Before I start I will admit my opinions of this city are probably tainted.
I'm waiting for some people. People that I was working with in Georgia, we organise a month ago to meet on this day in the capital of Albania, today is the 29th and I have heard nothing from them. They still have another seven hours in which they can appear but I have a sinking feeling that they are not going to show up. It may seem paranoid, but I think it speaks more to my fear of abandonment over anything else. If they were not going to show up they could have sent me a text message, I wouldn't have been upset. To just completely ignore previous plans is a jerk move. I think I would be more forgiving if they were other travellers that I had just met somewhere and didn't know to well, you expect travellers to be flippant and flighty when it comes to planning a trip. But I worked with these people for four months. I'll be crossing these chums off my Christmas card list. (I have never sent a Christmas card in my life, but if I were going to they would not be receiving one.)
It feels like Tirana has not evolved with the rest of Europe, for a country that is so close to Italy, Greece and Macedonia it seems remarkably underdeveloped. I know that Albania has had a tumultuous past but so have a lot of countries in this region. Sarajevo for example was a war zone 20 years ago but looking at it now it seems to be a thriving metropolis Yes, there are still bullet hole shaped reminders sprayed into some of the buildings but they are people who look toward the future and the capital city reflects that. Tirana doesn't look like they are taking any steps towards the future, after spending five days here I could see very little signs of improving infrastructure, there are talks of building a tram system, but they are exactly that, talks. One of my favourite things about European capital cities is their efficiency, being mega, super anal retentive and coming from a city that has the efficiency of a square tire it is something that I get really excited about. I know it's not really fair to compare Tirana to Berlin or Paris.
The city itself is pretty run down, there is very little to see or do, there is three major attractions. The Skanderberg Square, the clock tower and the pyramid. The pyramid is about to be demolished, you can climbed to the top of it, but the windows are broken and it looks like a death trap. You can walk between these places in less than an hour.
Tirana was not what I was expecting, you most certainly don't need a week here and if your on time limit you could probably completely avoid it and not feel deprived.
I don't like be completely negative, I posted this and felt so guilty I instantly got a stomach aches. I have come back to add some positives. There is some truly delicious food in Tirana, I have eaten at a few local places and it has all been so good, amazing ice cream from street vendors, the people are fantastic as well, everyone is really friendly and make you feel very welcomed here. I am looking forward to Berat.
Sorry there are no photos to accompany this article but my camera had no battery and I never got around to charging it before I left. But here is a picture of a robot I drew, I am trying to convince my friend to get it tattooed on his body.