23 December 2015

Boston Globe: The 10 hot places for travel in 2016? Albania is on the list

By Christopher Muther
Boston Globe
It’s too easy to get swept away looking at pictures of thatched cabanas on stilts over tropical blue seas, or city-size cruise ships with corkscrew waterslides when dreaming of trips. Like a good meal, your travel plans should be balanced, colorful, and feature a prominent and sweet ending. If you need a bit of inspiration for planning a trip in 2016, we’re here to offer a gentle nudge to Asia, Europe, or just a long weekend in the south. Albania is on the list of 10 places worth a visit in 2016. Here what Boston Globe write about Albania

Berat, Albania
This country is not for those of delicate constitution, or for the inexperienced traveler, but the payoff for planning and patience is tremendous. If you’re hesitant to go it alone, contact a tour company, such as Adriatic Luxury Journeys. After being isolated from the rest of Europe after years of rule under the Communist party, Albania is slowly becoming a sought-after tourist destination. The infrastructure still hasn’t caught up with demand. Roads are in terrible condition, public transportation is erratic at best, and the Internet is not exactly dependable. But because of those factors, Albania is a (mostly) undiscovered gem, and the beaches along the Albanian Riviera are stunning. Direct flight? No. Best time to go? September.
Berat, Albania

15 cheap places to visit in Europe. For beaches, Albania!

Ros Walford/ Rough Guides

If you’re short of cash, it doesn’t mean you have to starve the travel bug entirely; simply choose your destinations wisely. Europe can be pricey but there are many places where your money will go further. Here are 15 cheap places to visit in Europe for 2016 according to Rough Guides.

For the beaches choose Albania:

The Albanian Riviera is a gorgeous, yet overlooked, stretch of Mediterranean coastline. Its pristine beaches flanked by dramatic mountains easily rival the pricier tourist meccas of neighbouring Croatia and Greece. For an unforgettable introduction to the region, drive from Vlorë along the Llogara Pass, a spectacular switchback road that leads down to the turquoise bays of the Ionian Sea.

Read the full article:

21 December 2015

A holiday in Albania has something for almost everyone - Bradt Travel Guides

"A holiday in Albania has something for almost everyone. Archaeologists and art-lovers, hikers and historians, oenophiles and ornithologists: all will take home unforgettable memories from a trip to Albania. ". These words about Albania are written by Bradt Travel Guides, one of the world's leading travel publisher in a new article of Gillian Gloyer

Read what she says about Albania:

A holiday in Albania has something for almost everyone. Less than four hours’ flight from the UK, its towering mountains provide one of Europe’s last refuges for bears, wolves and the elusive Balkan lynx, while the country’s location on major migration paths makes it a Mecca for birdwatchers. The complexity and richness of its archaeological sites rival anything in neighbouring Greece, with a fraction of the tourists. Its ancient cities, with their stone houses and cobbled streets, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites; its medieval castles are everything that castles are meant to be, with dungeons, water cisterns and vaulted tunnels. Delicious fresh food and local wines will delight gastronomes.
The national museums hold unrivalled collections of Illyrian silver, Byzantine icons and Socialist Realist art. Traditional costumes and household items can be found not only displayed in ethnographic museums, but in daily use throughout the country. Meanwhile, the capital, Tirana, is a lively and modern city where young professionals sip coffees or cocktails in fashionable bars and clubs. Finally, the wide sands of the Adriatic coast, the sought-after coves of the Ionian and the resorts of Lake Ohrid offer the full range of beach activities. Archaeologists and art-lovers, hikers and historians, oenophiles and ornithologists: all will take home unforgettable memories from a trip to Albania.

Full article:  http://www.bradtguides.com/destinations/europe/albania.html


11 December 2015

5 Must Do's in Tirana, Albania

Tirana, recognised as the capital city of Albania the world over, is a destination for passionate travelers who just cannot do without checking out new places scattered all around the world.

