Travel

How do Albanians Celebrate?

I think we all agree on the fact that December goes by so fast and suddenly we find ourselves preparing for Christmas and New Year. I have a love-hate relationship with December, to be honest. I love it because it seems that is a time that brings people together and suddenly everyone is reflecting on the year that they are about to leave behind. On the other hand, this month is associated with a lot of expenses mainly for gifts about the loved ones and because Albanian mothers have this terrible urge of transforming the house into a supermarket, where you can find all kinds of groceries, drinks, desserts etc. Most probably, you wont even eat half of it, but it doesn’t mind…That’s how Albanians celebrate!

As we all know, during the communist regime, Enver Hoxha banned the freedom of religion and Albania became the first atheist country of the world. What a great start, right?

However, after the fall of communism, Albanians got to experience too the joy of celebrating and practicing their own religion. The majority of people in Albania are Muslims but you must’ve heard that here that it doesn’t matter because we all respect each other’s religion and we celebrate Eid in the same way we celebrate Christmas, all together.

In most Albanian families, there is a specific time to do the Christmas tree and that is on December 5th but those who feel in themselves the Christmas Spirit more than others usually do it on December 1st. And all suddenly, everyone is asking you “ What are you buying me for Christmas/New Year?”. That is a question I am trying to avoid this year.

The holidays energy and spirit is being felt everywhere, especially in Tirane since is the capital of Albania. Skanderbeg square doesn’t look that empty anymore; every year the square serves as a Christmas market, where small wooden houses offer a cozy place to stay, relax and drink hot wine or beer with your friends or family. You can spot all around the little children who seem to enjoy these days more than everyone and you can see them laughing out loud, begging their mothers and fathers for money to take a ride in the playground. Everything is shining and it feels good.

Albania Winter holidays celebration

On Christmas Day, every family makes sure that the table is full because a lot of people will be coming, even the people that my mother says will show up but never do, so there’s extra for anyone who wants to join.

Turkey and delicious desserts are the main dishes on Christmas day and on New Year’s Eve. A specialty of the Albanian Christmas/New Year’s dinner is "Bakllava", the famous dessert originally from Turkey.

And without even noticing, Christmas is over and then there comes the New Year. And if Christmas is all about family, New Year on the other hand is for family until 12: 00 PM, and then is for friends and partying until morning. If you are fortunate enough, you will have two days off to rest and come back to the “normal state of being”, if not straight to work. Fair enough!

©Elda Ndoja, Ecotour Albania

Albania guest of honor in Christmas market of Brussels

The Christmas market in Brussels in December 2017 will have an extra jewel to decorate it’s Christmas tree, Albania.

Brussels’ square will be animated by all what is the best from Albania. In order to know this beautiful country, we invite you to visit the stands dedicated to Albania.

The agents of the tour operator Ecotour Albania will tell you more about the holidays, tours, itineraries, cultural tours and adventure offered by Albania. The trips organized by Ecotour Albania respects the charters of responsible and sustainable tourism. 

Direct contact with locals, authentic places, beautiful mountain and seaside landscapes are part of the menu of Ecoutor Albania.

White wine, red or sparkling; beer, olive oil, typical dishes, crafts, but also traditional dance shows: this is what the city of Tirana and Albania will be offering you during the “Winter’s pleasures” which will be held from the end of the month in the city center. The Albanian capital will be the guest of honor of this 17th edition. 

All of the above will be installed on the St. Catherine Square in front of the church. 

Mire se vini ne Shqiperi

Welcome to Albania.

 

Visit of Apollonia

Visite d'Apollonia

Climbing in Bovilla

Escalade à Bovilla

Visit of Butrint, UNESCO

Visite de Butrint, UNESCO

Hiking in Albanian Alps

Ranndonnée dans les Alpes Albanaises

Holidays in Albania

Vacances en Albanie

Berat, Unesco

Berat, Unesco

Travel to Albania, off the beaten track

Voyage en Albanie, hors des sentiers battus

Ski and snowshoeing in the Albanian Alps

Ski et raquettes dans les Alpes Albanaises

I survived Albania

“I survived Albania. If you don’t visit this place you are really missing out”.

It took an English cyclist, two months 5000 km and lots of other troubles to finally finish his adventure of cycling from London to Athens.

His journey was incredible as well as at times frustrating, but this guy made it. Despite all the difficulties during his trip he got to discover new places, one of them was Albania. He recorded his voyage to Albania and he posted his video on YouTube under the name “I survived Albania”. The cyclist, Yolo Nathan states that he discovered a wonderful place, perfect to travel by bike, especially because the streets are well maintained.    

In his Facebook page he writes as follows: I found out that Albania was a very safe place, the people are fantastic and it has the best streets of the world. Everybody kept telling me that it was dangerous to cycle in Albania. But I ignored their advice by continuing my trip in this wonderful country.

