Tuesday, July 16, 2013

No Albanian Required

Albania was the best place to be to avoid the Trayvon Martin trial. Small hotels, no CNN, BBC. Best place to be American, too. Amerike! Broad smile, hand on heart. Albanians are grateful. America has always had a soft spot for them, the underdogs of the Balkans. It was an American president who fought for Albania to even exist in the World War One days and after, and it was Clinton who bombed the Serbs to stop ethnic cleansing of Albanians in Kosovo in the nineties. But still.
Albania, full of Moslems who helped prop up the old Turkish empire, then after the Second World  War , Communist Albania, the North Korea  of Europe.

Well, here to report not as gnarled old Balkan hand (see random blogs) but as aging tourist with comfort in mind: sunny days, friendly but not intrusive people, always someone who speaks some English. (Always someone on hand with an uncle in New York, a sister in Boston, a daughter in Paris.) No soldiers visible, few police,  only  a couple of traffic  cops occasionally looking for action. Cosy cheap hotels and good home cooking ( local food, wine etc.)

Warning for those who are young, female and reasonably attractive: unemployment is high. Everywhere there are restless young men with nothing to do but sit in cafes.
Warning for those of us who are so good about seat belts. On those scenic trips with incredible views, listen to the lovely Albanian music on the mini bus and decide that with God and Allah you are in good hands.

1 comment:

  1. Delighted to hear that you and Martin are having a fabulous time exploring this fascinating country. I am in the middle of your book, Mary, and I am enjoying your perspectives on a land I had, until recently, dismissed as not being on my travel list. Thanks to you and your experiences, I must visit Albania.