I've been thinking about coming to Albania for a few years now, and we booked this trip early this year, so it feels like we've been waiting for ages. With all the confidence of someone who's been in the country for all of five minutes, I'm convinced Albania is going to be the next big tourist destination, so I wanted to get here before it gets too popular. Most people, when I've told them we're holidaying in Albania, have said "why?" I'm pretty optimistic that I'll be able to show you why over the next two weeks that we're here.
So far, everyone has been super friendly - obviously not at the point where tourists are viewed as a nuisance or walking wallets - and mostly speak really good English, especially the younger generations. Luckily, because Albanian is complicated! The only word I've kind of got down so far is thanks, falemindere (so?) The only person we've met who was a bit of a pain so far was a little girl who blocked the door to the lift we wanted to get in to and then when she got out of the way, held out her hand for money. We chuckled, the way you would, got into the lift, and then the little shit pressed the open door button and asked for money again. We ignored her and thankfully once the doors closed, she let the lift go. It would have been unseemly to have to fight a little girl in an Albanian lift, and I'm pretty sure she could have taken us anyway. Other than that, I've felt perfectly safe walking around so far, although the traffic is a bit dodgy at times (I feel for Jules having to drive in it)!
We got into the city around 4 yesterday afternoon, so we just walked around and had some drinks and dinner. Dinner was delicious - we had an Albanian mezze plate to start with and then I had some traditional Tirana dish, no idea what it was, just looked like slurry, but it was so tasty. Some sort of ground veal, feta-like cheese and maybe peppers. The food so far definitely bears a strong resemblance to Greek and Turkish cuisine, which I like, so that's good!
We'll look around Tirana a bit more this morning - sadly the colours on the famous painted buildings seem to have mostly faded away - and then set out on our road trip around the country. First stop, Berat. Unfortunately the weather might be a bit dodgy for the next couple of days - bit galling when the weather is better in Brussels than the Balkans - but then we're hoping for perfect sunshine and some beach days!
|Flying into Tirana - much more rugged than I imagined|
Huge Communist mural on the national museum in Skanderberg Square
They have the coolest flag, by the way. NZ should just copy them
Opera house, mosque and government building (?)
Jules took this photo of the river, I love it
I declined to get *in* the guardhouse - looked pretty much like someone might live in there