gone through a long isolation. First during the communist era, and later because of the Balkan wars. Albania is situated only a mile and a quarter away from the Greek island of Corfu. But access via Corfu was cut off during the Balkan war (although Albania was not directly involved in the war) and remained so for many years after. Nowadays you can again move freely, so Mike Gerrard of The Times makes a daytrip from Cofu to Albania:
“We spend a few hours in Butrint, one of the Med’s most important archaeological sites and now a national park. There is evidence of occupation by Neolithic tribes, Macedonians, Romans, Ottomans and Venetians, among others, all quite unspoilt and much less crowded than similar places in Greece.
The old town of Gjirokaster, with its cobbled streets, is a Unesco World Heritage Site, and here we visit the castle and the grand mansion where the dictator Enver Hoxha was born, now an Ethnographic Museum. Except that he wasn’t born there as the house burnt down and has been rebuilt since, but our museum guide points out the room that he was — and yet wasn’t — born in.”
Albania has been changing quickly since the communist era, but there are still oddities visible, like the bunkers on the beaches (see picture above provided by the Albanian Ministry of Tourism).