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2 AUG

TIRANA

Woke early, still hot and humid in their house in Tirana. I already miss the cool relief of the mountains. I asked Jurgen to go for a quick coffee down the road, hehe, we ended up on a bus trip for 20min heading for Tirana CBD. Some interesting local sites along the way. Halim, Jurgen took me to have a coffee at the Piazza. Erjon (the groom from evening before) was also with us, Fatjon met us there.

Whilst having coffee we spoke Zenep and Mum via Viber, was great to hear from mum, I missed her much. Was nice to know Zenep was there with her.

Fatjon’s left early, met him later at his work place for lunch, Qupi. Had an average Spaghetti Bog, to watery, pasta hard, sauce oily! Albanian’s don’t make a good pasta.

We went to National Historical Museum to see the history of Albania, its Military and Sigurimi (secret police). I couldn’t help myself, in classic Bashkim style I took pictures even though it was not allowed. There were so many interesting artifacts to take in in such a short time including Musaka Clan Shields.

We caught the bus back and met Asim at his regular café near home. He was drinking already. After a little while Asim, Halim, Jurgen and I went to Petrelë Castle 20 minutes out of Tirana.

As we arrived it started to rain like hell was descending! Massive thunder and lightning. Rushing torrents of water quickly formed in car park. We got drenched running 20 meters to café. Had a laugh trying to use the café table umbrella to walk up to castle. All of a sudden the rain stopped!

Visited the small castle, café’s everywhere it seemed. Albania’s history was being heavily commercialized. Unfortunate. The rain had cleared the air, so I could see all of Tirana clearly.

Had a nap during the drive home. I then went to the National Theater of Opera and Ballet to meet Blertha (girl I met on bus to Elbasan) for coffee. Halim and Meli insisted on staying with me, haha, so cute of them to want to chaperon me, I declined, they stayed nearby to meet me afterwards. Blertha was a very interesting woman, highly intelligent, very beautiful, trio-lingual – fluent in French, English and Albanian, maybe even Italian I believe. We exchanged numbers. I liked her very much.

Just before we parted, as previously promised Blertha took me to Opera bookshop. Showed me several books she had translated and suggested several other good (Albanian authors) books to read. I purchased two books. The Albanians – A modern History by Miranda Vickers and one of Albania’s treasure authors Ismail Kadare – Chronicle in Stone.

Blertha and I parted ways as Halim and Meli came back across the park. Soon after Asim picked me up in his car. We all went home for petanik and fasule. Yum! Asims beautiful daughters Axhina and Alisa also joined us.

After dinner went to the wedding dasma Vallja (dance) again. This time I was offered and couldn’t refuse a shot of Rakia. I witnessed a 96yo plaka dance Vallja like she was in her teens! The playful Rabbit dance. I danced, learned a new step, finally nailed it after many attempts with my two left feet, finally – thanks to focusing only Alisa’s feet the whole time, I watched them move like a hawk til I finally got it! Danced a little Samba, which Alisa was trained in. It was hot and humid as, had a really fun time with everyone. They sure know how to party, 5 nights in a row!

Got home around midnight, slept well. With fan on!!