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Posted by on Sep 12, 2012 in Albania, Europe

A Place to Shut Off Your Brain

Albania - Berat Castle - Church

One thing I liked about Balkan Road Trip was the convenience of getting from A to B and having stops along the way. Hassle-free for me. But there is one major problem; and that arises when getting from point A to point B is a 3 day period, there are 6 destinations to see, and 3 countries to get through. That is a lot of everything all crammed in tight. So here is my rushed through tour of a castle of a hill: otherwise known as Berat Castle.


We entered, we walked, we saw, we left. The end.

Albania - Berat Castle- vineyards surrounding

Only kidding, but that is exactly how I felt going through the fortress. As if it were rushed and forced, and I was snap, snap, snapping away on my camera, never having a second to inhale and appreciate the scenery as much as I’d like. I don’t take many tours for a reason; one of those reasons being I like to be curious. As much as I appreciate somebody present to answer the 1000 questions that pop into my little brain, I prefer to break lunch on a stone wall and look out into the vineyards surrounding, to analyze the transition of art through the decades in the museums, and to stare at giant heads staring back at me.

Albania - Berat Castle- shiny things

And sometimes, I just want to stop and stare at the sparkly gold paintings.

Albania - Berat Castle- painted church ceiling


Within this 13th century castle (which is more of a city) are many many many churches, 13 to be precise. Byzantine mainly, but everywhere. They have crumbling painted ceilings that still show vibrant blues and greens, they have carved wood walls, and dangling candelabras. And some have their best features on the outside; With zigzag paths and orange hues contrasting radiantly against the earth and sky.

Albania - Berat Fortress- zip zag stairway

The funny part is, I was rushed through this incredible destination, and I know I asked a million questions, but I can’t actually recall the answers. I am somebody who prides themselves on remembering the little details and the facts, so for me to draw a blank on the history is bewildering.

Albania - Berat Castle walls


But I know this is due to the time factor; an entire fortress with churches, views, museums, houses, and statues all crammed into 2 hours. 2 hours is not enough to capture the visual splendour AND retain the facts transmitted to me. I tend to only do one at once: enjoy the scenery OR learn the facts. Both at the same time, divides my senses and divides the joy I get from travelling. So this time, I clearly shut off my brain in lieu of the striking setting before me.

This isn’t like Cuba holidays with a nice palm tree lined beach, or any typical place of relaxation, but to me, it held all the attributes I desire in a destination. I still long for a deeper connection to the places I visit, but for now, Berat did something unique.

Albania - Berat Castle- giant head statue

I hope I captured the beauty of a place that shut off my Brain. 


  1. Beautiful, crystal clear pictures…see what I did there? But seriously, the blue sky looks amazing. Seems like you had the perfect weather. Also seems like I need to start thinking about a little trip to Albania now that I’m back in Europe.
    Daniel McBane – Funny Travel Stories’s Recently Posted..Keeping Up With the Changs at JiuzhaigouMy Profile

    • hahah Getting clever with my name eh? Sometimes I write chrystal-clear waters and then erase it because I realize the pure self-promotion of it. I’ll never spell chrystal without the H. Just not possible. If you’re in Europe Albania is RIGHT there – so yes you should! Such a great country!

  2. Wow. This place looks so interesting! I love the architectural details and textures, and I particularly love the old, painted ceilings you find in these castles and churches.

    • I know – it is incredible how long such paintings have survived! And with such incredible colours too! I don’t understand how everything hasn’t faded with time (maybe they repainted? I don’t know!)

    • thank you! It was peaceful for sure!

  3. Beautiful photographs! Even though you only spent a short amount of time at the castle, you can really sense what it is all about from your photographs. I would love to take a Balkan road trip at some point.