09.15.2012 - 09.15.2012
A three-hour bus ride - plus a stop at a local vineyard and winery - got us to the famous walled city of Berat at 12:40. Unfortunately, the museum closed at 1 PM - and it was at least 1/2 mile straight up the mountain on cobblestone streets. Many in the group had not walked that far and fast for at least 50 years.
We did get a tour of the museum that contains 16th century mural paintings and icons by Nikollë Onufri. The murals were whitewashed during the Communist era and the church turned into a gymnasium (as were many). The beautiful iconclassis (wall and doors that enclose the Holy of Holies place where the consecration of the mass is performed) was somehow never ruined.
Enver Hoxha was the dictator of Albania that kept the country isloated for decades He built several museums to honor himself and also had his name posted everywhere. Here along the mountside is a huge NEVER laid out in white-washed stones near an Enver flag that was hung when he ruled. It is there as a reminder that Albania will never allow another Enver.
Everyone was ready for lunch, so we could not spend any time in the medieval walled town, where a few hundred people still live.
Although the restaurant owner had prepared a typical Albanian country meal with choices for us - some insistd all 30 of us order off the menu. Lunch ended up taking over 4 hours as the 2 old women in the kitchen went crazy and all the Americans complained about the bad service!
Did not have any time to visit the ethnographic museum because none of us were allowed to leave the group. I spent most of the afternoon sitting on the curb waiting for the Prime Minister to drive through town on his way to open the the new National University. A herd of goats and a pack of dogs came through town also.
Brita is also known as the Town of a Thousand Windows. These homes were built in the 1700s.