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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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31 Reviews

  • Reviewed September 2019
    Andrew Healy

    Interesting insight to Albania

    This was a good trip which covered the main highlights of Albania. It is interesting to see how the country is progressing and developing in the last few decades since the fall of communism and regional troubles.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Really enjoyed the drives through the mountains and stopping for lunch at the working farm. Interesting castles to visit and I really enjoyed the icon museum.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader Ilir was excellent. He gave great talks and information on the history of Albania and it was interesting to hear about life during the communist era which he lived through himself. He took great care of everyone. Also our driver Kujtimi was excellent and felt save throughout the trip.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Bring some shoes with grips as there are a few walks with cobbles and a short walk in the forest. There are plenty of ATMs and exchanges for money and they will take Euro in most hotels\restaurants. Plenty of veg and salads for vegetarians.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Diana Escudero

    Fantastic tour in an amazing country

    This was my first Exodus trip and it exceeded my expectations. I really enjoyed the different aspects of the trip from swimming in the lake in Pogradec (and eating local korani trout afterwards), to the icon museum in Berat, from the walk in Llogora to the Mirahori mosque visit in Korça. Albania is a fascinating country and I enjoyed exploring it with like-minded individuals who were great fun. I found hotel accommodation very good (single supplement basis).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Difficult to say as there were several. The moment when we witnessed the call to prayer at the Mirahori mosque in Korçë, or possibly swimming in the lake in Pogradec, or maybe the last evening sampling raki and local cheese while listening to a young local musician playing the accordion.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    I liked the group leader Gerti very much - he had a great sense of humour and we had some great laughs. He provided us with a great introduction to Albania and was very knowledgeable. I was very grateful for his help ensuring I stayed in the same room for my extra night in Krujë at the end of the trip. His style was to recommend restaurants rather than accompany everyone and I thought it worked well as it gave you the opportunity to make the most of your free time and interact with locals. There was the occasional lapse when it wasn't clear how long we had in a particular short stop but nothing really serious. I also thought he was kind looking out for any group members who struggled on the steep cobbled roads.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I recommend arriving early in Tirana to have more time to explore - I arrived the night before and had almost a whole day to explore places not included on the tour. It's a great city to explore on foot and apart from general wandering I really enjoyed visiting the National Art Gallery which included an Ottoman period exhibition but also featured many communist era paintings. Also I recommend taking walking shoes with a closed toe for the mini-hike in Llogora which was great!). I managed fine with walking sandals with a good grip but it is quite stoney in parts so shoes would be better.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Albania is a great country and Albanians are very friendly. I was worried before I went that I'd pitched my expectations too high but It more than lived up to expectations. Also if you have any concerns about safety they will seem absurd once you arrive. I wandered around the backstreets a lot by myself in various cities during our free time and felt very safe. The food is great too!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Viv Rimmer

    Excellent tour of a less-known country

    The trip was packed with interesting and 'must-see' visits and activities, but there was still enough time to relax, explore independently, and try the wonderful locally grown food. Mediterranean climate and food. Mountains, fertile plains, and freshwater lakes, natural springs and the sea to swim in. Welcoming, relaxed and friendly people, a fair level of comfort but not 'touristy' - Albania is a great place to holiday!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Swimming in Lake Ohrid one morning, and being nibbled by fish (ok, I had eaten 3 of their relatives the night before...) Listening to a young and talented student musician playing the piano accordion for us, at a raki and cheese sampling at Kruja Castle. Proper Italian-style icecream every day, only 30p a scoop, loads of flavours.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Klodian was a great tour leader. I feel he had a good balance between introducing us to the country, giving us information and tour guiding, and letting us take things in for ourselves. There were some challenging group dynamics on our trip, something I have not come across on such trips before, and he dealt with it very calmly and professionally, with great patience. He earned my respect for this.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take some comfortable shoes with a good grip, and possibly a trekking pole for balance if needed. There is a lot of walking on slippery polished cobblestone slopes and hillsides, particularly if you want to go off and explore independently.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Linda Richardson

