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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Balkans: Tirana & Kruja (Albania)

We travelled from Ohrid to Tirana, the capital of Albania, by a hired car.  We pre-arranged the transport through the manager of our hotel in Tirana.  The Albanian driver was a cheerful nice man, and we used the global language to communicate with each other: body language.

We arrived Tirana around 5pm.  The first impression was of chaos.
Our car was stopped by police in the middle of a traffic jam, and the driver literally had to bribe him to get through...
However there also was such a strong, positive energy filling the city, and we loved it.

On the second day, following a recommendation from my good friend Vincent, we went for a day trip to Kruja.
Vincent made a short documentary film on Albania, so he was the best person to ask for advice.

Kruja is an old capital city and known as the birthplace of the national hero Skanderbeg.  He fought for Albania against Ottoman Turkey in the 15th century.  We could still see the remains of the fortress in the mountains.

Until we visited the country, I just had no idea how rich in nature Albania was!  We drove through the mountains and everywhere outside of the cities looked so green.

Another pleasant discovery was the kindness and friendliness of the people.  Starting from the hotel manager who helped us hire the car even before our arrival, we didn't have any unpleasant encounter while we were in Albania (apart from the corrupted police).

Once when we were standing in front of a mosque, a man came out from inside and invited us in.  He showed us around while two men chanted their prayers. 
When we were leaving, he said "Salam aleikum"- an Arabic greeting which means "Hello", and also "Peace be upon you".
It was so touching and made us feel warm inside.

We strongly felt that we really wanted to come back again to this country.  
I know I have been writing the same thing about all the places we visited during this trip - but I really mean it.

. 。. 。. 。. 。. 。. 。










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