The last place I ever thought I would go. Eastern Europe where I was sure the number one place I would be taken like the movie. Honestly it was a culture shock for me.
So far I visited my friend Josie, from October 28th-30th and then I visit Sam from October 30th-November 2nd. This was definitely a trip to remember. The best way to describe my experience was eye opening. I think everyone should experience something new and frightening. And honestly I was frightened from the propaganda that the US has engrained in me.
I’m scared walking in the dark in a place that’s unfamiliar. I didn’t know this before but Albania was a communist country and wasn’t even aloud to drive cars until 1993 because only the officials could drive.
Tips when visiting Albania/Macedonia:
– Packing: don’t pack a suit case. Pack a backpack or something light. The roads are uneven and it’s really inconvenient to carry.
– Outfits (Clothing/Shoes): Dressing wise the Albania culture is centered around fashion and looking good as well as having the top perfumes. If you are a foreigner it won’t matter how you dress. Dress for comfort. I can’t stress this enough. Make sure you wear shoes that can get dirty very quickly.
– Traveling in Albania: there is no tips that I can suggest except there in nothing online about a schedule or where to go. My friend and I literally had to walk the center of Tirana and find a tourist center to find a bus that would leave and how much it would be.
– Money: make sure at the airport or ATM you get Lek for Albania and Denar for Macedonia. If the locals see that you have Euros or another currency they will automatically charge you more. I ended up paying 25€ for a cab from the airport of Tirana.
– Phone: honestly I would turn the data off but make sure your phone is on. I was a little paranoid about this but I would rather pay a couple dollars and have it on then not feel like I’m stuck. But I also had a friends who were currently living in Macedonia and Albania and are only paying 10€ per month. I would recommend getting a phone plan if it is even for two weeks. Less than that, I would rely on wifi.
– Mindset for Albania: you have to keep in mind that Albania is a poor country. It can’t really be described as anything else but beautifully broken. The landscapes are breathtaking but they are over shadowed but the trash. The country has trash everywhere. It’s probably the worst thing I noticed about the country, sadly to say. As well as stray dogs. You have to keep in mind that this is not your country and you can not help every animal. It was very hard for me to grasp this concept because I love animals and you could clearly see they just wanted to be loved. All I can say is some of the dogs have progressed into their natural state of surviving.
– Mindset for Macedonia: This is also a poor country but it is not trashy like Albania. Recently well in the past 5 years the Government decided to use their tax money to built gigantic statues and buildings. These apparently are suppose to bring tourism to Skopje. The sad part is the country is in poverty and would probably need the money to feed their own people rather than building a random sculpture that has no meaning. So there is currently still a rebellion where the rebels threw paint balls all over the buildings in sculptures to show their anger. I personally found the paint splatters more artistic then the sculptures the self.
– Food: Best. Part. Seriously. The food was to die for. Seriously the freshest and cheapest food I have ever had in my life. The first night I had homemade ravioli with ricotta and spinach as well as a fresh marinated shrimp in a tomato sauce. And it averaged less than 10€ per person. In the states I definitely would have paid $40, if not more. Second night we had Chinese and can I just say it was the best. This sounds kind of snobby but I usually never eat meat at a Chinese restaurant and boy did I eat some that night. We had sweet and sour chicken, vegetable noodles, and spring rolls. All about 5€ per person. So fresh. So good.
Any other questions on traveling to Eastern Europe just let me know! Thanks for reading :))