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L - N
Tue Mar 23 2010, 10:28am
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Albania

Bike trek rider heads into Albania.




HE HAD been warned of dangerous driving, terrible roads and even terrorist training camps.

But round-the-world cyclist Dr Steven Fabes decided he would cycle through Albania anyway — and said he had discovered the most welcoming country so far.

The 28-year-old, who grew up in Southdale Road, North Oxford, is three months into his attempt to cycle 50,000 miles around the world in five years.

Dr Fabes said: “I'd been warned not to venture into the country’s interior and I’d planned to take heed of this advice.

“Albania is Mafia country, I was told by a hostel owner in Dubrovnik. I was also warned of the poor quality of Albanian roads and I had even heard rumours of Albania being home to terrorist training camps.

“The UK Foreign Office site gave advice on travelling in Albania and did little to convince me this would be a sensible path to take.

“Even the Albanian flag, a black two-headed eagle on a red background, looked sinister.”

However, the former Abingdon School pupil discovered he had no reason to worry.

He said: “I crossed the border into Albania and immediately my fears were confirmed. The road became a hotchpotch of potholes and craters. But then what I didn’t expect – cheers and waves from Albanians out working in the fields. I was even saluted by some of the children as I rode past.

“People were clearly surprised to see me. Horses and carriages now shared the road with bashed up old Mercs and the occasional new one which I secretly hoped was occupied by the Albanian Mafia.

“My first night in Albania was spent drinking vodka with a group of men in a metalwork shop.

“In fact Albania has been the most welcoming country of my journey so far and nothing better highlights the generosity of the Albanians than my experience shortly after.”



Dr Fabes spoke about the “particularly warm” welcome he received from one Albanian family.

He said:

“I was just settling down for the night in my tent when a man arrived with the cheekiest of the children, Albert.

“They couldn’t speak any English but it became clear that they wanted me to take down my tent and come into the house.

“This was an invitation and I followed them inside.

“A coat was placed over my shoulders. The women brought out food – sausage, egg, gherkins, yoghurt, a nondescript meat dip, bread and cheese.

“Every time I finished, the father would click his fingers and someone would scuttle off to fetch more.

“I felt totally unworthy of such hospitality.”


Dr Fabes, who formerly worked at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, hopes to travel across six continents and raise £50,000 for Merlin, an aid agency that gets remote medical clinics running again.

He is cycling about 100 miles a day, and is now in Bulgaria. His next stop is Turkey.

-email-

Source: oxfordmail.co.uk
trokit ketu



[ Edited Wed Apr 21 2010, 07:54am ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Sat Apr 17 2010, 03:21pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
In the Kingdom of Ali Pasha



While travelling through the Balkans, Morelle Smith gets to know the infamous Ali Pasha, the “Lion of Ioannina.” First through the eyes of nineteenth-century writer Dora d'Istria and then through the impressive architectural heritage he left in Albania and Northern Greece. And she falls for his charms. And how could she not, knowing how fiercely Ali Pasha treated the women who turned him down?

On the ferry from Brindisi to Igoumenitsa, there was a thin haze over the sky and a stiff breeze on deck, so at first I sat inside next to a window, and watched the green sea surface ruffle and dance
When the haze faded, I sat up on deck in the sunlight. By the time we reached Igoumenitsa the sun was going down and the whole bay was flushed with pink. As I walked along the road from the ferry terminal, the air was filled with scents of heated pine needles and jasmine blossom. Lights began to flicker on along the sea-front and big trucks went past, heading for the night ferries.

I stayed overnight at the Hotel Oscar and after a walk through the town I sat out on the balcony. I watched people coming and going in the cafés and restaurants below me and the twinkling lights of the moored ships and the harbour lights dropped into the water, agitated shivers of spilled light.

I'm heading for Ioannina and in the morning I try to locate the bus station. It's marked on my guidebook but does not appear to be there. When I ask somebody I'm directed further along the promenade but discover these are only tourist buses. So I go into one of the many offices selling ferry tickets and a helpful young woman explains to me in German - the second language of many tourist guides in Greece - where to go. I find the bus station, tucked away unobtrusively, and successfully purchase a ticket.

As it's some time before the bus is due to leave, I wander in the pedestrian area, buy boureki for breakfast and survey the many café tables. I choose the least touristy looking café, with several Greek men sitting outside. Inside it is full of old men, some of them wearing the orthodox robes and tall hats of priests. The only woman, apart from myself, is behind the counter. When I ask for coffee, it seems there are a range of possibilities, according to the size of the cup (small cup, espresso, large cup, Nescafe). I point to the medium-sized one, an unknown quantity, and to my delight, it turns out to be café turque, which I keep forgetting is called Greek coffee here. As I sit outside, some of the men move clacking wooden prayer beads between their fingers and the smell of roasting meat drifts along the cobbled street. There's a 'Fresh Fish' shop opposite and next to it one called (curiously) 'Funky Fish', selling jewellery and trinkets, bags and sunglasses.

The cloud cover is thinning and the sky is turning blue.

The bus to Ioannina passes through breathtaking tree-covered mountains. A river takes a winding course in the valley below. There are olive trees, fig, birch and oak. And some yellow daisy-like flowers. Some of the mountain peaks are rounded, others are sharp. The road hugs the sheer mountainside. We pass cypresses and little wayside shrines. It is heart-stoppingly beautiful. The layers of rock bend and sag like curvaceous, frozen waves.

I spot a donkey with a square wooden saddle, the first I've seen in Greece, but so typical of Albanian donkey saddles. After several loops and coils the road starts to descend. We pass a sign for Zalonga and catch a glimpse of a white-stone pedestrian bridge over a stream. In the distance, there are snow-capped mountains.


Dora d'Istria was a nineteenth-century Albanian-Romanian writer, who wrote extensively on the Balkan countries. Through translating her work, I became engrossed in the characters and landscapes of her histories and folk tales and in particular, her accounts of the infamous Ali Pasha, the “Lion of Ioannina.”

Ali, following the traditions of the time, worked his way up to becoming the pasha – under the nominal authority of the Ottoman Sultan – of most of present-day Albania and the north-west portion of Greece, then known as Epiros, whose capital was Ioannina. The traditional system of promotion was to get as many people on your side as possible and then defeat all others who did not back you, using all the means at your disposal – force, bribery and trickery. Ali came to be adept at all of these methods.

Though Ali had many fortressed palaces scattered over Albania and Epiros, his main seat of government in the late eighteenth – early nineteenth centuries, was at Ioannina. I wanted to see this place as described by Dora d'Istria, where Ali hatched his plots and pronounced sentence on those who resisted his domination. Among the men, the harshest punishments were usually reserved for guerrilla fighters, but it was the women who resisted his (debatable) charms, who fared worst. But to uphold a semblance of high morality he would conjure up other accusations to charge them with. Most tyrants seem to have a sticky end and Ali's took place on the island in the middle of the lake on whose shores the town of Ioannina is built.




The ancient part of the town is on undulating land beside the lake, but most of the more modern buildings are on the north-west slope of a mountain. The bus station was about half way up this slope and I found a hotel in a narrow little street nearby. Then I set off downhill in the direction of the lake. Ahead of me, in the distance, I could see a solid creamy-white minaret rising out of a mass of green foliage, so I headed towards it

This beautiful mosque of Aslan Bey is now a museum, standing in the middle of a park of massive fir and pine trees. The park crests a knoll and its peaceful silence feels far away from the traffic and bustle of the city. The museum is more like a sanctuary, which is in keeping with its original purpose of a place of worship. I chat to the friendly guide about Ali Pasha and Dora d'Istria's writing, and she directs me to the site of Ali Pasha's palace, which is where he is now buried.

To reach what was once the original old town, you pass through ancient fortified archways into narrow streets paved with yellow marble, similar to the long uphill road to the citadel in Berat, Albania. Apart from renovated outbuildings and a small mosque – a memorial to Ali Pasha, only ruins remain of his once magnificent palace but low boundary walls give some impression of its size. The minaret of the Aslan Bey museum can be seen in the distance.

These largely empty grounds are peaceful in the spring sunshine. Apart from the straight and manicured paved walkways, there are also meandering dirt paths that trail around the remains of the walls. I imagine they were worn by many decades of curious feet, come to see the site of such turbulent history. But today there are only a few tourists wandering in the grounds. Grass, wild ferns and other uncultivated plants are allowed to flourish where there are no paths.

The doors of the memorial mosque are firmly closed. The Greek War of Independence that took place shortly after Ali's death in 1822 was fought against the hated Ottoman domination and the only reminders of a time in their history when they were not free, but were a subject people, have been turned into museums, like the one of Aslan Bey. The beautiful objects of that time are preserved but the message is clear, that these belong to the past, and that is where they remain.

Close to the memorial mosque is Ali Pasha's burial place, enclosed by a delicately wrought monument. This metal tracery over Ali's final resting place feels like a necessary mark of respect to such a monumental historical figure.

For the flip side of his barbarism and cruelty was the fact that he managed – by however dubious means – to unite almost the whole of present-day Albania and Epiros. He brought cohesion to what had formerly been a virtually lawless country, with near-constant tribal warfare. But it did occur to me that the surrounding ironwork is also protective, should anyone have desecration in mind.

The following day I take a boat trip out to the island in the middle of the lake. It is immensely peaceful, full of flowers, birds and lizards, with scents of jasmine and frying meat. There don't appear to be any cars here at all. At first I wander along a deserted path and see a long snake, the same colour as the lizards, sliding away into the undergrowth. On the way back, I follow some other people who are being given a guided tour of the grounds of a monastery, which is no longer inhabited. Inside the small church there are some remarkable frescos that you are not allowed to photograph. They depict monks doing strange things, holding devilish creatures in their hands at arm's length. One holds a long, curling snake in his left hand, and what looks like flowers in the other.

