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Showing posts from February, 2006

Tirana To-Do List

This was originally posted elsewhere, hence some repetition. Go For a Drive Enjoy the views on the road from Tirana to Elbasan as you cross a 2000m mountain pass. Try not to scream as a Mercedes-Benz, overtaking on a blind bend at 60mph, forces you to the edge of the unguarded 500m drop. Build Your Own Power Station When Albania collapsed in 1997 everything that could be looted was looted. A browse round the electrical market, housed in a warren of old vans and shipping containers, might produce enough parts to start your own energy utility. Offer a Safe Driving Award Promise 10,000 Lek (US$100) to the first careful driver you see. Then go and spend the money on yourself. You will never have to pay out. Dine At Piazza Opened by an Albanian-American family, this is one of the best restaurants in town and one of the few places to offer good quality meat, well prepared. The service is good and the prices are reasonable. Watch the Albanian Premiership For only 300 Lek (US$ 3) you can watch

Albania's Arthur Daleys

Last week I visited the mobile phone market here in Tirana. I didn’t know there was one, but I came across it while I was looking for the Post Office off R. Kavajes. On the pavement, small tables or glass fronted cases held all makes and models of mobile (cell) phones. Lined up against the edge of the pavement, a row of cars, boots (trunks) open displayed more of the same. Other stalls sold interchangeable covers, leather phone holders, batteries, rechargers and SIM cards. Some of the phones were second-hand. No doubt some of these were trade-ins. Young people in Albania,like young people everywhere in Europe, seem to be obsessed with having the latest, smallest, shiniest model. Others, I’m sure, were stolen. But with no way to tell them apart I decided I wasn’t interested, even though the prices were good. The new phones were definitely suspect. I had a look at a Nokia 6310i – a favourite of mine and one that I own. It felt too light and too loose. I suspect most of these new phones a

Dirty Dogs

Just back from a walk in the park. Three of our local dogs - Bella, Dougal and Sampras - decided to come along too. So after a while I stopped by the lake and the dogs lay down and wandered over from time to time to have their heads patted. There is no better way to be stared at in Tirana than to be seen keeping company with street dogs and even touching them. Pedestrians, runners, cyclists and motorists all turned to stare on the way by. One guy was staring so hard that he went off the road and started heading towards the lake. Apart from staring most people don't actually say anything. Only one person has ever commented. He said that the dogs were dirty. Which they are - they live on the street, they find their food among the garbage. But I don't understand why people are concerned about dirty dogs when every street in this city has a pile of overflowing garbage, often blocking the pavement and often located directly outside a restaurant or cafe. Our own fine street has two s

Road Building

With the slow approach of spring the municipality seems to have been seized by a fit of road construction. Rruga Deshmorit e 4 Shkurtit, which until recently looked like a country lane, now sports a fine new layer of tarmac, while the pavements have been nicely reconstructed. Over on Rruga Abdyl Frasheri more pavement construction is going on. Rruga Elbasanit, possibly the worst road in the city, also boasts some fresh tarmac but remains far from finished. If only they paint some lines and introduce the concept of driving in lanes it might even be possible to get more than 500 yards on this road in less than an hour. Our own fine street is showing signs of progress. After two months of neglect, during which the road reverted to an even worse condition than before, the crew have returned and have been tidying up the accumulated garbage and rollering the surface. Friday's highlight was a burst tyre on the roller which popped with a sound like a small explosion and drew a crowd who