The cycle of hot sunny mornings and wet thundery afternoons seems finally to have ended and we have been treated to almost non-stop sunshine in these last days. As spring takes hold there is a lot more going on in the city.
On Monday we visited the Egyptian Trade Fair being held this week at the Palace of Congresses. When not being trampled by the herd of reporters, heavies and cameramen following the Prime Minister around, we were treated to an eclectic mix of Egyptian products, from aluminium pots, to stuffed olives to fake horsehair chairs.
Just down the street the Rognor Hotel is advertising its Schnitzel Week. The connection here is that the Rogner is owned by an Austrian company. We have not tried their restaurant yet, but this might be a good excuse to do so. Good schnitzel has proven elusive so far, but we would like to think that the Austrians should be able to get it right.
Perhaps holding the Egyptian Trade Fair in the Pyramid would have been a little too contrived, but it turns out that the Pyramid was already booked anyway. The International Centre of Culture, as I believe it is properly known, is holding an Albanian-Italian Festival of Friendship this Saturday. I'm not sure what all will be there, but I imagine food will be involved.
We made our own contribution to Albanian-Italian friendship as the result of the discovery of a very fine Italian restaurant called Vinum. I had not come across this restaurant before, nor had I seen it recommended anywhere. This may be because it is a little off the beaten track on an alleyway off Rruga Qemal Stafa. It is, however, well worth searching out.
We were also quite excited to spot some tourists in Tirana yesterday. At our weekly expat bowling session, a couple appeared on the steps, he in shorts, she in flowing skirt, both in sandals and carrying rucksacks. They looked around for a moment and then disappeared again. I thought of going to say hello, but decided that they might be disappointed to find a bunch of English speaking expats hanging around the place - not quite in keeping with the 'last forgotten corner' image.
Finally, I am pleased to report that we now have tarmac on our road. Following three months of neglect, the construction company turned up and started coating everything in a thick layer of asphalt. It looks very nice.
Unfortunately, it still doesn't come from anywhere or go to anywhere. It's just a strip of tarmac in the middle of nothing. It has given young boys on motorbikes something to race on, and it has given the driving instructors somewhere to have their students practise reversing round bends and parallel parking - while everyone in the street looks on.