By John Martin

Many tourists from every nook and corner have been taking cheap flights to Tirana for a journey they will forget their entire life. There was a time when the Albanian capital used to top the list for the worst city in Europe. The decades rule led by Stalin shattered the entire city leaving it grey and grim. When the communism broke down way back in 1992, it only resulted in chaos across the city, but Tirana struck back with a bang and since then, it’s been attracting several tourists from all around the world.

So, get ready to enjoy the warm hospitality as displayed by Albanians for they are some of the people in the world blessed with a jolly nature. And what they expect in return from you in little is sure to surprise you.

Here are must do’s in Tirana for an amazing weekend break, but if you intend to stay for more than 2 days, your holiday will definitely become a delightful one.

1. Enjoy Albanian Hospitality

The hospitality as displayed by the Albanians cannot be compared because they at times go out of the way to make you feel at home away from home. They’ll invite you over a for a cup of coffee or a rakija (a plum brandy), which is a local custom they gladly celebrate. They have been isolated from the outside world for long, so they intend to satisfy their curiosity by witnessing a major chunk of tourists and greeting them with a smile and arms wide open.

2. Take Pleasure in the Local Colour

Tirana, being a small town, would not let you face any problem should you decide to cover the same in a day. The museums, monuments, parks and historic buildings are all covered in rainbow colours adding brightness to the city. Don’t miss booking cheap flight tickets to Tirana for a weekend break or holiday that could stay with you for years.

3. Skanderbeg Square

Located at the heart of Tirana, you cannot afford to miss taking a tour of the Skanderbeg Square. A lovely meeting place, named after the national hero of Albania, there’s a National History Museum of Albania that you can explore. There are some great attractions surrounding the square you would not want to ignore.

4.Visit the National Museum of History

The National Museum of History will let you check out several interesting artifacts that belong to the olden times including Hoxha’s reign. History lovers will not a miss a chance digging deep into the historical tales.

5. Unwind at the Mount Dajti National Park

Looking to break away from the city centre? Strolling around at the Mount Dajti National Park sounds wise. Feel some fresh air and take a countryside walk to loosen up a bit before proceeding to the next attraction in the “to-do” list. Cheap Tirana flights can be found aplenty for a soothing holiday experience.

08 December 2015

L’Albanie parmi le top 5 des destinations pour 2016 via Le Figaro

L’Albanie susciter l'intérêt dès les médias françaises. Le Quotidien français, Le Figaro, le deuxième plus grand journal national en France a placé l’Albanie parmi les 5 places d’être visitée en 2016.

4. L'Albanie

"Surprise du classement, mais également en football, avec une récente qualification pour l'Euro 2016. Avec plus de 10% d'augmentation des recherches des départs vers l'Albanie de 2014 à 2015, cette destination pourrait bien voir son tourisme se développer en 2016. Entre parcs nationaux et plages à couper le souffle, c'est un pays qui a beaucoup à offrir.

À voir en Albanie: la mosquée Ethem Bey de Tirana, avec sa voûte colorée. Se balader dans les petites rues au style ottoman de Gjirokastër, la «ville aux mille marches» à flanc de montagne. Les ruines antiques et byzantines de la cité d'Apollonia, sur la côte albanaise."
Shkodra Castle

Cliquez ici pour l'article:


07 December 2015

Albania – the Holy Grail for Intrepid Travelers

Lately there are many bloggers writing about Albania, but American blogger Barbara Weibel brings a very interesting point of view while describing the history and the places she has visited in our country. She stayed in Albania this summer, but she posted 5 articles with photos about Tirana, Kruja, Albanian Traditional Food and Albanian history.  Here is a summary of her last article posted in her website: http://holeinthedonut.com/  tittle: Albania the Holy Grail for Intrepid Travelers.

