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New Indian Restaurant in Tirana offering traditional Indian Cuisine. www.chakrajone.com
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Hi, I'm married to an Albanian and have used the guide - it's very good with all the info you need when you're there. I love it!
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Hotels Restaurants Cafés Nightlife Sightseeing Events Maps TIRANA 2007 - 2008 Mystic Albania The Bektashi sect Don’t get lost New Tirana map inside N°5 - 400 lek www.inyourpocket.com CONTENTS 3 E S S E N T I A L C I TY G U I D E S Contents Arriving in Tirana How to get here 5 6 7 8 9 15 Ismail Qemali street, central Tirana JvM Glossary Tirana from A to Z History Occupations, liberations, damnations Culture & Events Cinemas, theatre and festivals Where to stay A good night’s sleep for Restaurants From Albanian to fusion, Tirana has it all Nightlife Drink and dance the night away 20 What to see Mosque, tower, horse 22 26 27 28 34 36 38 40 43 47 48-49 50 Around town A mountain, a castle and a town Bektashism Albanian mysticism Getting around Planes, buses, trains and cars Mail & Phones Keeping in touch Language Speak shqip Shopping Souvenirs, fashion and malls Directory From banks to real estate agents Maps & Index Country map City map Street register & Index Under 10kgs free JvM 2007 - 2008 4 FOREWORD Albania is a special country when it comes to belief, having been influenced by various religions through the ages. Though Albania is often characterised as a Muslim country in the foreign media, society here often seems as secular as (and perhaps even more so than) our Western societies. Perhaps it’s a more tolerant place too. It’s interesting to find that Albania is home to a centuries-old Muslim Sufi sect or order, that is banned in many Islamic countries; turn to page 27 to read about Bektashism. Regular visitors to the city will be used to strapping on decent footwear to brave the city’s pavements in wintertime, but they’ll also notice change. Tirana’s slowly turning into a quite an agreeable town, with new building projects adding new landmarks to the skyline and filling in gaps left by decades of neglect. To help you coordinate in the changing city, there’s a new city map in Tirana In Your Pocket this issue, and we’ve also added dozens of reviews of restaurants, hotels, cafés and bars to the guide. Albania’s capital has never been this much fun. Feel free to write in with tips, comments, praise and complaints: tirana@inyourpocket.com. Enjoy Tirana. Coming soon - Shkodra In Your Pocket edition 2, and a new Korca/Pogradec In Your Pocket guide. ARRIVING Europe In Your Pocket Arriving by train Albania has no international passenger trains. Weary rail arrivals from Shkodra, Durrës and Elbasan/Pogradec will find themselves deposited at Tirana’s train station, at the northern end of Blv. Zogu I. It’s a 10-15 minute walk down this boulevard to Skanderbeg square, a short taxi ride, or hop on any bus heading that way from the bus stop across the street. Arriving by bus Tirana has skipped the ‘build a bus station’ stage of evolution, and due to the construction work everywhere, buses drop off passengers at points all along the ringroad (they’re not allowed further); from there you’ll need a taxi or bus to get to the city centre. Arriving by car Driving to Albania is an option now that roads and safety have greatly improved - but don’t expect to get there quickly. Coming from Greece, cross at Kakavija, Kapshtica, Qafë Bot or Dogana Tre Urat. E xpect long queues and grindin g bureacracy on both sid es o f the border. Coming from Macedonia, you have the choice between Bllata, Qafë Thana and Tushemishti; the latter is quiet, has beauti ful scenery and rarely delays. From Kosovo, you can quickly cross over at Qafë Morina and Qafë Prush, from Montenegro at Hani Hotit and Muriqan. Arriving by ferry Arriving by ferry from Italy is perhaps the most relaxed way of entering the country. There are many ferries from Italy to the ports of Durrës and Vlora. There are also daily ferries between Corfu and Saranda. 5 Arriving in Tirana is not as straightforward and smooth as it should be, but we’re working on it. Arriving by plane Tirana’s newly built Nënë Tereza (Mother Teresa) or Rinas Airport, 17km northwest of Tirana, is a 30-45 minute drive from the city centre. After arrival and passport control, most foreigners need to pay a €10 fee to enter the country (see also visas). Beside the baggage carrousel there’s an ATM machine. Outside the arrivals hall, the yellow official airport taxis charge about 2000 lek to get to the city centre. Alternatively, hop on the hourly Rinas Airport Bus (200 lek) to Skanderbeg square, departing every hour around the clock. Cover story Dolls in Albanian national dress compete with marble bunker ashtrays in a souvenir kiosk window on Rruga Barrikadave. We get hundreds of emails a week asking when we intend to Pocket this or that city. Hanoi pops up regularly, as do Havana and Oslo. But the most requested? Dublin, by a mile. And on this front we have good news. Whisper it, but a crack team of writers and researchers is currently in the city of Joyce developing the Pocket idea with a view to launching a first edition of Dublin In Your Pocket next year. Mostar (Bosnia) is another new guide due out in 2008. We would also like to modestly mention that last month The Times named www.inyourpocket.com as one of the top 10 travel websites on the web. Copyright notice Text and photos copyright Tirana In Your Pocket 2001-2008. Maps copyright cartographer. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, except brief extracts for the purpose of review, without written permission from the publisher and copyright owner. The brand name In Your Pocket is used under license from UAB In Your Pocket (Vokieciu 10-15, Vilnius, Lithuania tel. (+370-5) 212 29 76). renta Get In Your Pocket! Contacting In Your Pocket’s publisher will get you the franchising contract, but when it comes to production, it’s time to call Rentapocket. Rentapocket is the authorised editorial and production wing of the In Your Pocket city guide publishing empire. Our experienced editors and production managers offer you over 12 years of In Your Pocket experience. Our wide range of friendly, stress-free services allow you to concentrate on the core activities of the business - advertising and distribution. Interested in publishing a guide like this for your own city? E S S E N T I A L C I TY G U I D E S Tirana In Your Pocket Blv Dëshmorët e Kombit c/o Avis Albania Hotel Rogner Europark Tirana, Albania Tel./fax: (+355) 4 23 50 24 tirana@inyourpocket.com www.inyourpocket.com ISSN 1587-2378 © A.S.G. sh.p.k. Hotel Rogner Europark Printed by Shtepia Botuese Pegi, Lunder, Tirana Published 5000 copies, 2 times per year Editorial Managing Editor Jeroen van Marle Contributor Alwyn Thomson Research Aldo Merkoci Layout & Design Tomáš Haman Photos Jeroen van Marle, Alwyn Thomson Tirana map © Tirana Municipality Cover photo Souvenirs © Jeroen van Marle Sales & Circulation General Manager Gazmend Haxhia Sales & Distribution Aldo Merkoci, aldo.merkoci@inyourpocket.com Editor’s note The editorial content of In Your Pocket guides is independent from paid-for advertising. Sponsored listings are clearly marked as such. We welcome all readers‘ comments and suggestions. We have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of going to press and assume no responsibility for changes and errors. For more information send an email to europe@rentapocket.com or asia@rentapocket.com, give us a call on tel. +370-6 899 23 93 or have a look at www.rentapocket.com. Tirana In Your Pocket 2007 - 2008 6 GLOSSARY An alphabetical listing of seemingly random useful facts for the traveller. HISTORY Climate Tirana is hot and dry in summer, and cool and wet (but rarely cold) in winter. The graph below shows the average maximum daily temperature and the average precipitation. Average temperatures in Tirana vary between 5 and 26°C, with measured extremes at -22 and 43°C. There are 2600 sun hours per year. The average annual rainfall is 1700mm, and snow usually doesn’t stay on the ground for more than a week each winter. 250 35 30 7 Crime & Safety The well-being of honoured guests (you) is a major source of concern and pride for the locals - a tradition dating back to Illyrian times - and rather than being mugged in Albania, you’re more likely to be overwhelmed with hospitality. Still, the same rules for personal safety that you follow elsewhere in the world also apply in Albania. Stay alert at all times, hide valuables or leave them at home, don’t wander around unlit alleys at night. Bring a torch as even in cities it can be pitch dark away from the main streets at night. By the seventh century BC, the Illyrians (the apparent ancestors of the Albanian nation) settle in what is now Albania. In 229-168 BC the Romans defeat the Illyrians and establish the protectorate of Illyricum. 4th Century The Roman Empire is divided in 395 AD, and the territory of today’s Albania falls into the Eastern (Byzantine) Empire. 14th Century The Ottomans invade what is now Albania in 1385. Their rule lasts more than 500 years. 15th Century Skanderbeg, th e Albanian leader, wages a war o f independence against the Ottomans starling in 1443 and enjoys remarkable success until his death in 1468. 19th Century In the 1830s, the Ottomans crush Albanian autonomy. Uprisings break out over taxation policy in the 1840s. After Russia defeats the Ottoman Empire, the Prizren League is founded in 1878 to fight for autonomy and against the partitioning of Albanian territory. 20th Century Local uprisings break out in 1909-1912. Albanians proclaim independence in Vlora on November 28, 1912. The Treaty of London recognises Albania in 1913, but Kosovo is given to Serbia. In 1914, during WWI, Italy invades Albania. In 1920 Albania regains independence. In 1925 Ahmet Zogu becomes president of the new Republic of Albania, but in 1928 Zogu proclaims a kingdom and crowns himself King Zog I. He cooperates with the Italians, who invade again in 1939, occupying Albania until 1943, when the Germans take over. In November 1944 the Germans retreat. The Communist led National Liberation Front takes power. Yugoslavia, Albania’s erstwhile ally, tries to absorb the country causing Albania to break with Belgrade in 1948. After 1956, when most of Eastern Europe undergoes de-Stalinization, Albania maintains a hard-line stance. It criticises the Soviet Union, with which it breaks relations in 1961. In 1968 Albania withdraws from the Warsaw Pact. Albania cultivates relations with China. Imitating Beijing, Albania purges ‘reactionary’ influences. In its own version of the Cultural Revolution in 1967, it outlaws religion and closes all 2169 of the country’s churches and mosques. In 1978 the leadership condemns even China as revisionist. Party head Enver Hoxha dies on April 11, 1985. 1990 After the totalitarian regimes collapse everywhere else in Eastern Europe, Communist Party leader Ramiz Alia announces cautious democratisation in March. Reform comes slowly. The People’s Assembly rescinds the ban on religion and on travel abroad in May. On December 12 the Democratic Party is founded, Albania’s first non-Communist party in the postwar era. Nine days later, the authorities dismantle the statue of Stalin in Tirana. 1991 In February, students at Enver Hoxha University launch a strike, demanding reforms; weeks of protests culminate in the toppling of Enver Hoxha’s statue in Skenderbeg Square. Waves of refugees flee the country in March. On March 31 the first multi-party elections in 68 years result in a victory for the Communists. In June the faults in the economy become clear when thousands of Albanians seeking asylum in Italy commandeer ships. An estimated 100,000 Albanians had fled the country in the previous 12 months. 1997 Collapsing pyramid schemes spark months of rioting and lawlessness throughout Albania in January. In June, parliamentary elections, held amidst nationwide unrest, result in a landslide victory for the Socialists. President Berisha, blamed for allowing the pyramid schemes to flourish, resigns. 1999 In response to Serb attacks on ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, NATO launches an air war on Yugoslavia on March 25. The war turns Albania into a NATO base of operations, and by May 500,000 Kosovars have flooded into the country. 2001 In October, Edi Rama, a former art lecturer and painter supported by the Socialist Party, is elected mayor of Tirana and initiates a series of projects that change the face of the city. 2005 In July, Sali Berisha’s Democratic Party wins the national elections from Fatos Nano’s Socialists. The election results are delayed after allegations of voting irregularities and three deaths. OSCE monitors report that the elections only partially complied with international standards, and that little progress has been made since the last elections. In June, novelist Ismail Kadare wins the first international version of Britain’s Man Booker Prize. 2006 In February, Albania signs the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU, seen as the very first step towards closer cooperation and eventually membership of the EU. 2007 In June, US president George W. Bush has a hero’s welcome (and a street named after him) on his visit to Albania, where he insinuates that the US may support a fast track to independence for Kosovo, and where he allegedly is robbed of his $50 watch during a meet and greet with the crowds in Fushe Kruja. 200 25 rainfall (mm) Electricity When it works, electrical current is 220 Volts; you’ll need standard European plugs. Power cuts are notoriously frequent in Albania, even in central Tirana, and often depends on the season (more in winter) and which area of the city you are in (for a more reliable supply, try to find out where the politicians have their apartments). 150 20 100 15 10 50 5 0 Jan Feb Mar rainfall Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec average daily temp. (max) average daily temp. (min) 0 Health Although the locals say the water is safe to drink, it’s probably best to stick to bottled water, which is readily available. Albanian cities can be very dusty, so contact-lens wearers should carry eye drops with them or consider wearing glasses. Travellers should beware of holes or bits of metal sticking out of the pavement, and missing sewer lids. Piles of garbage attract stray dogs at night. Pedestrians should use caution when crossing busy streets, even ones with traffic lights and dozing policemen. Finally, up-to-date tetanus and hepatitis-B inoculations are recommended if you want to play it safe and are staying some length of time in Albania, particularly rural areas. In case of problems, see the list of clinics in the directory. drivers are usually honest; however, it’s always a good idea to have the hotel or restaurant phone a reliable taxi from the list in the Getting Around chapter, or negotiate a fare before getting in the car. Street smarts Here’s a typical Albanian address: Rr. Sami Frashëri, Pall. 20/1, Shk. 1, Ap. 8. And here’s how to decipher it: Rr. means rruga, or street; Sheshi is square. The abbreviation ‘P’ or ‘Pall.’ stands for pallati (building, or block of flats). ‘Shk.’ stands for shkallë (‘entrance’ - since there is often more than one), and ‘Ap.’ means apartment. Unfortunately for guidebook writers and other foreigners, Albanian addresses often do not include street numbers. Instead, a close landmark (like a building, school, ministry, statue, etc) is mentioned for reference, prefaced by pranë (‘near’), or përballë (‘in front of). The medieval logic behind this is that the locals know where it is and you can ask them, so why bother painting an ugly number on it when you can sit down and have a nice cup of coffee instead? In this guide we mention these landmarks where necessary, and together with our map references we hope you’ll find your destination. Street terms you may encounter: blloku = block of flats bulevardi = boulevard qëndra = center rruga = street sheshi = square urë = bridge Money The Albanian currency is the lek (plural leke). The exchange rate is: €1 = 122 lek, £1 = 175 lek, US$1 = 86 lek (Oct 2007). Banknotes come in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 5000 lek, while there are coins of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 lek. Although hotels and some other services quote prices in foreign currency, payment is nearly always made in lek. If payment in foreign currency is possible, it usually means you’re getting a bad rate. Albania was the last country in Europe to have ATMs (bankomats) connected to the international grid, and nowadays getting cash using your debit or credit card is no problem. Albanian ATMs do not charge for transactions, but your home bank may. If you insist on bringing along cash foreign currency, you can change your euros or dollars at banks and (better) at exchange offices in town (see the directory for listings). People who still believe in traveller’s cheques in this electronic era can cash them at most banks at a fee. Finally, the money changers waving wads of banknotes outside the main mosque offer competitive rates and are generally honest, but it’s always wise to ask the exchange rate and carefully count and examine the lek they give you. Visas All citizens of Western European countries, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan, Turkey, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Malaysia and Singapore need a visa, but can simply can buy one at the border, port or airport for €10 (in cash euros please; pounds and US dollars are sometimes grumpily accepted too). Citizens from Poland and Slovenia enter for free; those from Malta and Israel pay €30. Travellers of most other nationalities need to get a visa from an Albanian embassy or consulate abroad before travelling to Albania. Before you set off, confirm your entry requirements at the nearest Albanian embassy or consulate. Note that the silly €10 departure tax was abolished in early 2006. Scams Travellers should always beware of pickpockets, particularly in large crowds or on buses. Young boys may offer to sell you cell cards and telephones, probably stolen goods. Gold for sale on the streets is also probably stolen or fake. Taxi temperature (°C) Skanderbeg at Kruja JvM Tirana In Your Pocket 2007 - 2008 8 CULTURE & EVENTS For schedule information, call the venues or grab a copy of the free monthly brochure Buletini Informativ Kulturor i Tiranes, which includes entertainment listings in English, French, and Italian. The monthly brochure ARTirana (a supplement to Gazeta Shqiptare) also includes entertainment listings in English and Italian. Cultural events are also listed in the Tirana Times. Ask for these publications at the main hotels. WHERE TO STAY In the 1980s, Tirana had only two accommodation options available for foreigners. Things have changed dramatically, and now a variety of hotels is available. Apart from around the bllok area, many decent and cheap hotels can be found in the residential areas between the main square and the train station. Prices vary dramatically, though you can have an equally good night’s sleep in both a top range €2530 suite and a simple €5 guesthouse bed. If you go for budget accommodation, be aware that English is not always spoken (try Italian, German or Greek) and ask about their back-up generator. Our categories are based on the price of the cheapest double room. Prices are often quoted in euros, but generally have to be paid in lek. 9 Festivals Tirana Film Festival The fifth edition of Tirana’s film festival (the ‘Cinema Short Film Festival’) from November 26 till December 2, 2007 is promising to be bigger and better than ever before, with visits by local, regional and international film makers, screenings hundreds of fiction, documentary, animation and experimental short films and videos from dozens of countries. The festival is unique for showing the works of young Albanian film, video, and media artists, and by directors from Kosovo. The screening venues are the Millennium 2 Cinema and the National Theatre. For more information see www.tiranafilmfest.com. Tirana Jazz Festival The third edition of the ‘TirJazzFest’ is expected to be held in the Pyramid building from late May to early June 2008. In previous years, artists and groups from across Europe have participated in the event. For more information call tel. 25 07 70 or see www.movingculture.org. Symbol key P Air conditioning H Conference facilities R Dataport F Fitness centre K Restaurant C Swimming pool W Wi-Fi A Credit cards accepted U Facilities for the disabled L Guarded parking G Non-smoking rooms D Sauna h Stars Cinemas 57, www.marubifilmschool.com. The Marubi Film School, named after Shkodra’s famous photographer family, has a cinema with free screenings of foreign movies every Thursday at 19:00 during university term. All are welcome. See the English-language website for what’s on. Millennium 2 F-5, Rr. Murat Toptani, tel. 25 36 54. Inside the former Palace of Pioneers, Millennium shows recent American films, in their original language, with Albanian subtitles. You may want to book in advance, especially in the evenings. The Millenium 1 is being renovated. Q Screenings: Mon-Thu 10:00, 12:30, 15:00, 18:00, 21:00; Fri-Sun 10:00, 12:30, 18:00. Tickets 100 lek, afternoons/evenings 300 lek, weekend nights 500 lek. Marubi Cinema Rr. Aleksandër Moisiu 76, tel. 36 51 Cream of the crop You (or hopefully your company) will pay over €130 for a double room with top-notch standards here. fax 23 04 57, diplomat@icc.al.eu.org, www.hoteldiplomathy.com. With a light Scandinavian feel and and enthusiastic staff, the Diplomat has three floors of excellent, parquet-floored rooms and a terracotta terrace with bar on the roof. Q 10 rooms (singles €100, doubles €140). PHALK Rogner Europapark H-5, Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit, tel. Diplomat F-1, Rr. Muhamet Gjollesha, tel. 23 31 51, Cultural centres 56 97, www.aleancafranceze.com. Join for 500 lek, and borrow French books or language-leaming materials. When borrowing, you must leave a deposit of 1000 lek, if you’re not a student. QOpen 08:00 - 14:00. Closed Sat, Sun. British Council I-4, Rr. Perlat Rexhepi, pall. 197, tel. 24 08 56, www.britishcouncil.org.al. Join for 2,000 lek, and you can rent books, audio tapes, and videos (classics and recent blockbusters) to view on-site or to take home. The library contains English teaching materials as well as novels which can be borrowed. QOpen 09:00 - 16:00. Closed Sat, Sun. German Centre H-5/6, Rr. Elbasanit, tel. 34 50 43. German-language textbooks and literature, in the library of the Asim Vokshi school. Bring your passport to join the library. QOpen 08:00 - 14:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Italian Institute of Culture H-5, Rr. Mustafa Matohiti 10, tel. 25 72 37. Italian language courses and a library. Q Open 09:00 - 14:00, 15:00 - 17:00. Closed Sat, Sun. USIS (United States Information Service) H/I-6, Rr. Elbasanit, next to the US Embassy, tel. 24 72 85. Here and at the USAID center are American literature, history books, periodicals, etc. Not a lending library. QOpen 08:30 - 16:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Theatre, Opera & Dance Black Box Theatre I-4/5, Sheshi Nënë Tereza, tel. 24 75 98. Mostly avant-garde and student shows inside the Art Academy. Once in a long while there’s a performance in a foreign language. National Theatre (Teatri Kombëtar) F-4, Rr. Sermedin Said Toptani, tel. 22 89 33. This is Tirana’s oldest theatre, built in 1940 to honor Mussolini on his visit to Albania. Performances range from Shakespeare to contemporary Albanian and foreign playwrights, though nothing is in foreign languages. Q Ticket office open 09:00 - 13:00, 15:00 - 19:00. Opera E-4, Sheshi Skenderbej, Palace of Culture, tel. 22 47 53. Occasional shows by Tirana’s underfunded but enthusiastic opera company. Q Ticket office open 09:00 - 12:00, 15:00 - 19:00. Puppet Theatre E/F-4, Sheshi Skenderbej. Occasional puppet shows for children in a grand old building. Alliance Française D-4/5, Rr. Barrikadave, tel. 22 23 50 35, fax 23 50 50, info@tirana.rogner.com, www. hotel-europapark.com. Spoil yourself in this modern, luxury hotel, which promises Western standards and delivers. Each room is decked out with satellite TV, radio, safe and fax outlet. Some rooms have a balcony and face the lush courtyard garden, where there’s a tennis court and a beautiful swimming pool. A favourite among foreigners, and a point of reference for the locals. The excellent Apollonia restaurant is on site. Q 137 rooms (100 singles €200, 30 doubles €230, 7 suites €350). PJHALGBKCW hhhh Diplomat Fashion Rr. Irfan Tomini, tel. 23 50 90, fax 23 27 99, diplomat@icc.al.eu.org, www.diplomatfashion. com. Tirana’s only boutique hotel is Italian-designed, and has a different city theme on each floor. Expect different decorations on walls, cupboards and ceilings on the 1st (and best) New York floor, the 2nd (Milan) and 3rd (Paris) floors. Downstairs is a pleasant library and TV area, a few conference rooms and a small but good fitness and sauna centre. It’s one of just two no-smoking hotels in Tirana. Just west of the centre along Blv. Bajram Curri. Q 26 rooms (singles €85-110, doubles €130-160). PHAFGD 20 107. Once you’ve walked into the Grand, you might not want to venture out again. This centrally placed hotel is one of the city’s best. The comfy rooms are complete with TV, telephone. The hotel also lays on frills like an indoor swimming pool jacuzzi and sauna. Q 31 rooms (singles €120, doubles €160). PHALK hhhh Grand H-3, Rr. Ismail Qemali 11, tel. 24 79 96/068 20 Sheraton Tirana Hotel & Towers J-5, Sheshi Italia, tel. 27 47 07, fax 27 47 11, reservations.tirana@starwoodhotels.com, www.sheraton.com. A huge hotel placed at the southern edge of the city centre, overlooking the park. The comfy rooms will suit the needs of any suit, but for the privileged there are the Tower Floor suites with private check-in and lounge. Facilities are top notch, with a health club, swimming pools, and modern conference facilities. Adjacent to the lobby is the Metropolitan restaurant, Infinity bar and the Sheraton Plaza shopping mall with its three theme cuisine restaurants. Q 151 rooms (singles €240, 95 doubles €255, 55 suites €380, presidential suite €2530). PTHARFLGKDC hhhhh Upmarket Reasonably priced luxury; double rooms from €80-130. Adventure sports Apart from the lovely people, Albania’s main attraction is the magnificent mountain scenery. Unfortunately, with bad information, roads and signposting and few travel agents organising trips into these wild places, it’s not easy for foreign visitors to get the best out of the country. Tirana-based Outdoor Albania allows visitors to get in touch with nature, while taking in some culture along the way. They can take individuals or groups on tailor-made trips throughout the country, organising activities such as trekking, mountain biking, rafting, kayaking, mountaineering, paragliding, 4W-driving and more. Programmes are adapted to the abilities of the participants, all guides are experienced and multi-lingual, and the equipment is of international standards. Even if you’re in just Tirana for a short while, they can arrange an active daytrip in the nearby mountains. You can join a daytrip from Tirana and go hiking, river hiking, rafting, kayaking and cave exploring. In winter, activities are limited to snowshoeing and hiking. Arber E-4, Rr. Bardhok Biba, tel. 27 38 11, fax 27 38 Speedboats no more In Greece, where tourism is a serious money earner, water sports are only banned in protected wildlife areas, to help spare endangered birds and turtles. In Albania, in a bold move to please the Italians and Greeks, and to stop drugs and people smugglers, Albania has banned the use of all speedboats and other small vessels along the entire coast for three years, effecting about 2000 boat owners. Curbing human trafficking will help ease the visa regime for Albanians planning to travel to the EU. Of course, they could have tackled corruption in the judiciary and police and bad border controls but this is much easier to do. However, local lawmakers do not have a solution for Italian and Greek speedboats entering Albanian waters to pick up drugs and people. Although fishermen, transport boats the police (and we bet a few politicians) are exempted from the ban, this won’t do much for tourism development, that is mostly based along the coast. Chateau Linza Rr. Porcelanit, Qesarakë, Linza, tel. 20 19 85/20 19 86, www.chateaulinzahotel.com. On the outskirts of town and on the slopes of Mount Dajti, Linza is a foreigner favourite for the sweeping views from the rooms and the swimming pool. A shuttle bus connects the hotel to the city, lower down. Q 45 rooms (singles €120, doubles €150, 35 apartments €170). PHAFLGKCW hhhh President I-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, tel. 25 95 75, fax 24 68 52, carlsberg@abissnet.com.al, www. hotelpresident-al.com. The frills of the President reside in the bllok area, at the quiet end of the most popular street. The silk-draped four-posters in the suites may be a little over the top for some tastes, but then there are the less frivolous double rooms, all with internet connection, and the excellent Carlsberg restaurant. Q 17 rooms (9 singles €110, 6 doubles €150, 2 suites €160-180). PHAL GKW hhh 13, hotelarber@yahoo.com, www.hotelarber.com. An excellent option hidden in the streets east of the International Hotel. The Arber has small, efficient rooms, and is mercifully quiet compared to hotels along main roads, especially after the surrounding buildings and the street are completed by late 2005. Q (singles €50-60, doubles €80, suites €100). Comfort D-4, Rr. Asim Vokshi, tel. 23 32 72, fax 23 31 23, info@hotelcomfort.al. Offering the best comfort in town at this price, the new first-floor Comfort Hotel, set back from the street, surprises with its well-designed and modern rooms and cosy breakfast bistro. What’s more, sleeping in stale-smelling rooms is a thing of the past as smoking is completely forbidden. Minuses: a tiny reception area, and only local channels on TV. Q 11 rooms (3 singles €40, 8 doubles €80). PG ***Star spangled banter*** This guide uses the star system as defined by the Albanian Department of Tourism, in which stars are awarded for amenities offered, and don’t necessary reflect the standard of service provided. Some hotels choose not to take part, others choose to awards themselves stars. Outdoor Albania, Rr. Elbasanit 85, tel. 22 71 72/069 218 88 45, www.outdooralbania.com. Tirana’s phone code: +355-4 Tirana In Your Pocket 2007 - 2008 10 WHERE TO STAY Mondial F-1, Rr. Muhamet Gjollesha, tel. 23 23 72, hotelmondial@albamail.com, www.hotelmondial.com. al. An elegant and modern hotel with plush pleasant rooms that favour shades of brown to more frivolous colours. It’s a kilometre from the centre, 50m from Sheshi Mustafa Qemal Ataturk. Q 28 rooms (singles €90, doubles €110, suites €130). PHALKC Nirvana E-3, Rr. Kavajës 96/2, tel./fax 23 52 70. Do you think they would notice if you booked a room under the name Kurt Cobain? This large villa set back from the busy road has rooms in gaudy colours with fitting cosy furniture - go all the way and get the one with the jacuzzi. Opposite the Catholic Church.Q 15 rooms (10 singles €50, 4 doubles €80, 1 suite €100-120). PALK 85, fax 23 41 88, reservation@tirana-international.com, www.tirana-international.com. A great selection of Albanian art spices up this central, standard, and pricey three star which in the 1980s was the best hotel in town. The view of the traffic chaos on Skenderbej Square from the upper floors will keep your nose pressed to the glass for hours. Q (singles €78-149, doubles €91-174, suites €198). PJHARLGKW 56 13, hotelareela@yahoo.com, www.areela.150m. com. A very pleasant find along a dusty residential road near the train station, the Areela is housed in a new building with spotlessly clean rooms and bathrooms. There’s only Albanian on TV but that’s compensated by the erotic art on the walls. The management has cunningly placed several signs leading to the hotel, and it even has a proper website in five languages - will other mid-range hotels in town ever catch on to these revolutionary ideas? Q 12 rooms (singles €40, doubles €60, triples €80). PALK 67, fatiha_nas@yahoo.com. A welcoming family-run hotel in a quiet, central location. The Brilant has large rooms and suites, and a good traditionally furnished Albanian restaurant in the basement. English is spoken. Q 6 rooms (2 singles €35, 2 doubles €50, 2 suites €60). PLK Areela C-4, Rr. Mahmut Fortuzi, tel. 22 65 79, fax 25 Brilant F-5, Rr. Jeronim de Rada, tel. 25 11 66, fax 25 11 Tirana International E-4, Sheshi Skenderbej, tel. 23 41 Mid-range Good value doubles between €50-80. California E-3, Rr. Mihal Duri 21, tel./fax 25 31 91. Welcome to the Hotel California, where you can check out any time you like, but unlike pre-1990 Albania actually can leave. There’s no arguing with the location of this place, and small but pleasant rooms contain generally matching furnishings and shiny bathrooms. Check out the fifth floor, the owner’s favourite. Q 25 rooms (20 singles €50, 5 doubles €70). PALK Doro D-1, Rr. Muhamet Gjollesha, tel. 23 22 06, fax 24 70 70, expressdoro@albmail.com, www.dorohotel.com. Along the busy ringroad near the Durres highway, Doro has quality rooms fitted with plenty of wood, and some boasting large terraces. It’s a few minutes drive west of the city centre. Q 20 rooms (singles €50, doubles €70-100, suites €100). PHALK 22 28 80, fax 24 86 92, info@hotelelysee-al.com, www.hotelelysee-al.com. The new Elysée is a quality mid-range hotel, with friendly service and a top location between the US and Italian embassies. Rooms are modern and quiet, with king-sized beds, wrought-iron balconies and TVs with international channels (200 lek extra), though there’s no lift to get you between the four floors. The front terrace has a bar and fountain. There’s wifi, but guests can also use a PC with internet at the reception. Q 20 rooms (singles €50-65, doubles €75-85, triples €105). PALBKW Ambasador D-5, Rr. Isa Boletini 36, tel./fax 25 86 29, tel. 068 20 34 655. Only a five-minute walk from the centre, the Ambasador is a small, quiet place decked out in rustic style and set in a villa-style building off the main road. The comfortable rooms include a TV, telephone and fax. Q 12 rooms (6 singles €40, 6 doubles €60). PH hhh Elysée H-5/6, Rr. Themistokli Gërmenji 2/173, tel. Firenze D-4, Blv. Zogu I 72, tel. 27 20 77, fax 24 90 99, firenzehotel@albmail.com. A surprisingly good business hotel on the boulevard just north of the main square. Firenze has charming staff, modern and well-furnished rooms, some even with fireplaces, and abstract art on the walls. Breakfast is served in the street-side restaurant. Q 7 rooms (singles €50, doubles €70). PRLK hhh Iliria Rr. Gjeneral Nikols, tel. 37 17 00, iliriahotel@ albaniaonline.net. Clean, spacious and hideously brown rooms to the southwest of the centre. It’s near the noisy Rruga Elbasanit, opposite the Foreign Languages Faculty, so try to get a room at the back. Q 23 rooms (singles €40, doubles €60). PAL Kruja D-3, Rr. Mine Peza, tel. 23 81 06, fax 23 81 08. A decent business hotel north of the main square, with standard rooms overlooking the calm street out front. There’s also a restaurant and pleasant pavement café outside. Q 18 rooms (singles €40, doubles €60). P View over the former dictator’s villa AT Tirana In Your Pocket 12 WHERE TO STAY Guesthouses & Rooms Staying at a guesthouse means you may be sharing the house and some of the the facilities with the locals. It’s a great way to meet locals and learn more about how they live. You’ll be surprised at how people of meager means lavish care and attention on their apartment interiors. WHERE TO STAY Duam drita It’s a piece of graffiti you will see on the streets of Tirana, often addressed to the Prime Minister; duam drita, give us light. Ever increasing demand and ever decreasing supply have resulted in chronic power shortages and power cuts across Tirana and Albania. Proposals for new power stations and new energy sources are being considered, but it’s still best to bring a torch anyway. 13 Dafina C-4, Rr. Papa Kristo Negovani, tel. 23 07 77. On a side street halfway the centre and the train station, the Dafina has a handful of simple and quiet rooms. Q 9 rooms (singles €15, doubles €30). sessing but comfortable four-story hotel best serves those who want to get away from the city centre. It serves a nice Italian breakfast and staff are polite. Q 13 rooms (3 singles €25, 10 doubles €40). PL Hostels Tirana Backpacker Hostel H-5/6, Rr. Elbasanit 85, tel. 37 34 07/068 216 73 57, tiranabackpacker@ hotmail.com, www.tiranahostel.com. Albania’s first youth hostel is a cosy set of rooms with bunk beds in the yellow 1940s Villa Karajani. Reception is open from 09:00-20:00 and can help you with travel tips as well as a bed. Guests can use the common rooms, the garden kitchen and terrace, washing machine (100 lek), internet (100 lek/day) and free linen and towels. The only downside is the traffic noise, though it’s nice to observe the atrocious local driving habits from the balcony. Find the hostel east of the Rogner Hotel, at the end of Rr. Ismail Qemali. Q 4 dorms with 3-5 beds (18 beds, €12). Ferari B-2, Rr. Don Bosko, tel. 25 58 96. This unprepos- Bujtina Shqiptare D-3, Rr. Sulejman Pasha, tel. 22 04 33/068 219 69 03, bujtinashqiptare1@yahoo. com. Good budget accommodation in rooms spread across three buildings just north of the city centre. The rooms are basic but comfortable; facilities vary from room to room but all have private bathroom and TV. Also at Rr. Urani Pano 9/1 and Rr. Mehmet Brocaj. Q 8 rooms (singles €12, doubles €16, triples €25). 523. A small and warm little hotel in the very centre of town. All rooms have a quality, florid bathroom and a balcony overlooking the quiet street. Q 8 rooms (singles €40, doubles €50). PK hotel_miniri@yahoo.com, www.miniri.com. This Croatianowned hotel’s excellent location - just off the main square - is not matched by its interiors. The peach-coloured rooms are decent but nothing special, with a small TV, phone and couch. Q 8 rooms (singles €50, doubles €50-80, triples €100). PHAK Lugano E-3, Rr. Mihal Duri, tel. 22 20 23/068 20 31 47/36 45 59, andrea1@yahoo.com. Here’s a modest two-storey villa done up in brown and dark red, with four cosy and quiet bedrooms. There is a kitchen downstairs where you can scarf some breakfast. Centre Andre also has three air-conditioned apartments on Rr. Mahmut Fortuzi (C-4). Q 7 rooms (4 singles €15, 3 doubles €20). L Centre Andre F-5, Rr. Jeronim de Rada 61, tel. 25 69 Miniri E-4, Rr. Dibrës 3, tel. 23 09 30, fax 23 30 96, Guva e Qetë F-5, Rr. Murat Toptani, tel. 23 54 91/068 27 07 901, klidbalkan@albaniaonline.net. Small, simple, clean and quiet rooms with fridge, en suite bathrooms and TVs in a dead-central location. Amusingly, when we visited, the concierge was too drunk to even walk to the front desk, so we just grabbed some keys to explore the place ourselves. Q 12 rooms (doubles €32). P family-run hotel is tucked away off the main street and set behind potted trees and flowers. It’s got a light and airy feeling and views of old tile roofs. The relative lack of amenities is compensated by the management`s eagerness to please. Taxis to the centre are provided free. So are coffee and tea. The breakfast buffet features fresh fruit and pastries. Q 11 rooms (6 singles €30, 5 doubles €30). L amounts to a good budget choice. In this hostel-like setup, you can either share a room or be unapologetically selfish and take one all for yourself. Rooms are quiet and clean, with tile floors, basic bathroom, a TV and a fan. Best of all, the hotel is ensconced inside the ancient walls of Justinian’s Fortress, protecting you from 6th-century barbarians. Q 10 rooms (singles €30, doubles €40, triples €45). HA Dirt cheap Republika C-5, Blv. Zog I, 66, tel. 22 24 00, fax 22 50 14, republikahotel@yahoo.it. On Tirana’s busy boulevard, the Republika has decent rooms, some with en suite bathrooms, some using clean shared facilities. Handy for both the centre and the city’s transport options, but get a room at the back for a quiet night’s sleep. Q 16 rooms (doubles €20-30, triples €30). P Haxhiu E-5, Rr. Qemal Stafa 391, tel./fax 36 05 47. This Endri H-4, Rr. Vaso Pasha, Pall. 27, Sh. 3, Ap. 30, Stela C-5, Rr. Dibrës, tel./fax 23 55 67. With its white tel. 24 41 68/22 93 34. Endri consists of a large first floor apartment with rooms for rent, run by a friendly couple who live in the apartment next door. You have your own bathroom, either inside the room or just outside the hall, and cable TV. Limited English is spoken; bring hands and feet. Q (doubles €25). tile floors and large bathrooms, Stela seems a good choice. However, the rooms have thin rugs and small towels, and the rooms face a noisy street. All rooms are equipped with TV and minibars, as well as tacky artificial flowers. Q 9 rooms (6 singles €40, 3 doubles €60). PAK Kalaja F-5, Rr. Murat Toptani 9, tel. 25 00 00. Kalaja tel. 069 209 49 15. Two basic rooms with TV and private bathroom in a quiet location just minutes walk from the main square. The lovely landlady Gina Ballo and her daughter Antoneta speak some English. To find the unmarked pension, turn right down the alley just before the Brilant hotel; it’s the second door on the right. Q (singles €20, doubles €30). Pension Andrea F-5, Rr. Jeronim de Rada 103, hotel.victoria@interalb.net, w w w.geocities.com/ hotelvictoria_al/main.html. Th e modern Victoria, and i ts pizzeria, is run by a famil y who spent several years in I tal y, and has pleasant if somewhat chintz y rooms. The reception can be found upstairs beyond the restaurant. Q 10 rooms (singles €50, doubles €70). PALK 59 56, info@tafaj.com, www.tafaj.com. An elegant 1930s building in the city centre with a green garden at the back to relax in. Rooms are spacious an modern, and laundry and minibar is included in the price. The restaurant rustles up Mediterranean food. Q 18 rooms (5 singles €50, 13 doubles €60). PHARLK Victoria C-5, Rr. Dibrës 445, tel./fax 36 15 94, Vila Verde B-4, Rr. Karl Gega, tel. 24 82 32/069 230 81 11. Mercifully removed from the mud and dust that envelopes the train station area, Vila Verde is just down the quiet street parallel to the tracks. Expect low-standard rooms with en-suite facilities that are bearable if you need to catch an early train or the bus to Shkodra (departing from the bus terminal next door). Q 6 rooms (singles €10, doubles €20). P Nobel E-4, Blv. Zogu I, tel. 25 64 44/069 202 07 57, Vila Tafaj D-3, Rr. Mine Peza 86, tel. 22 75 81, fax 23 Pension Strazimi Rr. Ali Demi, pall. 141, shk. 3, apt. 23, tel. 37 21 02. The home of Xhetan and Melihat Strazimi has three basic but clean rooms with shared bathrooms. The Strazimis like to lock the door by midnight, so it’s no good for party animals, but a welcoming option for budget travellers. Rr. Ali Demi is just east of the centre, off Blv. Bajram Curri, on the Uzina bus line. Q 3 rooms (singles €5, doubles €10). reservations@hotelnobeltirana.com, www.hotelnobeltirana.com. Owner Edmond Godolia has 2222 pictures of Nobel prize winners and one of Alfred Nobel himself - and a stick of dynamite in a drawer. The hotel, tucked in behind the Tirana International, has modern furnishings, wireless internet and a decent Italian restaurant on the ground floor. Airport pickups/dropoffs are just €15. Q 6 rooms (singles €30, doubles €35, triples €45). PAKW 235 46 55. An excellent, affordable and central hotel, on a quiet street and next door to the Brilant hotel. Spacious rooms with attached bathrooms overlook terracotta roofs, and the naughty soft focus photos in the halls are a nice touch. Englishspeaking staff members are present after 10:00. Q 7 rooms (singles €20, doubles €30, breakfast €5 extra). P Parlamenti F-5, Rr. Jeronim de Rada, tel. 26 50 24/068 Budget Why pay more, indeed? Double rooms from €25-50. In winter, it’s important to ask if the heating in cheaper hotels runs on electricity, and if the hotel has a back-up generator. Stephen Center B&B E-5/6, Rr. Hoxha Tahsim 1, tel./fax 25 39 24, stephencenter@stephencenter. com, www.stephencenter.com. The ‘wonder ful, Christian environment’ provided by the cosy guestrooms of the Stephen Center is available to missionaries and other travellers and consists of simple but well-furnished rooms with twin beds, bathroom and decent heating. There’s laundry and airport pickup service too. Q 6 rooms (singles €30, doubles €40). PGKW Pike Loti G-6, Rr. Mihal Grameno, tel. 23 51 55. Not far Alpin C-5, Rr. Siri Kodra, tel. 23 38 85/069 226 62 85. Double rooms with small bathrooms (shower only) and balconies along a busy road. Some English is spoken at the reception. Q 5 rooms (doubles €30). from the city centre, this family-run hotel offers small but clean and comfortable rooms. All come with private bath, modemcompatible telephones, TV and minibar. Some English is spoken. Q 7 rooms (5 singles €25, 2 doubles €33). PL Tirana’s phone code: +355-4 Tirana In Your Pocket hotelbriker@hotmail.com. A short stroll from the main square and a few steps up from the street, the modern Briker has rooms with wooden floors, red/white furniture and large blue-glass windows. The price is the same regardless of the number of occupants, so it’s a good deal for threesomes, but not for lonesomes. Q 9 rooms (singles, doubles €40). PL Briker D-4/5, Rr. Barrikadave 3/24, tel. 22 95 43, Shalom Center Rr. Ali Demi, tel. 048 30 00 16/35 52 13, shalomcenter@albnet.net, www.shalom-center. com. Just east of the centre, this hotel is favoured by NGOs, missionary groups and other do-gooders for their conferences (plus a bit of spacing out beside the glorious swimming pool naturally). The rooms are simple but adequate, and the views from the terrace across the city and the mountains quite pretty. Q 19 rooms (singles €20, 16 doubles €40, 1 triple €60, 2 suites €80). PHAKC Hand-made stained glass in the Catholic church JvM 2007 - 2008 14 CAFÉS All cafes and bars offer espresso (kafe ekspres) or Turkish coffee (kafe turke). More upscale places will also serve American-style coffee (kale filter). biggest attraction in ‘Black and White’ is the huge black-andwhite photograph collection of Albanian artist Artur Gorishti. Modem and comfortable, this café serves a damn good cappuccino. Near the corner with Rr. Ismail Qemali. QOpen 07:30 - 24:00. PB The walls of this cosy and artsy café halfway down the long street are hung with dozens of cartoon caricatures of local politicians and other media stars; well worth a glance if you’re following the Albanian news. There’s a selection of wines and some croissants and other snacks. QOpen 07:00 - 15:00, 18:00-23:00. B can find a seat, that is. The children will love the small playground in the park. QOpen 07:00 - 23:00. Also on Rr. Durresi, Rr. Sami Frasheri and near the University Library in New Tirana. B Albanian cuisine is surprisingly good and tasty, a mix of Mediterranean fresh fish and produce and Balkan traditions. Dining in Tirana is very cheap compared to other European countries; even in more upscale restaurants a main course will not cost much more than 600 lek. Standards are often high, with many members of the Albanian emigrant diaspora returning with years of experience in the catering industries around the world. Enjoy. RESTAURANTS Symbol key P Air conditioning A Credit cards accepted E Occasional live music G No smoking B Outside seating L Guarded parking S Take away W Wi-Fi 15 Bardhe e Zi H-3, Rr. Sami Frashëri, tel. 24 70 89. The Café Albert E-3, Rr. Durrësit 59, tel. 069 218 70 66. Pasticeri Twin Towers G/H-4, Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit, tel. 28 02 89. A great location in the Twin Towers looking out on the Pyramid, this place is bright, modern and airy. Ice cream and cakes complement the rather overpriced coffee, and you can while away the time enjoying the erratic spellings of the Scotch whisky on the menu. QOpen 07:00 - 23:00. PB a great spot to kill time and watch people. The terrace is screened from the traffic by flower beds, palm trees and a fountain and is a better choice than the slightly tacky indoor area. Piazza is one of the few bars that also serves food: sandwiches, pizza and other snacks. QOpen 07:00 - 23:00. PB Upmarket Even at the fanciest places in Tirana a meal won’t break the bank, with prices well under Western European average. Piazza Café Rr. Ded Gjo Luli, tel. 23 07 06. Piazza is Apollonia H-5, Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit, Rogner Eu- Capriccio H-4, Rr. Pjetër Bogdani. Located across the street from Enver Hoxha’s former villa, Capriccio is a cool option for a quiet cup of coffee during the day. Pity the poor guards at the villa across the street who are paid a pittance to stop you from attacking the building. QOpen 07:00 - 24:00, Fri, Sat 07:00 - 02:00. 99. There’s an artsy copper theme to the City Lounge where you can head to a relaxing upstairs balcony. As well as the usual range of drinks you can also choose from a very reasonable lunchtime menu of the day. QOpen 07:00 - 23:00. PB Quo Vadis H-4, Rr. Ismail Qemali 27. A fabulously City Lounge H-5, Rr. Mustafa Matohiti, tel. 069 401 88 popular café at Tirana’s most fashionable crossroads. The deep red walls provide the perfect backdrop for the hip, young and rich to do their thang. We recommend ordering a coffee, a pint of hair gel and a clipped goatee. QOpen 08:00 - 23:00. B ropapark Hotel, tel. 23 50 35. Apollonia’s menu features not only Greek, Albanian and Italian specialities, but also kangaroo meat. The restaurant has a stylish setting, with outdoor seating in the lush hotel garden. Occasionally musicians also saunter around the dining room. serenading guests with Albanian ballads. QOpen 06:00 - 10:30, 12:00-22:30, Sun 06:00 - 10:30, 12:00-23:00. AEB Era H-3, Rr. Ismail Qemali, tel. 25 78 05, era_delivery@ yahoo.com. Meaning ‘wind’ in the best sense of the word, this popular and foreigner-friendly spot makes for a good casual lunch or dinner. The Albanian food is excellent; try the stuffed eggplant and peppers, and fërgesë (fried minced lamb, feta cheese and garlic). Era also delivers home. Near the corner with Rr. Sami Frashëri. QOpen 10:00 - 24:00, Fri 10:00 - 23:00. B Petro’s Kitchen Club G-6, Rr. Pjetër Budi 25, tel. 22 95 25. A fantastic little restaurant in a brick house with a quaint Van Gogh interior, old wooden chairs and colourful paintings. The owner spills no words but does rustle up some excellent traditional cooking in the open kitchen. The Albanian specialities include pita variations, tava (meat served in a ceramic pot). Walk past the youth hostel and take a left at the new yellow apartment block to find it. English, Italian and Greek is spoken. QOpen 07:00 - 09:30, 12:00-24:00. B Relax H-5, Rr. Mustafa Matohiti, tel. 068 213 86 41. Big Coffee Shop I-5, Sheshi Italia, tel. 069 24 43 280. A boldly-named, modern coffee house overlooking the Kolonat fast food tent. There’s good coffee, and tasty paninis if you’re up for a snack. QOpen 07:00 - 24:00. the busiest areas of town by the university bookstore, Juna tends to get crowded starting in the early morning. Could be the location, or the good fresh coffee they serve. QOpen 08:00 - 23:30. B windows and a bright interior with lots of light wood ensure that Relax lives up to its name. It’s a great place to linger over a cup of coffee and read the paper. If you forgot to bring your own, the café kindly provides a selection for you. QOpen 07:00 - 23:00. PB Hotel, tel. 24 68 52. Classy Carlsberg is deservedly popular with the foreign crowd, and was recently expanded to hold even more diners. It’s hard to go wrong with anything on this menu, but we are especially taken with the excellent steaks, the salad bar and the decadent selection of cheese. QOpen 12:00 - 22:30. Carlsberg I-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, President Green House G-5, Rr. Jul Varibova 16, tel. 25 10 15. Juna I-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit. Sited in one of Sky Club Café G/H-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, 5, tel. 22 16 66. The floor of the glass box on top of Albania’s highest building revolves slowly to give an all-round vista of the city (though power cuts regularly put an end to that). That’s also the main reason to come - the coffee and cakes on offer are pricey and no better than those at ground level. QOpen 08:00 - 23:00. P Stephen Center Café E-5/6, Rr. Hoxha Tahsim 1, tel. 23 47 48, w w w.stephencenter.com. Whatever you may think of th e work of evan gelical mi s si onari es in Albania, th ey c er tainl y k n ow h ow to run a good café. Th e Steph en Cen ter café is one of Tirana’s b est, a cosmopoli tan meetin g place for l o cals an d forei gn ers. Th ere’s a pl easan t terra c e and a cosy smoke-free in terior wi th a poster of New York’s t win towers. Th ere’s free wi fi, fresh juice, 90 lek b ot tomless coffee, salads, pastas, sand wich es, pan cakes, burgers, piz za, M exi can dish es, En glish break fast and on Saturdays waffles. Amen! QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. PGBW Found residing on a small road behind the pyramid, the quiet courtyard lies behind high hedges that grow vociferously over the walls. Within the villa good Mediterranean meals are cultivated as well as a few second-hand car deals we would guess. QOpen 08:00 - 02:00. PLB Sarajet F-5, Rr. Abdi Topani, tel. 24 30 38. Most traditional Ottoman-era houses have disappeared in Tirana. Sarajet is housed in one of the survivors, the grand wooden Toptani family house dating from 1780. Ask to see the preserved carved wooden ceiling on the first floor and the small hamam. The service is slightly zealous, but the Albanian and international food is just fine. QOpen 08:00 - 23:00. B Serenata E-3, Rr. Mihal Duri 22. With a nicely low-key decor of traditional art and costume, Serenata is the home of dishes from the southern Devolli region, centred on the town of Korçë, which is of course famous for its serenades. Spicy, saucy and full fat, we suggest you get as fat as you can. Try lakror, a flat pancake stuffed with green beans, tomatoes, herbs and spices or tave me qofte, spiced meatballs baked in a clay bowl. Next to Hotel California. QOpen 09:00 - 23:00. Vila 31 E-2, Rr. Gjon Muzaka, tel. 068 208 33 17. Set in a walled courtyard, at Vila 31 you leave Tirana’s dust and noise far behind. Choose the intimate dining room or take a table outside and smell the flowers. The menu offers good, traditional Albanian food. The service is a little haphazard, but it’s all part of the experience. QOpen 10:00 - 24:00. B Metropolitan J-5, Sheshi Italia, Sheraton Hotel, tel. 27 Pasticeri International I-4, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri, in the park. The only thing international about this place might be your presence - but it’s still one of the better places to go to get your sugar-and-coffee fix. Wolf down tarts (from 100 lek) and various other pastries - if you 47 07. Set underneath a groovy wave roof, the Sheraton’s Metropolitan restaurant has excellent Albanian and international fusion dishes on offer at international prices. The dress code is smart casual. QOpen 12:00 - 23:00. PAB Piazza E-4, Rr. Ded Gjo Luli 1, tel. 23 07 06, www.kom- Book cafés Epër7shme G-5, Rr. Jul Variboba 2, tel. 27 12 88. A lovely book café east of the pyramid. Some 200 Englishlanguage titles can be found in the bookshop at the front, including translations of Albanian literature. The friendly owners and their friends can be found hanging out in the traditional Albanian-style café section, specialising in tea and decorated with intricate wood carvings. QOpen 08:00 - 22:30. PB tel. 26 67 77, friendbookhouse@yahoo.com. For literary insomniacs: a non-stop bookshop, café and reading room that is also used as a quiet place to study. There are not many English-language titles on offer but you can always bring your own book or newspaper along. Near the main police station, just north of the river. Q Open 24hrs. B paniabardha.com. Opened by an Albanian-American family in 1993, Piazza was Tirana’s first truly elegant restaurant. The competition has made it more accessible and affordable - but Piazza hasn’t lost its cachet. This is still the place for chic parties and business dinners. The fresh salad bar is excellent. QOpen 12:00 - 16:00, 19:00-23:00. AEB Vinum E-5, Rr. Qemal Stafa 60, tel. 23 08 22. One of Valle Verde I/J-4, Rr. Lekë Dukag jini, tel. 25 84 97. As Friend’s Book House G-3, Rr. Sami Frashëri, the name suggests, everything in this cool cafe is done in shades of green. The Valle Verde tart convinced us to make several return visits. Next to the Albanian Radio & TV building. QOpen 06:00 - 23:00. B Tirana’s nicest restaurants, Vinum is tucked away down a small lane; look for the sign on the main street. The restaurant is in a beautifully restored 1920s villa with a walled garden, and the chef/owner produces superb Italian and French influenced dishes. It’s expensive by Tirana’s standards but well worth it. QOpen 13:00 - 17:00, 18:30-23:00. PAB Fast food Kolonat I-5, Sheshi Italia, tel. 25 51 27. Albania’s first real wannabe US-style fastfood outlet (complete with fauxMcD logo and boxes) is a large tent wedged between the columns of the Archeological museum at the southern end of the boulevard. It serves huge four-person super-pizzas (400-600 lek), hamburgers (even a Skanderburger, named after the national hero) and paninis to a crowd of willing gluttons. For the children cartoons are projected on the walls in the evening, while adults can enjoy the somewhat surreal atmosphere of the blue-lit colonnade. QOpen 08:00 - 24:00. Albanian Emblema I-2, Rr. Komuna e Parisit, tel. 069 205 05 99. With chunky wooden tables, an open fireplace and walls lined with odds and ends you could be at your granny’s house, if your granny were Albanian. The usual selection of pasta and pizza are available but stick to the traditional Albanian food. Shame about the low energy light bulbs though. QOpen 12:00 - 23:00. PS Villa Palma H-4, Rr. Brigada VIII, tel. 27 08 88. Sit in the courtyard with the palms that give this place its name, or indoors where you can admire the ‘African’ face masks that line the walls. If you need more than a drink but less than a meal this is good spot, with sandwiches, salads, pizza and ice cream on the menu. QOpen 07:00 - 24:00. PB Tirana’s phone code: +355-4 2007 - 2008 Tirana In Your Pocket 16 RESTAURANTS Proud to be partners What do five Uighurs, one Egyptian, one Algerian and an Uzbek have in common? These eight men all made the journey from Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay to Albania. With no other country willing to take the men and the US refusing to send them back to their home countries, Albania – which is proud of its pro-American stance – agreed to give them asylum. We’re hoping that some exotic new restaurants open soon in Tirana as a result. RESTAURANTS Fusion Serendipity Café I-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, 21, next to Hotel President, tel. 25 93 77. A favourite among foreigners, Serendipity offers an irresistible combination of attractive clientele, innovative cocktails and fusion food (curry, chicken jambalaya, etc). There’s often live music on Friday and Saturday, with partying until the early hours. QOpen 07:00 - 23:00, Fri, Sat, Sun 07:00 - 05:00. PEB 17 Indian Ashiana I-5/6, Rr. Dervish Hima, tel. 069 277 44 59. Albania’s first Indian restaurant is run by an IndianAlbanian couple, and has fast become a favourite of the expat community. Starters such as the pakora and fried onion rings are delicious, only to be followed up by subtly spiced dishes including kurmas, curries, sea food, birjani, and (unusually) beef. QOpen 11:00 - 23:00. Chinese Mimi I-5, Rr. Dervish Hima, tel. 26 99 47. An unusually chic name for a Chinese restaurant. There’s friendly service and a full range of chicken, pork, noodle and beef standards. The seafood specialities include calamari and shrimps. Home delivery, too. QOpen 08:00 - 22:00. PB 27 19 87. Good Chinese food served in wonderfully chintzy surroundings, just the way the Chinese like it. The Englishlanguage menu, kindly translated by the US Embassy staff, lists a good value set menu deal as well as several fish dishes. Find Shanghai down an alley near Hotel President. QOpen 08:00 - 23:00. it’s busy, but the delicious fresh cooked rotisserie chicken is worth waiting for. You can also get decent chips and kebabs here. Sit in at the cheap and cheerful dining section or take it away and smear grease all over your face in public. QOpen 09:00 - 24:00. Mr. Chicken Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit. It’s hot and International Amor F-1, Rr. Muhamet Gjollesha, tel. 069 268 49 52. No menu here, just what the chef/owner decides to make that day, all cooked fresh. Great home made pasta, excellent meat, superb desserts and all at reasonable prices. Don’t miss the chocolate mousse. It’s only a little place so booking is advisable for dinner. QOpen 12:00 - 17:00, 19:30-23:00. P trying in every possible way not to remind us of the great city it’s named after, the sparsely furnished Berlin does serve up a decent attempt at Wiener Schnitzel and a handful of Greek and Albanian dishes. QOpen 12:00 - 22:00. B modern-art canvasses look down on a scene of classically refined dining, which goes to town on a Mediterranean menu and wine list. However there’s not much to remind you of the Iberian peninsula. QOpen 08:00 - 23:00. PL Shanghai I-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, 25/1, tel. Sheraton Plaza Food Court H-5, Sheshi Italia. A food court inside the mall attached to the Sheraton hotel, with three cuisines on offer: Mexican, Italian and Asian. Popular for office lunches and for a quick dinner. QOpen 08:00 - 24:00. Berlin H-4, Rr. Vaso Pasha 7, tel. 27 38 63. While French Patisserie Française G/H-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, 1, tel. 25 13 36. A French-owned culinary amalgamation with a patisserie at the front flogging excellent bread and cakes, and behind it a faux Parisian café with mirrors and oozing red colours everywhere. Light lunch or supper accompanied by red wine here is highly recommended. QOpen 08:30 - 22:00. PGS Shanghai 2 F-5, Rr. Murat Toptani, tel. 25 70 12/068 Roasting chestnuts AT 218 70 81. Good and affordable Chinese food is offered at the new Shanghai restaurant, found beyond a set of carved wooden pillars in a courtyard opposite the Milenium 2 cinema. The menu has a dazzling 126 options (plus a set of Albanian choices to lure insecure locals inside), all available in the dining hall, on the terrace or for take-away. The set menus with 5-8 dishes are good value. QOpen 11:00 - 23:00. B Sky Club G/H-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, 5, tel. 22 Espagna I-4, Rr. Nikolla Tupe 5/9, tel. 24 07 71. Large King House I-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, tel. 25 55 59. There’s nothing outstanding about the King House; just reliably good Albanian and Italian food served in pleasant surroundings by friendly and attentive staff. Home of the informal Friday night Tirana expat meeting. Near the President hotel. QOpen 07:00 - 24:00. PAS Brits should feel right at home here in this small Albanian corner of Blighty, where quality British and Italian food is served. A favourite for expats and visitors alike. QOpen 12:00 - 23:00. AE 16 66. Tirana’s most novel restaurant is perched on top of the 17-storey Sky Tower. A glass elevator stuck on the side of the building takes you up to the terrace from where there are tables and great views in all directions. Below, Enver Hoxha’s former villa, the UN and EU offices are all within spitting distance, should you feel inclined to. Across the river there’s the Taiwan complex, Skënderbeg Square, and beyond it all the grand mass of Mount Dajti. The prices of the international dishes served here are as high as the location, but the quality and the views make up for that. One floor up, the café has a revolving floor when the electricity is on (see cafés). QOpen 08:00 - 23:00. PB London D-4, Blv. Zogu I, 51, tel. 23 88 51. Wandering Lulishte 1 Maji F-5/6, Rr. Presidenti George W. Bush, Vila Ambasador Chocolat H-5, Rr. Asim Zeneli, tel. 254 844/069 20 66 257. The Chocolat consulate ser ves up some excellent fish and meat dishes (tr y the three-course menu), and is deser vedly well known for the great desser ts. Staff is knowledgable, and the cluster of orange rooms have an intimate atmosphere. Great for a special evening out.QOpen 11:00 - 23:00. PLEB right opposite the pretty Netherlands embassy building, this pleasant restaurant has great semi-covered terrace seating where you can plot the downfall of the Dutch government. Or perhaps just tuck into Albanian food and pizzas. QOpen 08:00 - 22:00. PB tel. 25 45 71. A large, tree-shaded garden of delights beside the river, shared by four restaurants, fountains, a playground and, in the summer months especially, most of the city’s population under 40 years old. There’s pasta and pizza at good prices and a large red building housing the culinary equivalent of the UN, with kebabs, Mexican and Chinese food. QOpen 11:30 - 23:00. EB Villa Amsterdam H-5, Rr. Asim Zeneli. Logically located Primavera H-4, Rr. Pjetër Bogdani 7, tel. 26 07 37. Up on the second floor, a good Mediterranean menu is ably delivered in dickie-bow either inside or out. Daily specials and some nice local art keeps the place on its toes. Food delivery by taxi available. QOpen 08:00 - 24:00. P Seafood Rozafa E-5, Rr. Luig j Gurakuqi 2, tel. 22 27 86/23 91 14, www.rozafa.com.al. With fish and other seafood coming fresh from their own fish market across the street, you can choose between superb cheap seafood or superb expensive seafood at the two Rozafa restaurants, both located in one building. Treat yourself at least once to the upmarket version (down the alley and through the wooden door on the left); try the seafood buffet, piled high with more tentacles and suckers that you can count. QOpen 12:00 - 24:00. PAB 2007 - 2008 Royal G/H-4, Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit, Twin Towers, tel. 28 03 28. Located on the fourth floor of the Twin Towers, this restaurant combines fine dining with a nice view of the main boulevard and the city skyline. Come on a warm night and dine al fresco in the glow of the pyramid. A good selection of wines is available to accompany a large variety of mains. QOpen 12:00 - 22:30. Tirana In Your Pocket 18 RESTAURANTS Park restaurants restorantdreri.com. Anything but dreary. Serenely set in the park, the terraced landscapes around the main building of ‘the deer’ are an excellent place for a relaxed meal. Opposite the geology faculty. One of the first restaurants with a in Albania, too. Q Open 12:00-17:00, 19:00-24:00. LB RESTAURANTS Italian Alcora G/H-4, Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit, Twin Towers, tel. 28 01 42. A popular and stylishl y upmarket I talian restaurant on th e four th floor of th e Twin Towers complex. The locals seem to come here more for the ‘see and be seen’ factor and are mostl y seen nipping coffee or wine from the I talian selection. Rest assured that both the cook and the wai ters know wha t th ey’re doin g, ser vin g excellen t food; tr y th e fresh pasta. There’s a ver y nice terrace wi th views of the treetops, budgies in a cage and a tree li t up pink. On weekend nights the place gets li vel y wi th foreign musicians rev ving up the synthesiser. QOpen 08:00 - 23:00. PB Park. A large Italian eatery occupying half of the Taiwan complex, and looking like any neo-rustic restaurant. The open kitchen offers full views of cooks whacking lambchops into submission, spinning pizza dough or preparing the “capricious fish salad”, and although their efforts result in fine dishes, the service can be numbingly slow. The huge fruit salad is recommended on hot days. QOpen 08:00 - 22:00. 19 Bogova G-3, Rr. Myslym Shyri 47, tel. 23 52 00. Named Dreri Rr. Elbasanit, Grand Park, tel. 37 47 45, www. for a beautiful river in southern Albania, this place is well known by the locals. Tasty pizzas served in fresh surroundings. QOpen 12:00 - 23:00. PB Menu decoder This should help you figure out what just slipped down your throat. Meat & Fish beef chicken lamb pork sausage veal bass codfish fish prawns salmon sea food sole trout biftek pulë mish qengji derr sallam mish viçi levrek merluc peshk karkaleca deti salmon fruta deti gjuhës troftë Juvenilja J-6, Rr. Gjeneral Niko Pushkini, tel. 26 66 66. These fine purveyors of Italian and Albanian specialities, a multi-talented salad bar and gigantic pizza inhabit a customised castle on the edge of the park. Excellent dining in large rooms, all-encompassing balconies or tiered-terraces overlooking the greenery. You can find the same fine food at their more modest but still pleasant restaurant on Rr. Sami Frashëri (tel. 27 22 22) near the river. QOpen 10:00 - 24:00. PBS Lion Park Rr. e Elbasanit, in front of the History and Geography Faculty, tel. 37 52 99. No lions here, just a huge restaurant villa with a nice garden. Inside, the piano bar has a stage for live music. Unsurprisingly, Albanian and Italian dishes feature on the menu. A place to come with a group and time on your hands. Near the Iliria Hotel. QOpen 12:00 - 23:00. PALEB La Voglia F-4, Rr. Reshit Çollaku, tel. 25 88 99. La Voglia draws a chic young Albanian crowd. The outside dining area is pleasant, and the wait staff is friendly and English-speaking - always a good combination. Uniquely for a Tirana restaurant, DJs spin chill tunes on the terrace in summer. Just across the square, the restaurant has a another outlet, imaginatively named La Voglia 2. QOpen 09:00 - 01:00. B Loro Borici I-5, Sheshi Italia, tel. 24 06 54. Named for one of Albania`s best-known soccer players, this quiet familyrun pizzeria offers a wide selection of delicious pizzas, fresh salads, and a full bar. QOpen 06:30 - 23:00. Casa di Pasta G-4, Blv. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, Rinia Nëna Mbretereshë Rr. Labinoti, near the Martyrs` Cemetery, tel. 37 13 40. The “Queen Mother” restaurant is a quaint wooden lodge-type building set on a hill overlooking the trees of Grand Park. The terrace is great for a coffee or one of the grill or meat dishes on the menu, but foreigners sitting inside will have a hard time understanding why a restaurant in such a fine location keeps the curtains tightly closed. QOpen 07:00 - 23:00. PB park 2km out of Tirana, the surroundings complement the multi-coloured brick paths and crazy-coloured kid’s playground - all of which makes for a delightfully relaxed spot for a couple of drinks or a quick snack. QOpen 08:00 - 23:00. PLB Antonella came here from Cesena, Italy, in the early 1990s and boasts that she introduced pasta fresca to Tirana. A grateful foreign community has been booking tables at this elegant place ever since. Q Open 12:00 -16:00, 19:0023:00. Closed Sun. E Il Passatore H-4, Rr. Vaso Pasha 22/1. Vivacious owner of the city’s busiest streets, Mozart nevertheless provides a quiet and intimate setting. It dishes up more than 20 different pizzas and dozens of Albanian and international desserts. Try the kadaif, or, as the locals call it, ‘the broom of the throat’. Opposite the Natural Sciences Faculty. QOpen 08:00 - 23:00. Mozart D-4, Blv. Zogu I, tel. 23 46 65. Situated on one Prince Park Rr. Elbasanit. Tucked into a corner of the La Cantinella H-4, Rr. Brigada VIII, tel. 069 207 00 82. Set back from the street, the courtyard of this elegant new Italian grill house is a pleasant and quiet place to try a grilled meat or Albanian speciality. Inside, there are tables with red-cushioned seats, a pot stove, and wines displayed along the walls. QOpen 12:00 - 24:00. PB La Tavernetta H-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, tel. 069 21 30 958. Lurking in a cellar below a modern high-rise lies this rustic Albanian tavern with wooden beams, medallions, large spoons and lutes. The reasonable Italian food here is complemented by an excellent salad bar. QOpen 12:00 - 23:00. P Venecia I-5, Sheshi Italia, tel. 23 32 33/068 20 57 933. Excellent pizza, but also a great place for coffee and cakes. If weather allows, sit outside on the nice terraced terrace with interesting views of the ragged arse of the Qemal Stafa stadium. QOpen 07:00 - 24:00. PB Fruits & Vegetables apple mollë banana banane cabbage lakër carrot karrota eggplant patëllxhane mushrooms kërpudha orange portokalle peppers speca tomatoes domate Drinks beer juice wine water Common dishes Byrek Patate të skuqura Tavë kosi Fërgesë birrë leng verë ujë Thai Overlooking the Sheraton, Albania’s only Thai restaurant is surprisingly authentic. The surroundings may be somewhat modern, but the food won’t disappoint. Don’t be afraid to ask if you prefer your food hot hot hot. Q Open 12:30-15:30, 19:00-23:00. PB Thai House I-5, Sheshi Italia, tel. 068 28 95 900. Turkish Efendy H-3, Rr. Sami Frashëri, Pall. 20, Ap.1, tel. 24 66 24, efendyottoman@hotmail.com. A wonderful oriental restaurant specialised in Turkish and Ottoman cuisine. The menu features food that was on the Pasha’s plate in Istanbul’s Topkapi palace, delicate flavours and influences from Persian, Byzantine and Central Asian cuisines. The choice is bewildering for first-timers, but the staff can recommend a selection of small dishes to suit your mood. Ring the doorbell to be ushered in. QOpen 12:00 - 24:00. Sofra F-2, Rr. Kavajës 170, tel. 22 68 18. Although Albanian food is heavily influenced by the Turks, this restaurant serving original ‘kuzhina turke’ is worth the short walk from the centre. Try the Turkish pizza, lahmaxhun, one of the many kebab dishes, and sink your teeth into sweet sticky baklava pastries. Prices are very reasonable for the feast you’ll get, and the place is nicely decorated with kilim carpets, instruments, nargil pipes and other nicknacks. It’s as if the Ottomans never left. QOpen 08:00 - 22:00. P Queen Park Rr. Elbasanit, tel. 068 20 21 023. The pie with cheese, meat or herbs french fries baked lamb, yogurt and eggs fried minced lamb or liver, feta cheese and garlic Speca të mbushur stuffed peppers, feta cheese, herbs grand building set on the edge of the park offers two floors with a big terrace for dining, and is popular with the locals for festive events. It may not be fit for a queen, but it’s certainly not bad. QOpen 08:00 - 24:00. PLB tyrs` Cemetery, tel. 37 29 04. Sensitive Westerners may balk at the idea of caged animals serving as the main attraction of a restaurant, but in this popular Albanian restaurant, the bears, monkeys, eagles and chickens surrounding the park-like terrace have much better accommodations than their buddies in the zoo, even though it’s cramped, and infinately better lives than whatever is on your plate. QOpen 07:00 - 24:00. Sofre e Ariut (Bear’s Lair) Rr. Labinoti, near Mar- Napoli D-2, Rr. Durrësit 79, tel. 23 15 67, www.restaurantnapoli.com. One of the first private restaurants to open in 1991 and strategically placed near the clutch of embassies along Rr. Skenderbeg, Napoli is a good spot for diplomats and other passers-by. Its scrumptious pizzas and seafood are conjured up by a chef who trained in Italy. QOpen 08:00 - 24:00. PB 90. Located in an old villa you can choose one of the cozy indoor rooms or the open and airy patio or the small garden where you can watch the goldfish in the pond while you wait for your food. There’s a strong Italian influence at work, but the setting, service and the quality raise it above the many run-of-the-mill Italian places in the city. QOpen 07:00 - 23:30. PAB Waiting waiters So you think the service is bad? In a country that had no hospitality industry until a few years ago perhaps it comes as no surprise that some waiters think that they are there to wait, rather than act. They can be infuriatingly lax, leaving you waiting for a spoon, the salt or the bill for way too long. On the other hand, sometimes it’s the opposite when waiters with silly bow ties scrape their heels and nervously anticipate your approval while they crack open a can of Coke - perhaps a little too formal for the circumstances. Still, with many Albanians abroad getting first-hand experience in the catering world, we’ll soon have relaxed and efficient service popping up in the better bars and restaurants. Let us know if you spot any. Vila Logoreci I/J-3, Rr. Lek Dukag jini, tel. 24 71 Read and download Tirana, Shkodra and Korca In Your Pocket free at www.inyourpocket.com Tirana In Your Pocket Pizza Berluskoni I-4, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri, tel. 068 20 41 703. We have yet to spot Silvio here - but we hear he is pretty critical of any food outside of Italy... leaving it up to us to devour the very tasty pizzas here. QOpen 08:00 - 23:00. B www.inyourpocket.com 2007 - 2008 20 NIGHTLIFE “This is one east European capital the stags might want to miss” wrote travel journalist Simon Calder in the UK’s Independent paper. Though we don’t want to encourage the stag night disease to infect Albania, Mr. Calder clearly read the wrong guidebooks, as Tirana’s nightlife scene is not bad and is certainly improving fast. The fun starts with the lively xhiro (mass evening stroll), and ends at the bllok’s bustling cafes, bars and clubs. Note that Albanians prefer sipping coffee to serious drinking, and foreign types are often the only sad souls knocking back the hard stuff. NIGHTLIFE Jazz clubs Take 5 H-6, Rr. Themistokli Gjërmenji. Take 5 is almost certainly the only place in Albania where you will hear Portuguese fado music. If that’s not your thing, you’ll find something to like among the eclectic range of live music at Tirana’s only jazz club. When guest performers aren’t in town, the very good house band provides the entertainment. QOpen 07:00 - 16:00, 19:00-23:30. PAEB new Irish bar in Tirana’s bllok area, with several Irish beers on offer, though yet lacking pub grub. There are TV screens showing sports. The best thing about the bar is the buzzing atmosphere and the pleasant outside seating area.QOpen 08:00 - 24:00, Fri, Sat 08:00 - 03:00. B 069 20 33 224. One of Tirana’s coolest bars - literally, as in summer the large rooftop lounge area catches the evening breeze after a hot day. That’s when the pretty people come out in force to cram themselves on the multilevel decks overlooking the city. In winter, retreat to the first floor of the building with its living room style bar. The restaurant serves good pasta and fish dishes, though it’s cocktails and parties that interest the majority of visitors.QOpen 19:00 - 03:00. AEBK 47. It’s in the Pyramid building, so naturally it’s The Mummy. Following a recent facelift, Mumja is a good place to unwind. Sit outdoors if you want to watch Tirana’s kids risking life and limb sliding down the side of the building. On weekends, the bar turns into Club Mumja with DJs and live music until sunrise. QOpen 07:00 - 01:30, Fri, Sat 07:00 - 06:00. PAEB 21 Irish Bar Tirana H-4, Rr. Pjeter Bogdani. A fantastic Wine bars The latest trend in Tirana; sophisticated interiors, quiet music and a good selection of wines to sample. Living Room F-5, Rr. Presidenti George W. Bush 16, tel. Bars Billionaire G-5, Rr. Jul Varibova, tel. 27 37 16. Situated on one of the few streets in central Tirana still lined with old-fashioned villas, Billionaire adds to the atmosphere by providing a restful terrace and garden where you can smell the flowers as you sip your drink. Sadly, since they switched from a certain Australian beer, the giant illuminated kangaroo has gone.QOpen 07:00 - 23:00. PAB Canon H-4, Rr. Pjetër Bogdani. Let’s rock! In chilled style, in a narrow dog’s leg room painted bright orange you will find Tirana’s indie-rock youth packed in tighter than the socks in Lenny Kravitz’s flared rock star trousers.QOpen 08:00 - 23:00, Fri, Sat 08:00 - 03:00. P name and sign may remind you of a certain fashion brand, an impression that’s reinforced by the pairs of jeans hanging on the walls where you would expect a picture. It’s fashionable enough in its own right, but the owner just happens to run the Diesel store too.QOpen 07:00 - 01:00. P A B 30 Over H-3, Rr. Pjeter Bogdani, tel. 069 207 43 16. When you have had enough of Tirana’s relentless youthfulness, stop off at 30 Over where they aim for a more mature clientèle. This is a genuine wine bar where you can accompany your choice of bottle with cheeses and salami. There’s an extensive range of wines available including, unusually for Tirana, a good selection of French wines. QOpen 07:00 - 24:00. PB Wine Shop H-5, Rr. Vaso Pasha. Heavy and earnest wooden furniture sends echoes around this wonderfully chilled alternative to the younger-focus of Tirana nightlife. Wines from around Europe and open cask examples from Albania and Macedonia are offers at good prices. Accompany these with salty titbits and Albanian cheeses. QOpen 08:00 - 23:00. P Diesel H-4, Rr. Ismail Qemali, tel. 27 26 26. The Mumja G-5, Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit, tel. 068 202 09 Buda Bar H-4, Rr. Ismail Qemali, tel. 068 20 58 825. Although there are enough Buddha Bars in the world to start a religion, this is certainly a nice addition to Tirana’s nightlife scene; a dimly lit lounge with ottomans and couches to flop around on. There’s good ventilation, Indian wooden screens, chilled-out music, and attentive staff.QOpen 17:00 - 01:00. PAEB Towers, tel. 28 03 34. Inspired by Tirana and the letter B (note the shape of the café), the Bulevard is a great night option serving drinks to a thirtyish crowd on the third floor of the twin towers. Sit at the bar under a ceiling with photos of Old Tirana, or hang out in the curious booths lining the walls. Try to visit when Roberto, a talented Italian artist, croons his evergreens on weekend nights, followed up by DJs.QOpen 07:30 - 02:00. AE 78. A compact and modern bar in a riot of bright primary colours, Cameleon’s novelty is the everchanging display of multi-coloured lights throughout the evening. It’s a little hard to tell what’s in your glass when everything shifts from blue to orange, but its less annoying than you might think. QOpen 24hrs. P Bulevard Café G/H-4, Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit, Twin yourself into this bar at the weekend and be prepared for a singalong or even a star turn. When the karaoke is turned off, just relax and enjoy the modern Albanian art on display. Owners Denis and Nardi work hard to make this a welcoming spot and Flares is justifiably popular with locals and expats like.QOpen 07:00 - 03:00. PB Flares H-4, Rr. Brigada VIII, tel. 069 209 99 10. Squeeze Rock ‘n Roll I-6, Rr. Dervish Hima, tel. 069 20 56 55 Fashion I-5, Sheshi Italia. A pretty standard European disco club playing the usual house hits, near to the Sheraton hotel. QOpen Fri, Sat 22:00 - 03:00. 56. A small bar with classic green and red wallpaper and a great atmosphere, very popular with locals and foreigners alike. Mercifully, no house music is played here, just honest blues, country and the odd rock ‘n roll song, with DJs sometimes dropping by to spin their discs. The usual drinks are served, with a good selection of whiskeys to fuel the night. QOpen 08:00 - 02:00. B Cameleon H-4, Rr. Dervish Hima, tel. 069 205 13 Flex H-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, 56, tel. 068 222 07 00. A pleasant enough bar, but if you go right to the back, following the corridor on your right, you’re in a different place. This part is bathed in a relaxing creamy yellow glow from the overhead canopy - you’re out in the open here. This helps keep the air moving when the place fills up on Wednesday and Saturday for live performances by local bands. Near the Sky Tower.QOpen 07:00 - 03:00. PEBW Charl’s Bistro H-4, Rr. Pjeter Bogdani, tel. 24 22 72. An eclectic, fashionable thirtyish crowd populates this fantastic lounge bar with 1960s-80s inspired music in the bllok area. The somewhat oddly spelt Charl’s puts on live music and other events from Thursday to Saturday, but the cocktail bar in the lush small garden spits out great drinks all week.QOpen 07:00 - 24:00, Fri, Sat 07:00 - 03:00. PE 47 07. The Sheraton’s elegant piano bar and lounge is a peaceful place for a beer, or something stronger, sometimes accompanied by live music.QOpen 08:00 - 24:00. PE Terminal I-6, Rr. Faik Konica, tel. 37 85 24. A spacious student bar at the back of a new apartment complex near the university with a pool table (4000 lek/hr), coffee, beer and cocktails.QOpen 07:00 - 24:00. B Lollipop H-4, Rr. Pjeter Bogdani. An achingly trendy bar for Tirana’s coolest people, with lots of brushed steel, sofas in vivid red and blinding white and polka dots on the wall. At the weekend the DJs come out and do their thing competing against the live bands at Charl’s just across the street. Despite recently hosting the Tirana Jazz Festival, this is strictly a house and dance music venue. QOpen 10:00 - 02:00, Fri, Sat 10:00 - 05:00. PB The rich and well-to-do fight over the reservations around this ship-shaped bar. Live music occasionally brightens up the most most expensive bar/club in town. QOpen 08:00 - 23:00, Sat 08:00 - 08:00. PALE Rosafa Palace Rr. Arkitekt Kasëmi, tel. 34 36 56. there is nothing very African about this place apart from the mural of the African plain that runs the length of one wall and a few random elephant carvings. The multi-coloured flowers painted on the ceiling are quite cheery though. One of six bars in a row in a crazy building, it’s fun to sit outside and compare your waiter’s performance with the rest.QOpen 07:00 - 23:00. PB Zanzibar H-5, Rr. Mustafa Matohiti. Despite the name Venue Dance Club Rr. Sadik Petrela 20, tel. 068 301 Clubs There’s a fine line between cafés, bars and clubs in Albania, and some places we have listed as bars, including Flex and Mumja, are known to morph into clubs on weekend nights. 21 13, www.venuedanceclub.com. A rocking dance club with a rather strange name playing house and dance music, with occasional stage shows and live music. There’s a terrific party atmosphere and cheap drinks. The club is northeast of the centre, near the ring road; tell the cabbie it’s near Profarma. QOpen Sat 22:00 - 04:30. PAE Infinity J-5, Sheshi Italia, Sheraton Hotel, tel. 27 No smoking With one of the highest levels of smoking in Europe and cigarettes available on every street corner, many people were sceptical when the government announced a complete ban on smoking in public places from 26 May 2007. Amazingly, though, it appears to be mostly working. Ashtrays have disappeared from tables; no smoking signs have taken their place. Now Albanians can stop worrying about second hand smoke and worry instead on the diesel fumes from the ancient vehicles and cement dust from the building sites. Calvin Rr. Elbasanit 118/1, tel. 37 99 99/068 21 27 961. Come jiggle with the glittering girls. A purple and lime green lego brick motif, both inside and out, represents the best of 1980s disco shape throwing in Tirana. Just east of the centre. QOpen 20:00 - 02:00, Sat 20:00 - 03:00. Expat night New expat arrivals and any other stray foreigners that find themselves wandering Tirana can join the informal weekly Tirana expat night, held every Friday at King House from 19:30 till late. King House serves food for those who are hungry, or just drinks for those who aren’t. All are welcome to drop by. Skanderbeg square by night AT A coffee and some paint please JvM Tirana In Your Pocket 2007 - 2008 22 WHAT TO SEE Essential Tirana Tirana’s sights are quite low-key, and therefore the must-sees can nearly be counted on one finger. If time allows you to take in some culture, follow our short city walk (see p.23), visiting the Et’hem Bey Mosque and the National History Museum before getting a coffee in the bllok area. WHAT TO SEE Et’hem Bey Mosque F-4, Sheshi Skenderbej, tel. 22 37 01. Perhaps the only real sight in Tirana, this pretty mosque is right on the city’s main square, making it hard to miss. Construction of the ‘Xhamia e Haxhi Ethem Beut’ mosque started in 1794 and was finished in 1821 by Et’hem Bey (who evidently got all the credit). Closed under communist rule, the mosque reopened as a house of worship in 1991, without permission from the authorities. 10,000 people dared to attend, and remarkably, the police did not interfere. The event was a milestone in the rebirth of religious freedom in Albania. Take a look at the frescoes outside and in the portico which depict trees, waterfalls and bridges - motifs rarely seen in Islamic art. Take your shoes off before entering the inner room. Q Open 08:00 - 22:00 (summer), 08:00 - 19:00 (winter). Fortress of Justinian (Kalaja) F-5, Rr. Murat Toptani. When this fortress was built in the 6th century, Albania was but an outpost on the western fringe of the Byzantine Empire. Emperor Justinian ordered fortifications like this built all over the Balkans to defend against the Illyrians, forebears of today’s Albanians. (So obviously the defenses didn’t work). The fortress the place where the main east-west and northsouth roads crossed, and formed the heart of Tirana. About all that’s left of the fortress today is a 6m-high stone wall, covered in vines and pierced by ancient archways. House of the Dervish Khorosani D-4, Rr. Barrikadave. A pretty 19th century wooden building set in a small courtyard. Next to the gate is an octagonal türbe holding the graves of three babas. Find the house in a small courtyard 100m beyond the French cultural institute. the remains of 900 partisans who fought for Tirana in WWII. The 12m-high dynamic white statue of Mother Albania, inaugurated in 1972, watches over the graves in a windswept gown. Enver Hoxha used to be buried at her feet until he fell from grace in 1991. From the heights of the cemetery, Tirana and Mt. Dajti are spread out panoramically before you. A short drive southeast of town. QOpen 08:00 - 17:00. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit. The pyramid, as it’s popularly known, opened in 1988 as a museum dedicated to the Albanian dictator (or pharaoh?) Enver Hoxha. Designed by Hoxha’s daughter Pranvera, the building was reportedly the most expensive ever erected in Albania. After the regime collapsed, the memorial (in a refreshing bit of iconoclasm) was converted into a conference center and disco (called The Mummy, of course). Meanwhile, the youth of Tirana have discovered that the building’s 30-degree slopes are ideal for climbing up and sliding down. In front of the building, the Peace Bell installation was made in 1999 as a memorial to peace by the children of Shkodra. The bell’s metal comes from thousands of bullet cartridges, fired off during the lawless end of the 1990s. 23 City walk Tirana’s most significant buildings are concentrated along one thoroughfare: the Boulevard of the Martyrs (Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit). The walk described below, from Skanderbeg Square to the Polytechnic University, will take you past Tirana’s highlights in a flash. Starting underneath the mosaic of the National Museum on Skanderbeg Square, pass Et’hem Bey Mosque towards the elegant government buildings at the end of the square. These were built in the 1930s, during the rule of King Zog. On your right are three ministries: Economy & Privatization, Agriculture, and Defense. On your left are their symmetric counterparts: City Hall; the Public Works Ministry (responsible for roads, or lack thereof); and the once-feared Interior Ministry. The grand boulevard leading south from here was the brainchild of the Italian Fascists, who held parades here during World War II. It later became the venue for the locals’ xhiro (evening stroll). In fact, it used to be closed off to traffic in evenings - what bliss that would be now. Cross the next street (Rruga Myslym Shyri) and on your left is the Fine Arts Gallery, then, hidden behind trees, Hotel Dajti. On your right is Rinia Park, which was until a few years ago buried beneath illegally built bars and pizzerias. The municipality reclaimed the area, and with popular support bulldozed the buildings in order to restore the park. Walk across the next wide streets (Bulevardi Zhan D’Ark; Bulevardi Bajram Curri) and perhaps without noticing you’ve crossed the Lana River, whose green banks were also crammed with illegal buildings until order was restored. Here you arrive at the ‘pyramid’, the International Centre of Culture. On your right, next to the ugliest new business centre in townis a small park with the busts of the three Frashëri brothers. Just past the next crossing on your left is the Prime Minister’s Residence, which was once the Communist Party headquarters. During official demonstrations and parades, Party leaders stood on the balcony here and waved to the masses below. On the right is the former Party Central Committee building, which now houses the People’s Council; the Constitutional Court; and the Sports, Youth and Culture Ministry. Beyond Rruga Ismail Qemali you’ll pass the Hotel Rogner Europapark, and a little further the Palace of Congresses, a boldly modernist building of mirrored glass and dynamic horizontal lines. Maybe it’s the latter that gives the building a weird resemblance to a sports stadium. Originally built for Party congresses, the Palace now hosts concerts, festivals and fairs. On your right, fenced off and concealed behind pine trees, is the President’s Palace. This building served as the Soviet embassy until 1961, when all diplomatic relations were broken off, and for a while thereafter it housed parliament. The disproportionately large, empty square at the end of the boulevard is Sheshi Nënë Tereza (Mother Teresa Square), named for the nun who was arguably the most famous Albanian of the 20th century. To the left is the Archaeological Museum; on the right, the Art Academy. At the very end of the boulevard stands the Polytechnic University, originally erected by the Italian Fascists. Its imposing stone façade certainly seems better fitted for reviewing goose-stepping soldiers from than for studying in. Going further down the paths on either side of the university whisks you out of urban Tirana and into the Grand Park. Main sights Central Market (Pazari i ri) E-5, Sheshi Avni Rustemi. Small fruit and vegetable stalls can be found across the city, but the daily pazari i ri (‘new market’) truly captures the spirit of the country in an explosion of colour, people, fresh produce and trash. Apart from fruit, vegetables, fish and meat, the stalls display a dozen varieties of olives, cheeses, wines and raki throughout small squares and snaking alleyways. Animal rights activists won’t like the sight of bunches of live chickens slung over bicycle handlebars, but at least these chicks didn’t grow up in our Western Guantanamo-style poultry farms. Early morning is the best time of day to witness Balkan-style trading and haggling. North of Sheshi Avni Rustemi. Clock Tower (Kulla e sahatit) F-4/5, Sheshi Skenderbej, tel. 24 32 92. Tirana’s landmark central sight is the clock tower from 1822. Brightly lit at night, it can be seen from the far end of Rr. e Durrësit when entering the city. Started off by Et`hem Bey, completed by the locals and extended to 35m in 1928, when a German-made clock was also installed, it was for long the highest building in town, and the views of the city centre from the top are worth the climb. The shadow of the tower strikes the mosque at sunset, an event long used to demark the closing time of the formerly adjacent market place. QOpen 09:00 - 13:00, 16:00-18:00. Closed Tue, Thu, Fri, Sun. Admission 10 lek. Martyrs’ Cemetery Rr. Elbasanit. This cemetery holds Skanderbeg Square (Sheshi Skënderbej) E-4. Tirana’s main square, Sheshi Skënderbej, is that vast expanse of asphalt where you‘ve got to dodge both Mercedes and plastic kiddie cars. The square was large even before World War II, but the Communists made it absolutely massive (and in the process, cleared away an old bazaar). Started in 1958, the pompous Palace of Culture was built with Soviet assistance. But when Albanian-Soviet relations deteriorated, the chief Soviet engineer on the project gathered up all the blueprints and left the country. Chinese experts had to be called in to finish the job. Today this building contains the Opera and the National Library. The gargantuan mosaic on the facade of the National History Museum represents the flow of Albanian history. The Puppet Theater has a surprising past: before World War II, it housed King Zog‘s puppet Parliament. Other significant buildings here include the imposing red-brick National Bank, the Et‘hem Bey Mosque, and the Skanderbeg Statue. Recent plans envision a complete makeover of Tirana’s centre over the next years, with a number of 80m-high buildings accentuating the core of the city, housing new shops, offices, apartments and a cinema multiplex. Starting with the empty spot to the west of the National History Museum, it looks like Tirana’s main square will finally be hip. Tanners’ Bridge (Ura e tabakëve) F-6, Rr. Presidenti George W. Bush, intersection with Blv. Zhan D`Ark. This elegant Ottoman stone footbridge was once the main connection between Tirana and the highlands to the east. It was used to get agricultural produce and livestock across the Lana River to the markets, and sits in the area of skinners and leather workers. The Lana was rerouted in the 1930s and the bridge was neglected, eventually becoming a rubbish tip. It’s now restored to its former glory and is used by pedestrians again. A small café beneath some fragrant fig trees overlooks it. Watch out - the stones are very slippery when wet. Bradt Albania guide UK guideb ook publish er Bradt has been venturing wh ere no oth er coun tr y guidebooks go for a number of years now, and currently has the only proper Englishlanguage Albania guide on the market, wri tten wi th dedication by a former Tirana expat, with in-depth information about cities, towns and oth er sights. The second edition of the Albania guide is a marked improvement from the first edition, with 50 extra pages, less errors, many useful new maps, and more details on excursions both on and well off the beaten track. The only problems involve the confusing chapter arrangement and the fact that the guide can’t keep up with the pace that Albania changes at... always ask for new restaurants and hotels when travelling around. Pyramid (International Centre of Culture) G-5, Blv. Tourist information Tirana has no tourist information office; there’s a desk with brochures in arrivals hall at the airport, but it seems permanently unmanned. So the Tirana In Your Pocket guidebook and your hotel reception desk will have to suffice. If you’re hungry for more, you could try asking the Tourism Development Committee, after visiting their useful website. F-5, Rr. 28 Nëntori. This türbe, or tomb, dates from 1817. It honors Kaplan Pasha, who ruled Tirana in the early 19th century. It consists of eight classical colums linked by arches. Left derelict, rash-strewn, half-sunk into the sidewalk, and lit only by a single blue neon light for years, it is now to be graciousely incorporated in the surroundings of the new building currently under construction next to it. Tomb of Kaplan Pasha (Tyrbe e Kapllan Pasha) Tourism Development Committee B-1, Blv. Bradt Albania, by Gillian Gloyer. Second edition, 2006, ISBN 9781841621494. For sale in Tirana’s main bookstores. See also www.bradtguides.com. Dëshmorët e Kombit 8, tel./fax 25 83 22, tel. 25 83 21, tdc@interalb.net, www.albaniantourism.com. The marketing and promotion department (Drejtoria e Marketing Promocionit Specialistet) on the third floor is a government office and is not designed for tourist information. Nevertheless, the staff will graciously try to answer your questions and hand out brochures and maps. QOpen 09:00 - 16:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Zoo (Kopshti Zoologjik Tiranë) Grand Park. Visiting Tirana’s zoo is a fairly depressing experience. The inmates are kept in a small block that is divided into ten cells. The animals appear to be reasonably well fed and physically cared for, but the financial challenges of the institution are evident. The pens are small, featureless and clad with hospital tiles. The wolf scatters at any approach to the bars, a money gazes at the ceiling, his chin resting against the wall. The bedraggled golden eagles - supposedly the proud symbol of Albania - do have a perch, but it’s a stepladder. A little further into the park along the pond, the lamas don’t know how good they have it in their chalet housing, while at the back the gap in the broken fence seems an ideal escape route for the animals when the locks finally rust through. We’ve heard of plans to overhaul the zoo, but there’s been little action till now. Find the zoo’s unmarked entrance gate on the square at the end of the Grand Park dam. QOpen 09:00 - 18:00. Admission 50 lek. Tirana In Your Pocket 2007 - 2008 24 WHAT TO SEE Communist sights Just over 15 years ago, all Albania was a living Stalinist themepark. Since then, most of the ‘attractions’ have disappeared, but a few relics are still left over (including the entrance fee you pay at the border to get into this amusement park). During the communist era, the bllok (block) area, was off-limits to the public and cordoned off by armed guards. This was the residential area of Party leaders. The collection of villas here, impressive enough by Western standards, absolutely dazzled the average Albanian once this area was opened to the public. The threestory, modular home on the corner of Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit and Rr. Ismail Qemali was dictator Enver Hoxha’s villa, which is now a government residence. After Hoxha’s death, the Enver Hoxha Memorial (the pyramid, now the International Centre of Culture) was built in his honour. And a massive gilded statue of Hoxha was erected on Skanderbeg Square - you can still see the raised pedestal. It was dramatically toppled by demonstrators in 1991, and Hoxha’s longstanding cult of personality was over. After the regime collapsed, not even Hoxha’s remains could evade the judgement of history. Originally buried with honours in the Martyrs’ Cemetery, Hoxha was dug up in 1992 and unceremoniously filed away in Kombinati Cemetery in west Tirana. A statue of Lenin once stood on Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit, in front of the Fine Arts Gallery. Across the street stood a bust of Joseph Stalin - probably the last place in Europe where he was thus honoured. Uncle Joe’s head was carted away before the fall of the regime at the end of 1990, but this symbolic de-Stalinisation came too late to save the leaders. Behind the Ministry of the Interior on Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit stood the headquarters of the Sigurimi (state security police). The feared Sigurimi ran labor camps for political prisoners and maintained a network of informers (known as ‘80 lek men,’ for the monthly 80 lek bonus they supposedly got for snitching on their countrymen). The Fine Arts Gallery has some Socialist Realist statues and paintings that are worth a look, and you can find some of Tirana’s last Commie statues huddled in a group behind the building. The best place to get more information about Albania’s totalitarian years is the National History Museum which has a large hall dedicated to the period. WHAT TO SEE Bush Street Most countries avoid naming streets after living persons for the things these people may yet do in their lifetime that necessitate hasty renaming, but in the case of US president Bush, Albanians are pretty sure nothing more can go wrong, and have named an important city-centre street after him. Rruga Punëtorët e Rilindjes, running near the parliament building, is now officially Rruga Presidenti George W. Bush, marble name plaque and all. Unusually, they stuck to the original spelling this time, instead of Albanianising George to Xhorxh. It doesn’t really matter anyway, because knowing Albanians it will take about 50 years for anyone to notice the street has a name at all. 25 Churches Cathedral of St. Paul (Katedralja e Shen Palit) G-5, Blv. Zhan D’Ark, tel. 23 46 55. Tirana’s new Catholic cathedral looks somewhat bland on the outside, but has quite a nice interior, with impressive concrete architecture. Note Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II featured in the stained glass windows. Q Open 08:30 - 12:30, 17:00 - 19:00 (winter afternoons 16:00 - 19:00). Tirana Parks Grand Park (Parku i Madh) K-5. A shor t stroll south of central Tirana, the Grand Park is a haven from all the traffic and dust. At one time, thousands of the city’s inhabitants came here on holidays to play and picnic; now it’s a place for people to snooze after lunchtime, to fish, or to swim. The park is unfortunately not free of trash, and some locals still think they can AT drive and park their cars The Grand Park lake on the pedestrian paths, but this may change after the announced renovation of the park. Reach the park by walking up the path to the west of the university building; you’ll end up near Tirana Lake (romantically known by locals as ‘the artificial lake’), which has some intriguing crumbling concrete platforms sticking out of it and is surrounded by pleasant parkland and a few restaurants. Walk west and you’ll soon reach the dam, at the end of which you’ll find Tirana Zoo and a few enterprising car wash businesses using up the lake water. Walk east uphill to find several intriguing memorials. One is the well-tended cemetery for the British troops who died fighting the Germans in WWII. Their sacrifice was long suppressed from the historical record, since Britain was considered an imperialist enemy. Nearby stand several grey stones listing the names of all German soldiers who died in Albania during WWII, some of them buried at this site. Just up the hill are the tombs of the Frashëri brothers, who helped catalyse the Albanian national awakening in the late 19th century. Abdyl was leader of the Prizren League; Sami was a radical agitator for an independent Albanian republic; and Naim was the first major Albanian-language poet. Across the field to the right is an anti-fascist monument. The Palace of the Brigades, which once served as the residence of King Zog, stands at the edge of the park along Rr. Elbasanit and was named for the partisans who captured it in WWII. Now used for official receptions (and with a military headquarters nearby), it is off limits to the public. Catholic Church (Kisha Katolike) F-3, Rr. Kavajës. Built in 1865, the Catholic Church of St. Marie was a gift of Franz Josef, the Austro-Hungarian emperor. In 1967 - when all religious activity in Albania was banned - it was closed and turned into a cinema. It reopened as a church in 1990. Orthodox Church (Kisha Orthodokse) F-2, Rr. Kavajës 151, tel. 23 50 95, www.orthodoxalbania.org. The Orthodox Church of the Holy Evangelist was built in 1964, but closed in 1967 and was then used to house the Tirana Sports Club. Services resumed in 1990. The Orthodox Church of Albania first became autocephalous in 1937 and again in 1992. Museums Archaeological Museum (Muzeu Arkeolog jik) I-5, Sheshi Nënë Tereza, tel. 22 65 41. Archeology buffs who aren’t satisfied by the finds on display at the National History Museum will find even more fragments of various finds here, from pottery and animal statuettes to arrowheads and jewellery. QOpen 10:30 - 14:30. Closed Sat, Sun. Kombit, tel. 23 39 75. Thoroughly looted in 1997, this gallery has seen a comeback since mayor Edi Rama’s election, and now hosts a varied collection that’s worth browsing through. Apart from an impressive selection of medieval icons, there’s a good hall devoted to realist socialist art, with busts, paintings and a very sexy statue of a factory worker. There are also usually a few temporary art exhibitions going on. Although the building needs some work, the garden outside has recently been beautifully restored. Walk to the rear of the building to find some discarded but still defiant Communist-era partizan statues clenching their fists at the sky.QOpen 09:00 - 13:00, 17:00 - 20:00. Closed Mon. Admission 100 lek, Sunday free. Statues & Monuments Fan Noli Statue E-5, Sheshi Fan Noli. This more than 3m tall, roughly hewn statue commemorates Fan Noli (1882 - 1965), one of Albania’s most revered historical figures. Educated at Harvard, Noli was a writer and Orthodox bishop. He served as prime minister in 1924. In his spare time he translated Shakespeare and Cervantes into Albanian. Art Gallery (Galleria e Arteve) F-4/5, Blv. Dëshmorët e National History Museum E-4, Sheshi Skenderbej, tel. 22 83 89. You can’t miss the gargantuan mosaic on the facade - it represents the development of Albania’s history with everyone from Illirians to partisans represented. Inside, each hall of this vast building covers one of the stages in the development of the Albanian nation. Repeated looting has robbed the museum of many artefacts, but nevertheless it remains the best place in Albania to tank up on history and to view beautiful finds from the many archeological sites across the country. A new hall focuses on the years around the Second World War and the resistance movements, while the museum ends with a harrowing exhibition about Albania’s gruesome labour camp system and the thousands of men and women who were swallowed by it. There are some English texts in the museum, but certainly not enough, so bring an Albanian for a better understanding of what’s on show. The museum shop is an excellent place to shop for traditional crafts. QOpen 09:00 - 12:00, 17:00-19:00. Admission 300 lek. Natural Sciences Museum (Museu i Shkencave Të Natyrës) F-2, Rr. Kavajës, tel. 22 90 28. This small Skanderbeg Statue E/F-4, Sheshi Skenderbej. Gjerg j Kastrioti (1405-68), also known as Skanderbeg in English and Skenderbej in Albanian, is the only historical figure whom all Albanians agree was a national hero. He managed to create an independent Albanian princedom and keep if free for 25 long years. After his death, Albania was occupied by the Ottomans, but Skanderbeg’s legacy preserved the Albanian national identity throughout 500 years of Ottoman rule. Albanians consider him not only the father of their nation, but also the man who saved all Europe from the Ottoman Empire. The statue was unveiled in 1968, exactly 500 years after Skanderbeg’s death. Considering the era in which it was made, it’s surprising how little concession the sculptor made to official socialist-realist style. Unknown Partisan Statue F-5, Rr. Presidenti George W. Bush. Fist upraised, fighting mad, charging forward with a rifle in his hand - yes, it`s none other than the Unknown Partisan. This statue was erected to honor the many partisans who gave their lives fighting the fascists. Those guys hanging out around the monument in the morning are not WWII buffs but day labourers waiting for work, with their powerdrills and tools on display. Headstone The Commonwealth Military Cemetery in the park is marked by a large block of polished red granite. Look closely and you can just see three small holes above the second plaque. Once upon a time this headstone lay on top of Comrade Enver Hoxha – the holes are where his name was attached in golden letters. Now the former dictator lies in a quite graveyard on the edge of the city and his tombstone has been recycled to provide a memorial for British and Commonwealth military personnel who died in Albania during the war. collection includes lots of stuffed animals (not the cuddly ones but the taxidermic kind), birds and various strange sea creatures, including the biggest sea turtle ever found in Albania. QOpen 08:00 - 14:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Worker statues of Tirana, united JvM Tirana’s phone code: +355-4 Rinia Park & Taiwan G-4, Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit. Until a few years ago, Rinia Park in the ci ty centre was a disgraceful mess of illegal constructions, garbage and shad y dealings. During the ci t y’s cleanup, th e buildings were bulldozed and the resul t is this pleasant spot of green. The park is now the proud focus of the evening xhiro, when thousands of Tiranians stroll around to meet up and chat wi th friends. The spider y whi te building that looks like i t could be the lair of some James Bond villain is actuall y one of Tirana’s best attractions. Locall y nicknamed Taiwan, apparentl y for b eing a sor t of island in the park, the complex houses an I talian restaurant, a swish terrace café and a mul ti-l evel un d ergroun d b owlin g all ey, pool an d video game centre. The main attraction however is the fountain in front of Tai wan which in the evening fascinates hundreds of young and old onlookers wi th i ts lightshow. 