This post may be a bit boring unless you are planning to walk the Via Egnatia but Pat and I feel this is important info for anyone contemplating this challenging walk.
We are experienced walkers. We are fit women in our 60s. We are well travelled. We are not carrying a tent or sleeping mats as we have no desire to camp on this trip. These facts are the premis for the following comments about accommodations. All prices listed are per twin bed room per night.
One reason for the challenge of this new cultural route is accommodations. They not always where one might wish, based on the “walking days” described in the Via Egnatia guide book.
We flew into Tirana and stayed in the coastal city of Durres where the walk begins. Durres is trying to be tourist friendly but is lacking. The beach front which could be lovely is filthy and in disrepair. We spent two days here to get over jet lag….but if jet lag is not an issue – don’t waste your time. There are numerous restaurants. Finding breakfast food seemed a bit challenging but if you only want strong coffee you’ll be in heaven. Milk in that coffee is the tricky bit. Hot milk is even more difficult but not impossible.
In Durres we stayed at a very nice little hotel – no breakfast, no restaurant, just off the main square in an excellent location. Hotel Pepeto. Passible wifi in the downstairs lounge. Very thoughtful hosts. Euro 31.00 per twin room.
This is where the first day’s walk ends. No one claimed to have heard of the Via Egnatia. No one offered accommodation. We were however kindly driven to the highway to a underused hotel near the village of Kryeuz. We were the only guests. We ate a delicious fish dinner in solitary splendour in a run down ball room. The people there really kind. Breakfast the next morning was a dry day-old junk of bread and a very strong with no milk coffee. We could get nothing to go with that bread. It was a pretty poor start to the day’s walk. However the whole stay – room and meals was Euro 30.00 per twin room.
Really horrid place. After a long day we arrived to have stones thrown at us (with force and accuracy) by some ill behaved children. As we walked through this run down dirty “town” we were stared at by numerous young and older men sitting drinking in bars. There are derilict public buildings and the atmosphere was incredibly uncomfortable. A very nice German speaking police officer drove us to the delightful Hotel Maci which is 1.5 kms on the far side of town. Here we were warmly welcomed. Beware the menu items. Some things are hugly over priced. Chicken for instance cost much more than anything else and was pretty terrible. It was a tough old rooster at best. Breakfast the next morning was very sketchy – bit of stale bread and coffee. Euro 14.00 per twin room.
After a long boring walk – much along a railway track with garbage strewn around everywhere and hanging in trees – we arrived in Broshke. No one here seems to have heard of the Via Egnatia either. Certainly no one was offering accommodation. It was hard to find someone to even call a taxi. This was no an attractive place and was pretty much surrounded by garbage. The cafe/bar was populated by several drunk indolent men of various ages. We did find one pleasant man who called a taxi which we took all the way to Elbasan. We were disappointed to have found no place to stay in Broshke.
There are numerous hotels. We stayed in Hotel Guri right inside the south east corner of the old town walls. One of the wall towers is incorporated into the hotel’s bar. This was a great location and there was a very nice breakfast buffet included. They were asking Euro 50.00 but we negotiated the better price for both nights. This place is quite luxurious. B&B Euro 40.00 per twin room.
Once again the guide book ends the walk in a place with no accommodation. We walked up the highway to the first hotel we came to – Hotel Balkan. We’d inadvertently mistaken this location for another hotel so needed to walk a bit further up a busy highway. Perhaps we would have been better off to stay at the Balkan which was more expensive than the one we had chosen and also (according to locals) has a reputation for being involved in some way with illegal activities….. Just what is being said – we have no idea if this is true or not.
We stayed in the village of Ares at Vila Zeneli. A simple place. Comfortable but a bit run down. Dinner was OK. They seem to cater to local groups. The next morning they provided a ride up to where we joined the Via Egnatia trail again. Really kind staff and management. Went out of their way to be helpful. Locally owned which we gather the Hotel Balkan is not. Euro 30.00 per twin room.
Here the guide book suggests a women’s house – non-existent when we were there – or the school floor. We aren’t carrying camping gear and the cold, cement floor was so filthy I think we would not have stayed there even if we were. We didn’t check out the possible bathroom facitlities but leave that to your imagination. There was garbage all over the place in the hallways and class room. Cold and really grim. We were told dinner of some sort would cost us Euro 15.00. Considering that we had been paying much less – we decided to give this dump a pass. Clearly people taking advantage. We walked 3.5 kms down the hill to a delightful little hotel on the main road. Hotel Lokal Dashmash. We think this may be a chain. It’s near a village called Hotolisht. Here we we warmly welcomed and given a very nice room, very hot water in a spotless bathroom, very ample delicious dinner, more than ample breakfast and a ride back up the hill to Dardhe the next morning for Euro 30.00. A much better deal than the school floor and a questionable meal in a dismal place. The people at this little roadside hotel were also much more welcoming than the rather flippant teenagers up in Dardhe.
