Intimidating things to say to people
Albania is one of the most interesting countries I’ve come across in a long time.
To say it is unique is not enough and is the place to go if you are looking for a real European adventure.
I had originally planned on taking a bus from Ohrid, Macedonia to Gjirokastra then making my way up to Tirana but found out only after I had arrived that it would be impossible in November. Suspending a route between say Ohrid and Gjirokastra during the winter? Suspending the only bus route from the center of Tirana to the airport because there weren’t enough people an hour and half before my flight? In fact, grounds for giving even the most relaxed traveler a panic attack.
Patience is not a virtue in Albania, it is a necessity.
Also be warned that many routes, especially in the south, are suspended during the off-season or when buses aren’t full. Just because there is a schedule, doesn’t mean there is a schedule I wish I was joking above when I said you might find some scheduled bus routes suspended simply because the buses weren’t full but it’s true and I found out the hard way.
Buses or furgons (mini buses) are your best bet if you are lucky enough to 1) figure out their schedule and/or 2) find out where to catch them from.
The number of Albanians actually living inside Albania? If not to understand that you are headed to a country that was totally isolated from the rest of the world for the latter half of the 20th Century because of a paranoid android Communist dictator, then to know what people are talking about when they say “Great Albania” because odds are, you are going to hear it mentioned at some point. You are not going to get there by train and you will be lucky if you get there by bus/furgon Transportation in and around the country was my biggest complaint with Albania.Everything about it was difficult and is the main reason I ended up staying in Tirana the entire time.You really never know what you are going to get which should be like music to any modern-day explorers’ ears and why I suggest everyone interested in traveling to less touristed parts of Europe put it at the very top of their list. There are more Albanians outside of Albania than within If you are doing some traveling through the Balkans, you will probably meet a few Albanians (and see Albanian flags and qeleshes) before you even arrive in Albania.Estimates of the number of Albanians residing abroad are anywhere from 7-10 million, mostly in other Balkan countries (Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece), but there are also a significant amount in Turkey, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States. Albania has an interesting history In keeping with the aforementioned information, Albania has a pretty interesting history and you would be doing yourself a disservice by not reading up on a bit of it before you go.The seven days that I spent there were full of all kinds of surprises ranging from pleasant to disappointing but combined were ultimately what made it such an exciting country to visit.
More than “off the path”, Albania is over the hill and sitting in a mountainous valley of its own.