Much like the Costa del Concrete, aka, Mediterranean coastline, Southern Durres’ once Evergreen and sandy stretch of beach has, since the fall of Communism, become a city in its own right, with buildings, restaurants, cafes, hotels. It is hardly green, very sandy or very peaceful these days.
What then does the average Durres native, accustomed to sun, sand and water, do on weekends? They head up north, past the city proper, over the hills to Durres’ lesser known secret coves, still free of any construction.
I have been to a few of these places, including Plazhi i Gjermanit (The German Beach) and Portez, slightly past Porto Romano. Portez is a small, hidden cove between two hills on a narrow peninsula. There’s only one cozy restaurant with floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors so that one has an unobstructed view of the Adriatic sea at all times.
Facing East is the other part of the peninsula and it is just as breathtaking as facing West. While you’re standing on the peak of the hilltop, looking East you see the other peninsula of Northern Durres, the one that leads to its northern most point, Kepi i Rodonit (Cape of Rodon) where there’s a fortress once used by Scanderbeg, and a small Byzantine church. Along the way there are a dozen tiny villages and the major beach of Lalezi Bay, which is wide, surrounded by nature, hills and also free of construction.
When I stood at the peak of Portez, facing East, I was awestruck by the deep blue sea separating both peninsulas like a fork, parts merging with the sky, parts hugging the land. It was breathtaking. On one side I could see the sunrise, and on the other I could see the sunset, both over the soothing waves of the Adriatic. Pick your side and choose a road: one will lead you to the most Western part, the other more inland. Both a secret.
Many locals know of these beaches but vacationers, even those from other towns, remain quite clueless.