Sunday, April 26, 2009

The colourful buildings of Tirana

Another day of wandering around Tirana, making it two in total. We have been just about every direction away from the main Skenderbeg Square and I walked all along from the station in the north ot the Italian fascist style University building in the south and a little bit further on into the main park.

Tirana is famous for its painted buildings. Yesterday we saw lots of pastel shades, very reminiscent of some part of Italy, like Rome. Today we saw some of the really wonderfully painted buildings which we had missed yesterday and here is a selection of photos taken of them. The buildings themselves are nothing special; and on the back side of some of these buildings there is not even any plasterwork. And many buildings do not have plasterwork which makes them rather poor-looking if not entirely unattractive.

Otherwise, we have been sitting at bars, drinking delicious Italian coffee - Fred an espresso and myself a capuccino. There is a lovely place with a garden quite near the hotyel (Villa Tafaj) where we often go to sit,. The air is full of the scent of orange blossom. Delicious!

The air is also full of birdsong but this is because many Albanians keep birds in cages, next to all their potted plants, which crowd every balcony, as if every Albanian wants to keep in touch with their country roots. In the big park, the woods were alive to the sound of nightingales. Our hotel keeps a menagerie of birds and animals, which we are not exactly happy about but we do our best to avoid them, the only life we see in the room are ants in the bathroom.

The streets are full of spontaneous markets, a small garden area betwene blocks of flats might have someone setting up stall selling teh most delicious looking fruit and vegetables (much fo which is organic). This brightens up many neighbourhoods. The strawberries are really tasty.

It goes almost without saying the the Albanians copme across as very friendly and hospitable people and that makes it always such a pleasure. One disappointment is that I have not heard as much Albanian music here as I did in Kosovo (Fred doesn't mind). It seems like Kosovars are more Albanian than the Albanians themselves.

Tomorrow, we take a car which we wil have for four days and we intend to go north to near the Monetengrin border at Shokodra.

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