Published: August 11th 2007April 8th 2006
Or so the Albanians call their country themselves... Well I have been here for almost a week now and I kind of like the country... It's a little like Asia within Europe... The traffic is chaotic at best, the roads atrocious and the driving mad, with lots of honking and lots of shouting... You got to love it...
Tirana is not as bad as I thought it might be, it has turned into quite a colourful city because the mayor who is a former painter ordered all the concrete soviet blocks to be painted in different colours and motives... I think it's a great idea, it really brightens up the place... Every town should have a painter or crazy artist as mayor! I did a load of day trips from Tirana... One day to Kruja where Skenderbeg, their national hero held the Turks at bay until his death, in the 14 hundreds, a day to Berat a nice old Turkish style town and a day just strolling around Tirana itself.
Two day's ago went for a trip down south, first to Fier and from there to Apollonia where there were some roman ruins. Not much to see, but the
National Museum of History
best part was having the site all to myself. After this to Gjirokaster another town like Berat, set in the mountains with a big citadel overlooking it... Although Gjirokaster is only 230 km's from Tirana it takes the bus 6 hours to get there... The 60 km's an hour signs along the road are rather optimistic as are the frequent police speed checks as you can only drive a max of 40 km's an hour.. In the middle of the country there is a short stretch of super highway, nowhere near any town... One wonders what they were thinking...
Anyway after Gjirokaster I went to Saranda which is a base to Butrint which is a much more extensive roman site... And again I was on my own at the ruins... Next I went down the 'Albanian Riviera'... And stayed the night in a sleepy little village along the coast and had an excellent room right on the beach!
Just came back to Tirana today and tomorrow am just going to laze around a bit and then it is off to Ohrid in Macedonia.
There are more photos below