After the ‘hurricane Irma experience’ I needed a down to earth place, not much hassle and a bit of nice weather. So I choose to go to Tirana: Albania’s capital.
Traveling to Tirana
A fellow female solo traveler recommended this place because she visited Tirana in March this year, 2017. She even recommended a nice place to stay: Destil Hostel. So I did. I booked a flight and the hostel for the full period of my stay. That’s 14 nights. Normally I don’t do that because I first want to experience myself. And maybe I want to travel around. But this time was different. It felt more of a holiday so I booked everything in advance. Use the Hostelworld app; it’s great! Even my flight back to the Netherlands. Relax …
Since I bought my backpack, I never tried to get it through as hand luggage. But this time I just tried. The frame is exactly 55cm long which is the permitted size of hand luggage when traveling with Transavia. You just make sure that your backpack is that much packed that it exceeds the maximum height. When staying two weeks at the same place, I never use more space. When traveling to a place with different currency, it can be a good idea to take some cash with you. Withdrawal costs you about € 5 (700 ALL = Albanese Lek).
Arriving at Tirana Airport it is a bit of a puzzle to find transportation to the town center. Ofcourse you can take a taxi but I prefer the bus. There is only one bus which drops you off at the National Museum. Tirana is not a very big place (610 inhabitants according to Wikipedia). You can easily walk from there to any place that is more of less in the center. The shuttle costs ALL 250 (€ 1,87). You will find that the traffic is very chaotic. Everybody horns and it is really a matter of survival of the fittest.
Staying in Tirana
A dorm room at the Destil Hostel costs € 9 a night. Breakfast is ALL 300. Lunch ALL 400. They can even make you a vegetarian or vegan meal. Maybe it is a surprise but this town Tirana is very much in to vegan, eco and biological food.
As in every East European capital you find a lot of difference between rich and poor. BMW’s and begging people. Also some stray dogs roaming around. They wear this sort of ear tag which shows that they are vaccinated. Some of them look kind of healthy but some are really not okay.
Tirana has lots of nice cafe and restaurant and it is ridiculously cheap! A full breakfast for less than € 4 is one of the most expensive ones I had. With great cappuccino and vegan cake.
Living in Tirana
I am not really a typical sightseeing person. I like to roam around, visit some parks, sitting there watching whatever happens, go into small shops and markets. I like to feel the city. If you like that too, Tirana is the place to be. It is not overcrowded with museums or churches. You can easily pass them by.
I like the variation of working and playing. Depending on the weather I start my walking around town in the morning and have my breakfast at some nice cafe or I start working until noon. Since there is a great working space in the hostel I am staying I don’t need to look for one. Although the tables are a bit too low to work at for hours and hours. The place has a nice energy, great background music and quiet.
Restoran Peshku I Arte – highly overrated on Tripadvisor ***
The food was great but the reviews are highly overrated. The ambience is poor, the food choice was very poor. What I wanted was not there. In fact they only had one pasta meal available. So 3 stars for the food only. They can improve more.
Mon Cheri Coffee Shop – Great breakfast ****
Excellent coffee, nice sandwich and great vegan cake. Didn’t understand why they couldn’t serve a glass of water but nice energy and friendly staff.
The Funky Moustache – Trendy bar ******
Definitely a nice place, modern, quiet and great smoothies. It is a small place that can be easy missed but it’s worth trying to find it.
Cioccolatitaliani – For chocolate lovers ******
Love the energy, interior and staff. Best cappuccino so far in Tirana. The ice cream looks great as well maybe I’ll try later this week. I really recommend this place.
If you want a low key, relaxed place to go to, Tirana is definitely the place to be!