Monday, July 16, 2012

Is Albania the perfect country?

Anyone looking for an exotic getaway from Europe should look no further than Albania. The look and feel of the country is decidedly different than any countries we've passed through. It feels a bit like stepping back in time, but perhaps more like being in India. The roads are busy with people, not just cars - people walking or biking, or just waiting or socialing on the side of the road. And there is an almost complete lack of multinational brands - no Coke, McDonalds or Shell.

But the really striking thing in Albania is the overwhelming friendliness of everyone we met.

As we bike, we wave and say hello (or the local Dobar Dan, Zdravo, etc) to anyone who makes eye contact. In northern Europe, we rarely got a response, but at least made people smile. As we moved further south, people were  more responsive. By Albania, people were smiling, waving and shouting hello as soon as they saw us. Cars that passed would honk excitedly and passengers would stick their heads out the windows or give us a thumbs up.

Whenever we stopped, people would approach us to chat, find out where we were going, see if we needed help and generally make sure we were enjoying our time in Albania.

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