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Published: August 11th 2008
We left an empty, hot Tirana on Sunday morning and took the three hour drive down south to Vlore. The road passes through Durres which had become a parking lot of cars with foreign plates--Albanians home for the summer holidays--and teenagers on holiday walking to the beach.
The road winds down along the coast, past some abandoned factories, empty railroad tracks, and a million roadside restaurants and gas stations. The roads follows the thin coastal strip between the mountains and the beach. Bledi and his friend Olsi were playing Albanian pop music the whole way down. It seemed a shame to me to see so much land not under cultivation when the world is experiencing a food crisis and the sun shines brightly on Albania.
The entire route was lined with wedding processions, usually one guy filming through the sun roof of a car followed by a Mercedes with the bride and the usual happy children riding with her. I counted at least 30 wedding processions on the way, sometimes following each other on the road. Sundays during the summer must be the time to
So Vlore is a quiet coastal town, where you can see a pace
of life much slower than in Tirana. Of course the main boulevard is lined with bridal dress shops. So the beach is amazing with the blue color you only see in travel magazines. Albanian beaches here are a bit rocky and full of lounge chairs and umbrellas, just a few centimeters apart. Young guys play cards and swim, girls are talking. Bledi and I went swimming in the clear waters, with waves coming to the shore. Near the beach is a summer home for the communist elite, long since abandoned after the change over to democracy.
The house sits on a rock looking out to sea on all sides. You could tell it was meant to be a stately place in its heyday, but is now full of shards of glass and graffiti showing all the sexual positions you can you imagine as well as a few phone numbers.
The sun was amazing and you see why this is one of the last frontiers in Europe without huge beach resorts and sun-blistered brits on holidays.
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