Where is and how to get to Albania, one of the smallest countries, yet busiest summer destinations in Europe.
Note: This is an imaginary correspondence of Enkela Vehbiu, the author of this blog, with the late Andy Rooney of “60 Minutes.” You can watch or listen to this article by clicking HERE or by playing the video above. While watching or listening, please consider subscribing to our YouTube Channel.
And welcome to Albania! Remember? Last time I left off right before landing in Albania. Today I am giving you a short geography lesson. Why? Because many Americans don’t have the slightest clue where Albania is. Not that they need to know, but I am very proud of my heritage, and I would like to share a few facts.
First let’s get one thing straight – I am not from Armenia. Armenia is a country that was part of the Soviet Union. Albania is not a former Soviet republic. It has been an independent country since 1912, and President Wilson defended Albania’s independence in 1919. Albanians are forever grateful to Americans.
Albania is one of the smallest countries in Europe located north of Greece and across the sea from Italy. To give a little perspective – Albania is comparable to Maryland in size. Its population is less than 3 million, and most of the remaining population in Albania, reside on the west side of the country, or along the shores of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. One third of Albania’s perimeter borders water.
The landscape of the country is magnificent – from snowcapped mountains to beautiful beaches, natural lakes and wild rivers. Albania is home of the Vjosa river, one of the few last wild rivers in Europe. Patagonia, a California-based company, is helping Albania draft a plan to declaring the river a national park.
If you are traveling to Albania in the summer, then you don’t need many clothes – it is just another Mediterranean country with very hot summers. However, the winter can get cold even by the sea. Make sure you bring warm clothes with you.
You can enter Albania by sea – there are many ferries between Italy and Durres, the second biggest city in Albania, after Tirana, the capital city. The trip usually takes about 6 hours with a big boat, or about 3 hours with a swift boat.
You can fly to Albania– the highest increase of direct flights this year is between Albania and other European cities. This was encouraged by the opening of a second international airport in northeastern Albania – Kukesi international airport.
And perhaps by the road conditions in the country.
Albania’s infrastructure is a work in progress, and flying can be more comfortable. For context – Albania was the most isolated communist country during the cold war. The dictator refused to build roads that could take people to the borders, and no one was allowed to own a car. There were no cars in Albania besides those used by party members and leaders. Understandably, the infrastructure may not be what you would expect in a tourist destination yet.
But if driving is your choice, than you can enter Albania from Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Greece. Remember the land of Mercedes? Well, the Mercedes-Benz car holds up real well against the albanian infrastructure.
Okay Andy, that’s Albania in three paragraphs. I’ll talk to you some more about my home country, but for now, I wish you a good week.
‘til next time,
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