Today was beach day at Gjiri i Lalzit, a resort near Durres. The others spent the day getting their tan while I sat there and got burnt. The pasty English guy paid the price for pretending to be at one with the sun.
We went to the nearest beachside restaurant and discovered that the menu didn’t have any prices on them. We asked why, and he said, ‘You don’t need to know. It’s fine,’ in the style of some kind of Jedi mind trick. What he wasn’t aware of was that prices are actually a fundamental part of a menu. It’s been that way for many years. We asked for a menu with prices and he returned with an identical version, except prices had been written on in pencil. We ate meat and salad, obviously, and then went back to improving my chances of irreversible skin damage.
We came back to Tirane to get changed and then headed into the city. While digging in to ice cream at an al fresco restaurant, just over our shoulder was a group of old boys playing dominoes. Our ice cream came to 9000 leke between all five of us, so £4 in total. Then it was time to get crepes. We headed to a place Leda knew and it had an old style kiln. I had an avocado and bacon crepe with a beer and everyone else ate too. The bill came to £7. Nuts.
We were taken for a grand tour of Tirane where I was told that up to the year 2000 there were many kiosks and gypsies trading illegally in the center, but the new prime minister came along and cleaned the streets almost immediately. Word on the street is that he himself marched into the city with the police to do the deed, something he is respected for. We passed a statue of the national hero Skanderbeg and entered the busy park, even though it was pretty late.
Inside was a plinth in devotion to Albania, but some of the tiles had been nicked. Another few minutes down the busy road was The House of Leaves. This was a secret location during the Hoxha period where traitors were taken to be killed. Apparently, there are also lots of secret documents in there waiting to be exposed around the topic of Hoxha’s plans for the people. I really wanted to go in there, but it wasn’t due to be open for another few months. The new Prime Minister finally sanctioned for this place to be opened to the public after Angela Merkel’s recommendation that the people need to know what their country has done to its people, good and bad.
We dropped off Tia at the airport and said goodbye to the family. We went for a last drink at the student ‘town’ in Tirane. Apparently this is where all the students of Tirane live, regardless of the university they go to, which is rare. Bed by 12.