We have been travelling in Albania for 8 days (not too much of course) and noticed some interesting facts about this country.
Hope you will find them useful:
There are many policemen on the road of Albania. Every time we saw them, several cars were standing along with policemen, filling something and we guessed all this ends up with fines… We read about high level of corruption among policemen in Albania. We were lucky and they didn’t stop us. Though we tried not to break the rules, there are a lot of suspicious signs along the road and it is really very hard to follow them.
Probably they are afraid to stop foreigners?... What about you? Maybe you had some experience with Albanian policemen? We are interesting to hear some real stories.
- Euro is a good currency
National currency in Albania is LEK, but don’t worry if you don’t have them. It is very easy to pay with euro in Albania almost everywhere.
We paid with euro for the entrance to Rozafa castle, for the hotels and campsites and even in the supermarket when we ran out of lek……
- Dordolec – Albanian word for scarecrow
You will see many scarecrows on the unfinished houses.
Albanians people believe that scarecrows help to prevent envy.
- Use local shops
There are almost no big supermarkets in Albania as you are used to … At first we were a little bit confused by the small shops, but finally we even liked them. We bought food in small local shops with very fair prices. Once we saw big superstore Conad full with expensive Italian goods. Prices for Albanian products were the same or even higher in Conad than in the local shops.
Another day we were searching for Albanian wine and olives and went to Carrefour. There were almost no Albanian goods in the supermarket, all wines where imported… so we came out empty-handed and went to nearest local shop.
- Albanians are very poor drivers
Yeah , sometimes it was really hard to drive on Albanian road because of the drivers. It seemed they don’t know any rules and don’t have any understanding of how to behave on the roads.
When we lived in villa Lili in Berat the hostess, Albanian woman, said us at farewell: “Be careful on the roads, dear. Albanian drivers are very stupid!”
- Italian language
It’s hardly to find someone who knows English in Albania, but most of Albanians knows Italian well. However, we always reached an understanding if we need it.
- Bar and men
Even a small village with several houses will for sure have a bar with men staring on the life that passes by…
- Fruits are very tasty, but price is obscure
Fruits are really very tasty and we tried to buy them frequently. Usually, there are no prices indicated and it is hard to understand is vendor cheating or not.
Once we bought a watermelon for the 18 lek per kilo, but next day another vendor along the road tried to sell the watermelon for 40 lek per kilo…
- Mountains are everywhere
Albania is very mountainous country. Mountains occupy 70% of its territory.
Every time you are driving somewhere, even along the sea, you will probably go up and down with many curves. If you are interested in mountains, please read my article about our trekking in Albanian Alps.
Over 700 000 bunkers were build during the communist regime in Albania. Now many of them are demolished but still we saw some in the mountains and along the road.
You might also like my article about Top 5 destinations in Albania
UPDATE 21//03/2016: Today I received the letter from Julia Ejli who wrote me:
Hi, I'm a 17 year old girl from America but my parents are from Albania and I've been there many times. I've found some of your questions and some inaccuracies and I wanted to clear them up for you. The reason the policemen are out all the time and stopping people is more of a friendly gesture. The towns are small and everyone knows each other. They stand by the side of the street and talk for long periods of time. In addition, if they ever do stop you, you show them your drivers license from your country and they let you go immediately.
Lek was taken out of the currency systems in the 90s and they now use euro's because it is more convenient.
Also, the "Albanians are poor drivers" idea is based on poor experience. As you probably noticed, the roads are small and mainly one street unless you go to Tirana, the capital. The use of communication is widely used because on the road because of the poor quality of streets and lack of traffic signals. Moving on, many of the younger generous are learning English in school and the older generation speak variations of broken english.
The fruit incident with the vendors are poor people trying to make money anyway they can, so don't complain about prices.