Today, Albania is rushing to catch up. In Tirana, there are few sights beyond Skanderberg Square, but the air virtually crackles with exuberance. Each night after work, young professionals gather in the city’s ubiquitous cafes and coffee shops, where they spend hours discussing politics and planning for the future. Most speak at least some English and the literacy rate is high. New buildings are springing up everywhere, especially hotels, intended to service the tourists that Albania hopes to begin attracting.

Tirana Skanderbeg Square
Despite the enthusiasm for tourism, travel to Albania is still challenging. Passenger trains are non-existent and there is not a single bus station in the capital. Buses congregate in dusty, rock-strewn lots, the location of which are known only to locals. Indeed, when it was time to leave Albania, I discovered that there were no buses running between Tirana and Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, a mere 98 miles apart. Just crossing a street on foot in Tirana can be a dangerous proposition. Drivers speed up at pedestrian crosswalks, and the only way to cross is to step out into traffic and force vehicles to a screeching halt.

 Yet despite all the inconveniences, Albania grew on me. The friendly people won me over, the food made me drool, and the history fascinated me. Though I hadn’t planned on venturing beyond the capital, I was anxious to see more, so I arranged for a personalized day trip that took in Kruja, one of the country’s most important historical cities, and Durres, the country’s largest port.

Kruja National Museum
The longer I stayed, the more I wanted to explore the rest of this remarkable but little known country. From Berat, known as the city of 1,000 windows; to the golden sand beaches of the Albanian Riviera and the country’s 14 national parks; Albania is the Holy Grail for intrepid travelers. It is raw, it is real, it is thoroughly fascinating, and it provided an experience unlike anywhere I’ve ever been before.

Read the full article here:  http://holeinthedonut.com/2015/12/06/travel-to-albania/

20 October 2015

Albanian road trip: history behind the bunkers

Albania is becoming a new tourist destination and is making its way into European Travel itineraries. Lonely Planet is writing again for our beautiful country, this time suggesting for tourists a trip in 4 amazing cities, Shkodra, Kruja, Berat and Gjirokaster, with plenty of castles, museums, Unesco Sites, and unique archaeology. Here is a summary of the Albanian Road Trip in Tirana from Lonely Planet

"Having spent nearly half of the 20th century isolated from the rest of the world, Albania remains somewhat a land of mystery, only recently making its way onto European travel itineraries as an offbeat and budget-friendly destination.
While ‘the land of eagles’ may be better known for its stormy communist past (with some 750,000 concrete bunkers still scattered around to prove it), it has a rich and diverse historical and cultural legacy. The best way to take in Albania’s ancient castles, lived-in World Heritage Sites and ethnographic museums is on a road trip, especially if you have limited time or aren’t keen on working out the country’s bewildering bus system.

Start your cultural exploration of Albania in the north. Once an important trading town due to its favourable geographical position at the meeting point of two rivers and very close to the Adriatic Sea, Shkodra is considered the country’s cultural capital thanks to its music and literary traditions.

Head south from Albania’s cultural capital to its historical capital, Kruja. No trip to the country is complete without a stop in this town synonymous with Skanderberg, Albania’s national hero who led the defence against the Ottomans some 500 years ago. For a period Skanderberg was based here, and Kruja is regarded as almost a holy site for Albanians.

From Kruja or Tirana, continue south and inland towards Berat via Lushnja and SH4. You can also get there passing through Elbasan, though note this route takes a good hour or so longer regardless of how it looks on the map. Known as the ‘town of a thousand windows’, Berat has become a major star on the Albanian travel scene thanks to its impressive Ottoman ‘sprawl’ up the hills on both sides of the Osumi River.

