Another gap in the blog, I must be getting old and or lazy. Well we hung around the camp ground on Shkodra Lake for a few days, did a few chores and I worked on the software project that I am trying to do with Brendon (the campground had good wifi, that was the incentive to stay). While we were there a smattering of other travelers dropped in. A German guy on motor cycle and sidecar, a couple of European motorhomes and two Landrovers with slide-in campers. But this morning it was time to move again. So today we headed for the capital city of Albania - Tirana.
It was short drive to Tirana along relatively good roads. The drive gave us an opportunity to see some of the countryside. The things that stand out? Lots of amateur building of houses going on, multi story, concrete and brick, and to support all this building lots of places selling building materials, bath room fittings and furniture. Most of the work we saw today was not finished and in many cases looked like the building project could be described as "build one floor and live in it while building the next". The place seems very rural and at this time of year ploughing and planting is going on. Unfortunately one of the less attractive pervasive features of the countryside were the piles of rubbish. It seems like the accepted behavior is to throw your house hold rubbish anywhere.
Our camping spot for the night was a place called Nord Park, a hotel, restaurant and camping complex about 15 km from downtown Tirana. In the flesh it was not as impressive as its website but still a reasonably nice place; pool, electricity, wifi, hot showers, and dump and parking for campers behind the hotel.
Once settled in at the camp we organized with reception for a taxi and were off to spend some of the afternoon visiting the downtown area of Tirana. The city's soviet past was evident in some of the dilapidated apartment buildings, but its "capitalist" future was also evident in the up market stores, high priced cars and fashionably dressed young women. There was a definite Muslim feel to the place also not just the mosques and their thin towering minarets but also the groups of men standing around seemingly doing nothing. But on the other side of the coin very few women with their heads covered and certainly very very few young women wearing anything resembling "Muslim-modest" style.
Generally our sense was that this place is like a lot of "emerging" economies, a small segment of the population have captured the fruits of "capitalism" and the rest are poor.
The other interesting thing we learned today is that Albanians do not call their country Albania but rather Shqipëria.