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This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Blue Eye

June 23, 2013

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The Blue Eye

One of the highlights of the scientific diving class is a field trip to a beautiful natural spring known as the Blue Eye, which is known in Albanian as Syri Kaltër,  located on the road between the cities of Saranda, and the inland city Gjirokastër. About a 30 minute drive up in to the mountains, the Blue Eye is the most famous of a number of natural springs in the area, which feed rivers and streams that flow down into Lake Butrint and then into the sea.

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 photo 120_zpsa0482fa1.jpg Derek & Chris

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We hired a taxi to load up the class and staff and make the short drive to the Blue Eye, packing dive gear for Derek & Chris who were making a scuba diving excursion into the spring while the rest of us packed wetsuits for a snorkel around the Blue Eye and down the swiftly flowing river that flows from the Blue Eye.

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 photo 375648_672653899415917_1708850043_n_zpsfb580856.jpg *photo by Derek Smith

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Once reserved as a vacation spot for the communist elite, the Blue Eye is now sort of a National Park and is open to all to visit the incredibly beautiful and lush area. The Blue Eye is a 45-metre deep water spring set amid a forest of hazelnuts, walnuts, cherries, pines and fir trees.

 photo 096_zps731167da.jpgCameron & Effie

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The water in the inner part of the spring appears very dark blue, like the pupil of an eye, and a lighter color of blue as an outer ring – the iris, which gives the impression of a blue eye. Various Legends surround the origin of the Blue Eye, the coolest involves a Dragon to which nearby villagers once sacrificed a local virgin, until being killed by one of the intended sacrifices angry suitor. The Blue Eye represents the eye of the dragon forever crying tears in the spot where it finally crashed to earth.

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Whatever legends surround it, it is a powerful gushing spring with water pouring out of the spring at an incredible rate, creating a fast flowing, crystal clear beautiful river that rushes away from the spring. As Derek and Chris braved the actual spring in full dive gear, the rest of us geared up in wetsuits to combat the very chilly (54 degree) water for a snorkel ride down the river.

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It was an amazing and beautiful experience as the water is completely clear and full of life, ranging from tadpoles and frogs, snakes and various fish including delicious lake trout which are caught and served fresh at the restaurant just downriver from the spring where we stopped for lunch after our snorkel.

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The Blue Eye is a beautiful, tranquil and really special natural refuge. The place seems like a wonderful tropical rainforest and seems to teem with life. Beautiful blue dragonflies dart among the foliage and the entire area seems cool and refreshing in spite of the intense summer sun. I really love it there.

 photo 039_zps6b8a7c95.jpg Alma & Effie

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My time in Albania ended on this trip with a wonderful going away party that was thrown for me at the hotel where the students were staying. The family that owns the hotel, prepared a wonderful meal for everyone, mostly prepared by the matriarch Alma. The fantastic meal was followed by an amazing party highlighted by a lot of dancing- ranging from traditional Albanian and Greek folk dances to more modern dancing to the beats of Shakira. It was a truly special way to wrap up this visit to Albania and it sealed in my mind a decision to try and get back before the season was over and bring Kathy as well.

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 photo 047_zps7f4ca04e.jpg Cameron, Alma, Dave, Kailey, Effie

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