by Keveen Gabet
(Draguignan, France)

- It is possible to walk or hitch-hike across the country without being robbed, mugged, or stabbed.

- It is impossible to walk or hitch-hike across the country without being invited for a drink, diner or accepting a bottle of Raki.

- Albania is not part of the UE

- But it is a member of NATO (in 2009, on the day we entered the country)

- The currency is the Lek (1 euro = 130 leke), but they accept euros

- It is preferable to have Leke as they tend to round up the total if you pay in euros

- There are more hotels than bars

- There is a bar in each hotel

- The hundreds of hotels in construction will most likely never be in service

- You can sleep in those hotels for free (but don’t expect anyone at the reception)

- The beaches are the cleanest in the world (to my knowledge)

- A coffee costs 50 leke but can go up to 100 leke.

- The national drink is Raki

- Raki, is this colorless grape

-based alcohol that burns your stomach and that you nevertheless drink all day long

- They will always find a reason to pour you some : coffee-raki, water-raki, wine-raki, coke-raki, raki-raki…

- Understand that the glass of water that serve you with coffee is not necessarily water. Gently dip your lips before hastily gulping it.

- Raki goes wonderfully with coffee and generates an entire new flavor

- You do not mix raki and coffee, you sip them alternatively

- A tiny glass of raki is legally too much to drive

- Albania became independent in 1912

- The official language is shqip (don’t pronounce the ‘q’), but there are two different forms: Gege and Toske

- Albanians are Shqiptar

- There is a code of life called Kanun

- Out of the 1263 codes, 40 deal with hospitality

- The Kanun was inspired by a prince named Lekë Dukagjini

- It comes from 15th century oral traditions

- There is only one version available in English by Leonard Fox, 1989 (ISBN : 0962214108)

- This book is unfortunately big and does not fit in a small bag pack.

- Family feuds still exist, but very few people talk about it. You call them ‘gjakmarrja’ in Shqip

- There existed a culturel phenomenon called ‘the sworn virgin’. Since a girl cannot inherit her father’s belongings (being herself part of it), the eldest girl (for lack of male heirs) would turn into a male. She would swear to remain virgin and adopt males’ attitudes (no sex change).

- In 2009, there were only 40 sworn virgins left in Albania

- Here is a video about this cultural phenomenon

- There are ‘no smoking’ signs everywhere, but once again, no one cares

- A lot of people do not care about a lot of things

- There are 700,000 bunkers all over the country

- Those bunkers appeared because of their leaders’ psychotic fear of invasion.

- The engineer who obtained the contract had to prove the efficiency of his project by sitting in it while being bombarded

- The bunkers are no longer used, and are undestructible

- Nature has taken its right back, and grows over them

- They now are a haven for one’s first kiss and love stories (they are nicknamed ‘bunker love’)

- It is ideal for anyone who would like to walk across the country and not pay for rooms (our case)

- Albania has been invaded by all sides and by everyone

- Consequently, the architecture is extremely rich

- Places of cultural importance (monuments and ruins) are not well protected, and it is possible to climb on them or have a picnic.

- The West coast is absolutely stunning, with beaches that invite peace and isolation

- You will find many bunkers on those beaches

- There are many big Mercedes with dodgy origins (steering wheel on the right side)

- Some cars are imported from the USA and the owners make sure to take their time to change the plates. Being American attracts girls

- Albanian girls are pretty but most look like Pop Idol stars (make-up and cat walk)

- Albanians are implanted just about everywhere in the Balkans and very proud of their origins

- Turkish coffee is called Turkish coffee

- Albanians are less frustrated with Turks than are their southern neighbors

- To marry an Albanian woman, you only need to promise to move to Greece

- Many of them got tricked and end up taking care of their tribe in their native land

- Albanian women are unbelievably nice and insanely resistant

- While women work in the fields, men watch them from the local bar, raki in hand

- Women are the country’s pillar but would never dare tell it to the men

- Men think they are the country’s pillar and never stop telling it to the women

- Films are in original version, subtitled in Shqip

- White rice with beans is a real treat

- Those who most look like criminals are the nicest ones

- Don' trust blond taxi drivers.

- You might find a grilled sausage in your beer

- Giro is the national sport: it consists in erring around town.

- Many men strangely look like famous American actors

NB: The tips and information are indeed very subjective and should be understood as such. KORAKOR will not be held responsible if you do not experience the same things.


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