Finally a day that ended as suggested in the guide book. A family that was actually prepared to host VE walkers. But! The cost of room and board at this farm is suggested in the book as being between Euros 4 to 7 per person. They tried to charge us Euro 20.00 per person. The hospitality was abysmal. The pulled out couches were damp and uncomfortable. The meal came at 8pm and was very nice. But nothing to drink the whole time we were there except for one cup of coffee and several wee glasses of the local Raki. No water even. Bathroom so dirty we barely wanted to wash in there. A relative visiting who rifled through our things. No privacy. We went to bed in the same clothes we arrived in – damp with sweat from walking. We paid Euro 30.00 for the night including the meal. We did not stay for breakfast. This was to date the worst night of our trip. Very disappointing.
There’s a choice here to continue to Lin but it was pouring and windy so we stayed at this very strange – underused/unfinished – possibly with ideas of being grand – but missing the boat – roadside hotel. I think we were the only guests. There was a locked reception area. Instead one climbs some rickety industrial steps cut into the wall and ceiling behind the kitchen. Really weird. But it was comfortable and the meals were good. The water however was really cold. I don’t think there was a hot water tank! Euro 14.50 per twin room. The price was right but expect Lin might be a better option?
Sturga (now in Macedonia)
We stayed at Exclusive Apartments. The location is perfect. The place looks really run down from the outside – it’s in a big blue, with pink balconies, residential apartment building. Our first poor impression was completely wrong. We phoned the number posted above the door and in very short time a wonderful young woman – owner – showed up and let us in to a delightful purple and pink with fairy-lights apartment. Very girly. Very comfortable. A kitchenette. Little balcony, drying rack…. For this we paid Euro 32.00 per twin room. By the way we really liked Sturga. Had the best meal todate there.
We stayed at D’Angolo Hostel right by the main water front square. A perfect location. Very close to everything – great restaurants, the old town, the water front, pedestrian shopping streets. The only draw back was quite poor internet and filthy carpets in the room. But lots of hot water. Euro 30.00 for a twin room.
St Petra Monastery
Staying here (4.5 kms fro Ohrid) knocks that distance off the next day’s walk which is pretty demanding. This was our prettiest accommodation so far. No meals are provided and there’s no restaurant near by. We carried dinner and the next day’s breakfast and lunch with us. We took wine as well. There is a basic little kitchen – one burner and some dishes including cups for coffee (we carried instant) and glasses for wine. The rooms are spacious. The bathroom a bit dingy and down the hall. Dining areas all over the place. Views spectacular. We spent a whole afternoon there. We highly recommend this stop. Payment is a donation. We left Euro 10.00 and this seemed well received.
The day’s walk ends in Resen. The guide book says there is accommodation there but none was obvious. Our impression of the place is poor as our approach is through mountains of stinking garbage. The town appears to have nothing going for it. Another walker blogged that they found no accommodation in Resen. We took a taxi 6 kms to Carev Dvor and stayed at the Royal L Hotel. This place was fine. The water was really hot. Dinner was passable as we were hungry – the salad was really delicious! We were supposed to get breakfast but there was just instant coffee. The owner packed us a very nice lunch for the next day and charged a reasonable amount for that. Euro 31.00 for a twin room.
There are several places on the route at this point that have no accommodation options so we took a taxi from Carev Dvor to Sopotsko then rolled almost two days into one. Trnovo isn’t listed as a day’s end in the guide book but there is a hotel there. Turns out there are actually two hotels. Both upscale. We stayed at Sumski Feneri mentioned in the guide book and it is quite posh. The price however was very good. We paid Euro 65.00 for a twin room, a delicious substantial dinner including too much wine, and excellent breakfast.
We are spending two nights at Via Apartments about 20 metres off the main pedestrian street, very near the town square, near numerous restaurants and practically on the VE route. This place has a lovely quiet little garden. Very hot water, excellent internet. Very pleasant woman owns this hostel. Twin room is Euro 25.00.
Will post another similar list of our Greek accommodation thoughts in due course. We hope this will be helpful to other VE walkers.