Published: March 12th 2012March 10th 2012
Monday 5th March we attempted to hike Mt Dajti.. I say attempted because firstly the cable car to the National Park near the top where we wanted to hike was closed (turns out Monday is not a good day for things being open including Museums, Galleries and cable cars!) and secondly because we got 30 minutes into the mountain (planning to hike the whole way) when it started to thunderstorm and we were in landslide territory, with parts of the path already dropped away, so we decided to turn back. Nevertheless, we saw out first bunker tucked away in the hillside. During the Communist era, which began in 1941, there were 700,000 of these concrete bunkers built by Hoxha to protect the country from invasion. Turns out they pop up everywhere!! Our friend Zhujeta from the hostel even runs a music festival called Bunker Fest!
The next night we went to the Opera theatre and saw the Nanjing Ethnic Orchestra, one of the few high level ethnic and folk music orchestras in China. They travel and perform for foreign heads and VIPs (like us haha), and in this case was in Tirana to perform to show the good
View from Foothill of Mt Dajti
Too bad we never made it to the top!
relations between Albania and China. The Chinese speaker was welcoming everyone in Albanian... Which was hilarious for us because we thought he was speaking Chinese until our friend started translating! The performance was absolutely magical! They used all sorts of weird traditional instruments that we had no idea even existed! One of the musicians even played the worlds smallest instrument, this tiny little squeaky harmonica type of thing. Brilliant!
That night we had dinner at a traditional Albanian Restaurant called Oda. Oh my gosh.. The menu had things like Liver, Internals of Lamb, HEAD of Lamb and even Internals of a COMB!!
The following day, Wednesday 7th, we visited the National Art Gallery and saw some good examples of the changes that took place during the Communist era. In the beginning, before the Communist era the paintings were mostly dull landscapes and dreary portraits, then during the Communist phase, the paintings we all of people at work! Bright colours and fit people and everyone was smiling!! They looked so un-natural! Turns out that artists were jailed if their artwork depicted anything other. There was even a black list of artworks that were considered too
radical! After the Communist period, the artwork was very modern and there was even a completely black picture called "Promised Land". Very interesting!
There are more photos below