Day trip to Tirana in Albania
I visited Tirana the capital of Albania on a tour of the Balkans. We only passed through and spent a couple of hours in the city, but we did manage to do a city walking tour in that time.
We were told that the mafia has a strong presence in Tirana I didn’t notice any Goodfella type guys walking around but to be honest I don’t know what a member of the mafia would look like. Every 2nd car is a Mercedes and I was expecting a lot of beggars on the street, but I didn’t see any.
There was a young lad in late teens selling magnets and pens and he was the only person that approached our group. I was glad of this as I wanted a magnet and the closest souvenir shop was 20 minutes’ walk from where our tour ended.
I didn’t feel unsafe walking around Albania, we were however in a large group and it was daylight. A few of the locals stopped and watched us but no one got too close or asked for any money.
We had lunch which was around 10euros and the restaurants excepted cards.
The weather in Tirana was a sunny warm afternoon 27 degrees, the park was lovely to sit in the sun and there was a local Tirana sign to have a selfie with.
We did a walking tour; the traffic lights are interesting in the city as they have lights up the pole as well as the main traffic lights, I have not seen this before.
Tirana is very accessible as it was flat and easy to walk around with paved pavements and low kerbs. However, be careful of the bikes as they speed past.
Lots of young people live in the city now as there is a good education system and a university. There were some cool hip cafes where the students were drinking coffee and relaxing with friends. There seemed to be plenty of taxis to get around the city if you are there for longer than a day.
The city has a lot of history and our guide gave us some brief facts telling us about how Mussolini had control over what happened in Albania.
We went to Skanderbeg Square which is the main square dedicated to a national hero George Castriot (Gjergj Kastrioti) known as Skanderbeg. He can be seen in a large statue that dominates the square.
I was not expecting such grand buildings in Tirana a lot of them have previously been destroyed and repaired or have changed use. I was also surprised at how clean the city was.
They are currently investing a lot of money to improve the buildings in the city and erecting new ones and painting the existing ones, so they look more inviting. They want the buildings to be painted in bright colours to show that Albania is no longer a communist state.
The clock tower and the mosque are the oldest buildings in the square.We kept seeing signs with Shitet which made us giggle and it turns out this means for sale.
Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania was worth seeing inside and out with its heavy bronze doors. There was only a hadful of tourists inside which made it seem really peaceful.
Have you been to Tirana what did you get up to?
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