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Published: June 26th 2017
Geo: 41.12, 20.82
An exciting city tour of Tirana awaited us this morning!! We drove from our beautiful hotel along the main boulevard of Tirana, the street of the Martyrs of the country through Mother Teresa square and stopped in Skanderberg Square. Along this main street, built by the Italians during their brief ownership of the country in the 30s, most of the main buildings are situated. We passed the President's palace, the parliament building, the University and some other government buildings. The Main square, Skanderberg is named after a hero of the 15th century and there is a massive statue to him there. There are also many ugly buildings, remnants of the Communist regime of Hoxha in the 60s and after. The traffic is chaotic and I was most amused watching policemen with batons trying to control the cars and buses that hurtle round the square breaking all known rules. We had great admiration for our bus driver. After we had driven to the end of the boulevard we turned around and drove back to the hotel. I felt really sorry for the local guide who was trying to put a good spin on an unsellable product.
We then headed off through
the mountains of Albania. The local name for the country is Shqiperia, the land of the eagle. Driving through the mountains explained why. The roads are narrow and winding. With the crazy drivers around here we often gasped as they passed the bus on blind corners or wriggled past us with centimetres to spare. Davor, our driver, drew our admiration for the way he negotiated these roads safely. All along the road are bunkers and pill boxes built during the Communist era, ostensibly against outside invaders but more as tokens of fear for the local population. We were told there are nearly 800,000 of them throughout Albania.
We stopped in the town of Elbasan for lunch and then drove to the Albanian/Macedonian border.It took nearly two hours to get through both sides. That done it was not far to our hotel in Ohrid, Macedonia. This is situated on the beautiful Lake Ohrid. It was the centre of Byzantine monastic life and was where the Cyrillic Alphabet was invented and developed. We had a couple of hours to walk around the old town and along the lake. It was so peaceful sitting having a drink looking out at the lake and watching
people swimming and boats sailing by. A lovely end to an up and down day.
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