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The pearl of the Balkans – A trip through the ‘Accursed Mountains’ of Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro

Travel June 13, 2017

This is the story of our adventure along the ‘Peaks of the Balkans’ trail, leading us on an adventure through the less-known Alpine world of northern Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. The network of 125 miles of trails through the Prokletije or ‘Cursed’ Mountains was set up in 2011 with the support of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the German Alpine Club. It offers breath taking views over one of the most remote areas of Europe…

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Albanian road trip: history behind the bunkers

Travel May 30, 2017

While ‘the land of eagles’ may be better known for its stormy communist past (with some 750,000 concrete bunkers still scattered around to prove it), it has a rich and diverse historical and cultural legacy. The best way to take in Albania’s ancient castles, lived-in World Heritage Sites and ethnographic museums is on a road trip, especially if you have limited time or aren’t keen on working out the country’s bewildering bus system. Start your cultural exploration of Albania in the north. Once an important trading town due to its favourable geographical position at the meeting point of two rivers and very close to the Adriatic Sea, Shkodra is considered the country’s cultural capital thanks to its music and literary traditions…

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Albania’s bunker museums cast new light on a dark history

History, Travel May 30, 2017

Bunkers from the postwar Hoxha era still litter Albania’s landscape and, in the capital Tirana, are being opened to the public as the country explores its communist past. Spend just a few days in Albania and you’ll get a sense of how the country was suffocated in the iron grip of its communist dictatorship for nearly 50 years. The land, from gorgeous beaches to remote valleys, is still dotted, 25 years after the collapse of the regime, with tens of thousands of bunkers, concrete testament to the paranoia of Enver Hoxha, who led the country from 1944 until his death in 1985…

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The great Eastern European road trip, road trip across Albania

Travel May 30, 2017

As soon as we cross the border into northern Albania, near Shkodër, we are faced with a decision: coast or mountain? I’ve wanted to visit Albania since the 1990s, when I glimpsed its then unreachable coast from Corfu and heard it was the loveliest in the Med. But we’ve arrived in a heatwave – 40C-plus – so turn towards the cool mountains of the south-east. On their tour from the Balkans to the Baltic, Kevin Rushby and family arrive in Albania – once unreachable, now scruffy, eccentric and entirely lovable…

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Albania – an exceptional place to visit

Travel May 21, 2017

Archaeologists and art-lovers, hikers and historians, oenophiles and ornithologists: all will take home unforgettable memories from a trip to Albania. Those who are interested in archaeology and history will find Albania full of delights. Lovers of the outdoors will be happy just about anywhere in Albania. For most visitors, the greatest revelation about Albania is the kindness of its people. A holiday in Albania has something for almost everyone. Less than four hours’ flight from the UK, its towering mountains provide one of Europe’s last refuges for bears, wolves and the elusive Balkan lynx, while the country’s location on major migration paths makes it a Mecca for birdwatchers…

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Albania’s Block party – Rocking the Block in Tirana

Travel May 21, 2017

It may now be Albania’s liveliest neighbourhood, but a little over two decades ago it wasn’t even on the map. New bars appear almost daily and at weekends streets and sidewalks are packed with locals and tourists looking for a big night out. Dozens of cafes, bars and restaurants have made it Tirana’s premier nightspot. Everywhere there are references to the West especially the U.S., whose brand of free-market capitalism Albania has adopted with varying degrees of success. There are open-plan outdoor clubs where foreigners dance to thumping house music until the early hours. There are coffee shops where the staff call themselves baristas and care a little too much about coffee beans. The country is also one of Europe’s sunniest…

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Western Balkans: Europe’s new adventure playground

Travel May 15, 2017

Rafting and kayaking in Albania: Thanks to some of the most stunning scenery in the Balkans as well as several enthusiastic local tour operators, Albania is an up-and-coming contender on the European adventure sports scene. Hiking in the Albanian Alps (home to bears, wolves and deer, among other wildlife) is particularly popular; the highlight is trekking the area around Theth and Valbonë villages, set in the dramatic wilderness of the Accursed Mountains…

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Post-Communist Paradise in Albania

Travel May 14, 2017

Europe has a secret. It’s called Albania—a Maryland-size playground of rugged peaks, emerald seas, and ripping rivers. The only catch? It’s really poor, graft is rampant, and there’s little environmental regulation. Pack your bribe money for a warts-and-all jaunt through the wildest post-Communist state on earth. The Osum River flows out of Albania’s Korça highlands and hooks north to sluice through a 16-mile-long gorge called the Osum Canyon, one of Europe’s most spectacular white-water runs. A steady rain has riled the river into a Class III fury that’s now hurtling us through a particularly beautiful section…

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Albania Mania; Perfect beaches, mountain hikes and truly local food. Packing yet?

Travel May 12, 2017

Albania’s one-of-a-kind culinary scene and genuine slow-food network is straight from the pages of a locavore fairy-tale. Wedged between northern Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, the mountains of Montenegro and the warm waters of the Ionian and Adriatic Seas, Albania is a small but fiercely proud country with a unique history, language and cuisine, one that is heavy with Italian and Turkish influence, yet unmistakably Albanian. For centuries, Albania has been conquered, invaded, carved up and isolated, creating a people who have learned to get by with what they have, which, fortunately, is a lot. From grapes to peppers, goats, fish and sheep, Albanian food is all about fresh ingredients and tried-and-true recipes that will leave you in awe of how good simple food can be.

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A Weekend Road Trip Through Astounding Albania

Travel January 11, 2017

Why?  Why is the question I hear the most. Our long weekend was upon us and my co-workers know that I’m going to go someplace. Where? Many would ask, and then their eyes glaze over at the answer, “Albania”, because it’s a place they do not understand. They politely tell me to have a good trip and they’re off. Some, the curious ones, usually stop, shake the glaze from their eyes to look at me real hard, and ask why…

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  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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. […]

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