Finally I go to the site of the place where Ali Pasha spent his last hours. It was an odd sensation, to have read so much about this location, to have followed the adventures of this man, from his earliest bids for power in his youth, right up to the point where his followers, some enslaved by gold, others by fear, began to desert him, and opened the gates of the town of Ioannina to the Ottoman Sultan's army. Ali was forced to retreat inside the fortified walls of his palace. Finally he was tricked into going to the island in the middle of the lake, where he was told his life would be spared. This was the kind of dissembling tactic he had used himself more than once, to allow hope to grow in prisoners or unarmed people, before ordering his soldiers to show no mercy and there was a kind of poetic justice in this ruse being used against him in his final hours. It was here that the life of Ali Pasha came to an end, at the entrance, so it is claimed, of the underground cave a few metres away from the museum.



The museum displays hubbly-bubbly pipes, wooden carved and painted water bottles, and rugs and carpets in the sombre and gorgeous colours typical of Albanian weaving - beige, red and black. There's an enormous painting by one Agim Sulaj, an Albanian artist, of Ali Pasha's head being brought triumphantly before the Sultan. There are also paintings of the unfortunate Euphrosine who resisted Ali's charms and was thrown into the lake, along with several other women, to make it clear that he was not singling her out for special treatment.

The next day I head for Gjirokaster in Albania, to visit my translator and her family. The bus leaves at 4am and the ticket office is opened 5 minutes beforehand. (I'd tried to buy a ticket the day before but was told that was not possible.) The only unoccupied seat is right at the back, beside some sleeping children. The bus has come from Athens and I'm the only person to get on here. It's just beginning to get light when we reach the border, where we all have to get off and file through border control. The Greek official looked at my passport. Turned it over, looked inside. “British!,” he announced triumphantly. “I am Greek,” he said, pointing to himself, a little unnecessarily, I felt. “Bubble and squeak!,” he says, and his laughter rings out breaking the tense silence reigning among the seated officials and the queue of passport-holding passengers. I smile politely, though it is much too early in the morning to make any sense to me. I wondered if perhaps when visiting the UK he had once eaten Bubble and Squeak (fried cabbage and potatoes) and could not believe the rigours of the British cuisine. (Back in the UK a friend explained it to me. Bubble and squeak is Cockney rhyming slang for Greek).

From the border the road levels out into a flat plain. Gjirokastër is built into the mountainside and so, when I get off the bus I have to climb up through steep narrow cobbled streets. It's still too early, I feel, to knock on anyone's door, so I sit on the steps outside Haxhi's house. After a while a woman appears on a balcony on the other side of the street, and calls out “O Haxhi!” I hear a voice from inside reply and a shouted conversation then ensues though Haxhi does not appear. But I hear sounds of movement so Haxhi is clearly up and about. I knock on the door. Haxhi appears in the doorway, a large white paintbrush in one hand.

“I am washing the walls,” he says, “how do you say?”

“Whitewashing,” I reply. “Yes, yes,” he says, “come in!”

Read Morelle Smith's blog on BalkanTravellers.com
Read more of Morelle Smith’s stories on Rivertrain, her blog about writing and travelling

Marre prej trokit ketu


[ Edited Wed Apr 21 2010, 07:56am ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Sat Apr 17 2010, 03:36pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
The trials and triumphs of Tirana the turbulentAlbania’s capital surprises with its quirks, creativity and moxy



Ben Stubbs
Special to the Star

TIRANA, ALBANIA—A Mercedes Benz loaded with boxes of toothpaste and fake football jerseys screams past me at the intersection. I wait for the lights to change in the shade of the communist monolith behind me and smile.

I am in the capital of Albania, looking for something different in this forgotten cousin in the European family tree. With the rise of the European Union, the continent has become more homogenous than ever. It is possible to buy the same block of cheese in northern Sweden, Belgium and southern Germany. Not to mention the ease of the EuRail pass, the all-encompassing guidebooks to ensure you have an identical experience along a well-worn trail and the fact that you hardly even need to
get your passport out anymore.

The cars stop and the locals pour out into the melee in the central square without hesitating. As the little green man flashes, I’m not all together sure I should trust him.

Arriving in Tirana from any direction you are immediately introduced to one of the quirks of this country. Pock-marked across the poplar-covered hills and river banks are hundreds of thousands of mushroom-shaped concrete bunkers; a hangover from the communist days of Albania. They were initially a defence system for citizens to jump inside during attack, but now they are either used for grain storage, artwork or the odd underground smooching session.

Rumbling into the city on a local bus past the donkeys and vineyards of the outskirts, the first thing you notice is the mass of communist-era flats stamped all over Tirana. Unlike the drab apartments of Ulaan Baatar in Mongolia or the housing estates outside Moscow, these flats that resemble washing machines are lashed in disco pink, electric yellow and every other migraine-inducing shade of paint you can imagine.

After Edi Rama was elected mayor of Tirana in 2000, he decided the city needed a spruce-up. Government buildings, apartment blocks and shopping malls were all coated in outlandish designs that would make Salvador Dali proud. Beyond the walls, though, the mayor also restored many of the old parks throughout the centre of the city that now offer a great chance to sit and slurp lemon gelato or just people-watch on a hot day. Past the lovely fountains of the park in the centre of town is the National Historical Museum, a cavernous place that tells the story of this unique country.

Albanian students on school excursions disturb the air with the swish of their cardboard fans as we learn about their country’s diverse and fractured history. Amongst the urns and weaponry preserved from hundreds of years ago, the walls tell of Albania’s Illyrian and Roman past.

Moving upstairs past the stern-looking attendants watching from their sticky vinyl lounges, we read of the Ottoman conquests around the country and Albania’s eventual independence as a nation in 1912. This wasn’t the beginning of prosperity. Albania endured Italian occupation by Mussolini in 1939, the fall into communism after World War II and the tumultuous riots of the 1990s.

While all the kinks aren’t ironed out, locals in this tiny bean-shaped country nestled between Greece, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia seem hopeful.

Education and employment appear more evident (although I’m not completely sure of the degrees offered at the “UFO University” on Zog Boulevard) and as we walk along the busy shopping district near Skanderbeg Square things seem promising.

Browsing in the souvenir stalls under a purple-and-orange apartment block we’re introduced to another unique cultural feature of Albania.

Rather than a simple nod of the head to indicate “yes” in Albania, people shake their head horizontally to show agreement, and to say no they either click their tongues or raise their eyebrows. As I bargain in pigeon English with a lady for an Albanian soccer top, the intricacies are quite confusing as we come to an eventual price through much clicking and eyebrow jiggling.

Wearing my new top, I join the locals and head for a stroll along the tree-lined boulevards where the bitumen is still soft and spongy from the midday heat. It is customary in Albania that work finishes earlier in the afternoon during summer. At dusk the tanned families and sweaty teenagers walk the streets as the cool breeze blows across the tops of the Mount Dajti range. In the evenings numerous streets are blocked off so people can stroll along in peace while the cafés and restaurants open their doors.

Walking along Ismail Qemali Street, lined with swaying poplars, we wander past bars with scores of young kids in fashionable dresses and pointy shoes, sipping Tirana beer while sitting on trendy furniture.

Stopping in at one of the many local restaurants, the Albanian cuisine is a definite surprise after the endless pizza and pasta options offered along the Balkan coast. Most farmers in Albania cannot afford any sort of chemical pesticide, so the restaurants serve the most delicious portions of organic fruit and vegetables imaginable. The flaky pastry from a spinach burek fresh from the oven sticks to the roof of my mouth and the tangy lamb and yogurt cooked in a clay pot is a regional specialty. After a feast costing less than $20 we head to bed early, expecting another of Albania’s quirks early the next morning.

At around 5 a.m. just before the sun spills from the shadows, the Islamic call to prayer reverberates around the streets from the various mosques in the city. This isn’t particularly unusual, but in Albania it is a relatively recent phenomenon. Albania has endured much turmoil though its history, none more obscure than the 1967 ban on religion.

For 23 years, religious worship of any type was prohibited, making it the world’s only atheist state. Today, religion is beginning to be accepted as part of the mainstream again. The enduring mosque in Skanderbeg Square draws hundreds of worshippers to its steps each day to pray on mats next to the roaring traffic. Nearby on Zog Boulevard it is not uncommon on a Friday afternoon to see enthusiastic Albanian Mormons wandering in short sleeves among bustling pedestrians and road traffic.

Heading north out of Tirana the next day, I’m again reminded of the country’s unique nature. On the wire fences near the bus station a few grizzled old women sell what look to be imitation Albanian passports among a collection of chewing gum and matches. As we board the mini-bus to the Montenegro border, a couple of grey-toothed winos get on armed with what look remarkably like the passports I saw moments ago on the fence.

The ride goes smoothly enough until we hit the border. The winos ask the driver to pull over at a nearby watermelon stall so they can purchase half a dozen. As we pull into the border checkpoint a few minutes later, the driver seems to know the drill and he produces a bundle of juicy Albanian watermelons for the Montenegro border guards. They are overjoyed with the gift and wave us on.

No questions asked.

Ben Stubbs is a freelance writer based in Buenos Aires.

Source: thestar.com
trokit ketu


[ Edited Wed Apr 21 2010, 07:56am ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Sat Apr 17 2010, 03:49pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Discover Albania



Issue date: 4/15/10 Section: News

Lock Haven University's Institute of International Studies will be hosting Albania Night on Tuesday, April 20 at Avenue 209 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The proud, eastern European country of Albania boasts an amazing history, colorful culture and strong people. To celebrate this small country,



Located on the Adriatic Sea, bordering Macedonia, Kosovo and Greece, Albania is a colorful and fascinating country. Its rich culture shows Italian, Greek, Turkish and Serbian influences, as seen in its unique blend of food, art, and music traditions.

On the April 20, sample Albania's traditional cuisine, including delicious sweet bread, yogurt salads and date cookies. All foods will go well with Avenue 209's wide selection of warm drinks.

While taking in the atmosphere, indulge your creative side with crafts. Albania is famous for its rich tapestries and fabrics. At the event, fabrics will be supplied to make necklaces, bracelets, and so much more.

Albania Night is the last multicultural night of the year. Come and try something different for your Tuesday night. All ages are welcome to come to enjoy good companionship and a "Taste of Albania."

