Skip to main content

Albanian Hospitality

Some of you may be under the impression that I earnestly patrol the streets of Tirana and scan the newspapers daily for interesting stuff to post here, with occasional dog-related diversion.

In fact, I spend a considerable amount of time sitting on the balcony drinking beer and reading detective stories. When I'm not doing that I'm often in restaurants, cafes and bars. On Monday afternoon I ended up at Floga with some friends.

Ryan, Beni, Dritan and James

James, a Peace Corps volunteer we know, was in town for a few days. We met up and headed out for coffee. Just before we left I got a call from Dritan.
How about a drink later?

Sure, but I've got a friend with me.

No problem, bring him along.

At the cafe James called Ryan, another Peace Corps guy in Tirana for the weekend. Dritan phoned.

Where are you?

We're downtown - there's another guy with us now.

OK. See you soon.

We met up. Introductions were made.

You want a drink? How about something to eat?

We made a few noises about something light, some salad maybe.

We'll go to Floga. They do good salads.

We got to Floga - that's it in the picture above - and Dritan ordered. Either he was ordering a very complicated salad or there was a lot more than lettuce coming.

Beer. A basket of fresh-baked bread. Salad. Grilled mushrooms. And then... inevitably...the meat plate. Previous visits to Floga had always involved the meat plate so I should have expected it. Always very nice though.

James and Ryan had to get a bus that afternoon so we started getting ready to move. Dritan paid for everything. I tried to persuade him that since I had brought along two other people he had never met I should chip in something, but it was futile.

Before we left the table Beni arrived - a friend of Dritan. We were introduced and Beni insisted we should have a drink on him. We could stay a few more minutes. Raki and coffee all round.

The raki was superb - smooth, full of flavour and with a delicious aftertaste. I believe it was made with muscat grapes and came from Permet. I made a point of commenting on how good it was and before I realised Beni had ordered a second round.

He also ordered the fruit plate - which we are working our way through in the photograph - and another dessert: jellied oranges and walnuts in a sweet syrupy sauce.

Inevitably he paid for it all.

Definitely time to go now so we headed out. On the way Dritan bumped into another friend and stopped for a chat. We left with Beni who took us across the street to another cafe - his own as it turned out.

Coffee?

Well, five more minutes.

Beni disappeared behind the counter and reappeared with a tray of macchiato and yet another round of raki - on the house of course. Dritan turned up. It was time to go. If James and Ryan hadn't had to catch the bus we might still be there.

Thanks Dritan. Thanks Beni.

Comments

Miss Kim said…
Ohhhh c'est la vie!
bryan-in-greece said…
What a hard life you lead, Alwyn!! :-)
ITS said…
Enjoy Alwyn!

You deserve it...
Unknown said…
I'm just jealous !
:)
regards
Anonymous said…
Where is this Floga located?
olli said…
I'm glad you all appreciate the sacrifices I make to keep this blog going.

Anon, I don't know what street Floga is on. It's a side street off R. Elbasan near the river. Coming from the river its the second (?) street on the left.
Anonymous said…
"The raki was superb - smooth, full of flavour and with a delicious aftertaste. I believe it was made with muscat grapes and came from Permet."

It seems that you have been totally embraced by the "true" albanian spirit :)

Also, the way you talk about raki is so albanian.
Anonymous said…
rakiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.......
That's what a call a drink!!!
Why is it so hard to get this drink in England?
Is just vodka in here..... :(
Rod said…
School will soon be out, summer school ended and I will have plenty of time on my hands.... perhaps it is time for me to invite you for coffee!
Anonymous said…
Same happend to me.
It started in Tirana (treshi) then (laprak) then (bloku) then (shkoze) then (dajt) then Durres (plazh) finally back in tirana (treshi).
18 hours binge drinking with raki.
Great
Cant wait to go back this summer
Anonymous said…
this is how Albanians decide who will get the bill


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5kv-4Q3ZoE
Anonymous said…
how lucky a canadian can be?
living among genuine albanians is always a plus for the foreigners.
me, I am so bad at posing as a foreigner, though albanian at heart. but I am sure that I will be treated fairly different :)
enjoy the sun!
Anonymous said…
I'm glade that you appreciate our hospitality and especially our RAKI. If you really are a member of the "Raki Funclub", you should definitely try my father's.
Whenever you want give me a sign...
By the way, I saw your friends yesterday outside the newest shop in Bllok: "Apple". I guess they have become VIPs now as people recognize them from your pictures on this Blog. Cool...

Meg.
olli said…
Rod, happy to meet anytime. You can contact me through the gmail address on the blog and we can sort something out.

Meg - the same. Would love to try some of your father's raki.
Anonymous said…
I loved reading your blog. It gives such a vivid and lively description of life in Albania that it makes me feel like I am there. Have you been there recently?

I was just wondering how is life in Albania different based on gender. Are there certain social events that are male dominated? How easy would it be for a female curious about Albanian culture to travel around there?

Looking forward to your reply!

Popular posts from this blog

Dy Rame Per Tirane

I was watching Top Channel last night, first the news, then Fiks Fare. According to them Tirana's citizens now have a choice not only between Rama and Olldashi, but also between Rama and Rama. A minor right-wing faction, Parti 'Balli Kombetar' , submitted papers to the election authorities registering their candidate, Akile Rama. The people on Fiks Fare got hold of the papers and sent a reporter and camera team to the address listed for Mr A Rama. After much ringing of the bell the gate was reluctantly opened by a middle-aged woman who refused to speak to the reporter and tried to close the gate on her. Back in the studio Saimiri and Doctori - the two presenters of Fiks Fare - revealed that Mr Akile Rama was 73 years old, in hospital, and did not know he was now a candidate for mayor. They also compared two documents - the papers submitted on his behalf, and a genuine document he had signed. The signatures were not even remotely similar. There was an interview with the lea

Big in Albania

Ask me how much I knew about Albania before coming here and my list would be a short one: Enver Hoxha, bunkers and Sir Norman Wisdom. I have no idea when or how I acquired this extensive body of knowledge, but the association of Norman Wisdom with Albania was by far the most interesting part of it. I remember watching Norman Wisdom's old films on British television. My parents were fans of his wholesome, slapstick comedy, but apparently missed the ideological significance of Pitkin's relationship with Mr Grimsdale. Pitkin, the downtrodden and oppressed representative of the workers, triumphed every time over his capitalist oppressor, Mr Grimsdale - and he got the girl. It took a theorist of Hoxha's insight and profundity to discern this deeper political message. It always seemed tremendously unlikely, yet the story of Sir Norman's fame in Albania has been reported in worthy sources like the BBC , the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph . According to the Guardian, when Wi

Guide Turistike

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council , the future is bright for Albania. The Council ranks Albania ninth out of 174 countries for tourism growth over the next ten years. A summary of the Council's report is available, as is the full report complete with many pages of graphs, charts and spreadsheets. This summer I have seen a number of tourists on the streets of Tirana. Some of them may well be Albanian expats, or people of Albanian descent returning home to visit family, but others are genuine 'foreigners'. Judging from their appearance, they are probably best described as 'independent travellers' - the kind of people who are not interested in luxury hotels or crowded beaches. This is a good start, but independent travellers are not the kind of big spenders that the tourist industry likes. In the longer term, if Albania wants to bring in the kind of free-spending tourists who currently holiday in Croatia or Slovenia, there will have to be a huge inv