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Published: September 19th 2012
Yes that is how our journey into Tirana began. We thought we were prepared leaving Ohrid, we got up early caught the bus to neighbouring town Struga where we would find the bus station that would take us to Tirana. We learnt the worlds for bus station to Tirana and had told our bus driver who found someone on the bus who said he would take us some of the as It was now apparently a bit of a walk out of town. Well the small walk ended up being a lot longer. The man who walked us to the bus station took us to what looked like a main road and said “bus station” whilst pointing down the road. We had been told a ten minute walk so we decided to follow his directions.
After about two kilometres of walking and no immediate signs of a bus we decided to walk into the only shop (industrial factory) we had passed. A man understood our little Macedonian and said “yes” and pointed down the road, with this encouragement we decided to walk on. As we were walking off I turned around and ask him how far with hand signals, he
held up five fingers and said “kilometres”……At this point I was both confused and losing my temper, we had either been given wrong directions or our hostel manager was an idiot. As our bus was due to leave in around 15 minutes we asked the man to call a taxi, which he nicely did. We now explained in our limited Macedonian to our taxi driver “bus station, Tiriana”, he nodded his head and we all got in. After driving for about ten minutes I was getting a little worried, I was then even more worried when we arrived at the Albanian border and the taxi driver pointing at the sign Albania!!! with a smile on his face. Well at this point I was not happy and the driver could tell, so we decided to just get out of the taxi and figure it out from there as I was not up for another conversation with the taxi driver.
At this point we reviewed our situation, stuck on the Albanian border was probably not a great place to be if you looked in any travel advice probably ten years ago, luckily we have been in Georgia for a while and
were both able to relax at this point and just hope that we could work something out. After talking to guards with no success and refusing to pass over the Albanian side just to catch what would be an overpriced taxi we sat at the boarder weighing up our options. Lucky after a while a nice guy who spoke English approached us and asked what we were doing. We must have been a sight, sitting at the boarder munching away on pretzels with huge backpacks. We explained our situation to him and he looked what seemed a little worried, he then asked us where we were from, we answered Australia! Well that was the clincher, he told us he had been to Wollongong in 1991 and that he loved Australia. He then left us and returned five minutes later and explained that he had talked to border control, they had made some phone calls and there would be a bus arriving in twenty minutes with space on it to take us to Tirana!
We were both obviously relieved when the bus arrived ten minutes later half full and happy to take us there for twenty dollars, which is cheaper
than the ticket we were originally quoted at in Ohrid! So we made our way through the border and on to Tirana!
The trip to Tirana was one of the most scenic trips we had made; winding through the mountains it was quite beautiful. What we liked…
We loved walking around Tirana at night where this city transforms from ugly suburbia to a beautifully lit and buzzing city. Specifically walking through Taiwan Park and Murat Toptani Street at night with its colourful lights and musical water fountains.
The coloured building although looking rather warn now were interesting to photograph What was interesting…?
The locals do not eat out, I don’t understand how the restaurants keep afloat, but in our three nights here we only saw locals drinking tiny cups of coffee, alcohol and children eating ice cream. NOBODY eats dinner out, it seems more common for locals to eat at home, get dressed up and be seen out catching up with friends in cafes or parks. What we didn’t like…
The city itself does not have many attractions or things to do.
Confusing public transport, Tirana itself whilst being the capital
of Albania does not have a bus station, instead you are dropped off in various locations around the city and catch departing buses from behind the National Museum. We wish we had …
Taken the cable car up to Mount Dajti
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