Source: trokit ketu


[ Edited Wed Apr 21 2010, 07:57am ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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::bud::
Sun Apr 18 2010, 10:33pm



Registered Member #1092
Joined: Wed Aug 15 2007, 12:46pm

Posts: 10533



[ Edited Sun Apr 18 2010, 10:34pm ]
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L - N
Wed Apr 21 2010, 11:18am
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania

Shkorda opens new Tourism office to help foster tourism


Albania: Balkan Business News Correspondent in Tirana - 21.04.2010

The Municipality of Shkodra opened on Monday a new Tourist Information Office, as part of the city’s ongoing tourism promotion efforts.



The office will offer free of charge, high-quality professional tourism information services to tourists and visitors.



Mayor Lorenc Luka and Mr. Stephen Herbaly, a representative of USAID/Albania, delivered remarks.



Both speakers highlighted the importance of this office for the city and its tourism businesses.



USAID’s Local Governance Program in Albania (LGPA) and the Municipality of Shkodra are working together to promote the development of tourism as a generator of employment and economic growth in Shkodra. This initiative
is a public-private partnership between the Municipality, LGPA, and Çelësi Company.

The Tourism Information Office, which was constructed by the Municipality, will be owned and managed by Çelësi. The Municipality will work with the office to promote local tourism and tourism-dependent businesses. The information office will enhance an important sector of Shkodra’s economy, generate private investments, and foster local economic development in the city.

“The Municipality of Shkodra is a strong supporter of the local tourism industry,” said Mayor Luka.

“This office will house tourism guides and promote our city’s cultural events that are so important for economic development.”

Shkodra holds several successful annual festivals that have brought in tourists and visitors from across Albania, including the Carnival Festival, the Artisans Fair, Flower Day, and the City Music Festival.



USAID’s Local Governance Program in Albania (LGPA) works with ten municipalities throughout Albania to foster local economic growth, improve local governance, and strengthen civic and private sector engagement in local development. LGPA’s partner municipalities are: Elbasan, Fier, Fushe-Kruje, Gramsh, Korçe, Kukes, Lezhe, Librazhd, Pogradec and Shkoder. Source: US Aid

Source:balkans.com
trokit ketu


[ Edited Sat Apr 24 2010, 04:18pm ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Mon Apr 26 2010, 08:39pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania








[ Edited Mon Apr 26 2010, 08:43pm ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Mon Apr 26 2010, 08:54pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania














[ Edited Mon Apr 26 2010, 09:08pm ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Mon Apr 26 2010, 09:06pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania









[ Edited Mon Apr 26 2010, 09:11pm ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Mon Apr 26 2010, 09:23pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania



Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Wed Apr 28 2010, 12:04pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania


A taste of Albania



This map shows where Albanians live in most parts in Balkan.



A shore excursion to the ancient ruins and Adriatic seacoast of Albania whets a day-tripper's appetite.

By PETER MANDEL, Special to the Star Tribune
Last update: April 24, 2010 - 12:48 PM


It is early morning in the ship's Vista Lounge. Passengers cluster. Curtains sway with the sea. I am awake, but thanks to the soft velour lounge chair, I keep remembering sleep.

"You on the Kickin' Corfu tour?" says a man with a backpack and an aluminum-and-rubber cane. "Um, no," I say. "Shore excursion No. 6. I'm going to Albania."

"Albania?" he repeats. It's a country that always seems to come with a question.

"That's right," I say. "Albania."

"Well, better get with your group," he says, giving me a suspicious stare.

I don't tell him more, but in fact I've always been curious about this tiny Eastern European nation. Maybe it's from reading the comic strip "Dilbert" with its made-up outpost, Elbonia. Elbonia mirrors Albania in seeming wildly out-of-the-loop.

Filling in the blanks

Albanians lived under the thumb of a Communist dictator named Enver Hoxha from the end of World War II until his death in 1985 (and the fall of communism there in 1991). Ruled before that by Romans, by Byzantines and by Ottomans, the nation under Hoxha got detached from the world.

A map I looked at from the 1950s showed it as a blank area, not a country.


Albanian sea coast



Albanian Alps


But color is coming back to the now-independent free-market democracy. A year ago Albania joined NATO and filed its application for EU membership.


Travelers like me, who long for places that don't yet have a Starbucks, are starting to take notice.

It is my chance, I think, to fill in the blank.

As soon as I leave my velour chair on the ship, things start happening fast. I'm made to go get my passport. We're the only shore excursion tour group that's changing countries. And I'm tagged with an orange sticker that says, "Holland America Lines Oosterdam #6."

Is this in case I'm lost? I feel like Paddington the Bear.

Holland America Lines' MS Oosterdam is in the port of Kerkyra, Corfu, for a single day. Most passengers are walking around town or are on three- or four-hour local excursions like "Panoramic Corfu" ($54) or "Corfu and Mon Repo Palace" ($59).

On the bus

My "Albanian Adventure" tour is listed as lasting a total of seven hours. And it's pricey: $221. "Strenuous," warns the cruise line brochure. "Roads are bumpy. Insect repellent is strongly recommended." All of this makes me think that two, maybe three other passengers will leave the clean and comfortable cocoon of the ship and sign up. But as we roar out of the port, my Orange No. 6 bus is completely full.

Up front is our Albanian guide, a tanned middle-aged man with golden edges around his upper teeth. When he tells us his name, we nod. But it's a difficult sound. Later I sneak a look at his badge: Vangjel Xhani of SIPA Tours. Xhani lives in the capital city, Tirana. He has two backup careers. "I am also," he tells us "a professor and a doctor."

The bus is already stopping. "OK," says Xhani, "now we get on board our ship. Albania next stop."

"Look, dad," says a girl of about 10. "We're going inside that blimp." The ship -- actually a hydrofoil -- has a gently rounded shape that makes it seem like it's been inflated. Instead of carrying us across the Ionian Sea, it looks like it's going to float straight up. "Ionian Lines' Flying Dolphin" says the hand-painted sign.

Everyone seems nervous settling in on the Flying Dolphin, in part because the upholstered seatbacks flop forward if you touch them. We tourists are crammed in next to local commuters who have brought knapsacks full of groceries aboard. When the Dolphin starts its engines, it makes a noise that's similar to a blender with the "pulse" button pushed down.

As we hum and bounce our way across the water, two government officials wearing caps and T-shirts work their way through a rainbow stack of passports, stamping each and calling out the name of its owner. You're supposed to get up from your floppy seat to collect it. For lazy passengers who only shout their name, passports are tossed.

In the town

Soon we are seeing Albania for the first time through a churning mist created by the Flying Dolphin. It is not easy to describe.


Picture is that of Saranda Town.

The resort town of Saranda means "Number forty" according to Xhani. "Forty what?" shouts out someone in the back of our group. Xhani doesn't answer. The port area alone displays way more than that number of apartment buildings, condominiums and hotels.

When we land and board another bus, I am grinning as I look around. There is a "Mad Men" 1960s look to the simple, glassy structures and the pictures on signs. Saranda reminds me of a building set I had as a kid. And just as with my set, a lot of the buildings are unfinished.

"It's a boom town," I say to my seatmate, Alison Appelbe of Vancouver. "Or not. It almost looks like they gave up on them."

"It is the second thing," says Xhani, who has overheard me. We are on our way to the ancient Albanian town of Butrint. In truth, we are at a standstill. It is midmorning rush hour in Saranda. The bus feels like the interior of a pizza oven.


Picture above is of ancient ruins of Butrint Saranda Albania

"Somebody ask," says Xhani, "why the buildings empty. Well, I tell you." There is a silence. "It's a bad bank," he explains. "Bad bank."

A woman up front isn't satisfied with the explanation. "Well," says Xhani confidentially, switching off the microphone and softening his tone. "You see, some investment companies have created pyramid fraud. In the 1990s, the pyramid collapse. People are bankrupt. Do you understand?" We do.

A man with sunglasses is telling Xhani about Bernie Madoff. He seems pleasantly surprised. "We are former Communist country," he announces. "It make some people lazy. But not now. Not now." Xhani waves his hand proudly at the trucks and buses that make up the traffic jam just outside.

"Only few years ago, we have 800 cars in all Albania," he adds. "Now our favorite car? Mercedes!" I don't see any, but I take Xhani's word for it.

Beyond the port

Finally we are out of the gridlock and winding through fields and farms. "For the cultivation of watermelon," explains Xhani. We pass an enormous lake or inlet that's speckled with wooden posts for farming mussels. It's as long as a Scottish loch and as blue as the sky.

"Well known, well known!" says Xhani about either lake or shellfish.

Just as we pull into Butrint, Xhani fills us in on a few more facts. It's an hour earlier in Albania than in Corfu.



The country has a population of about 4 million. John Belushi and Mother Teresa were of Albanian descent. And, although it's cloudy right now in Butrint, we're told that "each year, Albania has more than 300 days of sun."

Visiting the ruins in Butrint National Park is like getting a private tour of Athens' ancient agora or the Roman forum. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are no tickets or lines. In fact, there's no one else around. We're guided by Xhani past the remains of Greek temples from the fourth century B.C. and leftovers from the Roman colony that Julius and Augustus Caesar founded.

It is so eerily quiet at the Lion Gate, a famous doorway with its relief of a lion ripping into part of a bull, that for a second I have the sense that what we're seeing isn't dead. Someone will appear in the doorway. Motion us away. Or, scarier, invite us in.

The perils of history

Sandals are shuffling on gravel. Frogs are peeping from somewhere back in the bushes. A steady humming comes from the mimosa trees above. Xhani motions us to stop and listen.

The hum is just a bass note. Above it is a snappy beat that sounds like it's being tapped out by castanets. On top of that is a kind of chirping that, the more we listen, seems to strain for melody -- simple, repetitive -- but enough to pass as a tune.

Listen, says Xhani again. "Many kind of insect here!"

The group is eager to move on. "Wait, wait!" urges Xhani. But passengers are slapping and scratching. A cloud of gnats is rising out of the grass. Something is biting me on the soft side of my foot, just above my flip-flop.

Finally, waving shirts and jackets, we get away from the swarm. "What was that?" asks a woman waving a spray can of all-natural repellent.

"Bugs!" exclaims Xhani with excitement. "But it is not more than usual," he adds. He seems slightly disappointed.

