Estimates by Albanians of the travel time from Tirana to Sarandë ranged from four to eight hours. It took us about five-and-a-half on Sunday, June 27, to arrive in town.
After a bit of unplanned sightseeing, we called wonderful Samir, the property manager at White Apartments, and found our lodgings by navigating to the Santa Quaranta resort and driving just past this landmark.
Santa Quaranta Beach was a short walk from our abode, so on our first day in Sarandë, the five of us swam in the crystal-clear Ionian Sea, which is part of the Mediterranean Sea and bounded by Albania, the west coast of Greece and southern Italy.
The beach is painfully rocky. People released puffs of air as they hobbled in and out of the surf. My husband and I eyed the swim deck across the bay, wondering whether it was worth paying however many Lek to protect our tender soles, but chose to rely on our New Jersey toughness.
Walking along the Ionian Sea in the center of Sarandë on Monday afternoon, we watched tan people bask on public beaches. Sun-browned children played, wild and carefree.
On Tuesday, June 28, a the sea became tempestuous and best enjoyed from the shore, although our young traveling companion did give swimming a try. Resort workers scurried to collect umbrellas and beach chairs as the churning sea tried to claim the beach.
The water was calm on Wednesday, but filled with flotsam and jetsam, mostly plastic packaging, which felt creepy as it brushed against our skin. The 10-year-old and I made a sport of collecting as much of the debris as we could catch.
Music thumped across the cove from the swim deck. At last, a night club that is open during the day.