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'Faleminderit' Albania

Stads aanzicht Berat, de stad met de 1000 ramen

We cannot leave Albania without saying a fat Faleminderit, a big thank you. Albania is the land of hospitable people, who give you a warm welcome. Being happy that you are there, being happy that you are buying something from them, being proud of their country, marvelling about using the NL, being curious, being able to ask direct questions, giving you a drink and not wanting you to pay yourself - while they themselves have less to spend. The country where a big smile comes to the face when you say the word 'Faleminderit'. This is the first word we learned and used a lot. Doors opened for us through this one word of Albanian.

Everything I write below is my experience, and everyone's experience can be different. Albania is the land of beautiful green nature, from the light green spring trees to the dark green spruce. From the rugged mountains, to the lovely plains and from the coast with sand or gravel to the many flowers and grapes.

The land of many turtles and the jackals that can be clearly heard late at night. From the vegetable gardens, hives and small market stalls along the way where you can buy products directly from the farmer. The land of different faiths from Orthodox, Islam to Catholic and they can coexist. There are regions and cities where only one faith is present, but usually you will find more.

But also the country with communism as a past, in which no faith was allowed at all for a long time. The many bunkers, apparently more than a hundred thousand, are a witness to this past. Now there is a new president, only not everyone has confidence in this we notice from the stories we hear. The current cabinet is also enriching itself and the local population is struggling.

The land of the Euro and the Leak! Albania doesn't have a Euro, does it? True and yet we could pay in Euro at almost all campsites. No problem at all. The local entrepreneur only accepts the Leak. And when the Euros run out, you can only pin Leak. The exchange rate is, at the moment, quite easy: 1000 Leak is about 9,-. We assumed 10,- and then something off then its always not too bad haha. And it wasn't too bad, it's an affordable country, a lot cheaper than in the Netherlands. Although the Diesel is still around 1.70. Eating out is certainly much cheaper. Even at Lake Shkodra Resort we ate for €45,- with three people, including appetiser, dessert and drink. Albania is the country in which the difference between rich and poor can be very large. The coast is being filled with megalomaniac apartment complexes and hotels. Those in Vlorë were largely vacant and yet they were added. It seems like everyone can build whatever he/she wants, a plan or well-being committee doesn't seem to be present. I doubt this does the country good. There are beautiful houses and slums, small cute farmhouses and apartment complexes and everything can be nearby (the difference is all the more noticeable now that we are in Montenegro). Not to mention the electricity poles in the villages and cities. How many wires can hang on one pole?

On the land, the soil is tilled by hand, with the shovel and the scythe. Is the grass transported on a cart with a donkey or horse in front of it. Are there vegetable gardens plentiful and you get that friendly smile when you wave at them. (and then you see that dentistry is / can also be a point of attention here). There is a Spar and a Conad in Vlorë and they used even higher prices than in the Netherlands. Unlikely if you know that the employees earn less than €2 per hour. In other cities, the grocery was much cheaper and especially if you shop locally or along the way. The different shops can sit side by side here and there. The hairdresser next to a garage and the bakery next to a flower shop or car tire supplier. The country with the good roads and very very bad roads. The main roads (red roads on the map) are often good with a bump or threshold here and there. The smaller roads you have to wait and see what the state is like. A yellow road (on the map) can be very good and asphalted, but also full of holes and potholes.

Albania is the country with the car as the status symbol and preferably a Mercedes. It is unimaginable that in NL we deal so critically with the emissions of cars. While they are here with the cars that we no longer want and/or are no longer accepted, just drive around for at least another 10 years. We even saw old Arriva and Connexion buses, which are also used here as a bus. Cars where the German, English or Dutch garage plate was still around the license plate and cars without a license plate haha. I'm not saying what's happening here is good, but you'll be surprised. Wouldn't there be a middle ground between these two extremes? Oh yes, everything can be transported on the roof of your car. Chipboards, beds, garden tools it's all possible on the roof. No trailer hire, no need for anything haha. And in addition to the cars and bad roads, the country, from the world to car washes 'Lavazh'. There is one on every corner, of course it is washed by hand. And also there are many small garages and many car tire suppliers and hubcap shops. But also not surprising with all those bad and dusty roads.

In Albania, not only cars drive on the road. Cyclists, horses, donkeys, small mopeds (with cargo bike), tractors, hikers are also present on the same road. Yesterday we even saw an electric wheelchair, not seen before in the last five weeks. By the way, everything is possible on the road; overtaking in curves, the four of them on a one-lane road, crawling in front of a traffic jam. But also a thank you (with hand or horn) if you go aside for each other. It takes a lot of flexibility and yet we continue to be amazed, which also makes it fun. Please note that there are many police checks for speed on the roads. The country with an incomprehensible public transport system for us. There is no train and there are no bus stops. There are countless small / 20 people vans with a final destination sign for the windows. From brand new, to vans that you wonder if it's still wise for them to drive. They therefore drive quietly with 30 people in a 20 person bus. No bus stops and yet you see people standing along the road everywhere, waiting for the bus. The system works and is beautiful to see.

Albania is also the country that can still improve a lot in terms of waste. In the south it was not too bad for us, but in the north there is a lot of waste along the way. When the containers are full we just put it next to it. Or an abandoned verge is also very fine, but also in the beautiful nature, or in Lake Koman. When the containers are full, we can also put them on fire, then there can just be something new in tomorrow. The country has a number of clear tourist areas, where many people and bus loads go. Also try the other areas. They don't always have that beautiful bazaar, or citadel or castle, but great Albanian people. Such as Elbasan with the Orthodox priest and Rreshen with the beautiful nature and a camping owner with whom you communicate via google translate. Or the young enthusiastic entrepreneur Romeo of Camping Castle or Berat who still offers authentic Albanian meals for his guests.

The land of Vodafone. How happy we were that we had our subscription with Vodafone, because it has agreements with Albania and there are also several shops in various cities. If you don't have a Vodafone abo, no problem then you buy a temporary SIM card in the country and you also have range. There is a solution for everything. Albania FALEMINDERIT for these beautiful weeks. Try to maintain your culture, beautiful nature and hospitality, we love the country.

Mirupafshim Albania Goodbye Albania


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