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SARANDA, SARANDA

A raising expats community

This holiday season I had no idea what to expect especially because of the recent curfew from 8.30 pm till 6 am. That really did a thing on any plans of socializing if it can still be called that. Its been a few months now that my social life has changed completely as it has for many people on this planet.

 

I still feel lucky to be in Albania where restrictions have been somewhat manageable. My mixed feelings continue about this whole situation but needless to say, am constantly reminded by various sources of news that Covid-19 is killing people near and far.

 

On a more positive note, I received an invitation from my new friend Denyce, short Dee, that’s becoming a good friend, to be her guest for American Thanksgiving in Saranda. Expats in Saranda are planning a potluck lunch at the American Blue Bar

 

I was happy to accept Dee’s invitation and before I knew, it was time to drive down to beautiful Saranda. Our most southern coastal town in Albania, situated in front of the famous Corfu island, so close you could almost swim to it.

 

Corfu is a popular destination from Saranda and vice-versa. A lot of expats and tourists wanting to reach Saranda fly to Corfu airport for ease of access. In fact, some major flight charters offer direct flights to Corfu from the US and various European capitals. This makes Corfu a great second option if not first, to travel to Saranda.

 

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Back to my dear friend Dee & Saranda. I arrive at her gorgeous penthouse apartment with an immense veranda overseeing the bay of Saranda or ‘paradise’ as she calls it and I fully agree. A glass of wine on our hands and we get to catch up with one another discussing life, living in Albania, family, work, men, etc… We both love good wine so sipping and talking is one of the things we end up doing during our visits.

 

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The next day is Thanksgiving and Dee’s potluck dish is Macaroni & cheese. She really creates a masterpiece, if ‘mac&cheese’ could qualify, Dee’s baked mac&cheese would be it!!! We get ready and drive off to the American Blue Bar located on Butrint Road, the fun and friendly bar ran by Debra & Bob Preston; two great hosts that turned this bar into the “heart” of Expats Community in Saranda.

 

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The place is full, while we are mostly outside as the weather is great! The stretch of food that keeps coming is amazing!! Everyone has taken their cooking task very seriously and it shows… I, myself, not so into cooking anymore managed to grab a 5-liter jug of red Albanian wine from Kantina Kallmet, featuring one of our authentic grapes turned into some of the best local red wine.

 

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Proud of my Albanian wines which are improving year after year, I share them any chance I get. As a matter of fact, sipping some gorgeous white from Kantina Faba right at this moment, as I’m writing this. Cheers! Life is better with wine!! Life during Corona or any crisis is better with wine!!

 

The Thanksgiving Lunch is a total success! I got to meet so many expats that seem to know this part of my country, better than I do. I love seeing this. I love seeing people enjoy what this simple country has to offer, and it’s beautiful to connect with this wonderful crowd that besides all that’s going on in the world this year, manages to stay positive, content, and appreciate being in Albania with all its pluses and minuses.

 

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My first visit with Saranda Expats was the most socializing I had done in months and made me realize how much we need human contact. I am usually a social person and have a healthy social life overall but living in Tirana, where the highest population is concentrated in Albania, and it being the covid hub, has changed things drastically.

 

This trip made me realize that no matter what issues come our way, we humans are made to prevail. We are survivors and will go through whatever comes our way.

 

Exactly A month later, another invite I could not refuse, came my way from Dee & I found myself again among the Saranda Expats for Christmas, living another “Saranda, Saranda” holiday. This is how I’m starting to call the fun times in this small seaside town, kept alive during the winter months through the small population of locals and the lively addition of expats community.

 

I will write about my stops in Saranda again… Till my next visit, HAPPY NEW YEAR 2021!

 

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