    Interesting Cultural Trip

    A very well balanced trip with visits to UNESCO World Heritage sites, free time to explore our own personal preference areas and introductions to Albanian culture.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Exploring and eating local dishes in restaurants with a view in Berat.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very average actually but I believe this was his first tour for Exodus. He led our tour straight after finishing one for another company and planned to start another group within an hour of ending ours. His timings didn't work out however and we had to have a replacement Tour Leader from the last night and for the final day - our replacement Leader was fanrastic - so professional, spoke excellent English and did extras to make our holiday special.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be aware that there are more hours of small coach travel than is stated in the write-up. It was lovely to see the countryside though and all travel was broken up with visits to intetesting places.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was a very well balanced trip and the recent changes to include two nights in Berat and an improved schedule, as a result of previous guest feedback made this a much improved experience.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    julie Gardam

    Highlights of Albania

    Interesting and variedcountry both geographically, politically and socially. Good accommodation. Would have appreciated an included first and last night dinners ( we organised the latter) and/or introductory drinks on the first day. It would have facilitated group sociability.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    N /A

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Very good. Well organised and very thorough in his presentations; always willing to answer questions.... Flexible, helpful. Top marks. Ditto an excellent driver.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be prepared for dreadful cobbled streets. You need sneakers with a good grip!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Yes, use Whispers! They give so much more flexibility and save the tour leader’s voice. Too much repetition of very similar ethnographic museums. The last one was by far the best.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Phil Myslowski

    Highlights of Albania

    This is a trip which exceeded my expectations. Friendly locals, fabulous landscapes, cheap and cheerful food and drink with the excellent guide, Ed. I have just one gripe which Exodus should consider and act upon. Despite outside temperatures of around 18 - 20 degrees during daylight hours our driver had the air conditioning on most of the time. The only windows that could be opened on the minibus were located in the front doorseat plus a roof window which was only opened once in 10 days for a couple of hours at my insistence. Some of our 15 strong group, myself included, developed dry throats, head colds, coughs etcetera. A week after returning home I am still feeling the effects. And for the last 24 years I have worked outside in all weathers without catching a cold. Tgere was never any need for the air conditioning to be activated within the outside temperature range at this time of year. Opening a window for fresh air would have sufficed. Instead 17 of us were enclosed in an airtight container for several hours on a daily basis breathing the same recycled dry air. Not healthy! There are court cases pending regarding illnesses contracted from air conditioning on aircraft. Take note Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Bonding with the group.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent. He would make a great politician.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a face mask.
  • Reviewed April 2019
    Cheryl Morris

    Go there!

    When I told friends I was going to Albania, the most common response was "why?". Albania is relatively new to tourism so it's a great time to explore the country. The locals are curious to get to know us which is a rarity in Europe. Albania doesn't have really show stopping sights but there are a number of significant highlights which hold your interest throughout and make this a fascinating trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There are several sites of archaeological interest such as Apollonia and Butrint, with some lesser known sites that our guide squeezed into the trip. These sites are often still being excavated and are not commercialised in any way. Kruje is a jewel of a town, clutching to the side of the mountains with fantastic views over the valley below. Gjirokaster is not looking its best at the moment as they are currently replacing all the cobbles in the town but you can tell it will be spectacular once completed - lots of little old wooden buildings clustered underneath the castle on a steep mountainside. The coast is stunning, particularly the coastline facing Corfu - white sands, turquoise seas. There are also beautiful lakes and rivers.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Eddy was extremely knowledgeable and so enthusiastic. He took good care of everyone and did his best to give us the best possible holiday.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You change hotel every night bar one on this trip so travel light. It may look like there's a lot of driving but each leg of the journey seemed fairly short with frequent coffee or point of interest stops so I never felt restless. It's an incredibly cheap place to visit - you can get a beer for just over one pound, lunch for a couple of pounds and, even pushing the boat out, it's hard to spend more than a tenner. The only "expensive" item on menus is chicken (!) but red meat is much cheaper. There are plenty of tasty vegetarian options too. The guide needs around 1,500 Lek for the kitty, just over a tenner. We went on the first departure of the year and it was quite cold in the mountains so make sure you bring some warm clothes for the departures outside of the summer season. Albania is a land of very slippery and steep pavement surfaces so shoes with good grip are recommended.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Albania is a very clean and safe country - don't hesitate to see it. Exodus, why don't you extend the trip into the North of the country? A couple of extra nights for some chill-time in the mountains and by the sea would have been great.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Janice Waight

