A Travellerspoint blog

Albania

Cooking Lesson in Tirana, Albania


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Guests are treated royally. I was not supposed to help in the kitchen - couldn't even clear the table or help with the dishes.
Every AM we had Turkish coffee prepared over a bunson burner. Second morning, I asked to try. Oops - I boiled it over. I was not allowed to make the coffee again.

Byrek is a traditional Albanian dish. You can buy it llittle shops and in all restaurants.
It is prepared with 18 layers of filo-like dough with various sauces between layers 6 and 12.
Grandmother planned to make it one day, so I asked for lessons.
DSC00747

DSC00747


Demonstration

Demonstration


I get to try

I get to try


Faster, Faster says Xherrie

Faster, Faster says Xherrie


Grandma can't bear to watch me struggle.

Grandma can't bear to watch me struggle.


I am allowed to add the sauce

I am allowed to add the sauce

No one in Albania believes I can cook.

Posted by pscotterly 12:36 Archived in Albania Comments (1)

My Host Family in Albania


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Hosts watching out for me from nd floor balcony

Hosts watching out for me from nd floor balcony

Always watching out for me

Always watching out for me

Brothers , Friends, and Cousins

Brothers , Friends, and Cousins


Wednesday evening, we went to a concert at the opera house. This was their first concert, and we were all excited. Xherri had to work and Dirterie decided to stay home.
At the opera hall

At the opera hall

Thursday evening we had a special dinner at a restaurant. Xhestie placed the order and recommended the wine. Xherri had to work again.
The starters have been ordered

The starters have been ordered

Xherri in front of his University

Xherri in front of his University

My Albanian Twin

My Albanian Twin

Mirella

Mirella

Xherri and Mirella at the caffe bar

Xherri and Mirella at the caffe bar

Posted by pscotterly 13:03 Archived in Albania Comments (1)

Religion in Albania


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Religious affiliation was denied during communism. Affiliation is now a majority Muslim, then Orthodox, a smattering of and Bektashi Teqe ( a Muslim Sect), and I read about the occasional evangelical Christian mission in the rural areas.

Practioners appear to be less radical and emphatic than in the USA (isn't everyplace?) and other Muslim countries. My guides and hosts claimed to be Muslim, but very relaxed practioners. My hosts were also Bektashi Teqe practioners and showed me photos of when they went on the anual retreat to the mountains for a ceremony and sacrifice/feast of many sheep. My host Mirella and I stopped by the Orthodox chapel one evening, and she lit a candle and touched the icon as is the Orthodox custom. I think that many embrace all faiths.
Orthodox Chapel

Orthodox Chapel


Orthodox clock and bell tower

Orthodox clock and bell tower


Chapel through the gate

Chapel through the gate


Duress Mosque

Duress Mosque

Chandelier in Duress Mosque

Chandelier in Duress Mosque

Tirana mosque

Tirana mosque

The women's balcony

Bektashi Teqe  mosque (muslim sect)

Bektashi Teqe mosque (muslim sect)


Green is the color of honoring death

Green is the color of honoring death

Bektashi Teqe  meeting room and place of prayer

Bektashi Teqe meeting room and place of prayer

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Posted by pscotterly 09:10 Archived in Albania Tagged churches_mosques Comments (1)

Dures, Albania

City on the sea


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Duress is Albania's largest seaport. There are also many, many tourist apartments and restaurants along the shore - A place for families to come and stroll on Sundays.
Our Friendship Force guide lived in this city during her youth. At that time, she was a true Patriot for the Communist cause.
Duress, Albania

Duress, Albania


Street scene in Duress

Street scene in Duress


Fishermen

Fishermen


Beachfront cat

Beachfront cat


Fishermen II

Fishermen II

My name in graffiti

My name in graffiti

Toys for sale

Toys for sale


Street Cleaner in Duress

Street Cleaner in Duress


Going to work at Shipyard in Duress

Going to work at Shipyard in Duress

Tourists and a transient

Tourists and a transient

Sunday is the day for weddings

Sunday is the day for weddings

In honor of defense against Italy in 1940

In honor of defense against Italy in 1940


Honoring soldiers

Honoring soldiers


Honoring Soldiers 2

Honoring Soldiers 2

One day in the 1960s, a tree in someone's back yard sunk into a hole in the ground. Upon examination, a Roman amphitheater was discovered.
Would have seated 18000 spectators

Would have seated 18000 spectators


We were able to walk through a maze of former gladiator rooms and cages for lions.
Roman Amphitheater in Duress, Albania

Roman Amphitheater in Duress, Albania


Previous cell turned into baptismal font

Previous cell turned into baptismal font


In the 7th century, the area was converted into a church and Christian burial ground.
Current depth

Current depth


The city plans to demolish 5 current residences and complete the excavation.

Posted by pscotterly 21:31 Archived in Albania Comments (1)

A Trip to Kruja, Albania


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I enjoyed this day trip immensely. I saw so much of Albania's glorious history before the 20th century.
Skanderberg is a National Hero in Albania, who lived in the mid 1400s.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skanderbeg

Kruja is an ancient city where his castle and fort were located. As late as the 1990s, only rubble was on this spot. It is now a spectacular museum.
This is a good example of the accomplishments of this country in the last two decades.
http://www.albanian.com/main/countries/albania/kruja/index.html

Statue of National Hero Skanderbeg

Statue of National Hero Skanderbeg


Footprint and partial wall of 15th c Skanderbeg Castle

Footprint and partial wall of 15th c Skanderbeg Castle

Next to the rebuilt castle is an 18th century ethnographic museum of a typical wealthy Muslim household. This is beautifully created.
18th C Muslim home in Kuja

