We were treated to a second day in Albania, continuing to absorb the complex history and emerging culture of this unique corner in the Mediterranean.

The highlight of the morning was visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint, which is a window into the last 2,500 years of Albanian history, which parallels much of the Mediterranean. Our group explored the shaded paths of once heavily vegetated ruins of the Illyrians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Ottoman Turks. Walking among Roman baths and Byzantine basilicas, many of us were overwhelmed with the ancient history of this country and were also impressed with the resilience of the Albanian people over the last two millennia.

After departing Butrint, coaches ascended to the Lekursi Castle for a traditional Albanian snack, which included local cheeses, meats, marinated and pickled vegetables, and local wines. The castle was surrounded with the storied history of Albania’s more than 750,000 concrete, in-ground bunkers, juxtaposed by far reaching and breathtaking views into the countryside and out to the Ionian Sea.

After returning to Sea Cloud, a traditional “swim stop” was offered off the ship where our entire group bobbed in the salty Ionian waters, taking relief from the summer weather.