Chances are you do not know much about the small country of Albania. That is not surprising considering this was a communist country up until 1992 which is fairly recently. It is virtually untouched by tourism. I would go as far to say that it is Europe’s best-kept secret.
I had never even heard of Albania before a few months ago and now I am living here and loving every second of it. We’ve settled in a beautiful simple living routine here in Albania.
You might expect me to say that it is the enchanting scenery of Albania that keeps me here or the affordable prices but what it really it is the dynamic Albanian people. They are what makes this country so amazing. From the moment we got on our flight from Bologna, Italy, to Tirana, Albania, I was treated so kindly by the Albanian people.
It threw me off completely and it was no fluke. We love the Albanian people.
Here are 5 fun things about Albanians you didn’t know:
They are fiercely loyal to their family. I’ve never seen stronger familial ties than here in Albania. It is refreshing. Back in the states, we move out at eighteen and hardly ever look back. I remember counting down the days until I could move out of my family home. Here in Albania, it is rare to see someone move out of their family home until they are married. This could be in part due to the expense of living on one’s own but a big part of it is that family is number one in an Albanian’s life.
They care for their aging parents and our close-knit to even extended family members. Often you will see them all living next to each other and running businesses together. I admire this. According to a tour guide here, the youngest family member is tasked with taking care of the parents but that is starting to change with modern times. Loyalty is just of the things about Albanians you didn’t know.
2. A Daily Ritual
Cafes line the streets of Tirana, Albania. You might wonder how all these cafes that are literally right next to each other and on every single street could possibly all stay in business. Well, that is because Albanians love their espresso. At any time of the day, each of these cafes is full of beautiful Albanians sitting around chatting and drinking espresso.
The other morning Novie and I decided we wanted to be part of this ritual so we checked out the Oslo Bar by our home. I ordered an espresso for myself and a chocolate filled croissant for Novella. We got a few curious stares. That could be because I am a foreigner and my dark skin stands out here in Albania or it could be because early in the morning you mostly only see males at the cafe. I still haven’t figured out why that is but it definitely has my interests peaked.
Albanians love American hip-hop. This was probably one of the most shocking things to discover when I arrived in Albania. Every cafe, restaurant, and taxi will be playing American hip-hop. I swear. The girls and I went to a fancy restaurant the first week we were here and the music they had playing was American hip-hop. I have no clue why they like it. Typically, it is hip-hop from the ’90s and early 2000s.
The music transports me mentally and rhythmically back to my high school days back in the states. Sometimes, sitting in one of the many cafes, listening to hip-hop, I forget where I am. I’m usually jolted back to reality by screeching tires, a blaring horn, a cow casually walking down the road in the middle of the city, or a passionate discussion (argument) over God knows what happening within earshot.
4. It Is A No No
So you know how I just said they love American hip-hop? It is not strong enough to get them to dance. Music can be blasting all over and you won’t see anyone dancing. I went to a couple concerts here held in Skanderberg Square and even though the music was flowing and the crowds were large everyone stood still.
Our friend and tour guide here in Albania explained that this is because Albanians have a complex. I think he meant they are shy when it comes to things like dancing. I have not been to a club here yet but I have heard it is no different in the clubs. Great music and no dancing.
5. Speedy Gonzalez
They are expert drivers. I mean this with a little humor behind it. If you get in the car with an Albanian behind the wheel you might just have a heart attack. They drive like their lives depend on it weaving through traffic, blastic their horns, and cursing under their breath.
It is both sexy and frightening at the same time. There is absolutely no way, I can drive here. The level of aggression you need to drive in Albania is a touch higher than I can deliver. I have even witnessed people getting out of their cars to argue. They are a passionate race for sure.
What can I say? I love the Albanian people. I love their passion and the way they seem to love tourists.
Albanians will treat you like family making you never want to leave this beautiful country and guess what? As an American, you don’t have to leave for quite some time. A year to be exact because Americans can stay for up to a year without any visa at all!
Why on earth do you not have your tickets booked yet? Do you need to be further convinced? Blasphemy!
Stay tuned because there is more to come to convince you of why Albania needs to be next on your list of places to visit maybe even stay.