Today I want to talk about a place very special to my heart: the country of Albania.
This is probably the point you groan with boredom; that's it? That's our email of the day? An informational on some little country?
As an Albanian-American who was born there and has returned several times to fall in love with the nation all over again, I am hoping I can dissuade any preconceived notions you might have. Albania is a small Eastern European country in the Balkans that is directly north of Greece. It has a long history of occupations (ex: Italy, the Ottoman Turks, etc.) and as such has an interesting fusion of a culture that blends old and new.
But let's get right into the heart of this. I urge you to GO visit. Take the path less traveled, this is what you'll find:
-A light-hearted, generous people (the role of the guest is an *extremely* important concept in Albanian culture - you will be in good hands)
-Pristine beaches with clear water on the Adriatic Sea (this will vary by location, but I am strongly encouraging you to go to Vlora for gorgeous beaches)
-Extremely affordable shopping and hotels (..seriously.)
-Good, simple Mediterranean food at alarmingly low prices (good bread + our own spin on cool tzatziki yogurt sauce + fresh salads, minimum. you especially need to try roast lamb here!)
-A penchant for music and dance, be it folk or techno
-Weddings galore. It's the Albanians' favorite excuse to celebrate and would be an unforgettable experience
And honestly? If there's even one year I advise you to uncover this gem of a place, it's now. 2012. It's the year of the Dragon. It's Albania's 100 year anniversary of independence. Et cetera et cetera. We're living in exciting times; go now.
Here's to good traveling, good food, and good people. Gezuar! Cheers!