The children

Adventure 2017: Albania

Another successful Adventure 2017 excursion – this time, for 30 children in Albania. Our goal for Adventure 2017 is to give disadvantaged children from all over the world the chance to experience the same adventures as our travellers do. For these 30 children from a small orphanage, we did exactly that – and sent them on exactly the same Exodus tour of Berat as our Highlights of Albania adventure, led by Kledi Milloshi and Ilir Agolli, Exodus local guides.

Stone bridge over Osum river at Berat Stone bridge over Osum river at Berat

 

What was different for Kledi and Ilir was that instead of Exodus travellers, they were guiding 30 children between 10 and 15 years old, all from the SOS Children’s Orphanage.

Children from the orphanage, enjoying the view Children from the orphanage, enjoying the view

 

Ilir is an experienced guide who has been leading for nearly 30 years, including leading in Albania during communist times. For these children, the chance to learn about tourism and history from a man with his experiences is truly exceptional. Kledi is younger, but has lived and travelled abroad for several years before returning to Albania to lead. Once again, his perspective on Albania as someone who has left and chosen to return makes him an unusual companion for the day for the children. Both leaders have been guiding for Exodus for three years, and a day tour of Berat was no great challenge.

Berat Fortress Berat Fortress

 

Berat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Albanians affectionately call it the City of a Thousand Windows and it is a huge centre of Albanian history. The striking white shapes of the Ottoman houses perched on the hills, the beautiful walk through the aromatic pine forests, and the imposing 14th century castle overlooking it all. The citadel contains both Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques side by side, linked by ancient cobbled streets and, surprisingly, houses where people still live. This is the dictionary definition of living history – and a chance for the children to learn more about their own culture and identity.

The children heading up to Berat The children heading up to Berat Fortress

 

We asked Teuta from the orphanage how she felt about the visit. Despite having been to Berat before, this was the first time she’d ever been inside the castle or the Onufri Museum, which is housed in a church that dates back to the 10th century and is famous for its 16th century religious paintings. “Very interesting, I liked it very much. We had been to other trips but this was different as we learned things about the history of Albania. This was my first time inside the Berat Castle but even in Berat I saw lots of new things.”

The castle grounds - a highlight! The castle grounds - a highlight!

 

We asked her for her personal highlight, and the answer was decisive – “Playing in the castle, which was very big, and lunch!”

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