**** This is by no way a generalisation or meant in any way to put anyone off visiting Albania. This is a light-hearted account of the experience of my visit!!******
Albania may not be a place that many people have heard of. It is a young country which has had a lot of political anguish and has many social, economic or domestic issues. But if you are driving north from Greece you will inevitably have to pass through it. I must admit it is like going back in time. Imagine a traditional Balkan farming with old work soviet buildings. That is what most to of the countryside looks like. Fifty percent of the countries GDP comes from farming which just shows how poor the country is. Recently the residents were never allowed to leave the country without a load of paper work. For as little as fifteen pounds you can stay in a four-star hotel in Tirana which I will admit was very nice clean and comfortable. Though there was someone’s cow tied up at the front of the hotel for grazing.
Albania countryside however is a hidden gem in europe. There are amazing natural occuring lakes and green mountain ranges untouched my modern world and tourism. In the future these will draw in tourists as they are just so breathtaking.
The country is very green and stunning with a lot divided up into farms and a beautiful mountain range of the southern border with Greece. But as you look out the windows horses and mules are used for farming and there are many people living in basic accommodation. They do have running water and electricity but its very basic. Albania is not actually part of the EU as it does not meet all the regulations. This is mostly due to all the black mails and gang issues in the country.
Albanian is a hard language to grasp but for those speaking English they did it very well and tried to be very accommodating and open when they were serving you. When we reached Tirana there is nothing in the way of public transport, night life or tourism. The city itself is very grey, square and made of concrete so it does not have a welcome inviting glow that many other capitals would. There is a city by the sea that I was recommend to visit that has ships going to Italy and there are football matches held here. Though many people flying into Tirana struggle to get there with the lack of transport. The main car in the country is the Mercedes. Many of these cars have foreign license plates as a lot are purchased and driven down from the rest of Europe.
Now to finish off the story I am going to tell you why I felt like I was running for the border to Montenegro. In the hotel I went to the bar and there was a guy my age sat there and we got chatting. He was a financial adviser at a local business and he told me he was paid four thousand euros a year and had saved up and wanted to move to the US. I talked to him for a while and we exchanged snap chats. He asked me about my life and what I did in the UK. I was an unemployed recent graduate travelling for 2 months. Apparently, this was a better prospect than what he had.
Know how I know. He bloody proposed to me! He said he would give me twenty thousand euros to marry him so he could get a British passport and move to America as Albanians can not get work visas there so easily. I knew it was illegal to do that but I couldn’t express to him specifically which law it was.
On the other hand, if I went through with it; I’d be married to a bloody broke random Albanian. And you know what, he tried to guilt trip me into doing it! I’m a softie but not that gullable. However, my only excuse why I refuse him was; I want to marry once and for love!” Bloody corny and lame. He then got angry and his demeanour changed. I felt threatened as he started to tell me some rough stories about living in Albania. I managed to slip away from him and run up to the room and hide. Thank god the receptionist didn’t give him my room number. He tried to talk me round so I blocked him but I saw him waiting in a car outside the next morning. I swear to god I thought I was going to be kidnapped. But I was safety escorted onto the bus and we went straight to the Montenegro border. I never saw or heard from him again. But if he followed me to the border, we passed through Montenegro to Croatia hopefully he was blocked at the border.
Now I am not generalising but I felt scared and the experience put me off visiting this country again. The people have a hard time and it pushes them to want more but they have a tough society just now. Please if you go be careful, do not go alone especially if you are a girl and make sure you have your own transport and secure accommodation. I feel in the future it will be an amazing place to visit with its beautiful geography and coastline and mild climate. The beaches look beyond stunning and will compete with Greece when the prices become highly competitive with its neighbours. I would like to come again and see the beaches in the future. But for now, have your wits about you if you visit this hidden gem!
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