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wojtekd Tirane - A travel report by Wojciech
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Tirane,  Albania - flag Albania -  TiranĂ«
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wojtekd's travel reports

The only tourist in Tirane

  36 votes
Page: 1 2

Tirane travelogue picture
Welcome to Tirane! The capital cityof Albania is a mixture of religions, styles, and cultures. You will see here relics from one of the longest dictatorships in Eastern Europe, charming mosques and growing high-rise buildings. Orthodox churches face off Soviet palaces of culture. The city is compact enough to explore on foot... During my full-day stay in Tirane I was walking a lot but I did not see any other tourist! Hurry up to go there and enjoy the your loneliness - it will change quickly... Albanian authorities do not require a visa from most of European nationalities but be prepared to pay 10 euro entry fee on arrival to Rinas airport. There is no public bus from the airport to the city (17 km). Taxi drivers charge 2000 lek or 17 USD for a ride so try to share the cost with somebody else...

Favourite spots:
Tirane travelogue picture
Almost all places of interest are conveniently located along the main boulevard extending from tiny railway station to the university via Skanderbeg Square, a great open area in the heart of the city. On the square you will find huge statue of Skanderbeg - the only undisputed national hero who created an independent Albanian princedom in 15th century and Mosque of Ethem Bey, built in 1793 - one of the city's most distinctive buildings. Painted interior is worth to see but take care: if the caretaker will invite you to climb the minaret (for the view of the town) you will be asked later to pay 20 euro of donation... It was my only bad experience from Albania...

What's really great:
Tirane travelogue picture
Centrally located on Skanderbeg Square The National Museum of History - the largest and finest museum in Albania. A huge mosaic mural entitled Revolutionary Albania covers the upper facade of the building. They charge entry fee of 300 lek. I was again the only visitor in this vast building where each hall covers one period from the history of Albanian nation - from antiquity to the last war. On the top floor there is interesting red room with the exhibition of old orthodox icons.
If you are museum's fan there is also Archeological Museum in Tirane (at the university square) and Museum of Natural Sciences.
If the weather is not hazy it pays to rent a taxi and to visit the summit of Mt Dajti (1612m - 25 km drive up on serpentine road) for nice panoramic view of Tirana...



Sights:
Tirane travelogue picture
Only 15 years ago Albania was a living museum of Stalinism. Over the Lana River (it can be rather called "the creek" now) you will see sloping white marble pyramid of the former dictator Enver Hoxha Mausoleum, which is now called International Centre of Culture and used as an exhibition centre and a disco. The red star has been removed from the building's tip. The building was designated by Hoxha's daughter Pranvera and was reportedly the most expensive ever erected in poor Albania.
The former residence of dictator is located in The Block quarter (on the opposite side of the boulevard) - once off-limits to the public and cordoned off by armed guards. Now The Block is open to everybody - a lot of nice cafes, galeries and boutiques is located along shaddy streets... In this quarter You will find catholic cathedral and orthodox church.

Accommodations:
Tirane travelogue picture
Rich tourists have 15 storey Tirana International Hotel on the central square and brand new Sheraton to be opened close to the university. Budget travellers like me can stay for 10 USD per night in the little Hotel-bar OSKI conveniently located close to railway station and bus stops for Durres and Shkodra. They have only five rooms with attached baths and portable fans. It is clean and cosy but try to get backside room to avoid street noise...
On the picture you can see your Tirana International and (on the right) - Palace of Culture

Restaurants:
Tirane travelogue picture
Food is inexpensive in Albania... Budget meal in the restaurant will cost you less then 500 lek (4 USD). They usually serve Turkish-style little and very strong coffee in the restaurants for 50 lek. If you prefere regular coffee ask for esspresso. 1-litre bottle of coke cost 80 lek, a can of pepsi - 50 and big loaf of bread - 60 lek. Hamburger goes for 100. The best deal is to buy (at least as a souvenir) a bottle of Skanderbeu ***** brandy for 250 lek! But do not forget to taste the most popular local dish: byrek (see photo) filled up with white cottage cheese, tomatoes or other vegetables. It cost only 40 to 80 lek and is served in many places.

Other recommendations:
Tirane travelogue picture
Back east of the Palace of Culture you will find remains of the old market - three narrow streets and two little squares with stalls selling fruits, vegetables, honey, home-made cheese... This area is still worth to visit - you can find there a bit of remained Albanian folklore. People are open and friendly but as usual watch your pockets in the crowd. The only serious problem is the language barrier - since very few of them speak western languages - take a piece of paper and a pen with you to ask for prices...
1 USD was worth 118 lek, 1 euro - 133 lek. Many places accept payment in euro or dollars.
You are welcome to visit my private www page for other pictures from Albania:
www.kontynenty.tpi.pl/Albania03A.htm


Published on Friday October 10th, 2003


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Thu, Dec 17 2009 - 08:56 AM rating by louis

Very interesting report. And what I could see from the pictures and read in the report, you were right this country is changing rapidly.

Fri, Feb 22 2008 - 09:10 PM rating by rmoss

My knowledge of Albania has always been with it as the butt of other peoples jokes, of it being remote and strange.
but what were the people like?

Mon, Feb 11 2008 - 10:50 PM rating by krisek

The pictures are great! So unexpected!

Sun, Jan 15 2006 - 10:54 AM rating by frenchfrog

Very unsual place to visit, but it is nice to see adventurous tourists. Well done. very well writen.

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 09:32 AM rating by miguelmarchi

This country is a mystery to me

Tue, Sep 27 2005 - 07:41 PM rating by russell

Its almost two years since you filed the report and in the last year I've been there three times and travelled around a lot but not a lot has changed except there are more tourists even 'out of season'. I must write some travel tales myself - thanks for your read.

Fri, May 20 2005 - 02:27 AM rating by ardelia

Great article..A good one. I tried to visit the website you gave at the end of the page but it was not available.

Ardelia

Tue, Mar 01 2005 - 04:14 PM rating by krista

Hello Wojciech!
Just wanted to tell you that i like your report very much, and to congratulate for the choice of the country. I will never travel there,but now at least I can see how it looks like.
Thanks a lot!
Krista

Thu, Feb 03 2005 - 08:42 AM rating by rangutan

First report on Albania, wow!

Tue, May 11 2004 - 01:55 PM rating by whereisliz

Yet again you go where none have gone before (or at least written a report about it!). Yours is the first report of any kind for Albania, but you make it sound so good, I'm sure others will follow. Thanks!

Wed, Apr 28 2004 - 11:57 AM rating by britman

Wonderful easy reading report - full of great travel info - thank you!

Sun, Oct 12 2003 - 02:24 PM rating by marianne

I loved to read this, thank you for notifying me. Albania is a place I would like to visit. Did you travel in your own car or by public transport. We always take local buses, so can you tell me what the transport is like? I love your pictures they give a clear idea of the country. What is accommodation like?
I have wanted to go to Albania ever since 1988 when we were in Presba in Greece and could see the Albanian border but were not allowed in.

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