Travelling through Albania isn’t as difficult as it may seem.
- There are car washes everywhere.
- Albanians are very kind, hospitable, honest and helpful.
- Roads are of different quality, from highways to dirt roads in poor condition. What is red on the map will be asphalted. What is yellow will be a dirt road. What is white will probably be a path for mules or horses.
- Traffic is very varied. You’ll find horses and carts, bicycles, scooters and motorbikes, old Mercedes and new jeeps. The attitude towards traffic regulations is cavalier. You need to look around carefully and mind so many other users of the roads (also those going the wrong way). Locals are born with this divisibility of attention. In big cities there are always traffic jams. Blaring means: ‘Be careful, I’m coming’ or is a simple greeting. Everybody blares.
- There are lots of stray dogs. Those in towns are harmless but it happened to me a couple of times that there was something big and barking running behind me.
- Nobody despises money. If you don’t have the local currency (lek), they will convert the prizes to euros or exchange the money in a shop.
- City life often dies out during the hot hours of the day. It’s obligatory to go for an evening walk though. Whole towns gather on main streets.
- If you don’t know Albanian, it could be easier to find somebody speaking Italian than English.
- Local cuisine is tasty and particularly desserts and cakes are delicious. It’s worth to try new dishes.
- It’s good to ask if tap water is good for drinking. It changes depending on the town.
- Traditionally girls get married when they are 20 and guys when they are about 30. Matchmaking is still in use. There are lots of venues for wedding parties so you don’t need to wait for years (like in Poland) to book a place.
- I haven’t understood their counting system. Sometimes in a shop there would be a written price of 1200 lek but in reality it was 120 lek. Also commas in written numbers were used differently so if something seems disproportionately expensive or simply confusing, it’s better to take out the money and clarify things. They don’t give tourist prices here.
OK, it’s not an easy task. Albanian is different from anything else and the pronunciation may change depending on the region. I learnt from people and from the Internet. You will find some useful words and phrases here. My private notebook with what I learnt is written in Polish transcription so no help for you. I’ll just leave my travelling note here, hoping that I deciphered it correctly (who wrote it had worse handwriting than mine).
Ne jemi 2 vajza me bicikleta nga Polonija per ne Istamboll. Amuna me gregadrat per nje nat? Ju faliminderit.
We are two girls on bicycles from Poland to Istanbul. Can we camp here for one night? Thank you.