The final stop on this north-to-south cultural tour of Albania, Gjirokastra was inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List in 2008 as another important Ottoman town along with Berat. Your best bet getting here is to head back north to Lushnja and continue along the SH4 through the spectacular Tepelenë District and Drino Valley, famously described in Lord Byron’s Letters on Albania.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/albania/travel-tips-and-articles/albanian-road-trip-history-behind-the-bunkers#ixzz3p69H1FeJ



13 October 2015

Tirana- a city of contrast, a great travel destination

By Bart van Eijden

"Tirana is a city of contrast, therefore a great travel destination". Here how a dutch photographer describe the city of Tirana. He writes a blog about his impressions after spending two weeks in our Capital. The Communism past, bunkers and pyramid, the cheap food, lively people, sleepless nights, colored building in contrast with poverty, damaged benches and road traffic etc- are the focus of his article. Here is a summary of his impressions:

"The Pyramid is one of the main attractions to those visiting Albania’s capital. Used as a NATO base during the Kosovo war, it now sits as a reminder of communism in downtown Tirana. Youth often climb it and hang out on top as a perfect place to smoke marihuana while staying our of reach for police.
He mentioned our "Visit Tirana" page in Twitter

Climbing this former museum to dictator Enver Hoxha is not difficult at all. While some say that going down is much more difficult, I never found that. Just make sure you take the slopes on the sides, as they are least steep.

Weekend or not, there is always a party somewhere in Tirana. Also, if you go to Block/Blloku, you can drink so much great coffee for cheap (<€0.50) that you will never be able sleep.

During the terror regime of dictator Enver a lot of money was wasted on building communist bunkers all over the country. At the highest period there were about 700,000 communist bunkers or one for every four persons. After the fall, these concrete structures became redundant and some find different use these days. Where until recently there was short supply of cars, people for example lost virginity in these things.

If you don’t want to be bothered by searching for them, just go and visit the bunker at the east entrance of Block (located right here). It sits there as a checkpoint monument to the former secluded Blloku neighbourhood where dictator Enver Hoxha once lived. You can also find a piece of the Berlin wall there.

Happy coloured building emerged all over Tirana after reportedly the mayor told residents to give their homes a fresher non-communist look. Locals claim there was a fair share of corruption involved in this move, but all I know is that some of the use of colours is pretty hilarious.

Tirana is a city that never sleeps, a city where most youngsters hook up and where they can earn more than in any other Albanian city. On the other hand, it is also incredibly crowded, loud, congested and as a pedestrian you don’t have much to say in traffic.

Asking around a bit, some seem to love Tirana while others don’t. One thing is for sure: it’s a city of contrast. After having been there two weeks myself I can say it’s therefore a great travel destination. If I could live there is question that will remain unanswered, but I definitely had a great time there! A must-visit while you are out in the Balkans!

Bllok area

Colored buildings

Read the full article here:

07 October 2015

This Nation Banned George Michael, Now it’s a Tourist Paradise

This Nation Banned George Michael, Now it’s a Tourist Paradise . Albania is far from perfect.. However, I’m writing from the perspective of a tourist. For short-term visitors, Albania is a land of ridiculously scenic beaches, postcard-worthy mountains, historic castles and towns, ancient fortresses, Roman-era ruins, the oldest lake in Europe, and a cool European capital city relatively devoid of tourists. The photos speak for themselves ... . For tourists, it’s a bit of a paradise here. Compared to almost any other country in Europe, Albania is inexpensive. Hotels are great value, and if you think about staying longer, you could purchase a new ocean-front apartment for about the same price as a Volkswagen. The Albanian Riviera was described to me, by an older man from France, as “Spain in 1970”.

Quite the contrary – to date, the changes I have seen in Albania are great, and seeing a little more financial security in one of the poorest regions in Europe can only be good. But, I already feel a little selfish nostalgia knowing that the future will inevitably bring more and more crowds to Albania, and more of the raw natural landscapes will be blighted by the over-development of apartment blocks and hotels. For better or worse, it is, what it is.

Things are changing in Albania.. But, it hasn’t always been this way. Freedom of speech, religion, cars, foreign travel, foreign investment, George Michael, and even beards, were all forbidden. Albania became the most isolated and poorest country in Europe, a land where citizens were more likely to know of someone living in a concentration camp than have a neighbour that owned a colour TV.

