An afternoon in Ohrid

Monday, August 8, 2011

Balkan Hospitality

I can't write enough about how wonderfully hospitable people are here.  Last weekend Lillian and I took a trip to Tirana, Albania, to see our friend Michael who is living there now.  We caught a bus early and arrived in Tirana around 3, much earlier than we thought.  We couldn't get Lillian's phone to work, and weren't sure how to get hold of Michael to tell him we'd arrived.  A family on the bus tried to help us call him, but when they, too, proved unsuccessful they invited us to come to their house so we weren't wandering the streets of Tirana.  When we said we'd be fine, they gave us their phone number just in case.
Michael at the bar at Xheckos.
That's the Adriatic see behind us
We went into a cafe that had wireless, and the waiters there helped us get signed on (have i mentioned i love my i-pad?) Ultimately we were able to contact Michael and find his apartment by the US embassy.  He took us to a spectacular new hotel in Tirana.  Tirana is a happening place - they are constructing all kinds of new factories and hotels and the night life is hopping! I remember thinking of Albania as a dark, mysterious and dangerous place when I was young, and now I love it.  It is a gorgeous country with wonderful people that is growing in leaps and bounds.  It has a long and spectacular coastline, and I hope to see more of it before I come home.
We went out for coffee the first night with one of the factory owners that Michael works with.  When he heard we wanted to go to the beach at Durres, he wouldn't hear of us going by bus.  He had to take us.  And not just any beach.  The Durres beach is too crowded, he said, so he took us instead to a private resort beach, along with his two kids and his wife.  This beach was spectacular, and we lounged on beach chairs and played in the water from about noon until 7 at night.  He and his wife took us to lunch at the beach and got us all kinds of wonderful things.
After our full day at the beach we stopped at an enormous new mall outside of Tirana and had dinner at the food court - we could have been anywhere in the States except for the Albanian Fried Chicken (AFC) and Kolonad, which looked suspiciously like a McDonald's.
The big pool with the restaurant on the hill in the back
The next day Harry and the kids took us to another water park - this one a country club like place.  It had a couple of huge pools, horses, tennis, table tennis, pool, and a great restaurant.  We laid by the pool, swam, read our books, went down the slide, and ate.  It was a luxurious and relaxing weekend - definitely not the weekend I was picturing we were going to have.  I don't know what Harry and his family had planned for the weekend, but they shifted everything at the last minute so they could give us the best time ever.  It was amazing, and I will forever remember their generosity.

1 comment:

  1. Haha, I love that you guys did the water slide, that's awesome.