    Highlights of Albania

    This was a thoroughly comprehensive tour travelling around a large part of the country, involving visiting many fascinating historical sites, museums, the countryside ....various towns,mountainous regions, flat fertile plains and the coast .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were several.... The stunning mountains, breathtaking views of castles , mosques and the courteousness of the Albanian we met....and learning so much about the country thanks to our guide.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Klodi was a very fine group leader. His knowledge of his country and it's history was extremely impressive. We learnt so much and he was always really helpful and had a great sense of humour ! Also, importantly, Ghent, our driver, was excellent. We couldn't have been in safer hands....driving through the mountains was very tricky at times, but he was always calm and very careful.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go to Albania now before it becomes too touristy. It's a great country and after such a sad history,the people are doing wonders restoring and revitalizing it. Only one criticism....some of the lunch breaks were too long!
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Rod Kantor

    Highlights of Albania

    Overall the itinerary was fine but it could be enhanced. A night was spent in Vlores and a visit made to Durres. Neither town was inspiring and what we saw there was incidental to the trip and would not have been missed if it had not been included. Cut Vlores and Durres out and spend more time in Gjirokaster and / or Berat. Or reroute slightly and include other destinations not on the current itinerary. There was a feeling of being rushed around the Berat Castle area in particular - a quick photo here then move on. No time to take in the scene. The photos have to be good as there's no time to retain a mental impression. The hotel choices were good to excellent and that in Berat exceptional. The minibus concept for transport has shortcomings, particularly when the bus is full. Anyone in an aisle seat has little chance of seeing mountainous countryside as line of vision is directed downwards by the top of the window for a tall person sitting in the middle of the bus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting to understand the seemingly endless battles over centuries that the Albanian people have had to fight and the compromises they have had to accept on the road to maintaining their identity as a nation

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The guide was very knowledgeable and shared his knowledge generously and frequently on a wide range of subjects, in part leading to the comment made immediately above. He tried hard to please everyone. That is not an easy task and can lead to the wrong result. When an option is offered and half the group go one way and half the other those attempts to please everyone end up disappointing half. Sometimes it's better for the guide to just say what's going to happen.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you're interested in life in Albania during the last century, and during the communist era in particular, get to Tirana a few days before the trip starts. The trip itinerary allows for surprisingly little time in Tirana and during that time the only exposure to visual information about Albania in the 20th century is a visit to the national museum. However, that museum is far from the best place in and around the capital to find out how Albanians lived and were treated during the communist dictatorship.
  • Reviewed October 2018
    Lynn Pugsley

    Surprisingly pleasant country

    A great trip with a knowledgeable trip leader. We visited numerous castles, mosques and churches. The mountains are magnificent as are the plains, rivers and beaches.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Entering the home of our hosts for a traditional lunch. The food was all produced locally and the garden was delightful. The infrastructure was also a pleasant surprise - many good roads and hygienic sanitary provisions.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    iLife was very knowledgeable and adapted well to our sense of humour. He and our driver went "the extra mile" to point out and deliver extra experiences.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Don't worry about hygiene - dress casually - leave high heels at home - get a map or guidebook to research the country and it's history before you go. The trip involves some awkward walking and cobbles so be prepared with sensible shoes. Change money in small aliquot - food is cheap and wine/beer is much cheaper. Try the local restaurants - there are no McDonalds etc.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The trip was very good. A couple of the hotel rooms were a bit iffy. There could have been other experiences - the trip focuses almost exclusively on churches, mosques and castles.