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Welcome to my place . . . Albania

Tourism, Travel January 29, 2019

‘It’s good to appreciate how far Albania has come since the dictatorship ended in 1991’… Some 40 minutes’ drive from Tirana is the town of Kruja, set on a dramatic escarpment and home to the country’s largest antiques and handcrafts market. Handwoven kilims, bold and sometimes gaudy traditional costumes and carved wood utensils can all be bought very affordably, and there is plenty of communist-era memorabilia on sale too. If you can’t get to Kruja check out the newly refurbished covered market in Tirana for the excellent “mountain tea”…

The old town of Kruje (Krujë, Kruja), Albania, Europe : Stock Photo

Kosovo: Life in the land of popstars

Culture, Tourism January 29, 2019

When people think of Kosovo, they probably remember the war-torn country in the late 1990s. What they probably don’t think of is the fact that there is no place in Europe that can boast as many popstars per capital as Kosovo. Before telling you who those popstars are, let me emphasise that this was not the case when I first visited this country, back in 2004.
Dua Lipa (pictured below) has been at number one in the pop charts for more than 10 weeks. She is a perfect example of the positive vibe of the Kosovan capital Pristina, combined with a western attitude (she grew up partly in the UK). Another singer, also originally from Pristina, is the female with the most number 10 hits: Rita Ora…

Communist Concentration Camps of the Past Haunt Today’s Albania

Culture, History January 22, 2019

TEPELENA, Albania—Simon Mirakaj was 4 years old in 1949 when, together with his mother and two siblings, he was transferred to an internment camp a few miles from the town of Tepelena in southern Albania.

His family’s odyssey of displacement first started in July 1945, when the communist government of Albania, headed by dictator Enver Hoxha, deemed them enemies. This was because Mirakaj’s father and uncles had been fighting communists in the countryside, sparking the regime’s anger.

Simon Mirakaj holds the drawings from Tepelena camp in his office. (Antonio Çakshiri for The Epoch Times)

Ava Max: My parents left Albania in 1990 and lived in a church in Paris for a whole year

Culture, Music, Profile January 22, 2019

Albanian-American Singer-songwriter Ava Max has had a remarkable few months since the release of her breakout single Sweet But Psycho, which narrowly missed becoming the UK Christmas number one. Ava Max is buzzing. She’s bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and raring to go at the start of what many critics are already predicting will be a stellar pop career.

Although you may not be familiar with her yet, there’s a very strong chance that you’ve heard her breakout single, Sweet But Psycho, which was nearly 2018’s Christmas number one in the UK.

Tirana city guide: Where to eat, drink, shop and stay in Albania’s capital

Food, Tourism, Travel January 22, 2019

Albania is coming in from the cold. After decades of isolation, Europe’s last undiscovered country is set on modernising and attracting visitors. Its capital, Tirana, is at the heart of this plan.

The first ever low-cost flights between the UK and Albania started in April 2018, when Wizz Air opened its new London Luton-Tirana route. And the historic city is in the midst of massive changes as part of the highly ambitious new Tirana 2030 project, devised by Milan’s Stefano Boeri Architects, which will totally reimagine Albania’s capital – filling it with concentric rings of green space, new public schools and eco-friendly housing.

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Albania’s Post-Communist Rebirth Gets a Jewish Twist

Culture, History, Religion January 22, 2019

On a windy mountaintop citadel in Berat, Albania, in a church lit only by incense lamps and their dim reflections off the peeling gold-painted icons, I met Simon Vrusho, the creator and director of the Muzei Solomoni, Albania’s first and only Jewish museum, which opened earlier this year.

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14 reasons you need to travel to Albania ASAP

Tourism, Travel December 12, 2018

Sunbathing on pristine beaches, trekking through lonely mountains, exploring ancient ruins… if this sounds like your idea of heaven, you NEED to travel to Albania ASAP. The Balkan gem has avoided mass tourism unlike many of its neighbours, so travel in Albania means many off-the-beaten-path experiences and oodles of authentic local charm.

From numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites to lush mountains and crystal clear Albanian beaches along the Albanian Riviera, adventure awaits you at every turn – and despite what some people may expect, it’s super safe…

Travel to Albania - Hidden Beaches Of The Albanian Riviera

The 10 Most Beautiful Towns In Albania

Tourism, Travel December 12, 2018

Quickly becoming a traveler hotspot, Albania’s mix of modernity and tradition combined with its stunning scenery has made it one of Europe’s must-see destinations. We round-up some of the country’s most beautiful towns and cities, from historic Gjirokastra to the tiny mountain village of Theth.

Rough mountains near the border with Kosovo ©Rob Hogeslag

Albania’s Junior Eurovision artist Ana Kodra signs up for Britain’s Got Talent 2019

Music, Profile December 3, 2018

Last year, Ana won Junior Fest 2017 in order to be selected as Albania’s representative at the Junior Eurovision Song Contest in Tbilisi. At the contest, her performance of Don’t Touch My Tree earned her nation 67 points and 13th place! Ana returned to Albania’s Junior Eurovision selection contest this year, but Efi Gjika was victorious with Barbie.

Nevertheless, Ana is continuing her strife for success and has revealed she will be auditioning for the 2019 season of Britain’s Got Talent! As announced on her Facebook page, her audition will take place in Manchester on December 8th. We wish her the best of luck!

Original Austrian telegram considered best testimony to Albania’s Independence Day

History December 3, 2018

A newly discovered original telegram sent by a former Austrian consul based in the city of Vlora, southern Albania, has brought back the atmosphere of Albania’s declaration of independence in the afternoon of November 28, 1912 in the face of lack of photo or audio evidence from Albania’s most important event following almost five centuries under Ottoman rule…

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  • Little Tony Blairs of Kosovo: the boys named after the great man

    by on October 12, 2017 - 0 Comments

    When Nato eventually intervened in 1999 to stop the ethnic cleansing by Serbian forces of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, the UK prime minister Tony Blair was hailed as a hero. As refugees returned to the province, several new parents of baby boys called their sons Tony Blair. For Kosovan Albanians, Tony Blair is more than […]

  • Albania an important gateway in the heart of the Mediterranean

    by on July 18, 2017 - 0 Comments

    One hour flight distance from European capitals. Stretches along seashores of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. More than 300km of coastline. Memorable holidays. Unexplored shores. A varying landscape of nature. More than 2700m high mountains. More than 7700 acres of forests. Hidden Valleys. In the heart of mountains, tall-stone architecture, guest houses. More than 3200 […]

  • At Least Wave Your Handkerchief At Me: The Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song

    by on November 3, 2017 - 0 Comments

    “Why not give yourself a break from the unending cavalcade of modern high-speed insanity, and rest up with this album of deep soul from Southern Albania.” – Ry Cooder Brazilian Samba, Bosnian Sevdah, New Orleans Jazz, Cuban son – and Albanian Saze! The turn of the last century saw mass migrations to the world’s cities […]

  • 7 things you didn’t know you could do in Albania

    by on September 2, 2017 - 0 Comments

    Have the beach to yourself… Eat superb seafood… Hike through alpine countryside… Explore underground nuclear bunkers… See a living citadel… Drink home-grown wines… Shop for antiques; Just outside the capital, the town of Kruja is famous for being the stronghold of Albanian national hero Skanderbeg during his resistance against the Ottomans in the fifteenth century. […]

  • Go slow: Albania's new food movement

    by on June 13, 2017 - 0 Comments

    From the Adriatic coastline to the Accursed Mountains, a new generation of chefs is putting a modern twist on the country’s traditional dishes. “Drying our homemade jufka pasta in the sun”, “watermelon jam”, “corn bread and white cheese”, “sucking clover in the meadows”, “omelette with wild fennel”, “fritters with plum and honey sauce”… These are all […]

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