Thursday, January 19, 2017

Week in Albania: First Impressions

View from the hotel reception
I had really good intentions of blogging while in Albania. For some reason, Google did not like..well something..and would not allow me to log in. Everything else worked- Facebook, email, news. But I did have a wonderful time and wanted to share some stories and memories.

After a 32 hour journey (long layovers) I didn't notice much on my first brief night in Albania.  I stayed at the Hotel Airport Tirana because they had a free airport shuttle- even at 11:30 pm!  I was picked up there by Dan, the World Vision representative at 8 am and driven to the office in Elbasan, where I would meet K, my sponsored child for the first time.

The first impression I had of Albania was the cold.  I mean it was really, really cold.  Locals said it was the coldest since 1985.  The forecast and "average temperatures" listed online were in the high 30's to low 50's.  It was NOT.  The temperature remained close to freezing most of my stay.

At the top of Mount Dajti

The second impression was the mountains!  These were no "Great Smoky Mountains" hills either!  Albania is 70% mountainous terrain- many reaching over 7000 feet.  Most were covered with snow at the tops and I experienced a bit of snow when I was able to take the cable car up Mount Dajti on Saturday.  The snow started coming down heavier so I thought it might be smart to DESCEND Dajti while I could.  It was raining in Tirana.

Between the rain, cold, and snow, it is a safe bet that Albania is not a top tourist destination during the winter.  My hotel in Tirana was empty when I arrived.  I really think I was the only guest (for the first couple of days anyhow).  If I am ever able to return, I'll try to visit in spring or early summer.
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