People, people and more people. Interestingly enough, Tirana has nearly one million habitats and when you out on the street, you feel like everyone is out. The elders taking over the park benches, young boys are kicking the ball on any available boulevard while teenagers don’t hide their feelings to each other. The life goes on in Tirana with a slower pace at the night and impatiently fast behind the steering wheel. The drivers are slightly crazy here, but I haven’t seen a single accident yet. I guess they aren’t that bad after all. This country has pretty violent history with its neighbours and it was truly oppressed during the communist regime. Over 6,000 people were executed between 1944-1991 with or without court order and their bodies were never returned to their families for burial. Today Albania is rising back on their feet. Unfortunately, they face many economical and social problems. People however, are in a good spirit and fairly open. They are helpful to foreigners. There are more tourists coming to explore this region. According to Eri (the Free Tour guide) four things identify today’s Albania;
- language, impossible to learn
- Skenderbeg, military commander once in the Ottoman Empire service, later fighting against it. Hmm… where do we know that from?
- Albanian’s obsession with the the Mercedes Benz. They are everywhere, but don’t count on too many latest models.
- Rakia is a traditional alcoholic drink and apparently the best in Balkans. Mind you, I heard that in other Balkan’s countries too. By the way, many drink Rakia in the morning.
DID YOU KNOW, that George W. Bush was the first and only ever US president who visited Albania. Now, one of the streets in Tirana adopted his name.
DON’T BE SHOCKED when you see an elder fella pushing the wheel barrel on a busy street with a gigantic load on top of it. Or a modified bicycle pulling a sizeable trailer behind. Albanians are creative and no matter how ridiculous it looks they are entrepreneurial. Also, be ready for a doze of cigarette smoke, even in the smoking free zone. The rules here are constantly bend.
This is the 21st capital, the city different from others. Not better, not worse. It is simply Tiranë.