Our brochure points us to a circular baptistry that's more recent than many of the ruins here, dating from the sixth century A.D. Since I always crave detail in these places, I'm glad to see that it's dotted with mosaics. We get to an ancient theater that everyone takes pictures of. Only the Greek gymnasium is disappointing: It is underwater. I can see a fish darting between two submerged stones.

A tasty stop

Back on the little walkway, we encounter a group of locals sipping coffee. Some are resting on benches. All raise palms to greet us. Why are they here? No one is sure. In an olive grove there is a uniformed guard. He smiles. We smile back. He points the way ahead.

A ray of sun picks out a rim of stones in another ruin that looks worth exploring. But we are late for lunch.

The bus driver races us to a restaurant at the top of a hill. Xhani remains seated, knowing about the corkscrew driveway that spirals us up to the patio and eatery. From up here, we can look down on a stretch of yellow beaches and an aquamarine sea that bleeds to green near the shore.

An Albanian lunch is set out for us on tables with paper cloths and bottles of Tirana beer. The label shows a tower and a two-headed eagle. "That's the national symbol," explains a man in our group who is peeling his off as a souvenir.

First comes a salad that looks Greek with its cucumbers and goat cheese. Some kind of yogurt sauce is delivered along with bread and the freshest hummus I've ever tasted. I am feeling full.

"Wait!" says Xhani as two or three people push back from their plates. "It isn't finish. Here come the fish!" We end up with two more courses, plus bowls of fruit for dessert.

"You will come back?" says our waiter in slowly perfect English. He is gravely concerned. "Come tomorrow," he suggests. "For special soup."

I'd like to come back, I say. I'd like to try it.

Someday some of us may return to taste the mussels from the saltwater lake. Or buy the watermelons that are grown in Albania's fields.

Most of all, I am hoping to do my part to fill an empty hotel.

On the bus, we see a pair of men saluting us from distant tractors. Another time I would like to meet them. To raise my palm. To shake their hands.

But it cannot be today. Xhani is speaking. Passengers are dozing. The Flying Dolphin awaits.

Peter Mandel of Providence, R.I., is a freelance travel writer who also writes children's books.

Source: startribune.com
trokit ketu


[ Edited Wed Apr 28 2010, 12:16pm ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Tue May 18 2010, 02:36pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania




This map shows where Albanians live in most parts in Balkan.


Thousands of Bunkers in Albania Converted into Hotels and Bars with Stunning Views



BalkanTravellers.com


18 May 2010 | In Albania, projects to convert some of the 750,000 bunkers built during Enver Hoxha’s totalitarian regime and scattered all over the country into hotels, cottages and bars are underway.

The estimated three quarters of a million mushroom-shaped bunkers, an article by the TreeHugger media outlet noted, now present an apportunity for creative repurposing and reuse.

Some of the remnants have been turned into restaurants, while others are used for making wine, and others yet have become sustainable eco-resorts.

Hoxha, who came to power in late 1944 and ruled Albania for more than 40 years until his death in 1985, led the Balkan nation into isolation, first from the West, and then from the communist bloc in Eastern Europe, including the former Soviet Union.

His obsession about a potential NATO or Warsaw Pact attack on Albania triggered a large-scale push to defend the country against invasion. Reports ahead of Albania's NATO entry in April of 2009 quoted Maliq Sadushi, a deputy defence minister under Hoxha, as recalling that it took experts two years to come up with the formula for the "ideal bunker".

The first thick-walled, domed structures made of concrete and iron popped up in 1968. In the following eight years, a network of an estimated 750,000 bunkers mushroomed along Albania's sea and land borders and in its interior. According to some, there were more bunkers than cars in the country.



Albania never needed to use them, as Hoxha's paranoid fears never materialised. Communism in the country of over 3.6 million people ended about five years after the dictator's death, but the hundreds of thousands of ugly, and now mostly abandoned and rundown, bunkers still scar the country's landscape, including its beaches.

Now, a project - “Concrete Mushrooms,” initiated as an idea for research by two Albanian graduate students at Politecnico di Milano, aims to bring attention to the bunkers by studying their history and proposing ways in which Albanians can now coexists with and use them, by transforming these icons of a paranoid past into a symbol of a bright future of the landscape of Albania.

The project’s founding principles are: A critical approach to these bunkers as symbols of xenophobia in order to invert their meaning and change then into symbols of hospitality; The preservation of the bunkers in terms of their link to the memory of an important period of the Albanian history; The recognition of the bunkers as a resource instead of as a burden; The promotion of a sustainable eco-touristic sector in Albania.

The initiative also has a documentary in the making for which a preview is currently available:

Source balkantravellers.com
All rights Reserved ®Travellers Ltd.
trokit ketu


[ Edited Tue May 18 2010, 02:37pm ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Wed May 26 2010, 05:15pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania




This map shows where Albanians live in most parts in Balkan.


Albania travel ideas: beaches, history, cities



Albania’s beaches, culture and capital, Tirana, make it one of Europe’s new travel hotspots.


Until recently, Albania was one of the world’s most closed-off and strictly controlled countries. With the fall of a communist dictatorship, Westerners are now welcomed with open arms and the tourism industry is starting to swing.

1) Deserted beaches



Albania boasts some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean.



Known as the Albanian Riviera, there’s a reason why it’s touted the ‘Mediterranean as it once was’.

Protected by the mountains, the peninsula’s rocky bays and sandy, deserted beaches are just waiting for the diving school, beach huts and large-scale tourist development to catch on.

Albania’s best beaches:

Vlora: Tourist town where the Ionian and Adriatic seas meet. Swimming here provides majestic mountain views.

Saranda: A shale and pebble beach with clear azure waters.

Ksamil: A beautiful sandy beach that could rival the Caribbean.

Dhermi: The city is nothing special but the nearby deserted beaches are the only place that trendy locals will go.


2) Unique culture

Hidden within Albania’s snow-capped mountain interior you’ll find elegant Ottoman mansions, historical fortress towns and ancient Greek ruins.

Unlike elsewhere in Europe, Albania offers a glimpse into a culture that is uniquely its own.

In rural villages, sun-aged women with long skirts and headscarves usher along their goat or cow for milking. Local men wear suits, albeit oversized and crumpled, as they barter at the local market.

3) Eat dinner in a war bunker

Although the last couple of years have seen dramatic improvements in the capital city of Tirana, Albania is still recovering from the 40-year rule of communist dictator Enver Hoxha.




You cannot go far in the Albanian countryside without seeing a bunker - concrete domes with ominous black spy holes.



Ironically, Albanians today are using the bunkers in novel ways to attract tourists. On the road to Vlora, artists have converted the otherwise depressing domes into psychedelic art installations, while on the seafront at Durrës, you can have a seafood supper under one concrete mushroom now named Restaurant Bunker.

4) Tirana’s nightlife



In the 20 years since communism ended, Tirana has grown from a sleepy town of a few hundred thousand to a lively, colourful metropolis of one million. With a huge student population, the capital’s outlook is fresh and forward-looking.

The brightly coloured Blloku (Block), the former – strictly off-limits – party leader’s residences, are today home to the city’s best open-air cafes and nightlife, while the grand tree-lined boulevards, built by Italian fascists for parading, are these days better used for romantic evening strolls.

5) Colourful Tirana
Mayor Edi Rama has had a huge hand in Tirana’s transformation. A former painter and sculptor, his love of art has transformed hundreds of ugly communist tower blocks into bright, garish splashes of colour throughout the city.

The capital has changed beyond belief in the last decade from the dull, grey city it once was. From one building covered with horizontal orange and red stripes to another with concentric pink and purple circles, it’s amazing what a lick of paint can do to a city and its psyche.

Albania: Essential information
WHEN TO GO: Summer is peak tourist season when coastal Albania will have a pleasant Mediterranean climate; the mountains often experience heavy snow between November and March.
GETTING THERE: BA flies to Nene Tereza Airport in under three hours from £200. From the airport, take an official taxi to Tirana’s centre for 2,500 lekë.
GETTING AROUND: Buses depart daily from Tirana to towns throughout Albania. You can hire a car, but driving conditions are some of the worst in Europe.
VISAS: South Africans will need to apply for a visa from the Albanian embassy in London, which costs ¤25.
CURRENCY: Lekë (ALL). 1 GBP = 159 ALL.
LANGUAGE: Albanian.
GOING OUT: A beer costs less than £1.
ACCOMMODATION: A hostel bed costs from £25.
GET MORE INFO AT: albaniantourism.com

Related posts:
Albania's first tourist resort
Tour search - Albania
Tunis - Mediterranean chic and seaside cool

Words: Marie Tether

© 2008-2010 TNT
trokit ketu


Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Tue Jun 29 2010, 10:58am
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Albania Taps into Tourism Potential.



Text by Sami Neza for Southeast European Times*


28 June 2010 | With an unspoiled coastline, clean water, medieval castles and Illyrian ruins, Albania has much to offer visitors, yet its potential as a holiday destination remains largely untapped. The government is trying to change that through promotional campaigns and greater attention to tourism infrastructure.

The timing could not be more urgent, as Albania needs new sources of income to keep its economy going. If the efforts succeed, there is hope that increased revenues from a burgeoning tourism sector will help offset the financial woes caused by the global recession.

This year the tourist season opened with paragliding off the southern coast of Albania -- a month earlier then previous years. Major Russian TV stations advertise Albania as a new undiscovered tourist attraction. They are calling it a "small, secret place" in the western Balkans.



"Albania is expecting 3.5 million tourists this year, compared to 3 million last year," said Minister for Tourism Ferdinand Xhaferri for SETimes. "We have significantly improved the road infrastructure and our tourist spots. Promotional ads in many countries are advertising Albanian tourism," he said.

The government has opened tourist offices in cities frequented by visitors. "These offices will deal with tourist complaints among other things and agencies can receive a fine in case of poor service, tourist guide quality, accommodation and other issues," said Xhaferri.

This year Albania is also promoting cultural and mountain tourism. Gjirokastra, a city some 200 km from Tirana, is one of the most visited cities in Albania. It's the birthplace of a prominent writer, Ismail Kadare, and the nation's former communist dictator, Enver Hoxha.

