Everyone I’ve spoken to in Albania says how amazed they are at the weather in Albania. It is a full 10 degrees warmer than any other Balkan country in the area and that was really my main reason for choosing it as my next destination. I’d say the 12 hour bus ride was worth it.
My first day in Shkodra was completely thrilling because I was finally able to walk around and enjoy some sights in the town without my winter coat and sit outside in the sun. The big attraction in the city is the castle, and it’s awesome.
I climbed around on the walls and explored to my heart’s content, then found a favorite spot to sit and write. I can honestly say, this is the life! I feel so lucky that I’m able to travel for this extended period of time and see incredible pieces of architecture from one of the oldest cities in the world.
Since I’m traveling alone in an already not-so-touristy area, I end up spending a lot of time walking through all the different neighborhoods and nearby villages, just exploring and watching. Here in Albania are a TON of stray animals wherever you go, and I usually feel bad for some of these dogs and share my lunch with them.
I even saw stray horses wandering around in a park. It makes me sad to see them so dirty and skinny, knowing there’s nothing I can do for them.
As one of the only foreigners around this time of year I stand out like an alien and people are always super curious where I’m from and why I’m there. One day when I was wandering out towards the edge of town, some kids were just coming out of school and they chased down the street after me, wanting to take photos with me and play with me. They practiced their English and introduced themselves and one girl particularly liked that I had pink on my jacket and fingernails and she followed me all the way back into town asking if I could come to her house and paint our nails together. They were so cute!
I thought shkoder was really charming and I took a lot of photos of old buildings around town.
Of course, a big highlight was people watching on market day. I even saw a guy carrying a goat in the basket of his bike to bring into town to sell (or maybe eat, I’m not sure).
Tirana is the capital city so of course there is much more going on than small town charm. When I arrived I wrote on a Facebook group that I was in town if anybody wanted to hang out and so many people messaged me that I was totally busy meeting up with people that week that I barely did any “sightseeing.”
There are lots of expats from all over the world living in Tirana because of the great weather and the really affordable living conditions. I met a girl on Facebook who offered up her spare room to me completely free of charge. I was so stoked to spend the week getting to know her because she was one of the most generous and kind people I’ve met. She also had great travel stories from her journeys all over Asia, Europe and the Middle East. I did go on a free walking tour with my friend Tom and we learned about some history stuff.
I’m really loving Albania so far, currently I’m checking out the southern towns so I’ll be writing about that soon!