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“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” Ernest Hemingway

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5 July 2014

Tirana

Tirana in two days


On 29th June we left Budva by minibus with our sights set on Tirana, Albania. We took the stunning coastal road towards Bar and Shkoder. Just south of Budva is the small island village of Sveti Stefan. This exclusive peninsular resort is popular with high profile visitors and if you want to spend a day on the pink sand beach its 80 euros. Needless to say our budget doesn’t stretch this far but it was a nice place to take a pit stop.
As with many of our road trips the border crossing was eventful. A dispute over the minibus drivers passenger licence resulted in a small bribe. This is quite common in Albania and if you travel from Montenegro make sure the hotel or hostel issues you with a small tax form as this is a requirement at the border.
You know when your getting close to Tirana due to the gradual increase in chaos on the roads. There seemed to be no etiquette between vehicles or pedestrians to the extent where vehicles were driving the wrong way down a street. Highlights of ours were seeing a family of five on one scooter and two guys helping a friend move a bed mattress by wedging it on the bonnet and sitting on top. All good preparation for South-East Asia I’m guessing.
The"Tirana Backpackers Hostel" was our base for the night. It’s a five minute walk from Skanderbeg Square in the heart of the city and has a great garden terrace and bar. This is the first hostel we’ve seen where travellers can sleep in their own tent for half the price of a room. A great option if your on a budget.
The sights of Tirana are few in number and once you’ve glanced at Et'hem Bay Mosque, The National History Museum, the Pyramid, George W Bush Street and Skaderbeg Square the tourist walk is over.
After exhausting the tourist scene with fellow travellers Mike (U.S.A), Fernando (Argentinian) and Mat (mad Aussie who’s description of Perth as a Shit Hole means it’s now on our bucket list) we decided to “soak up the local culture” A.K.A finding a bar.
It turns out Albanians are football crazy and the atmosphere during the Costa Rica vs Greece match was electric (although this may have had something to do with Greece losing). The food court on Shétitorja Murat Toptani was a great place to grab an array of local street food and hang out.
We were a bit gutted about only visiting Albania for one night as you get great value for money, the culture is notably different to surrounding Balkan States and on all accounts coastal destinations like Dürres, Karavasta National Park and Sarandë are stunning but our eighth country calls.