Last year, the city drew 27, 000 visitors. This year the number is expected to be higher.

Also, if interest is Berat, a 2,000-year old city with unique architecture. It is on the UNESCO list of protected sites. Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, visited Berat in May.



Valbona Valley, one of the most beautiful places in Albania, organised a folk festival on June 12th. Agim Selimi, a tour operator, said that the aim was to attract interest in mountain tourism.

"This year a number of public persons and journalists will be invited in order to boost interest," he said. "The road to Valbona has been asphalted this year and is one of the country's most panoramic drives."

Tourism revenues are crucial to Albania's economic prospects. Remittances from Albanians living abroad have slowed down with the global economic downturn. The government hopes Albania's beaches, historic sights and cultural attractions will draw visitors and help fill the revenue gap.



*This text is courtesy of the Southeast European Times (SET), a web site sponsored by the US Department of Defense in support of UN Resolution 1244, designed to provide an international audience with a portal to a broad range of information about Southeastern Europe. It highlights movement toward greater regional stability and steps governments take toward integration into European institutions. SET also focuses on developments that hinder both terrorist activity and support for terrorism in the region.

Read more about Albania from BalkanTravellers.com

Source: balkantravellers.com
trokit ketu


[ Edited Tue Jun 29 2010, 11:03am ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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guest
Fri Jul 09 2010, 10:12pm
Registered Member #1283
Joined: Fri Sep 28 2007, 12:35am

Posts: 4466
sa vend te bukur kena, gjithkush mahnitet tu pa bukurit natyrore dhe na nuk po dim me e shfrytzu taman. para disa javesh me pyti njeni, fotograf amator se prej ka jam edhe i thashe jam shqiptar. nuk ja kishte idene se ku i bjen shqipnia . ja shpjegova se ku asht edhe i thashe asht vend shum i bukur dhe ke cfare te dush, lumej, liqene, det me ran e det me shkami, male te nalta e pyje plot, kala te vjetra po ma mir i thashe shko e kerko ne internet edhe e shef vet. kur dje erdhi me vrap edhe me tha se kishte kerku dhe ishte habit sa i bukur ishte si vend, kishte gjet i website qe futshin foto turista te ndryshem dhe te gjithe e rekomandoshin si vend. kyt vit tha do te shkoj ne austri por vitin tjeter nuk e la pa shku dhe do te vi edhe t'i tregoj fotot qe do te baj. shumica jone edhe kur shkojn e shajn dhe te hujt e rekomandojn me shku, nuk dim me jetu edhe pik.

[ Edited Fri Jul 09 2010, 10:13pm ]


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L - N
Mon Jul 12 2010, 10:08am
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Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania


Kosovo trip dispels common stereotypes






Kosova



BY MARY KAY SWEIKAR
Commercial-News

PRISTINA, Kosovo — When well-wishing family and friends learned my husband and I planned to stay in Kosovo for a week during our recent European travels, they expressed understandable concern: “Where in the world is Kosovo?” and “Isn’t it dangerous there?”

But not until we spent a week living in Pristina, the vibrant capital of this developing country, could I say with confidence that Kosovo is a safe, beautiful, and exciting place to visit.



My son, Michael Sweikar (1999 Schlarman High School graduate) had already done work in this Balkan country on three different occasions, and he was completing another 2-month assignment there when we decided to visit him. Michael works for the international division of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), a non-profit organization based in Arlington, Va., specializing in international legal development.

Based on my son’s sound judgment and experience, I had reason to believe that visiting this newest nation in the world would be a worthwhile and fulfilling experience.

Kosovars love Americans, and they are abundantly thankful for U.S. assistance during and after their war for independence from Serbian rule in 1999. These are people who proudly fly the American flag, display a statue of President Bill Clinton on a major thoroughfare and celebrate the U.S. Fourth of July.

In recent years most visitors to Kosovo have been people who went there as part of the U.S. government’s mission, including diplomats, soldiers or development consultants. In the past, few Americans thought of Kosovo as a tourist destination, but that is changing.

Squeezed into a relatively small area, Kosovo offers a pleasing mixture of modern culture and tradition, as well as beautiful landscapes to admire — breathtaking mountain peaks, densely forested hills, spectacular waterfalls and abundant roses and wildflowers.

Visitors will discover fascinating cultural treasures — Ottoman-era buildings, stone houses, churches, mosques, medieval fresco paintings and many statues of political leaders and war heroes. There also is a statue of Mother Teresa and a boulevard in the capital city that is named after this saintly Albanian woman, who is revered worldwide.

It’s true that Pristina lacks some of the amenities that most of us have come to expect. For example, the water supply is shut off in parts of the city at 11 p.m. and returns with a loud “swish” at 6 a.m. the next morning. There are unannounced power interruptions, and passing several vehicles at a time on winding mountain roads is the norm.

The food in the restaurants we visited was well-prepared, though, and was served elegantly by the wait staff. We found fruit and vegetable stands everywhere, and small meat shops displayed whole lambs and legs of beef and pork in their windows. Crusty breads, delicious pastries, and morning coffee (macchiato) were served in cafes and restaurants. When compared to American prices, the cost of food, clothing, and personal items in Kosovo is relatively low, even though dollars were worth less than euros at the time.

The average age in Pristina is only 25. The young women dress in clinging jeans or short skirts, and 4-inch shoes or boots. For the most part, they tend to dress more formally than Americans do, and they all wear dark suits for official business meetings. Stylishly dressed male and female mannequins are lined up like soldiers outside the tiny clothing stores, even during a heavy rain.


Prizren


Story of Kosovo

The Republic of Kosovo is a landlocked, mostly mountainous country about the size of Connecticut, with a little more than 2 million people. The region was ruled by many different ethnic groups throughout history, including the Slavs, Bulgarians, Serbs and Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman Empire ruled Kosovo for centuries, until Serbia resumed control over the region in 1913. In 1918, Kosovo became part of the Yugoslav Federation.

In 1998, the Yugoslav army and Serbian police began fighting against the Kosovo Liberation Army, but their brutal tactics were concentrated on the ethnic Albanian civilians who made up more than 90 per cent of the country. Kosovo’s Albanian leaders attempted to break away from Serbia using non-violent methods, but Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic cracked down brutally to stifle their efforts for independence.

After the NATO intervention to stop the inhumane treatment of the Kosovo Albanians, Serbia finally agreed to a peace accord. More than 900 Kosovars were killed in the 11 weeks of fighting, and nearly a million people were forced to flee their homes without adequate food and shelter.

Although other sections of Yugoslavia prospered, the wars of the 20th Century left the province of Kosovo poor and underdeveloped. Nevertheless, on Feb. 17, 2008, the Republic of Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia.

All this rich history makes Kosovo a unique and diverse country to visit. There are building and road signs lettered in three languages: Albanian, Serbian and Turkish. Muslim mosques and Orthodox monasteries co-exist, and elderly Albanian men wear the distinguishing white, fitted cap called a plise. Turkish women wearing their traditional costumes mingle with the young Albanians who are stylishly dressed in American fashions.

In Kosovo you can hear a wide range of recorded music in the trendy shops and cafes — from traditional pipe songs, to Albanian rap, to Michael Jackson and American musical hits of the 1980s.

Most people associate Kosovo only with the highly publicized war between the Albanians and the Serbs more than a decade ago, but one local Kosovar told me that “Conditions here are a thousand times better than they were 10 years ago, during the war. I was still a student back then, when my family fled the country and stayed with friends in Albania. I’m proud to return to Kosovo and work for an organization that is helping our beautiful country to rebuild.”

U.S. helps

Thanks to the United States and European nation agencies and volunteers, millions of dollars and invaluable human resources have been poured into helping Kosovo get back on its feet.

The National Center for State Courts is a non-profit organization that continues to do good work in Kosovo. Under a USAID-funded project (www.drejtesia-ks.org/?cid2,1) NCSC is helping to establish a modern, functional judicial system that can better serve the citizens of Kosovo. During our time there, we were privileged to attend the inauguration of the recently renovated court in Prizren (about two hours from Pristina).

On that same day, we especially enjoyed participating in the Children’s Day events at a grade school in Prizren. NCSC has provided the second graders in schools throughout Kosovo with “Let’s Learn About Law” coloring books, along with boxes of crayons that were donated by people back in the United States. The students waved both American and Albanian flags, and some were dressed in their traditional costumes.

There are opportunities to assist the effort in Kosovo through the National Center for State Courts. Donations to buy Crayola crayons can be sent to benefit the school children in Kosovo (http://www.ncscinternational.org/Projects/Kosovo_coloring_book_series.asp

© 2010 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. ·
trokit ketu


[ Edited Sat Jul 31 2010, 09:44am ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Mon Jul 12 2010, 10:50am
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania





Kosovo on the rise
They embrace their newfound peace, and they embrace Americans too



Kosova



PRISTINA, Kosovo — The moment I deplaned at Pristina International Airport, I felt the new vitality that had emerged in the eight years since my last visit here.



The crush of people waiting to retrieve luggage was just as frenetic, but instead of mostly solemn-faced men in black leather jackets shoving their way to the baggage carousel, this crowd was composed of young families with small children, 20-somethings in designer duds, a swarm of U.S. teens on a community-service trip, and men and women in business attire. Instead of armed Russian KFOR troops ( NATO-led Kosovo Force) barking orders at the crowd, smiling young men and women in uniforms circulated among the new arrivals, asking if they could help with accommodations or transport.

Kosovo has been independent from Serbia since February 2008. It has a long and colorful history and considerable natural beauty, but many still associate the nation about the size of Iowa with war, and few travelers consider it a vacation destination.


My daughter-in-law Sanja met me at the airport, and as we covered the 10 miles to the city, I slipped into a then-and-now comparison. In 2002 the airport road was an obstacle course on a dirt-and-gravel strip that wound between weed-covered lots dotted with "beware of land mine" signs. It was us against crater-size potholes, slow-moving military vehicles and wrong-way drivers in smoke-belching Yugos.

This time our ride on smooth, new pavement was crowded with Audis, BMWs and environmentally friendly compacts. Glass and steel buildings housing luxury auto showrooms, gas stations, home-supply megastores and even a few water parks occupied the lots.

As we approached Pristina, a Paul Bunyan-size image of a smiling Bill Clinton painted on a high-rise greeted traffic. The words beneath former President Clinton's likeness read: "Welcome to Bill Clinton Boulevard," a clear message he remains a hero of epic proportion in Kosovo. There's even talk of building a park named for Clinton to enshrine an 11-foot-tall gilded statue of him unveiled in November 2009.



In 2002 most Pristina dwellings were run-down socialist towers covered with laundry lines and satellite dishes; streets and restaurants were often empty. Now the satellite dishes are gone, new construction is everywhere, and restaurant business has picked up because "Kosovo has cable now, and people have a little more money to go out for dinner," Sanja told me.

Flowers and flags were the biggest tipoff that Kosovo had changed. Eight years ago Kosovars' most urgent priorities were food, jobs and healing after war. There was no room for floral frivolities. Flying an Albanian flag near a Serb neighborhood had the power to set off a fight and vice versa. This time botanical color was visible on tables, in window boxes, on fences and along sidewalks, and Kosovo's new flag was flying but seldom alone. Usually it was flanked by the Stars and Stripes, the European Union banner and others.

The next morning in the apartment that Sanja and my son Greg share, I opened my eyes to the first of the day's five Muslim calls to prayer, which simultaneously emanate from loud speakers mounted on Pristina's 200 minarets. In 2002 I awoke to the cries of feral dogs that roamed Pristina's streets, and the prayer calls were silent, as many of the city's Albanian Muslim majority were keeping a low profile after the war.

We had a packed itinerary and left early for the museum city of Prizren 50 miles southwest of Pristina. Prizren is Kosovo's historical and cultural center, the site of many seminal events since its founding in Byzantine times. It also is the country's most ethnically diverse region, home to Albanians, Turks, Serbs, Bosnians and others.

A 16th century stone bridge that spans the Lumbardh River in Prizren's center is the city's most recognizable landmark. Others include the Sinan Pasha Mosque in the city center, elaborate Orthodox churches and the rebuilt League of Prizren building with its ethnographic museum. We also stopped at the 15th century Gazi Mehmet Pasha Hamam (an Ottoman bathhouse), but we got only a peek at its intricate woodwork and blue-and-white paintings because it is under renovation.

Prizren's cache of Ottoman buildings was virtually untouched during the 1998-99 war, but postwar ethnic violence and Albanian retaliation for destruction of the original League of Prizren building caused extensive damage to many Serbian churches. A guard on the grounds of the19th century Serbian Orthodox Church of St. George told us the building was closed for repair after being burned by rioting Albanians in March 2004. As a result, St. George's and other Orthodox churches and monasteries in Kosovo still are ringed with barbed wire and guarded by KFOR troops.


Prizren


We decided to have breakfast and found a bakery where Sanja purchased cheese-filled burek while we ordered espresso at a coffee bar on Sadervan Square. Our table in front of a public fountain in the square turned out to be a great spot for people watching. We were treated to a parade of children, city workers, women in traditional Muslim dress and shoppers stopping to fill pails, take a drink, wash their hands or just splash around.


Prizren


When we went to get our car to head for Gjakova, the parking attendant approached us with a dour look that immediately changed to a smile and handshakes all around when he realized we were Americans. This is not unusual in Kosovo, which in my experience is the only mostly Muslim nation that openly loves the U.S. and its people.

Gjakova


Gjakova is 25 miles north of Prizren and should have been a 40-minute ride, but it took us almost two hours because it was wedding season in Kosovo. We encountered no fewer than two dozen wedding caravans clogging the roads with cars carrying people waving white cloths out windows while horns honked and music blasted from car radios. I saw similar processions eight years ago, but mostly they celebrated the release of Albanian prisoners of war.



When we finally reached Gjakova, we headed for the Carshia, a bazaar set in wooden stalls with carved shutters. The market is from the 16th century, but the original buildings burned to the ground in 1999. They have been rebuilt, and Carshia is unique in Gjakova, though the town also has its share of museums, mosques and historic sites.

Our next stop would have been Peja and its 13th century monastery, but we instead detoured to Rahoveci to taste the new vintage at the Stone Castle winery, one of Kosovo's largest. We noticed a framed photograph of Clinton hanging on the wall along with the winery's awards and licenses.

Peja


Because we were determined to see a monastery that day, we chose Decani, an hour northwest of the winery. Italian KFOR troops outside the monastery gates examined our papers and held our passports while we went in, a procedure unchanged from 2002.

Peja

While in the monastery, we were approached by a young monk named Peter, who spoke excellent English. He asked if we wanted to see more than the church and invited us for tea and sesame honey cookies. When we finished, he showed us the monks' living quarters and the art studio where they create icons for Orthodox churches all over the world, and explained the monks' concept of community. He showed us Decani's state-of-the-art woodshop, then took us to the wine cellar. Our impromptu visit lasted more than two hours.


Copyright © 2010, Chicago Tribune
trokit ketu


Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Sun Jul 18 2010, 11:25am
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania

Albania: A Balkan country sheds its secret past




This map shows where Albanians live in most parts in Balkan.


By Carol Pucci

Seattle Times travel writer


Valter Mio, 22, was just a toddler when his family opened a four-table restaurant inside his grandfather's house in the mountain town of Berati in southern Albania.



Berat


What began as one of the first private businesses to open in 1993, after the fall of communism, is now the Hotel Mangalemi, a boutique inn, surrounded by pine forests and whitewashed villas wedged into terraced hillsides.

In a stone house where an Ottoman king once slept, guests sip cocktails on a rooftop deck and eat homemade sausages and desserts of honey and walnuts. In a country where religion was once banned, they awake to the sounds of church bells and the Muslim call to prayer.

Valter smiled and patted his stomach when I complimented the roast chicken and stuffed peppers his mother had cooked the night before. As satisfying as the meal was the bill, $17 for two.


Berat


If Berati were a town in Greece or Italy, it would be filled with tourists roaming its 13th-century castle, and peering into its ancient mosques and Byzantine churches. Berati was designated a "museum city" by the government in the 1960s, and its historical architecture was preserved.

But this was Albania, and my husband, Tom, and I were among just a few foreigners.

Isolated from the rest of Europe and most of the world for nearly 50 years by its dictator, Enver Hoxha, Albania, Valter reminded us, was a country where 20 years ago, "even the idea of owning a private hotel or restaurant was not allowed."

The borders were sealed. Private cars and phones were banned. What little learned Albanians knew about the outside, they gleaned from patching into Italian TV or Voice of America.

Like politics, a free press and religion, tourism in Albania, said Valter, is evolving, "slowly, slowly."

Outside on the Berati streets, sidewalk vendors offered roasted sunflower seeds in paper cones and sour plums the size of cherry tomatoes as we joined in the ritual evening stroll along the riverfront.

Inside the castle walls, where families still live in stone houses tucked along cobbled streets too narrow for cars, a woman peered out of her doorway and motioned us inside.

Over tiny cups of coffee, we sat in her living room and chatted a while, using a few Albanian words and some Italian. Then she went behind a chair and pulled out a plastic water bottle filled with raki, a clear alcohol Albanians offer as a gesture of hospitality.

Tirana today

As memories of the Bosnian war and ethnic conflicts of the early 1990s fade, the Balkan countries of Croatia and Montenegro in the former Yugoslavia are drawing travelers looking for less expensive alternatives to Western Europe.


Tirana


Like its neighbors, Albania, a country slightly smaller than the state of Maryland, has historic towns with architecture evoking 500 years of rule by the Ottoman Turks; archaeological sites with Greek and Roman ruins; mountains and seaside resorts along a long stretch of Mediterranean coastline.

With its leftover communist-style buildings and half-finished construction projects, the capital of Tirana is hardly Paris or London. But no longer is it the city of garbage-strewn streets and beggars that travel writer Paul Theroux described in his 1995 book "The Pillars of Hercules."

In the Blloku neighborhood, villas once reserved for the communist-party elite house smart cafes where Tiranians sip cocktails on outdoor patios furnished with sofas and armchairs.

One night we joined a journalist friend at a restaurant called Shakesbeer owned by an Albanian chef who worked in London.

Walking along a wide boulevard built before World War II by Italian invaders for military parades, we passed the former government-owned Hotel Dajti, now closed, and the white marble pyramid built as a mausoleum for Hoxha.

A bronze plaque marks a street named Presidenti George W. Bush in honor of his visit in 2007, remembered for the cheering crowds that greeted him (Bush was a supporter of neighboring Kosovo's independence) and his watch that was either lost or stolen in the crush.

"Albanians love Americans and America," our friend explained. As it was in Berati, people were friendly and anxious to talk.

A man sitting across from us at a pizza restaurant our first day in town told us that he spent time working in the U.S. during the war in Kosovo, and earned enough money to pay for his wedding.

When he got up to leave, he offered to buy us an espresso. My husband, Tom, explained he doesn't drink coffee. "Beer then," he said, and told the waitress our drinks were on him.

Into the countryside

I had a personal reason for wanting to know more about Albania. We found out only recently that my grandfather was born in the southern Italian village of Greci. The town was abandoned by the Greeks, then settled by Albanian soldiers in the 15th century as a reward for the help the Albanian war hero, Skanderbeg, gave Neapolitan kings in fighting insurgents. Many in Greci still speak an Albanian dialect, and everyone from there, including my family, has Albanian roots.

Away from Tirana, rugged mountains form the backdrop for Albania's rural villages and seaside towns. We traveled on buses and shared vans, called furgons. Two-lane roads cut through a countryside strewn with dome-shaped concrete bunkers left over from the Hoxha years.

Locals steer travelers to the Greek and Roman ruins in the ancient city of Butrinti and the nearby beaches in the coastal town of Saranda across from the Greek island of Corfu. More memorable than any sites, though, were the experiences we had and the people we met while traveling in a country where tourists are few.


