Monday, 27 June 2011

Berat, Albania

When people asked me why I was going to spend a month working in a hostel in Albania, I said I didn't know; but it was definitely a really good decision; I had no real expectations, seeing as there isn't much information on the internet. As usual, however, all the stereotypes portrayed on the Simpsons were spot on.

...for example

Albania was the last country to come out of communism, which is really the main reason why I love it here; it's so different. Most roads weren't even constructed until the mid 1990s, and normal civilians weren't allowed to drive before then. The city I've been working in seems really untouched by tourism, and the locals are genuinely surprised when they see you in the street; definitely not what I expected in Europe. No one speaks much English at all, apart from a cabdriver who would pull up next to decent looking girls and say "hot, yes?" 
It's even rare if people come up to you and try and practice speaking English to you.

 Above: every night thousands of people go walking back and forth down this street (known as the 'giro') for a couple of hours. Girls get really dressed up and wear heals too. It started in the communist era, as this was the only time people could go out and socialise. Everyone just says a quick 'hi' to each other though, because during the communist era, no one was prepared to talk for too long as risk of conspiring against the government.

Above: One of the many bunkers built during the communist era, in case of invasion. Most of them are just on peoples' farms, and have been converted in to chicken coops/ houses for donkeys. These are everywhere in Albania.

Above: architecture built during the Ottoman period. Is my view from the hostel

My job has been super laid back as well, what I do mostly is 'entertain' guests, eg going trekking, drinking beers etc. I've also had heaps of time to read...apparently we came from monkeys or something. So yeah, tomorrow I'm finishing here and going through Montenegro and Bosnia up to Serbia to meet my friends, will write more later!