During my hiking holidays I learned once again how diverse and cliché-ridden Europe really is. On my South-East-Europe-discovery-tour lead me this time to Albania and Kosovo. On purpose I did not inform myself neither via guide book nor internet about the countries – I just wanted to see what happens. And I can say that the Albanians and the Kosovars did a really good job. Beginning with our tour guide Robert who speaks such a perfect German with hardly any accent that nobody in the group could believe he is not German.
However, on our flight from Frankfurt to Tirana everything started so clichéd. Our flight was delayed by one hour because one deported person from Albania had to come on board. I never witnessed something like that before.
The fortnightly hiking trip took us from Tirana’s mother Theresa airport (I did not know that she’s from Albania) to beautiful Shkodra. The city not only convinced me by its urban management (in the old part of the town) but also by its vivid appearance at night. Next to a Jazz-festival that was just taking place, there we Live-DJs in some places and people were obviously simply having fun. I really would have loved to dip into it. An attitude to live that is often missing in Germany – to my mind.
Next day we took the ferry boat from Koman to Fierze and took the minibus from there to Prizren (Link zum Kosovo-Bericht). On the sixth day we returned to Albania, this time to the scenic Valbona-Valley that I can only recommend to all mountain fetishists. Even the vocals supported by Hammond-organ brought on stage in the only pub of the town in Thethi was not nice but original. Somehow, there were few girls on the streets, instead there was a lot of car movement.
Our Albanic hiking days, across the Valbona pass, on the peak of the Rosi, the Qafa e Pejes pass and to the Kaprea-Valley and finally to the pass of Thore were all exhausting but wonderful.
Back in the city, initially in Kruje, I really like the Bazar. Finally we gained some impressions of Tirana, the capital before we had to go back.
I really enjoyed the trip and I can really imagine to get to know more of Albania than only the North. Of course I am aware of the fact that I have only seen and experienced a small part of Albania and Kosovo plus I got to know it from a very comfortable perspective. We stayed in nice hotels, dined in restaurants of good quality, were driven around and experienced things as a matter of course that might be denied to average Albanians. I also witnessed a country with helpful, friendly and hospitable people who are happy about the tourists that travel their country and are interested in their culture and history.
The amount of foreign travel groups I have seen in Albania leads me to the conclusion that the country is becoming a hip destination. I hope that the tourists will have the same positive experience as I had and that they will spread the positive news among their friends and families.