Albania is one of the most memorable places we have travelled to in a long time. Everything was an adventure. Even travelling from A to B is just as much of an adventure as the destination itself. And speaking of travelling from A to B….
Driving is Survival of the Fittest
Driving is such an adventure in Albania that we have already written an entire blog post on the subject. Our first driving experience in Albania was probably the most intense initiation possible. Driving through the capitol Tirana, in peak hour, on Christmas eve, in a brand new and shiny rental car. I wish I had a dash cam to capture the 100% insanity that was driving in Tirana.
Driving through rural Albania was just as much as an adventure as well. Pot holes deeper than the eye could see, slippery mud, extensive road works, and drivers much more courageous than us all combined to equal one full on adventure.
The Hospitality is Famous for a Reason
We had heard that Albanian’s were friendly people. We hear that about lots of places we travel to. But Albania was the one destination where this famous hospitality was displayed to us over and over and over again.
Our favourite example of Albanian hospitality inspired an entire blog post, and is still one of my favourite stories to tell about the country. Other examples include the time the bank machine ate our bank card at a petrol station about a half hour drive from where we were staying in Gjirokaster. It was evening and we were tired. We left our details at the petrol station and we hoped someone would call us before we moved on the next day. We didn’t get a call. But we did come home from dinner that night to find a man from the bank waiting for us, who personally handed us our bank card. Amazing.
Most Traffic Jams are Turkey Related
Everything is fresh in Albania. Fresh food markets were absolutely everywhere. And if you go by what the main thing being sold at those markets, then the most popular food in Albania is turkey. Even when driving along the highway in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, we would see men and young boys hanging out along side the roads herding their turkeys. Cars would pull over and stop on the highway to barter and purchase a turkey. Whenever there was what seemed like an inexplicable traffic jam somewhere in a town, it would always turn out to be turkey related. Cars would simply stop to conduct their turkey related business, and all the cars behind would just have to wait.
Don’t Rush a Road Trip
If there was one thing we learned while driving around Albania, it was this – double any suggested driving times suggested by Google maps. Next time we visit Albania we will be planning much shorter drives, and will allow a much longer time period to complete them.
The Food Alone is Worth a Visit
Oh my gosh… Albanian food. Every time we went out to eat in Albania we were in for a treat. I absolutely loved the food here. Hearty comfort food with a Mediterranean flair, and with a surprising amount of vegetarian options. I loved it so much, that one dish, Tirana Furghes, is now regularly cooked in our household.