18th C Muslim home in Kuja


Garden at the ethnographic museum

Garden at the ethnographic museum


The home had a room only for the women of the household.
Women's room in Muslim ethnographic museum

Women's room in Muslim ethnographic museum


And, of course, a room where the men met to smoke, eat, and discuss important matters.
Men's Room in Muslim ethnographic museum

Men's Room in Muslim ethnographic museum


Accessible only by a narrow stairway between the Men's room and the kitchen was a concealed balcony. Small holes were in the wall so women could place serving platters on the shelf and also peek at the men. Notice the oval hole in the blue painted area above the shelf.
Women's serving and peeking place into the Men's Room

Women's serving and peeking place into the Men's Room


Sauna in 18th C Muslim home

Sauna in 18th C Muslim home

A bazaar that has been selling goods for centuries is also in Kruja.
Bazaar shop in Kruja

Bazaar shop in Kruja


Shoppers at the Kruja bazaar

Shoppers at the Kruja bazaar

A feast of Albanian grilled lamb and potatoes

A feast of Albanian grilled lamb and potatoes


All that touring made us hungry.

Left to Right - Jane from Chicago, Diana our Albanian Friendship Force tour leader, Itonka President of the Albania Friendship Force chaptr.

Posted by pscotterly 13:55 Archived in Albania Comments (0)

A Trip to Berat, Albania


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A three-hour bus ride - plus a stop at a local vineyard and winery - got us to the famous walled city of Berat at 12:40. Unfortunately, the museum closed at 1 PM - and it was at least 1/2 mile straight up the mountain on cobblestone streets. Many in the group had not walked that far and fast for at least 50 years.

We did get a tour of the museum that contains 16th century mural paintings and icons by Nikollë Onufri. The murals were whitewashed during the Communist era and the church turned into a gymnasium (as were many). The beautiful iconclassis (wall and doors that enclose the Holy of Holies place where the consecration of the mass is performed) was somehow never ruined.
Passsage into the walled city

Passsage into the walled city

The woman on the right was carving wall hangings. The tunnel reeked of mariuana, but no one else in my group seemed to notice it!
People still live in the walled city

People still live in the walled city


Steet in ancient walled city of Berati

Steet in ancient walled city of Berati

Enver Hoxha was the dictator of Albania that kept the country isloated for decades He built several museums to honor himself and also had his name posted everywhere. Here along the mountside is a huge NEVER laid out in white-washed stones near an Enver flag that was hung when he ruled. It is there as a reminder that Albania will never allow another Enver.
Never Enver

Never Enver

Everyone was ready for lunch, so we could not spend any time in the medieval walled town, where a few hundred people still live.

Although the restaurant owner had prepared a typical Albanian country meal with choices for us - some insistd all 30 of us order off the menu. Lunch ended up taking over 4 hours as the 2 old women in the kitchen went crazy and all the Americans complained about the bad service!

Did not have any time to visit the ethnographic museum because none of us were allowed to leave the group. I spent most of the afternoon sitting on the curb waiting for the Prime Minister to drive through town on his way to open the the new National University. A herd of goats and a pack of dogs came through town also.
Church on the mountainside

Church on the mountainside

Noice the church in the lower right corner.
Closeup of the church

Closeup of the church


Bridge and countryside

Bridge and countryside


Fishing in the Osum River

Fishing in the Osum River


Dogs, goats, and cops wait for the prime minister

Dogs, goats, and cops wait for the prime minister


Just opened - the National University

Just opened - the National University


Brita is also known as the Town of a Thousand Windows. These homes were built in the 1700s.
City of a Thousand Windows

City of a Thousand Windows


Shitet means For Sale

Shitet means For Sale


Ancient and new in Berati

Ancient and new in Berati

Posted by pscotterly 14:43 Archived in Albania Comments (0)

Tirana, Albania Street Scenes

Some pictures from around the city.


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Chimara_Bazaar.jpg

Chimara_Bazaar.jpg


Tirana_Office_Max.jpg

Tirana_Office_Max.jpg


Tirana_post_office.jpg
Waiting_to..the_Pyramid.jpg

Waiting_to..the_Pyramid.jpg

Courthouse_and_jail.jpg

Courthouse_and_jail.jpg


Ancient_little_bridge.jpg

Ancient_little_bridge.jpg


castle footprint

castle footprint


At_the_end..h_of_lights.jpg

At_the_end..h_of_lights.jpg


Finally___ice_cream.jpg

Albanian_light_rail.jpg

Albanian_light_rail.jpg


Horsecart pulling cement mixer by the Tirana airport

Horsecart pulling cement mixer by the Tirana airport


LaLa's Place

LaLa's Place


During the communist era, all buildings were gray concrete. After the people's liberation, the Mayor of Tirana began a project to make the city more colorful. All government buildings were painted the same colors, apartments were painted cheerful colors - some with designs such as trees, flowers, and climbing vines.
Colorful apartments

Colorful apartments


Albanian American Embassy

Albanian American Embassy


At least 25% of the buildings around the city have been abondonded before they are finished. There are single family homes, apartment complexes, and even industrial buildings. Apparently for the past 40 years, construction would start and funding would disappear so the buildings are just left unfinished. In some cases 2-3 level homes are finished on the lower levels, but the top levels remain unfinished. I think this is why you seldom see homeless living on the streets as you do in Denver - there are many places in which to set up a permanent camp.
Abandoned construction

Abandoned construction

Typical_scene.jpg

Typical_scene.jpg


Rode the red bus at least twice a day

Rode the red bus at least twice a day


tirana_square_at_night.jpg

tirana_square_at_night.jpg

Posted by pscotterly 22:20 Archived in Albania Comments (0)

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