Community Highlights Europe Tirana

Naples to Tirana, Albania

Saturday, June 1
It was an early morning as most of us departed to the Naples airport. I had a later flight, but needed to take the early transfer. Early afternoon, I took Wizz Airlines from Naples to Tirana, Albania. It starting pouring rain just as we were boarding our flight. I arrived in Tirana, Albania mid-afternoon and found a bus that took me into the city center. It was very hot in Tirana. After asking a few people about directions and a 15-minute walk, I managed to find my hotel.

After settling in, I found an exchange bureau where I could change my money to Albanian Leks. Then I found a nice little restaurant where I had a bite to eat and discovered the food and drink is not very expensive here. It took me awhile to adjust to hearing another language. No more Italian. The Albanian language is very diffierent and doesn't relate to any other language. Not everyone speaks English here.

This hotel is quite nice and in a great location, except for the mosque right outside my window. After my long day, I had an early night, but the call to prayer kept me awake at times. My room had a huge shower, but no shower door so the whole bathroom floor gets cleaned while taking a shower. I don't understand the concept.


Sunday, June 2
Today was the start of my next tour, the "Undiscovered Balkans". The Albanian capital is one of the most dynamic of the Western Balkans and surprised me as a first-time traveller here with its lively restaurant, bar, and cafe scene. Since I wasn't meeting up with the group until evening, I had the day to go exploring on my own.
Whilst in Albania, we'll have the opportunity to sample the delicious cuisine, which is a real mix of Turkish, Greek and Italian influences, like byrek - a spinach and feta stuffed filo pie, and in the more rural mountainous areas barbequed lamb and 'earthy' vegetables such as griddled aubergines and mushrooms are particularly popular. Along the coast there will of course be the chance to sample fresh seafood. Albanian red wine is especially good and also local beers, such as Birra Korca.


By mid-afternoon, I headed back to the hotel and met up with Corinne, a friend from Edmonton, who decided to join me on this tour. I continued exploring while she had a nap after her long flight.

Tirana is not at all what I expected. The architecture is quite unique, a lot of very modern looking buildings.

Early evening, we met up with our Albanian tour leader, Tedi, and our group of 10 people consisting of five Canadians and five Brits. One couple is from Edmonton ... what are the chances! Tedi took us on an orientation walk to the main square and we had a nice dinner together.

Mount Dajti / Tirana

Monday, June 3
This morning, we drove a short distance to the base of the Dajti Express cable car, which is the longest cableway in the Balkans. Our 15-minute journey took us almost to the top of Mount Dajti at around 1,049 metres. From there, we started our hike which was to take us to the summit of Tujani for views over the city below and the surrounding highlands. However, it starting raining and as it was a fairly long, steep hike which would have taken around three to four hours and cover a distance of about five kilometres with a maximum altitude of 1,503 metres, our leader decided to cancel. So we just had a coffee on top of the Dajti Mountain enjoying the view. We took the cable car back down and returned to Tirana.

We visited Bunk Art 2, the second of two nuclear bunkers in Tirana that has recently been transformed into an interactive artistic space. We wandered through the furnished rooms intended as a shelter for dictator Enver Hoxha and the innermost circle of his government.

Corinne and I did some more exploring on our own and then enjoyed some wine on her balcony. She was fortunate to face the front of the hotel with the balcony.

I love the street lights in Tirana!

The city comes to life in the evening especially in the animated Blloku district. During the communist regime, this area of the city was restricted and only members of the Albanian Politburo (main political party) were permitted to enter and own villas in this upmarket area.

This featured blog entry was written by liztravels from the blog 2024 Europe Adventure.
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By liztravels

Posted Wed, Jun 12, 2024 | Albania | Comments