Childe Harold saw, like meteors in the sky,
The glittering minarets of Tepalen
-Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
My busy pace of travel has continued as I took an overnight bus from Athens to Albania. It was a long bus ride and the comfort level wasn't particularly high. Border procedures were simple, but took longer than I would have liked considering we passed through around 3 AM.
I intended to take the bus from Athens to Gjirokastër, however I ended up sleeping through Gjirokastër. The bus driver and the attendant also neglected to make any announcement. I realized my problem once I saw signs going the other direction for Gjirokastër. I got off the bus in the town of Tepelenë.
Tepelenë is of some note because Lord Byron visited the town in 1809 and was received by Ali Pasha. Ali was an Albanian who was effectively the governor of much of Greece and Albania within the Ottoman Empire. He was a strong and wealthy ruler. He also committed many atrocities. He ultimately became too powerful and independent for the liking of the Ottomans and an Ottoman army was sent to eliminate him. After dying in battle his head was sent to the Ottoman sultan. Ali Pasha influenced some of Byron's characters and Tepelenë got name checked in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage.
There's really not much for me to say about my time in Tepelenë. I didn't encounter any local pashas and the only thing I did do was spend about 10 minutes negotiating with a taxi driver to get me to my original destination.
The drive to Gjirokastër took about 20 minutes and the beautiful scenery made me feel a little better about paying to go where I should have already been.
Once in Gjirokastër I checked in to my hotel and passed out for a few hours. I spent the next two days in the town and will have more about that later. It was a great time.
Today I left Gjirokastër for Tirana, the capital city of Albania. It took about four hours by bus, but was not bad at all. I've only the kilometer or so of Tirana between the bus station and my hostel, but I like it so far.