Trip Start Jul 08, 2010
31Trip End May 04, 2011
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After four days of my visit in Albania I can definitely tell that:
- Albania is now a modern country with a lot of villas, modern skyscrapers and highways
- the Albanians are very friendly and kind people
- Albania is a nice green country with beautiful cities and some interesting historic sites
The problem is the low salary and wage as it is around 200 euro per month, even 100 euro for waiters for example and only high skill workers can earn about 600 euro while gasoline cost 1 euro per liter and all products imported have international prices, i.e.they are very expensive for the Albanians
This is the reason why so many Albanians emigrate but most of them send money home and the family build large houses or invest money in different activities that you see everywher as this is a country under great development and with a rate of improving economy among the highest in Europe.
On the other hand it would be interesting to know how it is possible to see in proportion more Mercedes Benz cars in Albania than in Germany, many of them new ones, being the salaries and waiges so low?, Maybe this is the reason why the documents of my car were so duly checked when I entered the country?
Most of Albanians speak italian as they watch the italian tv and many young students speak a good english and you hear on local radio a lot of advertisements for attending english colleges.
There are still today few hotels because tourism is not yet developed as in Croatia r Monenegro, but I think that in the next years many will come to visit this country that had remained isolated for about 50 years because of the dictactorial comunism of Enver Hoxha died in 1985. Still today you can see everywhere in the country about 70,000 concrete bunkers built by the regime in its obsession to be invaded by enemies
I arrived in Albania by car from nearby Montenegro through the little border inside Ulcinj region and the first impressions were not good, because of the bad roads, some garbage that you can see along the roads, the poor houses, etc...but as soon as you arrive close to SHKODER-SCUTARI all the signs of the poverty disappear and you can admire an elegant city with a lot of banks, gardens, skyscrapers and a nice pedestrian street with pastel coloured houses
Shkoder lies along the biggest lake of Balkans, called Skadar and the Drin river is not far, furthermore a high hill with the old Rozafa Castle that together with the Pictures Exhibition of a a talented Albanian photographer are the highlights of the city. But there also are some beautiful mosques, a catholic Catheral and the statue of the Albanian and not Indian Mother Teresa.
After the visit of Shkoder I took the modern motorway to Tirana and I arrived in the capital in an hour or more because entering the capital is not easy due to the heavy traffic and the great suburbs before the center.
I found a 20 euro room in a little hotel just round the corner of the main street that ends in the large and central Skandenberg square, dedicated to the Albanian national heroe who defeated the Turks and at the moment is under restoration with the statue of the heroe on a horse and all around yellow-red palaces built during the italian occupation and now location of different ministeries and the modern Historic National Museum that I visited and that contains precious archeological stuff taken from all over the country but especially photographs and explanations about the different occupations by foreign countries like the fascist Italy of the '30.
Close to the square are the clock tower and the beautiful old Mosque
Not far is the district once off-limits residence of the communist hierarchy and now the most expensive residencial district of the capital, together with the foreign embassies (the U.S.is a large Citadel surrounded by high walls), a narrow river with green banks, an old stone bridge while on the right side there are some shopping streets with dozens of boutiques, bars and restaurants.
Tirana is a nice city and much is due to the current Mayor who in the recent years ordered that a lot of illegal houses, built after the fall of communism, had to bee destroyed as they had worsened the environment of the center.
After Tirana I took the motorway to DURRES-DURAZZO where I arrived in a couple of hours under a boring rain. Durres was a very import greek and then roman colony but today is the biggest port of the country. There is a roman anphitheater among modern buildings, a venetian tower and some Byzantine walls and particularly interesting is the rich Archeological Museum along the marine street.
From Durres I took again the motorway and arrived at Luzhnje but I skipped this city and continued to FIER where I arrived in the evening always under the rain and I decided to stop for a night, finding a 20 euro good room in a central three stars hotel.
Fier is a modern city with a lot of high and bright coloured buildings (everything in Albania is much coloured as reaction to grey and black colours time during the communist era).
I had dinner at the restaurant of my hotel,an original but kitschy grotto-cave and I knew there some young boys speaking italian whom gave me a lot of information about their country (Mafia, low salaries, political corruption, etc...). On the same night I knew a nice person, a professor of Albanian literature who offered me in a nearby bar a glass of the local delicious liquer rakia or grape made of mulberry.
He confessed me that in order to support his family of four people he was forced to work even 18 hours per day, adding at his main job the collaboration to a local tv station.
Along the road I had to stop several times due to the presence of flocks of sheep while some women took care of flocks of turkey.
Apollonia was a very import greek colony and then roman and then byzantine as usual.
It is on a green hill overlooking a wide valley and has a lot of ruins separated by mediterranean shrubs and olive trees: the restored front of a temple, a theatre, a mosaic covered for protection by sand, a necropolis, but more interesting is the byzantine church and the museum with roman statues that rest protected under the cloister or in the upper floor under a covered corridor.