All Things Albania
Days 23-24: Jess is a Wanderer left Macedonia on a bus headed to Albania's capital - Tirana. What a beautiful part of the world this is turning out to be!
Day 23: After arriving at the bus station and spending the last of our pennies, we stood around waiting for the bus driver to sort of, I'm not sure, 'summon' us to the bus? Well, there we were waiting one minute and the next, the bus looked like it was driving off leaving all of these passengers waiting at the bus stop! Except, it turned out that we were the only two passengers waiting to board this particular bus and, in fact, we should have approached the driver to tell him we wanted to board the service! Oh what a funny way of doing things.
Seven hours later, we were winding our way through the beautiful Albanian countryside. The country is mostly mountainous and so pretty. Eventually, the tiny villages turned into a sprawling mass of skyscrapers - we had arrived in Tirana.
Tirana's city is a plethora of bars and restaurants. The streets are lined with trendy eateries and funky-looking bars. There are plenty of places to quench your thirst or get a good meal. We headed to Era - a chain restaurant - but one that specialises in homemade and traditional Albanian food. It was delicious. We tried so much food - speca me glizë (stuffed peppers), vine leaves, pickled vegetables, corn bread and meatballs. We practically rolled back to our apartment due to being so full.
Day 24: Waking up early(ish) we set off for Bunk/Art. An old Soviet bunker which has been turned into a permanent museum and costs only £5 to enter. You can buy a combo-ticket for this and the cable car to the top of Mount Dajt. The ticket isn't advertised so you have to ask for it but it will save you a couple of pounds so it's worth getting if you plan to do both activities. The only thing is, they don't take cards so after walking uphill for twenty minutes, we had to turn around and walk the twenty minutes back to the ATM and withdraw some cash. Both being desperate for a wee, we quickly withdrew the money and headed to a bar to use the bathroom. It was only over a cold beer later that we realised in our haste, we had withdrawn the equivalent of over £300!!! Oh dear, with over 50,000 Lek now in our pockets, how were we going to spend it all!
Anyway, Bunk/Art is absolutely one of the best museums I've ever visited. Interactive, with videos and sound effects playing in different rooms, creepy - with lighting and even a 'gas attack' simulation room and an all-round interesting look at Albania's diverse history. I'm not sure I'd visit if I was alone because it was creepy. Don't go if you're claustrophobic as it's five storeys underground... eek.
Following our underground experience, where photos aren't allowed but I did manage to get a sneaky couple, we headed to the teleferique (cable car). This would take us to more than 4000m above sea level and provide quite the view. The journey lasted fifteen minutes and had two particularly steep inclines which were breathtaking - by way of 'wow, look at the scenery' and 'holy moly, we're extremely high up!!!'
Tirana is definitely worth a visit if you want to:
c) enjoy a mountain and bunker for super cheap