The Adriatic coast is a popular retreat for Europeans (or extra atypical Americans) during their summer vacations. Croatia has become increasingly trendy in recent years for renting or chartering boats, and spending some days in emerald sea. One country commonly overlooked on the Adriatic is Albania, and it’s better for your wallet than Croatia too!
There is so much potential in Albania. They are progressively making headway developing their coastline; each beach is picturesque with stunning turquoise water. Ideally, you should go before hordes of tourists start making their way to the Albanian Riviera in the next few years. In fact, some areas of the Riviera are already developing and apartment buildings are springing up everywhere.
One such apartment, and gorgeous area of Albania, is CasaNoste in Sarandë. CasaNoste Apartments were conceived and constructed by a Greek family; Vaggelis, his brother, and their father own and manage the building. Architecturally, nothing differentiates it from the surrounding buildings, however, the placement is wonderful, as it is perched on a hill with a perfect view over the beach and surrounding areas.
You might think that staying in an apartment would decrease your opportunities to interact with others, but that’s not the case here. At CasaNoste, Vaggelis greeted us immediately upon arrival, and invited us to dinner with a few others. He personally showed us to our apartment and suggested dinner options since the apartment doesn’t have a restaurant. Luckily, Vaggelis is good friends with a restaurant owner in the area, and has built a special relationship with them, allowing his guests to order food to the apartments for nothing more than the cost of the dinner. No delivery fee! Seafood is the specialty when so close to the sea, and it showed in the cuisine — a perfectly grilled, tasty trout garnished with lime, olive oil, and a side of potatoes. We ate our dinner while sharing drinks with Vaggelis and his other guests.
The conversations were friendly and highly enjoyable; we met a couple from Russia with whom we exchanged stories. It’s rare to find an owner so invested in the experiences of his guests, and he was a joy to be around! CasaNoste Apartments definitely separates themselves from other accommodations by making you feel like a welcomed friend into their home.
The building itself is spotless and very modern. There is no denying that it’s furnished with anything you might need for an extended stay on the Albanian Riviera. Plenty of dishes, silverware, pots, pans, cups, and brand new appliances, in addition to a modern oven and stovetop, can be found in each apartment. The apartment includes a living room, dinner table, kitchen, bathroom, and a bedroom.
5FT Fun Fact: CasaNoste Apartments draws its energy from the warm Albanian sun by using solar panels!
Albania is a place on the rise for those looking to vacation in areas just a beautiful as Croatia, but for less money and without the hordes of people. Young, rowdy crowds are largely absent from Albania, which can also be very appealing to those looking for a more quiet, relaxing vacation and/or families with children. CasaNoste Apartments should be your first choice if you decide to go to Sarandë, and I promise that Vaggelis and his family will make sure you feel like you’re part of their family!
5FT Tip: Whatever you do, follow Vaggelis' directions to CasaNoste, and NOT that of Google Maps. If you follow Google Maps, you will end up on an undeveloped, dirt road that leads to nowhere!
**Special thanks to Vaggelis and CasaNoste Apartments for kindly offering me a complimentary stay. As always, all opinions are my own.