SATURDAY 20TH OCTOBER 2012.
VLORE TO TIRANA
Last night we went for a walk to check out the bus station location so we knew what our plan of action would be this morning. I’m pleased we did because it was a major detour to get to it even though it’s was within easy walking of the hotel. The detour was around a public square being revitalised for a coming 100 year anniversary.
Pedestrians areallowed to walk through construction sites even though there are manholes missing, deep trenches across the pathway and workers mixing concrete. To avoid the construction site we caught a taxi and the charming driver delivered us pronto to the bus station. Taxis are dirt cheap in Albania, a trip of around ten kilometres costs about $1-50.
The trip from Vlore to Tirana was probably the least interesting bus journey we have done so far as the road passed through mostly flat agricultural lands. However it was interesting from a colour point of view. Buildings and houses painted in bright colours became more evident as we approached Tirana. It was like the population decided to abandon dull greys synonymous with communist regimes of the past and splash paint everywhere.
Following are some photographs taken from the bus on the way to Tirana.
This is how crowded the beaches are in the summer season at Durres.
Women dressed in black are mourning the loss of their husband. Life expectancy for males in Albania is around 75 and for females 80 years.
Modern Tirana, was founded as an Ottoman (Turkish) town in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, a ruler from Mullet (southern Italy). Tirana became Albania’s capital city in 1920 and has a population of around 763,700 (including outer suburbs). The city is host to public institutions and private universities and is the centre of the political, economical and cultural life of the country.
This afternoon we hired a couple of bikes in the park and went sightseeing around the main plaza area.
The bikes were OK except for the fact we couldn’t raise the seats. Locals ride with ridiculously low seat settings, makes you feel uncool.
The above photograph might be the most creative photo for Albania. The odds of me being in the right place at the right time for this photograph are millions to one. I have learned it is best to have the camera turned one all the time. It’s set on ISO 800, no flash and on the infinity focus mode. Sometimes when on a bus trip for example the camera is on for more than six hours but the battery doesn’t go flat because it goes into sleep mode after fifteen seconds. If I hadn’t had the camera on in this instance I would have missed the shot.
The rude finger gesture is considered vulgar in some circles but it’s not that bad if you know its origins. The English longbow is responsible for this gesture. When the English and French were at war the English bowmen, after firing a salvo of arrows off, would hold up their finger (the one used to pull the bow string back) in an act of defiance. It was like ‘cop that you bastards’. In return, when an English bowman was captured the French would cut his finger off so he could no longer use the long bow.
Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, Macedonia, on August 1910. At the age of twelve, she felt the call of God. She died in September 1997.
I guessed this mosaic was around sixty metres long by twenty-five metres high. It was a monumental undertaking of mind-boggling proportions. The scene portrayed unity at all costs. Unfortunately Albanian authorities have yet to place plaques at monuments like this to inform the visitor.
The next three photographs show the mosaic detail.
It was hard to guess the size of the tiles used in this creation with any accuracy. But I guessed they were about 25 millimetres square. If that’s the case there were well over two and a half million tiles in the scene. Imagine the logistics of designing, making and placing them in position relative to the design layout and all done metres off the ground. What an experience it would be to work on a project like this. What do you reckon, Sara?
After the bike ride we needed food.
Albanians who own cars are pedantic about keeping them clean and as a result there is a car wash on just about every street corner. It’s an easy way to get into business all that is needed is a pressure cleaner and access to water.
Bev and I watched this operator in action whilst having a cuppa and we were amazed at how thorough he was and how fast he completed the job. It was like watching a dancer perform.
Dined out tonight and we found a place making wonderful savoury pancakes.
This particular café was doing a roaring trade while others had hardly any people in them. The whole operation was highly efficient and the finished product couldn’t be faulted. The two we had were filling and tasty. I reckon if we had a setup like this at home we could make a mint! Under each hot plate was a circular gas ring.
Tomorrow we head for Shkoder, the most northern city in Albania.