Saturday, September 6, 2008

Left Bar, Monte Negro heading for Puke, Albania

Just crossed over the Albanian border and the scenery outside changed completely from city to a rural mountainous village. There's a flock of sheep and a donkey grazing right out of my window on the bus. The bus driver announced it is forbidden to take photos at the border.

A very stereotypical Serbian man with a pink shirt with flamingoes and mullet came on the bus to collect our passports. Most of the people here dress as if they were two decades behind and from an episode of Miami Vice the rest of the world. There is about 97% Russians on the bus and two British and one me. The Serb man says to us "Welcome to the poorest country in Europe." It turns out this man is going to be our tour guide. We were lucky.

Albania's border on the North is Serbia. It borders Macedonia, Greece, Monte Negro (where we came in) and Lake Skadar (one of the largest lakes in Europe.) The climate in Albania is very Mediterranean. As soon as we got off the bus I could feel the heat stick to my skin. Looking up to the top of a hill I see Fortress Skadar which dates back to 9 B.C.

There are three styles of buildings here. The communist style apartments look like gray cement bricks with holes for windows. Then there are modern buildings, and sort of traditional looking housing.

My favorite part of the city is that all the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches and Muslim mosques are right next to each other. They aren't spread out in their own separate city centers like most Eastern European cities have them. I think this shows that the Albanians are very united. In fact, they don't call each other by anything but Albanians. If you visit Albania and stay for a while you become Albanian to the people here. Its not a communist concept but to me shows how the people believe in equality.

Albania Photos