Long story short, Albania isn’t like that anymore.

Apart from regular concrete-bunker sightings and the occasional fading communist-era propaganda artwork, the casual tourist wouldn’t realise such tumultuous events occurred so recently. However, after experiencing around sixty years of grief, many Albanians got tired of waiting for “things to get better” and over the last couple of decades, they left the country, en-masse. The exodus hasn’t stopped – for example, in May of this year, more Albanians than Syrians sought asylum in Germany. The Albanian diaspora around the world is now larger than the number of Albanians living in Albania. Given the history, it’s not hard to understand this exodus – sixty years is a very long time to wait for a bunch of promises that never actualised.

So, Albanians continue to leave, just as tourists are really starting to arrive.

Read the full article here from Yomadic:


21 September 2015

Albania – Europe’s Hidden Jewel

"Pure, beautiful and full of spirit. This was the essence of Albania", described through amazing photos of Albania taken by Michael Jurick one of the best known as New York City’s photographer.
The article and photos was published in his website with the tittle: "Albania – Europe’s Hidden Jewel" (http://www.jurick.net/2015/08/abania-europes-undiscovered-jewel/ ). There are about 90 photos of #Albania, especially the seaside, southern riviera, as well as UNESCO cities of Berat and Gjirokaster.

Here is a summary of his article:
By Michael Jurick

"When we told our friends and family that we were going to Albania for our summer vacation, they all asked the same question, “why Albania?” After you see these photographs and read this journal, all your questions will be answered. We found Albania to be a gorgeous jewel of Eastern Europe’s southern riviera.

The lead photograph from our journey is of our daughter Eden. We stopped for chocolate and vanilla ice cream macchiatos at the edge of a cliff-side mountain cafe. Fashionista Eden soaks up sunshine between billowing drapes that reveal a jaw-dropping deep azure sky thousands of feet above straw-colored beach umbrellas. To me, this was the essence of Albania. Pure, beautiful and full of spirit. After establishing its independence from dictator rule in 1991, the country has now spread her wings to shre the world the hidden gems within. The Albanian riviera was a fabulous highlight of our trip.
The views from our drive along the rugged coast south from Vlora to Llogora to Himara were staggering! Most of Albania’s roads are steep, swirly switchbacks – but all reveal magnificent vistas at each hairpin turn. Soaring green mountains drop straight into the Ionian Sea thousands of feet below.
 Once we arrived in Himara, the charm of the Albanian riviera had completely taken over. The weather was absolutely pristine with just a hint of soft wispy breezes and 81 degree temps. The crescent cove of the coast anchored both the charming village below and homes that dotted the hillside rising into the mountains. The sun bathed it all in gold.
The drive from Himara to Sarandë featured another awe-inspiring set of breathtaking views of the southern Albanian riviera. Homes peppered the rocky edges and donkeys shared the winding roads. We stopped for lunch and cappucinos at the gorgeous panoramic cafe, Perla and ate fish soup and fresh salads. When we pulled into Sarande, the sun glittered on the colored hotels lining the crescent cove directly across the Greek Island of Corfu.

The penultimate stop on our Albanian adventure took us to the southern tip of the country to a town called Ksmali which featured small islands lining the channel to Greece’s Corfu island. Small rustic fishing boats anchor off the beach. There was color everywhere. We jet-skied, we ate fresh fruit, we enjoyed life. The vibe in the air here in Ksamili was perfect pristine paradise.

On our drive to Berat, we witnessed the most unusual and peculiar thing that ended up being the topic of conversation the entire trip. We saw hundreds of half-completed homes in nearly mint condition. We later learned from the people of Albania that after gaining their independence in 1991, Albanians began to build a home to secure property rights. Those homes are built in phases and until each phase has the funds, it remains incomplete. See the pink house in the photograph below to see what I’m talking about. You will also see how we shared the roads with all types of livestock.
When we arrived in Berat, we were smitten with it’s ancient charm. We explored the Citadel castle in Berat and walked, talked, and laughed until sunset. At sunset, we came to the peak of the castle mount and glanced across the Osumi River tothe Gorica neighborhood, whose houses face those of Mangalemi.

