On the one hand it was quite funny, but as well a bit shocking how many people have been strangely surprised, even frightened or just thought „WTF are these guys doing again? Are they totaly crazy-stupid?“ – when we said we will do a trip through Albania. I know you totaly shouldn´t trust the pictures and ideas you get infused by the medias, because it´s mostly total crap (except the ones from Feinripp of course), but it was still a very new experience for us and we realized during the road trip how wrong even our view has been. It opened our eyes in a lot of ways and i really like that. Albania was amazing, an absolutely underestimated country, that people (for now) still observe in a completely wrong way.
This place caught our intention because of an articel in the New York Times in 2014, which voted Albania for one of the top five promising travel destinations in the world for the next years. And this we can totaly confirm. The country is wonderful, it still possesses a nearly non-touched environment and if you are interessted in history you can find plenty of ruins and remains of bygone cultures – from Greek theaters, to Roman Castillos up to Ottoman strongholds. There are terrific lakes, amazing mountain landscapes and one UNESCO heritage next to another. Definitly our great insider tip. (For more pictures check the Albania Foto Gallery).
Tirana is the capital and as well a really cool city for going out, getting delicious food and having a lot of fun. The people are all over the country overfriendly and we didn´t have in any case not even rudimental trouble or anger, we couldn´t even notice some anywhere. In a lot of similar situations in Germany there would have been a crash or fight and not only while driving a car. After our arrival we have been the first two days in the Tirana Backpacker Hostel, which is as well the first Hostel in Albania. They have now quite a lot more.
Ilir Hysa has opened the little oasis in 2005, since then this cultural project is growing, flourishing and inspiring a lot of travellers who pass by. The whole areal is a creative place where people are constructing, painting and doing artistic stuff, as well you can party, relaxe or have nice conversations. You just get motivated to do something and to contribute to the project in some way, it´s astonishing to see how the ideas affect each other. So we thought, let´s write something about it, take some fotos and make a movie of the place. (For more fotos check the Tirana Backpacker Gallery)
Of course the hostel provides everything a hostel should provide, the rooms are big, nice and clean, the showers are good and there is fast internet. Behind the building there is a stress-free backyard with garden, the Skanderbeg Bar and a lot of space to hang around, to drink cocktails or built a treehouse – which was actually in the finishing process during our stay. (just for notice: Skanderbeg was THE super cool fellow bloke and hero, you should totaly get a tatoo of him on your ass or at least a poster on the wall above your bed). We had two very nice interviews with the owner Ilir Hysa and his colleague Anna Papazisi, they told us about the genesis of the hostel, the Albanian culture and learning about other cultures via travelling in general:
The Tirana Backpacker is as well an ideal headquarter for trips to the close national parks, to check out the city or to rent some bikes. We got a Ford Kombi from the hostel-befriended car rental and drove criss-cross through the country. And this works perfectly, just not always as fast as you want, otherwise you would lose your buffer including the axle or a sheep with sheepherder will stick on your windshield. But it´s holiday, so there should be enough time. The food is very delicate, there is really nice Raki in several flavors (but be careful, it is stronger than it tastes, motivates to do funny bullshit and maybe the Skanderbeg tattoo on the ass gets more real than you would expect…). And all that for a bargain. Everything there changes so fast, they built one road after another, everywhere you can see that there are constructions and improvements and plenty of hotels are springing up from the ground. So if you want to go there and have it a bit more quiet, relaxed and more tourist free, you should go now or soon.
Phone: +355684682353 / +355683133451