Albania has been my home for the last few months and I often get asked why Albania? What makes Albania so special out of all the destinations I have visited? After my second visit to Albania in late March, I fell in love with this place. Here are 10 reasons why I love Albania.
1. The hospitality
Hospitality is something I notice straight away when visiting a country. Albania has strong values and hospitality is something that they have been brought up to know. Albania would have to be in the top 3 countries I have visited in terms of hospitality. You will be made to feel as part of their family but not only that, if you’re going to dinner or drinks with Albanians, expect an argument over the bill. You will have to fight to pay your own way around here.
Albanians are extremely honest and very direct. Honesty is something I strongly value, and Albanians have a powerful sense of straightforwardness I have never experienced anywhere else. If there is a problem, they will tell you. If you have a pimple on your face, you will be told. Don’t take anything personally. It’s really refreshing to be told the truth, something I feel in western society has been lost a little.
3. The beaches
If you have been following my Instagram feed for a while you know I snap beach pictures quite often (maybe too often) but that’s because they are so god damn beautiful! Ksamil is by far my favourite beach in Albania. I love the beach so much I currently live right on one! You will find some of the best beaches in Europe in Albania. My recommendation is to hire a car or scooter and explore the coastal route from Ksamil to the North. You will find many beaches with hardly any tourists on them.
Another reason I love Albania is the simplicity. A common phrase is ‘Albania is 20 years behind everyone else in the world’ and in a sense, it definitely is but also, it just hasn’t developed into mass commercialism which I love. I go to the bakery for my bread, the butcher for my meat and the small (I mean SMALL) scale supermarket for the rest. Yes, it may be convenient in the western world to go to a one-stop shop but Albania is not like that and it is really like stepping back in time a little.
Oh, the character of Albania and Albanians. I have laughed more in the last few months than I have ever before in my life. If there is one thing that Albania doesn’t lack its character. Albanians are always having a laugh and even if it doesn’t really make sense to you, just go with it. Let your guard down and take in all that Albania has to offer!
6. The food
I am a huge fan of Mediterranean food. I love the freshness and homemade feel of Albanian food. The fruit and vegetables taste like they should without nasty chemicals that we see in other countries. Although there isn’t a large variety of food from other cultures in Albania (I crave a good burger from time to time), Albania’s food is simplistic and very delicious.
7. Everything can be fixed with Raki
Raki is the local alcohol which is produced by fermented grapes. A lot of the Albanian families make their own. It’s strong, really strong and should be drunk by sipping and not like a shot (guilty). Not only is raki the official Albanian drink it also apparently heals sore throats and colds but also, they use it to sterilize wounds! It’s a versatile wonderful thing to have on hand!
8. Albanian beliefs
I am a little superstitious myself. I always touch wood, never walk under ladders and don’t open umbrellas inside, but Albanians are very passionate about their beliefs also. Some of which include if a liquid is spilt you must pour water over the spill otherwise you will face bad luck. Another one is you will find stuffed animals and doll outside the houses. This is to ward off any bad spirits. If you do not fore fill a pregnant woman’s cravings the baby will be born with a birthmark. These are just some of the beliefs that some Albanians have. I find it extremely fascinating and it’s just another reason why I love Albania!
9. Koha e pushimit (Rest time)
Just like Spain, Albania also has a siesta-like time in the day. From around 1 pm until 5 or 6 you will see most of the shops start to shut for the afternoon while the locals go for a coffee and/or a nap. I don’t know about you, but napping is one of the most important parts of my day. The shops usually open again at about 5 or 6 and stay open until 9 pm usually.
10. The flag
Albanians flag is super badass. With a red background and a black double-headed eagle, what more could you ask for in a flag? Their flag represents strength and bravery.
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