The arched bridge of Gorica, built in 1780, is a beautiful architectural monument constructed to link Gorica with Mangelemi. We then walked along the promenade for a stroll to enjoy summer life among this quaint Albanian town. The view of the white houses climbing up the hillside to the citadel is one of the best known in Albania and features homes with windows that seem to stand above each other. This city is the pride of Albanian architecture, and under the protection of UNESCO .I took many different photographs in this city – it was visually striking!

What we found so unique about Albania was it’s deep family roots. Everywhere we went, we experienced family-run businesses. Hotels, inns, restaurants, businesses, shop-keepers, and farmers all had multi-generational family members involved in some part of the business. Everything was organic. With farms everywhere you looked, and fresh seafood at arms length from most restaurants, the food was fresher than you could imagine.

On our drive back north, we stopped in Gjirokastër an ancient hilltop village rich in history.

If you like these photographs, do your self a favor and book a trip to Albania!

05 August 2015

Bild: Newcomer in the Balkans

In Albania? Yes, why not: The small country on the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea has beautiful beaches, rich culture, natural treasures - and friendly people. And moreover, the prices are more than moderate.

This is how one of the biggest newspaper in Germany describes our country, Albania. The author
Von Oliver Abraham is a newcomer in Balkans and in Albania too, and he is surprised with nature, history and culture of Albanians. His tour included Durres, Kruja and Berat, Gjirokastra and Blue Eye Spring, Saranda and Butrint, and at the end, Albanian riviera from Saranda to Vlora, through Llogara Pass. Also the article has beautiful photos starting with Ksamil.


28 July 2015

How to go to Karaburun Pennisula, near Vlora Albania?

Karaburun Pennisula is the new destination to be explored in Albania. 
Many people are going there by boat every day to see the undiscovered land in front of Vlora city. 
Karaburun is the biggest Peninsula in Albania, which is situated between the Vlora Gulf and the Otranto Canal. Its 16 km long, but have no good road for driving. People are using a narrow remote road starting from Pasha Liman military base, where you can drive only with '4X4' cars.
The easiest way to reach the site is by boat, only for 30 minutes. 
In 2014, the Regina Blu ferry was established by a Radhime-based hotel owner making trips to Karaburun Peninsula and Sazan Island while stopping along the secluded beaches. This year there are many boats and speedboat which sends more and more people to see and explore Karaburun. There are some beaches and the first restaurants, where you can drink, eat, and rest for all the day. But not to spend the night, because there are not hotels yet.   
One year ago, the Pennisula was all dark, no lights. But now you can see the first lights of bars in the other side. It’s amazing for the people of Vlora to see this view in front of their city.
Rexhina ferry remains the cheapest way to go in Karaburun. It costs about 12 euro per person for a trip of 7 hours. During this trip you can see some beaches of Karaburun, explore Sazan island, which is now open for the public after 25 years isolation, and also you can see the Haxhi Aliu Cave, an awesome place situated in the Cape of Gjuheza, at the end of Peninsula.  Then you continue the trip in Shen Vasili beach, were you can sunbathe for two or three hours and in afternoon come back to Vlora. It’s an amazing trip where you can see the pristine beaches, the amazing nature and crystal waters of our country. Feels like opening up a box of treasures  hidden for year from Albanian public eyes. (Photos: AH)

25 July 2015

Albania Holidays celebrates 10 years of success!

The story behind!
All started from the two well educated young  guys who were very enthusiastic about their country and its tourism potential. Kliton Gerxhani was graduated in International Tourism Management and Consultancy at NHTV- Breda University in Netherlands and Armand Ferra in Business Administration and Management in Oxford Brookes University UK.

