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Albania

Bunker Loving in Albania

#BalkanBants - Tirana

sunny 40 °C
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Having originally envisaged a Balkan Tour some time ago visiting all the nations in the area, the biggest sticking point was getting from Montenegro to Albania. It looked as if the only way to undertake the journey was to spend all day on three separate legs making the way from Kotor to Tirana.

Thinking that it may then be best to separate the trip into two week long legs, with the second beginning in Tirana I then accidentally stumbled across the newly set up transfer between the two cities. Saving the whole idea of the trip, I quickly booked the tour before such a transfer may possibly have been cancelled due to low usage.

One of the many unfinished Albanian buildings

One of the many unfinished Albanian buildings

After spending half a week relaxing by the Adriatic, we took a transfer bus for 5 hours from the Bay of Kotor to the Albanian capital, arriving in Tirana around 2pm. As the centre of the city is relatively small, this was plenty of time for us to get to know the city before our onward journey. Driving through Albania is an interesting experience. The roads are a bit basic, and almost every building has foundations ready for upper floors that are yet to be built, whilst on the eastern side there is a beautiful mountain backdrop that runs for the whole length of the country.

Skanderbeg Square

Skanderbeg Square

After arriving and getting sorted with our onward travel, luckily saving us an hour in bed the following morning, we headed into the city, just a minute or so walk from our hotel, stopping first at the very heart of the city - Skanderbeg Square. The beautifully imposing communist style buildings side by side with traditional mosques, well kept grass, the statue of national hero Skanderbeg, with the modern tower blocks in the background gave this whole square a beautiful feel.

Communist Mosaic

Communist Mosaic

After taking some photos and investigating the communist mosaic adorned over the Museum of History, we headed down the main street, passing the Rinia Park, and the city river. Continuing further down the main street we came across one of the famous bunkers built by communist leader Hoxha, built in case of invasion or attack.

Pretending to be hiding in one of Hoxha's Bunkers

Pretending to be hiding in one of Hoxha's Bunkers

Located at the end of the road, was the Mother Teresa Square, which was surrounded by presidential and university buildings, located at the bottom of a hillside park. Walking up the paths we arrived at one of the 'top sights' in the city - a revolting reservoir that proved to show how little the city has to offer outside the main street.

The 'beautiful' lake

The 'beautiful' lake

Heading back down to the central area we stopped off at the Albanian McDonalds - Kolonat, and attempted to eat a meal in the 40C heat only to find that we had completely lost our appetites. Perhaps the heat was the reason for the city being absolutely dead in the middle of a Sunday afternoon?

The Palace of Congress

The Palace of Congress

Walking back past the Palace of Congress we made our way up to the Piramidia - a pyramid shaped building, that can even be attempted to climb upon, that opened in the late 80s as a museum to the late dictator, and built by his daughter. However after the end of the communist era the building has fallen into disrepair and is now left in a dilapidated state. A real shame, as with a lick of paint and refurbishment this bizarre and unique building could surely find some usage as a tourist attraction at least?

The Piramidia

The Piramidia

Heading back towards our hotel, past the opera house and the mosque we settled back into our hotel for the early coach the following morning to Albania's little sister - Kosovo.

Tirana, despite being a rather long diversion off route was an interesting place to visit. Although lacking a lot of tourist facilities, after some days in Dubrovnik this was quite refreshing, and with its independent history and impressive central buildings it was very interesting to see, with Albania being a very pretty country in general with its mountainous backdrops. Perhaps with a few more years investment, and an opening of infrastructure with airlines this could be Europe's newest hotspot? It's certainly cheap right now!

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Posted by kmmk17 17:00 Archived in Albania Tagged lake city balkanbants Comments (0)

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