Arriving in Albania

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Europe » Albania » West » Tirana
September 9th 2008
Published: June 26th 2017
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Geo: 41.3317, 19.8172

This morning we left Dubrovnik very early, at 7-30am. We headed down the coast, stopping for a photo of the city from the clifftop. Continued on to the Croatia/Montenegro border which we passed through without too much difficulty. Our first major stop was in the old walled city of Kotor in Montenegro. This is on what they say is the only fiord outside Scandinavia. Strictly speaking it is not a fiord but is a magnificent inlet. We drove right around it before we got to the city. There are two small islands in the middle, each with a small church on it.
Kotor was an interesting place. Narrow streets, many Orthodox churches and small squares. It was another hot day, sunny and bright. We meandered through the streets and had an early pizza lunch at one of the small cafes.
We drove on, down the coast of Montenegro. There is huge development going on here, particularly of resorts.We went successively through Budva, Petrovac and Bar. We stopped to take a photo of the small island of Sveti Stefan. This was once a fishing village but it was totally bought out by a developer and now the whole island is a resort. There were many beaches along the coast, all seemed to be packed with people.
Then it was on through the border with Albania. What a difference in scenery. We moved away from the coast and it was so evident that this was a very undeveloped part of the world. There was a Communist government here for fifty years and even though they have been a democracy for over ten years the old habits die hard. The roads are terrible, the drivers crazy and there is rubbish and run down areas all round. It took 2 hours from the border into Tirana and the suburbs of the capital were unappealing to say the least. The centre of the city is better with many buildings painted bright colours to counteract the grey, gloomy ,Communist apartment blocks. There is a grand boulevard built during the Italian occupation of the 1930s which leads toMother Teresa Square and our hotel with a couple of parks nearby. We were also reminded that this is mainly an Islamic country with the sight of many mosques along the way.We arrived at the Sheraton where we are staying. This is an oasis in an otherwise depressing area.
We have a tour of the city tomorrow morning so hopefully we will see some better sights then.

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