As other people who studied abroad and wanted to invest their knowledge in their country, they founded in 2005 the incoming company named Albania Holidays. The company started with online tourism through a website for hotels, which is today the most popular website for booking hotels in Albania always top 1 in Google, www.albania-hotel.com. The website itself was an innovation as it brought Albanian hotels for the first time online, with description and prices. From years, hotels are bookable with credit card from this website and other websites added lately such as www.balkan-hotel.com and www.tirana-hotel.com
Albania Holidays  as an incoming agency as played a great role in promoting Albania abroad, by publishing rich information on tourism in Albania, not only in English but  also in German, Italian, French and even Russian language. One of the leading UK newspapers Mirror.co.uk. on  22 April 2006 in an article titled “Albania Mania “ would write:  Albania doesn't have its own tourist board in the UK, but you should visit albania-holidays.com, a dynamic little local company which offers three-night hotel stays in Tirana from and week-long tours around the country, including accommodation."

Albania Holidays DMC is today a Destination Management Company the only representative for Albania at World of DMC, member of Albanian Tourism Association and other important tourism bodies. It organizes successful Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events for some international companies, and brands. 
The company operates tours around Albania and Balkans through partnering with some well-known international tourism companies, mainly from UK, USA but also other countries of Europe. Through its rich and updated websites, the company serves to individuals to book hotels and tours online. 
Due to its hard work and professionalism in offering top quality service, Albania Holidays has grown significantly in 10 years. It has opened a branch in Pristina Kosovo, named Kosovo Holidays, and employs 10 well educated people full time, while working with around 30 or more professional guides on tour bases. 
Albania Holidays  has contributed actively in lobbing for tourism and influencing government policies to support the development of the sector. All these make it a very reputable company in Albania and broader.

09 July 2015

Tirana – Aus grau wird bunt

Tirana - from gray becomes colorful. This is blog written from a German blogger Beatrice. She enjoyed her stay in Albanian Capital, and shared with us a guide about the most beautiful places of Tirana.  

Read and enjoy her article:

Tirana – Aus grau wird bunt

In den Top-Listen attraktiver europäischer Städte wirst Du Tirana (noch) vergeblich suchen. Kein Wunder, denn die Jahrzehnte des kommunistischen Regimes hatten aus der albanischen Hauptstadt einen grauen, düsteren Ort gemacht, in dem die Einwohner ein ärmliches Leben fristen mussten. Der Zusammenbruch des Kommunismus im Jahr 1992 und der Übergang zu einer demokratischen Regierung verschlimmerte zunächst die Situation.
Besser wurde es ab dem Jahr 2000, als Edi Rama Bürgermeister von Tirana wurde und im großen Umfang Maßnahmen zur Verbesserung der Lebensbedingungen durchführte: Illegale errichtete Gebäude wurden abgerissen und Pläne für eine sinnvolle Stadtentwicklung erstellt. Eine gezielte Begrünung wurde gestartet, die vorher grauen Fassaden bunt angestrichen und man begann, sich um die Müllentsorgung zu kümmern.
Für sein Projekt „Clean and Green“ wurde Edi Rama sogar von den Vereinten Nationen ausgezeichnet.
Heute ist Tirana im Aufschwung. Fast 1 Millionen Einwohner leben in der Stadt – immerhin ein Drittel der gesamten albanischen Bevölkerung. Chaotisch geht es immer noch zu: geschäftige Fußgänger, zähfließender Verkehr, staubige Großbaustellen und ein undefinierbares Häusergemisch von modern bis halbverfallen.
Die Aufbruchstimmung ist überall zu merken. Noch funktioniert nicht alles, aber es tut sich was. Schön? Manchmal ja und manchmal nein. In jedem Fall nicht zu vergleichen mit unserem wohlgeordneten (und manchmal ganz schön behäbigen) Leben – und gerade deshalb einen Besuch wert!

Full article: