Not many travellers consider visiting Albania – I highly recommend that you do! The pace is relaxed, and there’s plenty to see and do!
Our first stop was in Tirana, the capital. We learned about the unique history of this country, such as previous to 1990, there were only 5,000 vehicles in the entire country! The country used to be controlled by an extremely reclusive communist dictator who didn’t want western influences. Instead, he built over 700,000 concrete bunkers all throughout the county. The theory was that in case of an invasion, any able-bodied person should grab a gun and head to a bunker to protect the country! On top of this, the Albanian communist party even cut itself off from the USSR and the rest of the Eastern Bloc, as they weren’t communist enough! Albania was cut off from every other country in the world! Demands for change resulte in the gradual shift towards democracy and a new republic. Fascinating history.
We spent a little under a week in Tirana. Upon first impression, the city seems a little intimidating – it doesn’t have the refined feel of other European capitals. But there is a huge benefit, no one was trying to sell us anything! As tourism is relatively new, the locals just let you go about your business. They are very friendly and helpful if you need directions, but otherwise just go about their usual lives. I recommend that travellers visit this beautiful country before tourism hits with a greater force!
In Tirana we mainly relaxed, chilled, and drank the great local beer. We stayed at a very homey hostel, Trip’n’Hostel. We met up with some fun fellow travellers, and recharged for our upcoming journey into the mountains! Off to northern Albania!