days 15-16: we headed to #Tirana
, the capital of #Albania
. During the communist era, Albania was entirely blocked off from the rest of the world, including Russia, who “wasn’t communist enough.” There are a lot of reminders of communism, like the art on a lot of buildings and the 175,000 bunkers built across the country to protect the people from the Russians and/or Americans. The former mayor of Tirana (now Prime Minister of Albania) tried to hide the communist architecture by painting the buildings with bright colors.
We also took a day trip to #Kruje
, an Illyrian and medieval #Castle
town captured from the Ottomans and held for 25 years by the Albanian national hero, #Skanderbeg
, and still looks similar today.
When we were ordering lunch, sitting in the back of the restaurant, the waiter asked where we were from. We told him the United States and he immediately moved us to the best seat in the restaurant, a balcony looking right at Skanderbeg’s castle! Albanians love Americans, and have streets named for and statues of George W. Bush, the first president to visit Albania and helped get them into NATO.
Later that night we went to a traditional Albanian restaurant, and people of all ages were dancing together all night.