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Skanderbeg, the Dragon of Albania, in Skanderbeg Square

TIRANA (2009) x......As soon as I entered Albania on my second visit, I saw so much new construction. There were cafes, bars, hotels and restaurants where none had been before. I even saw Internet cafes and ads for mobile telephones. Yep, things had changed. And, there were a lot more cars and a lot fewer donkeys.

The capital city soared in population in the last ten years from 300,000 to over a million. Albanians from the north and south emptied out of their small towns and flooded Tirana in search of a better life. There were traffic tie ups that hadnít been there before. The mini bus dropped me off in the middle of the city, but I had no idea where. And, I couldnít find a street sign to give me any clue. But, it was so much easier to get a cab these days.

I toured the center of the city around Skanderbeg Square, named for the national hero who battled the Ottomans. Iíd swear I never was there before. Nothing looked familiar. Nothing. I chuckled over (and had to get a picture of) the UFO University. Wonder what is studied there? Just like so much of Eastern Europe, Tirana had a lot of communist style (and extremely ugly) blocks of apartments. However, Tiranaís mayor was an artist. He decided color was needed to transform them. Certainly making the best of a bad situation, buildings were painted in rainbow stripes, multi-color patches, and even bullís eyes. It was a fun touch and such an easy solution. And, yes, there were still bananas -- and even kiwis!

MARTIN

What do they study here? or eat here?
Copyright 1995 and 2009 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.