Monthly Archives: June 2012

June 4, 2012 (Homeward Bound!)

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The sunrise as seen from my seat on the plane waiting to take off in Tirana (@ 5am)

Today there’s not much to report except that after 26 hours of travel and hardly 8 total hours of sleep I finally made it home. ๐Ÿ™‚ We played cards in the Rome airport (we had a 5 hour layover… & then our flight was delayed another hour), and rushed through customs. Then I made Elijah come to the hotel with us in Orlando, because I refused to allow him (or anyone) to stay in a dark, deserted airport by themselves for 6 hours to wait for their flight home. I then got up 4.5 hours later to drive him back to the airport. Luckily Feagin and Cady came with me so when I got lost on the way back to the hotel I wasn’t alone ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so thrilled to have been given this opportunity and I’d repeat it in a heartbeat. I would also like to recommend these countries to anyone looking to travel off the beaten path, but I’d bring a guide with me or get to know someone from there as its not set up for tourism or people who don’t speak the language and don’t already know their way

June 3, 2012 (The Rooftop Day)

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Our last day in Albania! Its so sad… I’m really going to miss it, but I can’t express how great my desire to be home is. I don’t know why, but this last week I’ve grown to miss the United States and my home/family more and more everyday. Its not that I dislike Albania or that I want to leave it. I want to be able to stay in Albania during the day and teleport home for the night (is that too much to ask?).

We had a pretty uneventful morning, really we didn’t have to leave the hostel until lunchtime! I tookย fullย advantage of the extra sleeping hours ๐Ÿ™‚

The rooftop restaurant where we had our final Albanian lunch

We had lunch at an amazing rooftop restaurant and then met with the LDP, a new political party in Albania. They have high hopes and goals for Albania’s future and I really wish them the best. I hate to say it, but I’m not sure their goals are going to be met anytime in the near future without a miracle… Luckily a majority of the Albanian population is young and ready for change and hopefully they will be receptive to and supportive of the LDP.

The office of the LDP, a new political party in Albania

After that we went to Lori’s apartment for our going away party. Eni made some delicious food, I spilled Eni’s drink, Lori knocked over her own glass, and fun times were had by all. Throughout the trip I had been randomly recording snippets of conversations and silly interactions between the group and at the party we were finally able to watch the videos (Thanks Gona Boo! :)) Around 10 o’clock we bid everyone adieu and went back to the hostel a final time to make last minute preparations for our trip home and to get as much sleep as possible before waking up tomorrow at 3am! Ugh… I’m dreading it already.

The amazing view of Tirana from Lori’s rooftop balcony

We had some fun times our last night… (Molly, Ashley, & Elijah)

… and some strange times ๐Ÿ™‚ (Molly, Ashley, & Elijah)

June 2, 2012 (Masquerade)

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We left Shkoder today, but before or final departure, we visited the Venetian Mask Factory. It is owned and run by a man from Venice who moved to Albania (so they’re legit). We only got to see the store but that was more than enough! I was very surprised that they allowed us to take pictures of the merchandise but I wasn’t going to complain ๐Ÿ™‚

All of these are handmade…

… and one of a kind!

Each one unique and beautiful.

I was so enamored with all the gorgeous masks that I bought 2! I took photographs of them incase they didn’t make it back to the States in one piece. ๐Ÿ˜›

I purchased this one for my sister

And this one for my Mom

Our afternoon in Tirana was laid-back and open for interpretation. Dr. Weigand, Cady, Kelsey, and Feagin got pedicures while Molly, Elijah, and Ashley explored the city. I relaxed in the hostel with a book ๐Ÿ™‚ I ventured out briefly to accompany Kelsey and Feagin to their pedicure to get some fresh air and a change of scenery. My ulterior motive was procuring some 80 leke gelato ๐Ÿ˜‰ (that’s about $0.80). Later that evening we met up at 100 Vila Restaurant and had another fantastic dinner.

Some colorful graffiti gracing the walls outside 100 Vila

My and Molly’s Neuron/Tree made of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I’m sad to realize that we’re going home in two days…

June 1, 2012 (Down and Dirty)

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Ura e Mesit (Mes Bridge) an Ottoman Bridge that dates back to the 18th Century. Over 100m in length, it is one of the longest Ottoman bridges in the region.
Its now used as a pedestrian path (yes, we crossed it :))

Some children playing in the river that runs beneath the Mes Bridge

Today we got “down and dirty” with the archaeological students from Mississippi. We spent a few hours helping them excavate their site and then headed over to Drisht “Castle” after lunch.

Bessie!
(I swear, we were NOT near any livestock on our trip abroad…)

The precarious path leading to the archaeological dig site. I wonder how they get the trucks out there…

The archaeological dig crew from a small liberal arts university in Mississippi. They’re hoping to uncover a burial site. The owner of the land bulldozed over the grave marker in an effort to cultivate more of his land. He “changed his mind” and called in an archaeological crew to excavate the site. So far they’ve yet to find any human remains but they have found lots of pottery (because we certainly need more of that in museums ;))

Some fields on our way to Drisht Castle

Awesome mountain scenery on our way to Drisht Castle

Turns out Drisht is more of a run down village than a castle. The area dates back toย beforeย the 10th Centuryย B.C.!ย Today it is little more than 18 or so structures, loosely termed houses, surrounded by piles of rocks with no real remains of the castle aside from parts of the wall and a few towers.

One of the houses in Drisht

Another Drisht house. People still live in these homes, as hard as that is to believe, often with their livestock on the first floor and their families on the second. On of the students from Mississippi researched Drisht and found nearly every home to be inhospitable and very dangerous places to live in. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your perspective, these people have been living here for hundreds of years and are very accustomed to the state of their homes and do not seem to be negatively affected by it. I say, if they’re happy more power to them! ๐Ÿ˜€

The house where famous Anthropologist Edith Durham lived while she visited Drisht.

A very nice old man called to Marigona inquiring as to the nature of our visit. They chatted a bit and then he invited her eagerly up to his house to see an old stone he’d saved from the construction of the new museum. We obligingly trouped up to see it. It turned out to be a stone with the numbers 1437 carved into it. We think its probably a date since the town dates back to well before then. We also had the fortune of encountering an adorable puppy in their yard so thanks old man for inviting us to your house ๐Ÿ™‚

This is that old man’s home.

We walked the short distance from one end of the village to the other. This is the view of the valley from the “other” side.

That night some of our group went to party with the archaeologists at their hotel. I stayed behind and got some much needed sleep as I’m pretty sure I’m coming down with something ๐Ÿ˜ฆ At least its the end of the trip and not the beginning.