Tirana, Albania (Day 3)

On the third day in Tirana, I took some cards in addressed envelopes to the hotel front desk and said I wanted to mail them. They told me I needed stamps. (Thank you, Captain Obvious!) They did not have any to sell me, or any idea that a hotel might be expected to have such things. (They were more helpful when I asked to swap some small coins with them, so as to collect a whole set.)

So Siqi and I went to find the post office and mail my cards, then went and visited some of the interesting places I’d explored previously on my own, including the book stalls at Rinia Park.

See below for photos of:

  • Namazgah Mosque
  • Park Fan Stilian Noli
  • Statues of the Unknown Soldier and Sheshi Sulejman Pasha
  • Skanderbeg Square
  • Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral

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Shopping for Books in Albania

Wherever I go, I look at the books. Doesn’t matter if I can read them, although books in English have spread across the globe just like English itself has. I’m always interested to see what books look like, whether they are originals in the local language, world classics translated into the local language, or books in English imported from overseas.

See below for photos of two very different types of book shopping experience.

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Tirana, Albania (Day 2)

My plan, after having walked around soooo much the previous day, was to get a massage. I found a place online and walked to it, but decided to walk along the street a little first… I walked all the way to the end, turned around and walked back the other way, then took a turn through a street market and went around the block before I finally made it back! Then, they didn’t have a massage therapist available right away, so I made an appointment and went and sat and read in Rinia Park until the appointment time. After the massage, I went to the The House of Leaves: Museum of Secret Surveillance, which I’d walked past before the massage. It was a bit like Bunkart2, except for the architecture. After exiting the museum, I went back to the hotel to prepare some snail mail. About the time I’d finished that, I think it was time to go out and meet up the workshop people for dinner: we had a huge delicious meal (including pizza) at Artigiano.

See below for 17 photos of the neighborhood I walked through, plus another 3 from the hotel area in the evening.

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Tirana, Albania (Day 1, banquet)

At the end of a very, very long day of walking (over 20,000 steps), I was amply rewarded with a huge, delicious meal and live music in the most atmospheric place you could dream up.

The restaurant was called Sofra e Ariut. Check them out on social media:

See below for photos related to the workshop that hosted the banquet and photos of the restaurant.

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Tirana, Albania (Day 1, evening)

When the sun went down, the lights came on, and the buildings looked different. I took pictures of many of the places I saw in the morning as I walked back to the hotel, but in reverse order!

See below for photos of:

  • Et’hem Bey Mosque
  • Skanderbeg Square
  • The Cloud Pavilion
  • The Pyramid of Tirana
  • Various buildings along Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard
  • Mother Teresa Square and some nearby university buildings
  • Tirana Marriott Hotel and Air Albania Stadium

Continue reading Tirana, Albania (Day 1, evening)

Bunkart 2 Museum in Tirana

I’d learned about Bunkart and Bunkart 2 while browsing listicles about tourism in Tirana. Bunkart is a bunker used as an art gallery somewhere farther from the center of the city where I was wandering around (and around) on my first day as a tourist in Tirana. Bunkart 2 is a history museum. I stumbled across the entrance (well, actually the exit and *then* the entrance). Upon learning that entry tickets were only 7 Euros (or 700 lek), I bought one and went in. I learned a lot.

Albanians were spied on by secret police, sent to work camps where many died, or were just executed, in the not-too-distant past. The security agency was called Sigurimi.

This museum was by no means world-class, but, located as it is underground in a series of small rooms, it does what it set out to do: press upon visitors the need for freedom.

Continue reading Bunkart 2 Museum in Tirana

Tirana, Albania (Day 1, afternoon)

Albania was constitutionally atheist under communist rule and religious people suffered persecution. Now, religion is back. On my first afternoon in Tirana, on my wanderings, I saw a new church, an old mosque that somehow survived, and a mosque so new it hasn’t opened yet.

See below to find out who the guy on the horse is and see photos of:

  • Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral
  • Skanderbeg Square
  • Et’hem Bey Mosque and the Clock Tower
  • Toptani Mall
  • Toptani Castle
  • Namazgah Mosque (and Downtown One)

Continue reading Tirana, Albania (Day 1, afternoon)

Tirana, Albania (Day 1, morning)

When I woke up in Tirana, I had a vague plan to walk around and see some of the sites I’d seen in a couple of listicles on my phone in the airport while waiting to board the plane in Frankfurt. I had no idea just how far I’d walk, or how much I’d see!

Luckily, the hotel was right in the city center, and the weather was fantastic: a little cold, but amazingly bright and sunny, and I saw in real life almost everything the internet told me to look for.

See below for photos of:

  • Tirana Marriott Hotel, Air Albania Stadium, and some university buildings
  • Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard
  • The Pyramid of Tirana
  • The Lana River at Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard
  • Rinia Park and the Taiwan Center

Continue reading Tirana, Albania (Day 1, morning)

A Trip from Hangzhou, China to Tirana, Albania

We did not go to Albania on a train. That was just the first part of a long journey!

I made this on https://www.greatcirclemap.com/. (Yeah, we flew over Russia…)

For the first time in a long time, I got on a plane (two planes, actually) to go somewhere for fun that wasn’t my hometown. But first I got in a taxi, and on a train, and in another taxi, and spent the night in an airport hotel, and took a shuttle bus, lol.

Why Albania? Siqi was invited to a workshop, and I decided to take leave from work and go too. I’d never been to Albania!

We left on the evening of Tuesday, January 23 and returned in the afternoon on Monday, January 29. We had three full days in Albania, which I’m posting about separately, and then we did the whole journey again in reverse.

See below for more on the journey from Hangzhou (to Shanghai to Frankfurt) to Tirana, Albania.

Continue reading A Trip from Hangzhou, China to Tirana, Albania