Two Summer P’s in a Pod.
Discovering the 40 Saints above Paxoi and Pelekas… Plus a new Med gem!
After recently exploring the stunning Ionian and the breathtaking islands of Paxos and Antipaxos (often called Paxoi, in plural, by the locals) it has become clear that the Ionian sea is a new favourite in our Tiny Book. Bitten by the travel bug, and to quench that on-going travel thirst, we traveled north of Paxoi, past the beautiful Corfu, to come across the Forty Saints of the Albanian Riviera.
Coastal and marginally Mediterranean, Saranda (Forty Saints in Greek) is a gem. With shores that share the Ionian beauty and a rough history on its shoulders that dates back to the Ostrogoth rule (551 AD). Ever since those times, the region has undergone constant turmoil. With the Greek rebellion of 1878 extending to the north, the Greek revolutionaries took over the region. Yet they were suppressed by the Ottoman troops, burning 20 villages in their wake.
Officially becoming part of the Albanian state in 1913, Italy occupied it between 1916 and 1920, becoming part of the Italian Protectorate. At the dawn of WWII, as Mussolini’s forces invaded Greece, they also took over Saranda, renaming it “Porto Edda” after the dictator’s eldest daughter. By the end of the war in 1945, the British returned it to Albania.
Saranda, a New Med Gem
Lëkurësi Castle dates back to the 16th century and it’s in the southeast of the town centre. Its prime position allows for phenomenal views, overlooking the entire city and providing a visual control that extends over the Ksamil islands. A visit before the sunset allows to capture the view of the city as the sun sets in the sky.
Butrint UNESCO site is 20 km from the centre of Saranda, we arranged a tour with Variety Cruises to guide us through. It’s no secret they’re our go-to company to put our kids at sea in total safety! Prehistoric Butrint has been a Greek colony, a Roman city and has gone through Byzantine administration and Venetian rule. It looks abandoned to the marshes of the area, yet the ruins are clearly visible. The place has an eerie atmosphere that most cultural buffs (AKA my eldest son, but don’t tell him I called him so!) will find irresistible.
Two P’s in a Pod: Paxoi and Pelekas
Paxoi, the jewels of the Ionian
The stunning blue caves of Paxos hidden all around the islands are a natural marvel to experience first-hand. A wonderful scene for the eyes to feast on, the play of the light and the subtle movement of the sea creates a total sense of awe. It’s hard to resist the urge to dive into the alluring waters, as they are that tantalizing. Accessing these jewels is only possible by private hire of either a local boat, chartering a yacht or a boutique cruise liner, so do your research about what fits you best. Check out the earlier post for more details of our recent visit!
Pelekas in Corfu, the sacred base
Who would have said that Paxoi, in the Greek Corfu, would have brought bring the tropics to the Mediterranean? However, since you can only access the mentioned destinations by sea, sailing can get a slightly tiring for more than a couple of days, specially with children. They do have fun for a while, but open seas sometimes get a bit… monotonous! Pelekas has the answer to get the best of both worlds. When you begin to feel the waves moving you sideways even on land, you need a change of plans.
Prepare your trip so that you can experience the most, also allotting some time to just lying still and enjoying the views. Such amazing views are generously offered at Pelekas Monastery: the fantastic beach of Kontogialos is the ideal set for unforgettable lazy moments but also well-deserved. Panoramic Ionian views into a horizon of sheer bliss, in an environment of contemporary design and only 15 minutes from Corfu’s old town.