Tirana - Big City with Lots of Cars

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
Trip End May 12, 2012

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Where I stayed
What I did
Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral
SkyTower - Tirana

Flag of Albania  , Tiranë,
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Sasha at Luccia Apartments had supplied us with tons of food for a picnic lunch plus breakfast.  I ate my yogurt, croissant & orange for breakfast with orange juice and saved the egg, a bit of cheese and some ham for lunch plus I took all the green olives.  We left in a hired minibus for Albania and drove north of Lake Ohrid.

I was talking part of the time and sleeping part of the time and didn't notice all of the scenery but it was pretty spectacular in a scenery kind of way.  Pretty much after we left Ohrid until we reached Albania, we went through steep mountains.  The very windy roads had a lot of hair pin turns.  There were some smaller towns and at least one quite large city with what appeared to be some industry next to the river.  These rivers were wider than the ones I had seen in Bulgaria.  The houses were similar to all the others we have seen so far but there were some large fancier ones.  I don't know if they are apartments or villas.  We also saw a few herds of long-haired whitish sheep with their herders along side the road.

We stopped at one restaurant for a pee stop and then again alongside an especially scenic stretch of road for a photo op, but, just at that place, it was hard to get a good shot.  I was a little surprised that Albania seemed so prosperous.  Then when we got to Tirana, Louise warned us that it would be different - lots more cars and people.  It is pretty busy with lots of large modern buildings.  We walked around Skanderbeg Square in central Tirana and Louise pointed out the Clock Tower, Statue of Skanderbeg, and buildings of interest.  When we got to Enver Hoxha's Pyramid, we had to take a lot of photos since Nick and Jordan were climbing it.  Nick said when he got to the top, he was quite surprised to find a couple.  They weren't expecting company up there. 

We then went to a revolving restaurant in the SkyTower for the view and you could see how far Tirana stretched out from the center to the tops of the surrounding mountains.  Lots of buildings.  In the center there are quite a few public buildings, including a large archeological or cultural museum (which we hoped to go to but was closed by 5 pm when we got there) and a culture building that housed the opera and probably other things as well, and lots of governmental office buildings.  I was with Lynne and Graeme and Lynne wanted to see the mosque but there were only men in front and it looked as if a service was about to start and even Lynne wasn't brave enough to try to go in then.

At some point we passed the new Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral, designed by a Greek-American architect.  Apparently, building a new Christian church in the center of the city is somewhat controversial. 

After finding the museum closed, we walked back to the Hotel Ferari.  Lynne and Graeme bought some supplies along the way.  I almost got an ice cream.  I will join them for a light dinner at the hotel at 7 pm.  Louise had organized a dinner at an Albanian/Italian restaurant in the center of the city but it will be at 8 pm.  I didn't want to wait around that long after the museum, or now, didn't want to go all the way back into town and eat so late.  It is fine.

I think this entry is very short - relatively speaking.  Am I just getting more efficient, or tired, or have I forgotten a lot, or have I just not babbled on as much?

I met Lynne and Graeme at 7 pm for dinner and we went to the hotel dining room where we eventually settled on indoor dining.  Tee joined us with her recommendation of the Albanian red wine for 200 leks per big glass - about 2 dollars - US, Canadian or Australian - all very similar now.  The conversation ranged from our expectations of Albania to East Timor, education, marriage, children, et al.  It was a very enjoyable dinner.  After I got back to the room, I started uploading my photos from the various cameras.  I may almost be caught up - including doing a photo selection for each day.  I doubt if I will have any time for photo editing though.

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