Thursday, January 9, 2014

Show Me The Neighborhood: Tirana, Albania

Here's my latest blogging activity.  Today's entry is a part of Piri-Piri Lexicon's "show me your neighborhood around the world" project and as such, I'm doing my part to introduce the world to Tirana, Albania.

The rules are simple:  Post a minimum of six pictures of typical scenes from around your neighborhood.  Photos must be taken by the blogger (in this case me!) and include a typical mode of transportation, a school or educational facility, a market or shopping facility, a typical house, a nearby street, and a playground.

It sounds simple enough, right?  It is until I realized that "typical" in Albania is anything but.  As I have written about in previous blog entries, Albania is simultaneously trapped in a time warp and barreling forward full force in time.  Because of this you can see both old and new, traditional and modern all in the same city block.  And these pictures reflect this contrast but to me, this is what Albania is all about.


Albanian transportation...its takes all forms.  Bright yellow Mercedes taxis (top left)
are popular as are donkeys  (lower left) and horse drawn cart (middle right).   Entire families
will pile onto motorbikes (lower left) and those who are fortunate enough to own their own
cars turn them to haul cargo as well as people  (upper right).

School or educational facility:

This is a new school and well maintained school located in suburban Tirana.
Albanian schools, regardless of when they were built, are utilitarian and don't
have a warm vibe surrounding them.  The locked gate surrounding the school
continues this unwelcoming message.


Super, or hyper, markets are now readily available but my favorite places to shop are the local
markets. These are loud and chaotic affairs where no one speaks English but everyone is eager
to sell you their wares. If you want fresh, local produce this is the place to go.  You can find (top)
 freshly roasted sheep heads, (lower left) nuts and dried peppers, and (lower right) all types of
olives and pickled vegetables.
Typical house:

Typical housing in urban areas falls into two categories.  There are five to ten
story apartment buildings (top); some are walk ups and others have small elevators.
Others are "single" family homes that actually house multi-generations of the same
family (bottom).  This house is across the street from me and has three generations
living in it. As is often the case the bottom two stories are complete with the upper
 two remaining unfinished until that space is needed, i.e. when one of the sons, or in
this case grandsons, gets married and moves his bride into this family home.   
A nearby street:

Both of these pictures are streets in Tirana.  The one on the left is a typical urban
through fare while the one on the left is more suburban.   It is a common sight during
the early morning and evening hours to see farmers walking their small flock of
sheep or cows home for the day.

Albanians love children and they are welcome everywhere; therefore, playgrounds are everywhere.
From restaurants and cafes to shopping malls and neighborhood street corners, you are likely to find a
playground.  Ironically, most are little more than a few pieces of metal playground equipment and would
 be deemed unsafe by American standards.  This picture, taken at a neighborhood cafes, is  one of the
safer and new structures we have encountered.


  1. Thank you for taking part. Love the picture of the donkey!

  2. Thanks Annabelle. This was a really fun post to put together.

  3. I like your pictures of the market in Tirana. I had similar perspectives during my visit. I liked the pickles you show, but also how tobacco is sold, just like any other vegetable by the pound. This is a rather unusual sight:

  4. Wow, I don't think I'll make it to that side of the world but that is really neat to see that! I love that the love kids. I find in some places in the world the US included that kids aren't always so welcome...