Monday, August 31, 2009
My Trip to Albania, What Went Right!
This post is long overdue. As they say; better late than never.
After having experienced a failed attempt to visit Albania; I finally managed to safely and successfully land there and legally infiltrate its surprisingly rigid entry and visa regulations.
My visit coincided with a highly hyped up election campaign battle between multiple parties. Two of which being the major contenders, namely, the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party.
I was watching Euronews on election day at my beloved hosts’ crib when they quickly and briefly referenced the Albanian elections starting the piece with the following: “One of Europe’s poorest nations heads to the polls today to determine the next government…”. I’m afraid I’m going to have to disagree with Mr. Euronews commentator there.
I say that Albania is one of the richest nations in Europe, rich in culture, history, natural beauty, kindness of people and aspirations. I was bedazzled by the beauty of its nature. I know I haven’t been to Switzerland or Germany to admire their mountains, hills and lakes, but as far as my perception of beautiful nature is concerned, I received an overdose of scenic beauty in Albania!
Albania’s untouched costal highlands of Vlore overlooking a turquoise Adriatic Sea are a serene treat to any eye. I saw little villages on the way to Sarande tucked away peacefully in between the mountains, wished I lived there in such nature, such serenity, such beauty. I relaxed on top of the walls of a watchtower in Butrint, my eyes staring at the distance, as far as I could see, my thoughts followed.
In my travels to the capital Tirana and further south all the way to the Greek borders, I found the Albanian people to be very hospitable, kind and accommodating. Albania is a small nation with a population of 3 million. Perhaps its small cities, simple way of life and small population have all contributed to such positive attitudes.
I found Albanians to be full of aspirations as well. With a 98% literacy rate, the majority of Albanians are armed with knowledge and education and ready to face the world. And many do, traveling abroad for better education or better jobs and in many cases settling there. Albania is yet another example of a “poor” country exporting highly knowledgeable, highly motivated youths to the rest of the world.
My dear friends and their friends were exceptionally kind and accommodating. And being so to a “guest” is a commendable feat in people. Everyone got out of their way to make sure I was comfortable, happy and relaxed at all times. I have to stress that my trip to Albania was a great one mostly as a result of the kindness these people demonstrated.
My dear Albanians, I have eaten from your sea, drank from your Blue Eye, soaked by your rain, revived by your sunshine, remembered God by your nature, admired your history by your ruins and felt the warmth of love by your people. Thank you for such a wonderful journey.