Butrint Saranda


On one of our long bus rides, we sampled pace, the national breakfast dish made from parts of a sheep's head. It was early morning on the Llogara Pass, the highest point on the southern coastline. T


Llogara Vlore


The driver stopped at a mountain restaurant, and the waiters brought out bowls of what looked like a thick soup. It was pace, and despite our initial inhibitions, the soup was delicious.

In the town of Gjirokastra, we met Haxhi and Vita Kotoni, owners of the Kotoni House, the first private hotel to open after the communist government fell.


Gjirokastra


Using UNESCO funds, they renovated Haxhi's 300-year-old family home as a B&B decorated with carved wooden ceilings and Vita's embroidered pillows and woven rugs.

As Hoxha's birthplace and Albania's second "museum city," Gjirokastra, like Berati, received special attention. Built into a steep hillside below a castle and above a modern university town are Ottoman-era stone houses, some restored, others abandoned and awaiting money for repairs.

Ruins and Red Bull


The port city of Durres on the Adriatic Sea was our last stop before crossing to Italy on an overnight ferry.





Durres


Within a few blocks walk in the historic center were the remains of a 2nd-century Roman amphitheater, a shop selling 30-cent scoops of Red Bull-flavored ice cream and a bar in the turret of a Venetian watch tower.



I thought about the conversation Theroux had with a man named Fatmir as the writer was preparing to leave on a ferry for Greece.

"I hope you come back in 10 years," Fatmir told Theroux. "You will find that the houses are better, the town is better, the port is better, the food is better and I am better."

He was right. Slowly, slowly, Albania is changing.

Carol Pucci: 206-464-3701 or -email-

Source: Copyright © 2010 The Seattle Times Company

trokit ketu



Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Wed Jul 21 2010, 04:30pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Correspondent's diary, Day Four: The Albanian-Montenegrin border and beyond



Jul 20th 2010, 1:42 by T.J.| BECICI, MONTENEGRO

I have been doing these roads for 20 years or so, so I know what to look out for and what has changed. We are on the road now, heading out of Shkoder. Usually I am heading for Podgorica, in which case I head north over Lake Skadar, as the Montenegrins call it. Today I am ducking south, under the lake to hit the coast road in Montenegro.

Years ago this used to be a seriously dirt poor area. It is still poor, but nothing like what it was before.

The population structure of Albania has radically changed in 20 years. Today the country has some 3m inhabitants, give or take. But that is the same as 20 years ago. Now however there may be a million Albanians working abroad, sending home remittances. But the fact that Albanians have gone abroad is not the only change. The second huge shift is that many villages have emptied, as the rural population has come down from the hills and often, in effect, replaced the townspeople who have gone abroad.



Ten years ago Shkoder and its outlying areas still looked as poor as ever. New building was concentrated on what they call the Durres-Tirana corridor. But then it began to spread up here too. In the south migrants go to Greece, but up here they go mostly to Italy. But it is not just because it is close. Shkoder has always been the bastion of Albanian Catholicism so it has long had strong links with Italy.



Shkoder


Today, modern houses is pastel colours line the roads on the plain out of Shkoder and often you can tell what religion the family is. If they are Catholic a crucifix tops the wrought iron gates of the family property. In Shkoder itself an invisible line runs through town.



Shkoder


Catholics on the one side, Muslims on the other.



Shkoder


A couple of years ago I crossed the border here. At Muriqan on the Albanian side there was a hut and at Sukobin on the other, a small Montenegrin police and customs post. Then I was coming with my family for the day and you still had to pay the now abolished $10 entry fee to Albania, which we joked was a lot cheaper than taking the kids out to anything back home. This time I am coming the other way but it is all change round here. Humble huts have gone and in their place we have something I have only read about in what seemed like (a) very complicated and (b) very boring EU documents. The result is great.



You arrive at a brand new border and customs post. You hand in your passport to an Albanian and then, instead of getting it back, and then driving forward a few hundred metres and repeating the process all over again, a Montenegrin gives it back to you. It is an integrated border post with the police and customs officers from both countries literally under the same roof. But could all this worthy EU investment have been in vain? On June 28 the presidents of Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia met and discussed the formation of a Balkan “mini Schengen”. The idea is to imitate Europe’s 25 member Schengen zone within which passport controls have been abolished. For the ex-Yugoslavs of course, that would be back to the future, wouldn’t it?

On the other side of the border, inside Montenegro, we are still driving through Albanian-inhabited villages.



Then you cross another invisible line and everyone is an Orthodox Montenegrin.

Montenegro


I stop for coffee with some friends in a little fishing village cum resort on the coast that I am not going to name.


Montenegro


They are getting their house ready for the summer, white-washing the flats they rent out. We pass a restaurant with no menu outside and no enticements for anyone to come in. Glum and bored looking staff sit around doing nothing. My friends explain that the owner of the restaurant actually bought it to launder money. I ask my friends how they know that. Well, they laugh, because we know the manager and he says he spends all day writing bills! What seems odd really is why you would not use your restaurant to make more money by serving food, as well as just using it to launder money.



All along the coast are billboards in Russian. They are mostly for property companies advertising holiday flats. The Russians have always had a soft spot for the Montenegrins. In 1698 Russian noblemen were sent to train as naval officers in Perast, then Venetian. Close links were also established between Russia and that part of Montenegro not under the Turks. In 1715 Danilo l Petrovic-Njegos, Montenegro’s prince-bishop visted the Tsar in St Petersburg. Today, Russians flock here on holiday for more than sentimental reasons though. This tiny patch of coast must be the only European shore of the Mediterranean (barring little bit of Turkish Thrace I suppose) that they can actually get to without having to gather sheaves of documents in order to obtain and pay for a visa.

Source: Copyright © The Economist Newspaper Limited 2010.
trokit ketu


Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Sat Jul 31 2010, 10:23am
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania


Travel destinations: Albania





by Efstathios Poulitsis
Traveling in Albania is like travelling in the past, which is great if you want to experience a taste of how things were before the benefits of modern amenities.

It’s probably worth travelling there now before it becomes the next concrete block tourist center of the Mediterranean, but those who appreciate their home comforts may not take to the basic style. Even if you have a sense of adventure you may well be frustrated at the length of time it takes to get anywhere on the roads which have more hazardous pot holes than the average war zone, but the young and sturdy should enjoy it.

Some of the sights make the pot holes worth while though and it’s rare to be able to travel in a country which has so recently thrown off the yoke of communism. You may be disappointed if you expect to see the Albanian men sitting up all night with their shotguns guarding the vegetable patches as custom once had it, but the national poverty has sent one third of the male population overseas looking for work. Still the touristic coffers will be handy for the growth of the nation’s wealth and it won’t break the personal kitty either getting around or spending in Albania.


Velipoj Shkoder


It’s a rare to find a country so recently used to independence, as Albania has been dominated by the Greeks, the Romans and the Turks, and influenced by all in both architecture and food. Communism and criminal elements dominated the latter half of the twentieth century, and it is only now that Albania is allowed to come into its own once again.

The country is actually beautiful in parts if you can overlook the concrete mess of Tirana and the overflowing rubbish. The coastline is still unspoilt and relatively undeveloped which makes it fantastic for quiet beaches.


Shnjin or Shengjin Lezha


The real attraction of the country though is the mountains which in winter turn into the snow covered Albanian Alps.


Bjeshkt e Nemura Shkoder.



You can travel and discover lakes, rivers and gorges, whilst hoping to spot some of the still roaming lynx, wolves and bears.


Thethi


Hospitality is good in the small villages where communication may be difficult but established over a serving of sheep’s head soup, or a traditional lunch of mutton in yogurt sauce.


Vermosh shkoder


Albanian food is influenced by both Greek and Turkish cuisine so you can recognize some of the dishes of shish kebabs, koftes and byrek, the latter being meatballs and pies. Fresh vegetables and salads are available too, but be careful if you aren’t used to the local firewater raki which sends grown

men into stupors.

There are a few absolutely must see spots to visit on your travels. Butrint is the famous archeological site near the coast where you can find the Temple of Aesclepios and the Acropolis (not the other Acropolis in Athens).


Butrint, Saranda


The museum city of Gjirokastra is definitely worth a visit to see the medieval tower houses and castle.


Gjirokastra


Kruje is considered by many to be the most important destination in Albania as it was the hometown of the national hero Gjergy Kastrioti Skanderbeg who fought off the Ottoman Empire for almost a quarter of a century.


Kruje Kalaja


The town houses the museum of Skanderbeg and the ancient castle and citadel which have been partially restored and is a definite must for a visit.

Museum of Gjergj Kastrioti "Scanderbeg"



Kruj town houses



Pazari Krujs



Durres is another ancient city to include in your travels and houses a Roman amphitheatre and an archaeological museum.


Durres


For a number of reasons I wouldn’t recommend Albania for women travelling alone, who could well end up being targeted by the local men looking for a foreign passport after a few dismal chat up lines. For guys who can look after themselves well the country shouldn’t present any problems beyond the odd police stop if driving. Dress down and try not to stand out as a relatively wealthy foreigner and make the most of your travels.

Copyright © 2002-2010 Helium, Inc. All rights reserved
trokit ketu


[ Edited Sat Jul 31 2010, 10:34am ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Sat Jul 31 2010, 12:02pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania :Cool off in Kosovo’s Hot Summer







Kosova


Ok, so it has hardly been a scorcher of a summer yet. But when it finally gets hot in Pristina, it will also get sticky, polluted and altogether unpleasant. To help remedy this situation, Balkan Insight has drawn up a list of destinations where you can escape the oppressive heat with the refreshing coolness of water.


Gracanica Hacienda Pool



Leave Pristina on hot summer days to go to the outskirts of Gracanica and you will find Hacienda Pool surrounded by nature. For the modest price of 1.5 euro you can enjoy the open-air pool. Drinks and fast food are offered. Hacienda Pool is on the right side of the road going right from the roundabout of Gracanica. To reach Hacienda drive past the monastery in Gracanica and take the first right.

Mirusha Waterfalls



Mirusha is one of the best places to cool off in Kosovo, thanks to the cool mountain water and stunning scenery. It can get a bit busy around the lower pools at the weekends, but if you are willing to take a hike to one of the dozens of waterfalls up stream, you can escape the crowds.