   

 

See Videos : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdc6djbDrE4

                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjCXnlJtq9k

 

Source : http://yolonathan.com/cycle-route-across-europe/

 

 

Why Albania should be high on your travel list

Why Albania should be high on your travel list

 

From a trading city founded in 8th century BC to stunning Unesco World Heritage Sites: Why Albania should be high on your travel list (and not just for the Adriatic beach parties)

 

As the sun went down, a line of men in felt hats, baggy shirts and scarlet sashes performed a joyous dance on the terrace of a hilltop castle. 

Across a narrow ribbon of sea, the silhouette of Corfu ebbed into purple shadow. I had to remind myself that this wasn’t Greece but its less visited neighbour, Albania.

A two-hour taxi ride along roads lined with oleander bushes had brought me across the border from Greece’s Preveza airport.

A visit to the hillside town of Gjirokastra, a Unesco World Heritage Site, should be on the list of any holidaymaker in Albania

A visit to the hillside town of Gjirokastra, a Unesco World Heritage Site, should be on the list of any holidaymaker in Albania

Diana trying the First and Second World War weaponry displayed at the Gjirokastra fortress
The fortress is one of the city's most famed attractions

Diana (left) trying the First and Second World War weaponry displayed at the Gjirokastra fortress, one of the city's many attractions

A stunning night view of Berat shows that the fun is definitely not over as night falls at the Unesco World Heritage Site

A stunning night view of Berat shows that the fun is definitely not over as night falls at the Unesco World Heritage Site

Sheep and goats grazed under olive groves – a timeless pastoral scene were it not for a few small domed concrete bunkers on the hillside, survivors of the 700,000 built by Albania’s obsessively isolationist dictator Enver Hoxha.

How much had Albania changed in the 30 years since his death, I wondered? 

Arriving at the Adriatic resort of Saranda, pulsating techno music, squeals of children delightedly dodging a giant foam gun at a beach party, and people on jet skis zipping over an improbably blue sea suggested an answer.

From Saranda we set off for Butrint, a trading city founded in the 8th century BC, according to legend, by people escaping Troy. 

From there we wound through stark limestone mountains to Gjirokastra, a Unesco World Heritage site, where a massive oval fortress squats over a jumble of steep, narrow lanes and stone-roofed Ottoman houses.

The fortress is intact, but what surprised me most was the collection of First and Second World War weaponry displayed in its high-vaulted rooms.

From Gjirokastra we followed a river valley northwards to Tepelene, where a plaque commemorates the visit of Lord Byron to the castle of warlord Ali Pasha. 

Albanian men gather at the Old Bazaar Quarter in Gjirokastra with its trademark cobbled, narrow streets

Albanian men gather at the Old Bazaar Quarter in Gjirokastra with its trademark cobbled, narrow streets

Why not visit the Castle of Ali Pasha Tepelene in the bay of Porto Palermo between Qeparo and Himare while in Albania?

Why not visit the Castle of Ali Pasha Tepelene in the bay of Porto Palermo between Qeparo and Himare while in Albania?

Continuing along quiet roads with fruit sellers dozing in the shade, we reached Berat.

So many limestone Ottoman homes cluster the steep, cobbled streets that their windows have earned it the name ‘city of a thousand eyes’. 

Berat’s fortress also has eyes – 27 watchtowers. 

On an adjacent mountainside is the word ‘NEVER’ – a rearrangement of stones which once spelled Hoxha’s first name, and an affirmation that the bad times must never return.

That night at my hotel, I drank merlot from Berat’s Luani winery. 

It went down very well with the buttery pumpkin pie and lamb’s liver cooked with tomatoes and herbs. 

Plenty to do: The bustling port of Saranda has pulsating techno music, beach parties, and people riding personal watercraft

Plenty to do: The bustling port of Saranda has pulsating techno music, beach parties, and people riding personal watercraft

Gjirokastra is famed for its castle, roads paved with  limestone and shale- and slate-roofed houses that look out to the Drina Valley

Gjirokastra is famed for its castle, roads paved with limestone and shale- and slate-roofed houses that look out to the Drina Valley

In fact all the food I tasted was delicious, especially the fried mussels, known as midhje.

Peach and melon vendors hawked their wares along the road to Albania’s capital, Tirana. 

Driving in, I looked for signs of its communist past. 

A few dour barrack-like buildings remain, but modern Tirana seems lively and upbeat, with wide roads, sleek new buildings and smart shops.

My week was nearly over but a final pleasure remained – the coastal drive south back to Saranda. The shoreline was at times wild and rocky, at others dulcet and full of golden sands.

I hadn’t known what to expect of Albania but I was very glad I’d come.

Source : Daily Mail