Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Albania: Tirana

Highlights: The places, the people, the architecture.

My first day in Tirana was a bit of a blur. After the near death experience traveling from Pogradec to Tirana, I was a bit pessimistic about the country in general. Arriving at Tirana Backpacker Hostel was like entering an oasis in the middle of a desert. A desert full of honking cars and traffic. I don't want to bore you all with the details of every day I spent in Tirana but I'll give you the highlights: The market, the park, and the people (locals, travelers and ex-pats).

The Market: The first thing I noticed were these large piles of what I thought was moss that actually turned out  to be tobacco next to four stalls of olives. So many olives. And the Veggies! Joe and I decided the day before that we wanted to grill some veg and chicken so we were like kids in a candy store when we got to the market.

Everything was so cheap Joe accidentally bought a kilogram of Spinach (too much, way too much). There were tons of Fish stalls but we didn't want to chance it so we bought a kilo of Chicken legs (seems like a lot but was only 5 pieces or so). The market was buzzing. Literally. Old men on motor bikes zipped in between the scurrying people pacing back and forth trying to find the best veggies, the best olives, the best fish. It was beautiful.

An entire chicken for $3.50 
The Park: After our excursion to the market we wandered a bit until we accidentally found Tirana's park and artificial lake. And oh what a lovely accident. In Tirana, when the sun begins to set, the park fills with people. People running, jogging, walking, jumping, dancing, talking, drinking coffee, etc.

artificial lake

Sun setting at the park
The final highlight of my time in Tirana was meeting Jay and Luisa Carver. And now a little history: Nick Carver and I met at UW. Then Nick moved to Spain and Turkey and, well the boy has been all over the world. Any way, he heard I was going to be in Tirana and suggested that I meet up with his parents. The last I  heard of Nick's parents they were sailing around the world so of course I said, "yes, I would love you meet your parents in Tirana." Long story short I ended up having lunch and dinner with the two greatest Ex-Pats in Tirana. We shared travel stories, talked about family, they gave me some very useful travel tips and ended up convincing me to go Greece.

Jay and Luisa

Very briefly I have to say something about this: the pyramid. Usually it has a few local children climbing the steep sides. I did climb it one night... only half way though. I chickened out... and also my shoe started to really fall apart mid climb. Should it stay or should it go? It's such a strange landmark. I don't think there is anything inside. It just is.

When I finally decided to leave Tirana (a sad day indeed) instead of leaving the country I went south to Berat. The physical journey from Tirana to Berat is as straight forward and simple as it gets in Albania. In Tirana there is a bus station that has buses departing for Berat every hour from 8am 'til 3pm. Easy. Just about every local knows where to find these buses. (Walk along the "river" it is behind the European University). Three hours later I was in Berat.

Next post: Berat: I might not be able to leave.

No comments:

Post a Comment