They call their country the Land of the Eagles, and their religion “Albanianness”, while the inhabitants themselves are considered one of the most hospitable nations in the world. Let’s find out what to expect from a trip to Albania.
Albania’s importance on the tourist map of Europe is constantly growing. This small country is attracting more and more tourists seeking contact with wildlife, sunbathing and active recreation.
What does Albania offer?
In Albania, you will encounter nature of extraordinary beauty, the diversity of which can make your head spin. Albanians can boast the high Dinaric Alps, access to the Ionian Sea, the Adriatic Sea, and beautiful lakes: Skadar, Ohrid and Prespa. There are also many historical attractions in this country, well-preserved Roman amphitheatres and other interesting buildings (especially: Butrint or Gjirokastёr). Fans of urban life, which goes on day and night both in the capital of the country and seaside resorts, will also find something for themselves.
Travelers returning from Albania also appreciate the good hotel infrastructure and tasty cuisine. However, many travellers’ accounts emphasize, above all, the incredible kindness and hospitality of the Albanians, as well as their interesting culture.
Although Albania is not part of the European Union, you can enter its territory with only an identity card. However, you should remember that the entry document should be valid for 3 months from the planned date of leaving this country. The currency in the Land of the Eagles is Albanian Lek (ALL). In general, card payments are accepted only in large supermarkets and hotels, so it is worth having cash on you. The best time to visit Albania is from June to the end of September, as during this time the sunniest days are recorded, and the air temperature, especially in coastal regions, fluctuates around 30° C.
What about the language? In popular resorts you can easily communicate in English, and in the south of the country also in Greek and Italian. However, the further away from tourist attractions and and the older the interlocutor, it may be more difficult to communicate in English.
“Salam alejkum – peace with you”
It is worth knowing that about 60% of Albanians profess Islam, and thus it is the dominant religion in this country. Albania is the only country located completely in Europe where Muslims make up the majority of the population. Therefore, tourists should not be surprised by the morning calls of muezzins to prayer, the presence of mosques or the natives being occasionally dressed in traditional Islamic clothes. Albania, however, does not fit in with the stereotype of a religious state in any way. Its constitution guarantees freedom of conscience and religion, which is really reflected in everyday life. Although from the perspective of today’s times it seems almost impossible, in the Land of the Eagles there is an amazing religious egalitarianism and a tolerance of religious separateness worth imitating. How is it possible? In order to understand this global phenomenon, it is necessary to delve into the past of this country. Exactly 53 years ago, the communist dictator Enver Hoxha declared Albania the first atheist country in the world. At that time, mosques, churches and Orthodox churches were closed, and the clergy were repressed. All manifestations of worship were severely punished, regardless of their form. These common, difficult experiences have united the followers of different religions, allowing them to build a tolerant society in modern times. Today, Muslim, Catholic and Orthodox people live peacefully next to each other, and the calendar of Albanian holidays includes holidays of all these three religions.
Many tourists may be surprised by the way of nodding heads in Albania, or more precisely its opposite interpretation in this country. A nod we understand as a confirmation, in the Land of the Eagles can mean a definite denial, while a gentle head shake to the right and left will be synonymous with consent. However, in general Albanians are aware of these differences and try to be clear about their opinion to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.
Many people also notice the Albanian deep attachment to the family and the visible respect for the seniors of the family. Albanians like to spend time with relatives; they meet in large groups on a daily basis, eating meals together or sitting in ubiquitous cafés over a cup of small black coffee. However, often in same-sex groups. When dealing with tourists, the older generation of Albanians prefer to deal with financial matters with men who, in their tradition, are responsible for supporting the family. Therefore, do not feel offended when, for example, the change for the ticket will be given to the only man in the group. There are no bad intentions here, but an expression of respect.
Speaking of coffee, drinking it is also an important element of the culture of the Land of the Eagles. You can get here black and strong “Turkish coffee” everywhere. It is drunk outside home, usually while smoking a cigarette. Albanians smoke a lot and often, also in restaurants.
Guest in the house, God in the house
W albańskiej kulturze ważne miejsce zajmują goście, którym pod dachem gospodarza nie ma prawa stać się nic złego. To i inne prawa określone są w kodeksie zwyczajowym, tzw. Kanun. Reguluje on zachowania Albańczyków w zakresie wychowania, religii, pracy, honoru, gościnności, jak i kary za przewinienia. Ta ostatnia kwestia ma odzwierciedlenie w osławionych krwawych vendettach, które były niegdyś wyrazem zemsty za śmierć męskiego członka rodziny. Współcześnie jednak ten temat występuje raczej w kontekście soczystych anegdotek dla turystów, niż w faktach.
Jeśli zastanawiacie się nad właściwym strojem w Albanii, to w rejonie nadmorskim codziennością są szorty i krótkie rękawki. Jeśli jednak planujecie podróż w głąb kraju, to warto spakować luźne rzeczy z długimi nogawkami, aby nie zwracać na siebie niepotrzebnej uwagi. Sami Albańczycy ubierają się bardzo zróżnicowanie. Szczególnie młode pokolenie chętnie nosi się na modłę zachodnioeuropejską, a mieszkańcy Tirany pod tym względem nie różnią się zbytnio od wiedeńczyków czy warszawiaków. Natomiast podczas świąt ludowych i festiwali przywdziewają stroje ludowe, których w tym kraju jest około 200 typów.
Trudno nie zazdrościć osobom, które pierwszy raz wybierają się do Albanii. Odkrywanie tego kraju to prawdziwa przyjemność!
Port lotniczy Rinas położony jest 17 km od Tirany. Najszybszym sposobem dostania się do Tirany jest taksówka ( Auto Holiday Albania (AHA)). Podróż zajmuje 20-25 min, koszt ok 2500 lek (20 euro). Transfery do Tirany i innych miast oferują firmy autobusowe: LU-NA shpk ( połączenie co godzinę do Tirany), Adis shpk (do Durres), Likometaj Aeroport (Fier). Szczegóły można sprawdzić na stronie lotniska https://www.tirana-airport.com/c/16/bus Rinas Airport is 17 km from Tirana. The fastest way to get to Tirana is by taxi (AHA). It travels 20-25 minutes, the cost is about 2500 lek (20 euro). Transfers to Tirana and other cities are offered by bus companies: LU-NA shpk (hourly company to Tirana), Adis shpk (to Durres), Lycometai Aeroport (Fier). Details can be checked on the airport website https://www.tirana-airport.com/c/16/bus