Tirana

Trip Start Nov 16, 2002
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Trip End Dec 22, 2002


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Flag of Albania  ,
Tuesday, May 16, 2006

This place was not nice. We drove from Skopje to the border at well over 150kmph. Our driver was trying to get us to Tirana before dark. The road to the border was not safe at night because of the problems with serbian and albanian guerillas.

We were delayed at the border for almost three hours. Once we were let through we tried to speed our way through the mountains. No such luck. We got stopped in the middle of the blackness. The police car was parked, facing the opposite direction, and just turned on its headlights and flashed its red light. They played good cop/bad cop with the bad cop resting the muzzle of his gun on the window sill of the drivers side while talking to us and the good cop kept trying to get us out of the car so that he could inspect it. I was sure that they just wanted us out of the car so that they wouldn't get blood on it.

Stolen cars are very popular in Tirana, and nice ones can earn someone quite a profit. We were in a new Volvo. They just saw dollar signs.

We were lucky as a convoy of other cars started down the road towards us. The police saw them coming and hurridly waved us on. Can't have witnesses, you know.

Inside Tirana was interesting. There was a river where the city had buldozed a large number of houses the people had constructed over the years. It seems that they didn't have permits to build there, so the city just destroyed everything. There was a place called Wall Street, where, under police protection, people ran an illegal money exchange on the sidewalk.

Manholes were another thing. They just weren't there. People would steal them for the scrap iron.

What a place.
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