Sunday, February 5, 2017

Week in Albania: The weekend (part one)

Tirana panorama 2016
Skanderbeg Square Tirana

I had very few plans for the weekend (Jan 13-15) in Tirana. I knew that I wanted to visit the Stephen Center, a Christian bookstore, so that's what I did. I had printed a Google map from the hotel to the bookstore. The problem was that HUGE areas of the route were fenced up as they were/are renovating Skanderbeg Square.  So my route was not as straightforward as I thought it would be.

Eventually, I was able to find the Stephen Center and was able to buy some Albanian New Testaments, dramatized New Testaments (on CD/mp3), bookmarks with Bible verses, and souvenirs.

If anyone is visiting Albania soon, I have a couple of the New Testaments left.  Albanian bibles were so hard to find- even online!  I even found a copy of The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe in Albanian.  I plan on mailing that along with the bookmarks to K soon.  I left the dramatized New Testaments with the front desk staff.  I knew they had a CD player in the breakfast room.  Most of the time, the girls would sit in the breakfast room (next to a small heater- it was so cold) instead of sitting behind the desk area (right by the front door).  So maybe they 'll take a listen on a slow, cold day.

On Saturday,  a warm front was scheduled to pass through- bringing the temperatures up to 50 F!  I knew that it would be the perfect day to take the Dajti Express to the top of Mount Dajti.  The hotel called me a taxi (it was on the far end of town) and I finally got to go up one of those incredible mountains that cover 70% of the country.  There was a restaurant at the top but that was the extent of my knowledge of what to expect.

When I arrived at the top (15-20 minutes), I discovered that the snow (which had melted in Tirana) still covered the ground.  And I found that we really didn't go to the TOP of Mount was covered with clouds.  But it was high up enough to get a panoramic view of the city and to be extremely cold!

There was also a HOTEL at the top!  The Hotel Belvedere was offering rooms for just $50 a night (this included free cable car rides up and down as there is no other way up!)  Maybe next time.  I walked around a little bit but it was so very cold so I peeked into the restaurant (not sure if it was open yet or not).  Thankfully it WAS.

When I exited the cable car..
It was also well heated!  I was not very hungry but went on and ordered an early lunch to take in the panoramic view of the city, take pictures, and warm up.  They were predicting rain for Tirana and sure enough the clouds started to roll in around 11.  It didn't rain at the top- it started snowing- slowly at first then harder.
I decided that if I wanted to get DOWN the mountain I better move it.  As you can see, there was already a layer of snow at the top.  It was like a winter wonderland.

So I finished my journey to Dajti early and returned to the hotel.  The day was still young and I had been reading about some communist era bunkers outside of town.. (to be continued)

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