To get there from Pristina, take the road to Peja and turn off at the Gjakova road. Around 8km further along you’ll see a sign for Mirusha in Albanian. Park by the restaurant and follow the river for 20minutes until you reach the falls.

Germia Pool



Germia pool is a few minutes outside of Pristina, on the edge of GermiaPark. The large pool is absolutely heaving on hot summer days with an entrance fee of only 1.5 euro. Surrounded by high trees of Germia Park, the large pool is a relaxing place in the week, frequented by all ages. There are a bar and restaurants within walking distance.

Swiss Wellness Centre

On the road from Pristina to Mitrovica, around 20 minutes outside the capital, you will find the Swiss Wellness Centre on the right. Apart from the indoor swimming pool, sauna, steam bath and other services, the centre also has an open-air swimming pool in the summer, where you can enjoy a swim away from the noise of the city.

Batlava Lake



Batlava Lake is an artificial lake originally built to supply Pristina and its surroundingswith water. It’s now also used for swimming by many and is a beautiful spot at all times of the year, unless the hordes have descended with their rubbish. There are plenty of kebab stalls around and the woods and some decent restaurants. You can also rent a small boat or pedalo to enjoy the water. Batlava is a 30-minute-drive from Pristina. Turn off the Podujevo road where it is signposted to Orllan.

Badovc Lake



Badovc Lake is situated in the Gollak Mountains, to the south-east of Pristina on the road to Gjilan. The lake has an area of 2.57 km² and is used as one of the main sources of water for the territory of Pristina. Because of its surrounding picturesque environment, it has become a popular tourist destination during spring and summer for picnickers and fishermen. Swimmers give it mixed reports, as it can get quite muddy.

Dhermi, Albania



Ok, it is a bit more of a drive to southern Albania, but it has to be one of the best choices for a weekend’s watery relaxation. Don’t bother with busy Dhermi itself, but pick the next door beach of Drymades, with its couple of bars and hotels, or one of the neighbouring deserted options. It’s about an eight-hour drive from Pristina along the new highway, so it’s worth making a long weekend of it. Rooms book up in August, so it’s best to reserve in advance.

Ohrid, Macedonia



Ohrid and the Lake of Ohrid have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Lake of Ohrid is the jewel of the Macedonian crown and the lake itself is one of the oldest in the world. There are 365 churches, many monastaries, holy sites, castles and museums to visit, apart from swimming in the lake. Ohrid is a four- to five-hour drive from Pristina


Copyrights © 2007 Balkan Investigative Reporting Network
trokit ketu


Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Sat Jul 31 2010, 12:42pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania: Travel guide: Kruje, Albania


Historical map of Albania during the invasion of Ottoman Empire



by Efstathios Poulitsis
Albania, or Shiquperi as it is known to its countrymen, is a veritable must for any history buffs that holds the legendary figure of Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg in high regard.



‘The Dragon of Albania’ is the Albanian national hero who is held in such high esteem in much of the world due to his fight against the might of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. The US congress paid tribute to Skanderbeg as recently as 2005, on the 600th anniversary of his birth, honouring him as “statesman, diplomat, and military genius, for his role in saving Western Europe.”




Now that Albania has thrown off the mantel of communism and tourism is welcomed, it is possible to visit Kruje, the home town of Skanderbeg, and the place where he began the Albanian fight against the Ottomans. Kruje is approximately thirty minutes from the capital Tirana, and is a town which sits on the side of a mountain dominated by the old castle. A steep winding mountain road leads up to Kruje which appears to hang on the mountainside, giving spectacular views of the land below.


The first sight to great the visitor to Kruje is a statue of the Albanian hero which stands proudly at the town entrance.



Skanderbeg held the town against Ottoman invasion for 24 years, a remarkable feat considering the strength of the enemy forces. Albania continued to hold out against the Ottomans for another 12 years after the death of Skanderbeg in 1468, and when the Turks finally claimed victory one of their first acts was to dig up the grave of the hero and take his bones to use as amulets, believing that holding his bones would give them some of his bravery. The Turks destroyed much of the castle of Kruje but further damage was done in the earthquake of 1617.

Visitors can now enter the restored ruins of the castle and citadel which are of such historical importance to the Albanians. The Skanderbeg museum sits on site and visitors can see the paintings, murals and sculptures housed in the museum which depict the history of the Albanian struggle against the Ottoman invasion. The museum also displays weapons from the age of Skanderbeg, whilst a smaller museum, the Ethnographic museum, houses original Albanian costumes from the era and is preserved to show how the people used to live. The latter museum is found within the citadel.



Travellers to Kruje should also visit the old bazaar which was destroyed in the Second World War but has now been restored exactly as it once was.



A cobbled alleyway is lined on each side with traditional wooden shops which provide the best souvenirs in Albania.

Heading into the capital Tirana those following the history of Skanderbeg should visit Sheshi Skendebej, the city center square also known as Skanderbeg Square. It hosts another statue of the hero, also known as the ‘saviour of Christianity’, and houses the National Historic museum of Albania, as well as the Opera House.

Both Kruje and Skanderbeg Square are must see places for the visitor to Albania who has an interest in the amazing achievements of Skanderbeg and his remarkable feat in holding the Ottoman empire at bay against Western Europe. To read more about Skanderbeg read here: trokit ketu 08088-skanderbeg-the-national- hero-of-albania


Copyright © 2002-2010 Helium
trokit ketu


Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Wed Aug 04 2010, 04:47pm
Registered Member #1228
Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania



Skyscanner reveals rapidly rising summer destinations


This map shows where Albanians live in most parts in Balkan.


Although Spain remains the most popular destination with British holidaymakers, cheap flights comparison siteSkyscanner.net reveals some of the more secret summer spots that are attracting travellers keen to escape the British crowds and discover somewhere new.

Tirana, Albania

Unspoiled, untouched and relatively unheard of as a tourist destination, Albania is one of Europe’s best kept secrets; but for how long? Last year, Albania made headlines with a backpacker boom and Tirana, the capital, is a new entry to the Skyscanner Top 100 cities this month. New restaurants and hotels are now luring visitors to its museums, bustling bars, clubs and cafes.


Izmir, Turkey

Deemed the ‘Pearl of the Aegean’, Izmir is a city of palm-lined walkways, boulevards and parks which curl around a bay that’sback-dropped by mountains.It’s the gateway to the Aegean coastline where fishing villages and small towns sit alongside idyllic beaches encircled by pine forests, olives groves and rocky crags.

Tel Aviv, Israel

Israel’s cool capital is currently pushing hard for British tourists. For a small country (it’s about the size of Wales), Israel has plenty going for it from desert dunes to the Dead Sea to snow capped mountains and even a ski resort. Tel Aviv is a lively city, ancient yet modern, with clear, clean beaches on the Mediterranean coast. Israelis know how to party, so expect a vibrant time after dark.

Split, Croatia

The Croatian coastline is becoming increasinglypopular with UK travellers, and Split, gateway to Dalmatia, is a great place to base yourself.Overlooking the Adriatic Sea and backed by rugged mountains, Split’s ancient Roman architecture will please culture vultures, whilst outdoor lovers can take a hike up Marjan, a dormant volcanocovered in dense Mediterranean pine forest.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana , the charming capital of little known Slovenia, is split by a beautiful green river lined with alfresco eateries and overlooked by a medieval castle. Wander the romantic old town, browse the market stalls or venture outside of the city to nearby mountains, vineyards and cave systems – this is the perfect place for a weekend for two.

Barry Smith, Skyscanner Co-founder and Business Director commented:

“Instead of jumping straight on flights to Malaga this summer, why not try somewhere different? We are finding more people are opting for destinations a little more off the beaten track where they tend to findfewer crowds and a more genuine cultural experience.”
All flights are per person and inclusive of taxes. For up to date prices visit trokit ketu


Copyright © 2010 Breaking Travel News
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trokit ketu


[ Edited Wed Aug 04 2010, 04:50pm ]

Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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L - N
Thu Oct 07 2010, 04:59pm
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Joined: Wed Sep 12 2007, 10:00am

Posts: 10623
Welcome to Albania

GOOD AGE: A Year in Albania



Kruje


By Sue Scheible
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Sep 30, 2010 @ 10:25 PM
Last update Oct 01, 2010 @ 06:46 PM

QUINCY — Barry Pell, a world traveler and photojournalist, recently spent a year in Albania with his wife, teaching English as a second language.

During the 2009 and 2010 school years, the couple lived and taught in Tirana, the capital of Albania. Pell told about their experiences at a slide program Thursday at the UMass Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. In the attached file with this story, to the right, you can read the talk as he gave it.

His slides and commentary captured the very human side of Albania, a little-known country in southeastern Europe just north of Greece.

Pell spoke about daily life there, the great friendliness and sweetness of the people, the gorgeous countryside, especially in the Balkan Mountains in northern Albania.

Pell has traveled widely over the past 40 years, visiting and documenting landscapes and cultures in 153 countries. He lived and traveled in China for two years and does a lot of lecturing and slide programs in the Greater Boston area. I heard him at the OLLI brown bag lunch program. He has also spoken in the past at The Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy about his travels in China and India.


Source:
Copyright 2010 The Patriot Ledger. Some rights reserved
Copyright © 2006-2010 GateHouse Media, Inc. Some Rights Reserved
trokit ketu


Ju pershnes tanve. Ju falemnders per shoqnin tuej, e ju prift e mara tanve pa perjashtim. Kam ndryshue shpin, e kam shkue me shpi te
... Me vjen keq po s'kam mundsi me u dukt ma ktej parit. Ju pershnes me mirnjohje e dashamirsi.

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LUPEN
Sun Jan 02 2011, 12:12am

Registered Member #2813
Joined: Tue Mar 24 2009, 12:56am

Posts: 10264
Shqiperia futet ne 10 vendet ma turistike te vitit 2011.

trokit ketu






Edhe lumi ka kangen e vet. Nga një herë e zhurmshme dhe e vrullshme: kanga e randë e vajit. Mandej me një rrëmbim gazmor që kënaq çdo gja që natyra ka falun: kanga e hovshme e haresë.
Lot e gaz. Si jeta e njerëzve...

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