Why did I go to Albania? (Tirana in photos)
“Why do you want to go to Albania for?”
An Italian friend sneered after I told him of my backpacking plans across the Balkan Peninsula, where the plan was to start from Albania and finish in Turkey (in 2009). Travelling time: however long it takes.
“You want to see Albanians? Just go to Italy…so many of them. Dangerous people. Thieves, some of them.”
The plan came to fruition when Tim, an English friend, proposed of a slow journey across the isolated fringes of Eastern Europe, when he knew that I was about to finish one of my ship contracts. I didn’t know anything about the country till then but I jumped on the invitation right away. The less I know, the better. Far-flung countries with strange names compel me most. How am I supposed to know how dangerous the place is if I haven’t experienced it myself? Besides, British Airways had a special deal going for less than £100 one-way from London to the capital city of Albania, Tirana. It sounded just like the perfect place to explore and to kick off the trip.
“If you don’t hear from me on Facebook, then call 911,” I told my skeptical Italian friend.
The verdict? Check out the pictures of Tirana here.
Despite the country’s hard and complex history, the locals had demonstrated incredible hospitality and warmth. Still a little on the wild side and the city not yet choked with Chinese tourists and car fumes, the country is safe enough for anyone to travel independently but with enough edge to thrill you.
Accommodation and food are relatively cheap and but if you are a cheap ass backpacker like me, you can buy fresh food from the market and make sandwiches. Alternatively, you can spend the money saved on sipping cocktails at one of the hip bars.
Just be wary of the menu. Goats’ brains have a way of sneaking up to your platter.
And remember, shaking your head sideways means ‘Yes’ and nodding your head up and down means ‘No’.
*Lonely Planet had listed Albania as one of the top 10 countries to visit for 2011. All the more why you should visit!