2007 - 2008 Tirana In Your Pocket 26 AROUND TOWN No trip to Tirana is complete without a trip out of Tirana. When you’ve had enough of dust, mud and traffic, get out and see some of the impressive landscapes in the surrounding area. air. Join us for a quick jaunt by road up to the national park which features a fantastic vista across the city as well as stunning natural habitat. You can also go up using the Dajti Express cable car. Taking Rruga Dibrës, the road gradually transforms from city chaos through villages to a strip of tarmac and mud which snakes around the contours of the mountain. This road is a popular place to learn to drive it seems; numerous large and rusting Mercedes chauffeured by learners will be met. Right up to the peak dogs nonchalantly hang about whilst families fill plastic bottles from the water springs that flow from the heights down to the roadside. 15km or so up the road is the gate to the park (cars up to 3 passengers 100 lek, 4 passengers 200 lek). There is no information available about the park and although it is a wonderful location for walking there are no organised trails or paths. The park extends to the summit from this point, consisting for the most part of deciduous and evergreen forest. Approximately 3km from the park entrance is a small turning to the left. 500m down a rough dirt track is Fshati Turistik Paradise (17km from Tirana, tel. 23 63 93). Perched overlooking the valley, this is a collection of utilitarian wooden huts with two beds and a shower each. Small balconies adorn the front of each shack, although you may want to send lightest member of your party out on it to take the air before all jumping on board. At the centre of the establishment is a good rustic restaurant hosted with hearty good humour by your host Sulejman. 1km further up the road is Gurra e Perrisë (tel. 069 21 71 978). Dedication towards your freedom of choice at this restaurant comes in the form of a gigantic series of pools linked by waterfalls that descend beside the road, surrounded by terraces and stuffed with fish. Should high-altitude fish not be your cup of tea, Panorama (25 km from Tirana, tel. 36 31 24) is a mere 200m up the road. A complex offering brand new wooden chalets amidst landscaped grounds and a well-to-do restaurant, Panorama is the place to go to watch nature whilst keeping apart from nature. The road continues to ascend past a couple more establishments offering refreshment until it comes to a large grassy plateau which is the traditional destination for schoolparties and weekending Tiranans. There are public barbecues to which people transport fuel both for fire and body in the summer. Although the tarmac does extend past this point, you do not: the top of the mountain is military area and is home to radio and TV masts. Dajti Express Cable Car Whisking you up to 1230m above sea level in under 15 minutes, the new Austrian-built Dajti Express cable car was inaugurated in July 2005. Starting near the Institute of Nuclear Physics, the 4km route offers great views of the mountain and the city, ending at the edge of Dajti field near the top of the mountain. Dajti Ekspres, Linz, tel. 37 91 11, www.dajtiekspres.com. Tickets 500 lek. Open 08:00 - 22:00 (winter 08:00 - 20:00). Albania is often characterised in foreign media as a majority Muslim country, despite being rather secular in practice and also having significant numbers of Orthodox and Catholic believers. One aspect of Albanian religious life is truly unique, the Bektashi Sufi order, which is part of the Islamic mystic tradition, and is considered blasphemous in many eastern Muslim countries. Bektashis are Muslims and also believe in one God, but their liberal understanding of this is close to the Western concept of pantheism. Their beliefs are based on the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed and the Koran. Bektashis also venerate the wider prophetic family, especially Mohammed’s cousin Ali, and his two grandsons Hassan and Hussein. In this they are close to the Shia branch of Islam. Instead of using mosques, Bektashis meet and pray at temples called tekkes. Bektashism is also noted for its tolerance of other religious faiths. The Bektashi order was founded by Haji Bektash Veli in the 13th century. Haji Bektash Veli came from Nishapur in Persia (present day Iran) but spent most of his life in Anatolia (now Turkey) as a missionary. During the Ottoman era Bektashism spread to the Balkans, and became particularly strong in the south of what is now Albania. In 1925, Turkish leader Kemal Ataturk banned all Sufi orders, closed the tekkes, and the Bektashis had to relocate their headquarters – Albania was an obvious choice. Soon after, the third Bektashi Congress held in the southern city of Korca in 1929 decided to relocate the headquarters to Tirana. Having escaped repression under Ataturk, the Bektashis, like all religious communities in Albania, experienced an even greater degree of repression during the communist era. Their leaders were jailed, some killed, their places of worship closed and their property confiscated. Following the collapse of communism, the Bektashi community re-emerged and has been recovering slowly. Bektashism around the world comes under the authority of a leader, known as the dedebaba (literally great-grandfather) who is chosen by his fellow leaders. The current leader is Hadji Dede Reshat Bardhi, elected in 1992. He has been instrumental in re-establishing the Bektashi tradition since the fall of the dictatorship. Devotional objects and holy sites have been reconstructed and new leaders have been trained and appointed. He also maintains links with the world community of Bektashis. Some of the best known figures associated with Bektashim are George Kastriot Skanderbeg, the Frashëri brothers (the most devoted being the poet Naim Frashëri), Ali Pasha of Tepelena, Ismail Qemali and Aqif Pasha Elbasani. BEKTASHISM 27 Kruja Kruja, 47 km north of Tirana, is touted as a good daytrip from the capital, not only for sightseeing but also for souvenir-hunting. However, if you’ve already been to Berat and Gjirokaster, you may be disappointed with the humble nature of this town, despite its setting and shopping possibilities. The most important sight in Kruja is the semi-ruined citadel area, a fortress dating back to the fifth or sixth century and perched dramatically on a rocky outcrop. Only by the end of the 12th century was the citadel completed. It weathered many sieges, the most famous being the Ottoman campaigns repulsed by the Albanian warrior Skanderbeg and his men. Kruja thus became a symbol of national resistance - not until 1478 (after Skanderbeg’s death) did the Ottomans succeed in capturing the citadel. One of the few original structures remaining is the clock tower, which was an observation and signalling post. To the left of the citadel‘s main entrance is the Gjerg j Kastrioti Museum (200 lek, open 09:00 - 13:00, 16:00 - 19:00, closed Mon), built to honour the man otherwise known as Skanderbeg, and a shrine for Albanians though less interesting for foreigners. The museum was built with a fake medieval façade in 1982 and houses copies of Skanderbeg’s sword and spiky helmet (the original helmet is in Vienna), paintings and exhibits (mostly replicas) presenting Skanderbeg’s struggle against the Ottomans. Just down the hill is the excellent small Ethnographic Museum (tel. 053 22 225, open 08:00 - 13:00, 15:00 - 20:00, admission 200 lek) which displays the beautiful interior of a traditional Albanian house around 1800. Exhibits include 19th-century folk dress, as well as traditional copper goods and clay utensils. The friendly caretaker will take you on a whirlwind English-language tour of the rooms. Though usually skipped by most visitors, the small streets immediately below the Ethnographic Museum are Kruja’s best; narrow and winding past high courtyard walls like they did 500 years ago. Wander around and you’ll come across the old citadel hamam (baths, now converted to a church) and the wonderful Dollma teqe, a Bektashi temple building with impressive decorations. Just outside the citadel is the old bazaar; one street of quaint Turkish shops with windows full of antiques, silver filigree jewellery, folk costumes, woven rugs and traditional felt hats. When you’re done shopping and sightseeing, head for the restaurants at the upper end of the citadel, which offer great views of the surroundings and serve Albanian food. Turkish coffee comes in a traditional copper pot and is best enjoyed curled up on the rows of pillows that surround the Turkish tables of some restaurants. Getting to Kruja: A taxi will cost 2000 - 3000 lek (negotiate this beforehand). The bus costs 150 lek. As Kruja linked to the airport with a good new road, it can easily be visited in the morning for some last minute shopping before you catch your flight. If you’re driving, you’ll be delighted to hear there are no signs at all to Kruja until just before the citadel. Follow the Shkodra road from Tirana and take the second turning into Fushe Kruje (now world famous for the George Bush disappearing watch act); go straight through this town and stay on the main road, twisting up through the forest and Kruja town, until you see signs marked Kalaje (fortress). Bektashi founder Haj ji Bektash Veli AT Tekkes in and around Tirana You’re welcome to visit the elegant tekke at the Bektashi headquarters, the Bektashi World Centre (Kryegjyshata Boterore Bektashiane, Rr. Dhimitër Kamarda, tel. 35 52 27/068 205 03 97, www.komunitetibektashi.org; open 10:00-13:00, 17:00-19:00). Find it 1km east of the city centre. Near Tirana there are a number of tekkes but only a few of them can be visited. In Kruja, the Dollma tekke is in the grounds of the citadel and is often open. Apart from that Kruja also has the tekkes of Sheshem Babi, Father Hussain Jahja, Sari Salltik and Vele. In Elbasan there is the Great Tekke of Father Xhevai Fakri and the tekke of Father Xhemal. Visits to these tekkes can be arranged via the World Centre. Bektashi events These are the main Bektashi holidays, pilgrimages and feasts. The first two take place at the tekkes, where non-Bektashis are welcome to come and observe except at certain moments when only some of the Bektashi spiritual leaders may be present. Ashura – the last and climactic day of a ten day period of mourning which commemorates the death of Mohammed’s grandson Hussain at Karbala. The date changes each year on the Western calender but in 2008 Ashura will fall on 19 January. The Holiday of Sultan Novrus (22nd of March) – this is an old Persian holiday which in Bektashism is a celebration of the new year. Pilgrimage to Mount Tomorr (2-25 August) – this pilgrimage which attracts Bektashis from all over the world to Mount Tomorr near Berat commemorates Abbas ibn Ali, who died at the battle of Karbala. Petrela Castle One of Albania’s best-preserved castles, Petrela Castle sits picturesquely on a steep slope overlooking a river, 15 km southeast of Tirana, along the road to Elbasan. On a clear day you can see all the way to Kruja. Emperor Justinian fortified this place to defend the settlement of Dyrrachium (now Durrës). The tower in the centre dates back to 500 AD; surrounding it are walls from the Byzantine period, laid out in a triangle, with round towers at the corners. The castle was used during Skanderbeg’s war against the Turks; his sister Mamica lived here and defended the castle, but it was eventually captured and used by Turkish soldiers. Mount Dajti Throughout your stay in Tirana, the glowering, dark-hued face of Mount Dajti will be tempting you with the promise of fresh The Bektashi headquarters tekke AT Tirana In Your Pocket 2007 - 2008 28 GETTING AROUND Whether you take a taxi, bus, car or plane, as long as you are on the ground it’s going to be a bumpy ride. GETTING AROUND Travel terms airplane ferry airport car train bus station (train, bus) Is it far? left right where am I? avjon trageti aeroport veture, makinë treni autobus stacion (treni, autobuzi) A është Iarg? majtas djathas ku jam? 29 Belle Air (LZ), tel. 24 01 75, www.belleair.al. Budget flights to various Italian cities. QOpen 08:00 - 17:00, Sat Monopol E-4, Blv. Zogu I, tel. 25 36 39/068 214 88 Airport & Airlines For the current Tirana flight schedule, see p.32. Tirana International Airport (TIA, tel. 37 90 63, lost & found department tel. 069 206 66 26, www.tirana-airport.com), signposted as Rinas airport and also named Nënë Tereza, or Mother Teresa airport, is 17km northwest of Tirana. TIA is growing at lightning speed, handling 452000 passengers on 15 airlines to 31 destinations in the first half of 2007; passenger traffic is up 22% and cargo by 37% compared to last year. Alitalia, Belleair, Albanian Airlines and Austrian Airlines were the top three for passenger numbers in this period. The new Malaysian-designed passenger terminal (built for 3mln passengers per year) and a shorter access road were opened in early 2007. The Rinas airport bus departs every hour, day and night, from the National Museum on Skenderbeg Square; tickets cost 200 lek. A taxi to the airport should cost about €25, and takes 30-45 minutes. The main hall has an Adrion press shop with papers, books, nice Albania T-shirts (1000 lek), and In Your Pocket city guides. Vodafone has a shop selling SIM and recharge cards, but unfortunately there’s nowhere to buy AMC SIM or top-up cards. There’s no tourist information desk, but the Dea Lines travel agent may be able to help (open 09:00-18:00). The small departures area beyond customs has several fashion, jewellery and duty-free outlets (carton of cigarettes €20), and another Adrion press shop. Netting prevents you from tossing duty free goods or expelled individuals back into Albania, if you were so inclined. Eco-warriors will be glad to hear that the airport is the only public place in Albania with trash seperation. Visit the airport website (the best of its kind in the Balkans) for an online schedule and details on parking and shops. 08:00 - 19:00, Sat 08:30 - 18:00, Sun 08:30 - 19:00. Adria Airways (JP) E-3, Rr. Mine Peza 2, tel. 22 84 83. Slovenian Airlines, flying to Ljubljana. QOpen 08:00 - 17:00. Closed Sun. Albanian Airlines (LV) E-3, Rr. Mine Peza 2, tel. 23 51 62, fax 23 51 38, www.albanianairlines.com.al. The national airline, with flights to several European destinations. QOpen 08:00 - 17:00, Sun 09:00 - 16:00. Alitalia (AZ) H-5, Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit, Rogner Europapark Hotel, tel. 23 00 23, www.alitalia.it. Flights to Rome. QOpen 08:30 - 17:00, Sat 08:30 - 13:00. Closed Sun. Alpi Eagles (E8), www.alpieagles.com. Budget airline flying to Venice. QOpen 08:00 - 17:00, Sat 08:00 - 13:00. Closed Sun. Austrian Airlines (OS) H-5, Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit, Rogner Hotel Europapark, tel. 23 50 29, www.aua. com/al. Flights to Vienna. QOpen 09:00 - 16:30. Closed Sat, Sun. Ada Air (ZY) I-6, Rr. Dervish Hima, Ada Tower, tel. 25 61 11, www.adaair.com. Budget flights to and from Bari. QOpen 08:00 - 13:00. Closed Sun. British Airways (BA), www.ba.com. Flights to London Gatwick. Bulgaria Air (FB) E-3, Rr. Durrësit 64/1, tel. 23 04 10, www.air.bg. Flights to Sofia. QOpen 08:30 - 16:00, Sat 09:00 - 12:00. Closed Sun. Club Air (6P), www.clubair.it. Flights to Italian destinations. Germanwings (4U), www.germanwings.com. Budget flights to Cologne-Bonn, from June to September only. Jat Airways (JU) E-3, Rr. Durrësit, tel. 25 10 33, www. jat.com. Flights to Belgrade. QOpen 08:00 - 17:00, Sat 08:00 - 13:00. Closed Sun. Lufthansa (LH) G-5, Blv. Zhan D’Ark, tel. 25 80 10. Flights to Munich. Local agent: Meridiana Travel & Tour. Airport office tel. 38 39 75, open 04:15-07:00, 09:00-13:15. Malev (MA) F-5, Rr. Abdi Toptani, Torre Drin Centre, tel. 22 79 00, fax 23 45 78, tirana@malev.hu, www. malev.com. Flights to Budapest. QOpen 09:00 - 17:00, Sat 09:00 - 12:00. Closed Sun. Olympic Airways (OA) D-4, Blv. Zog I, Veve Business Centre, tel. 22 89 60, www.olympic-airways.com. Flights to Athens. QOpen 08:30 - 17:00, Sat, Sun 09:00 - 13:00. Turkish Airlines (TK) E-4, Sheshi Skenderbej, Tirana International Hotel, tel. 23 49 02, www.turkishairlines. com. Flights to Istanbul. QOpen 08:30 - 17:00, Sat 08:30 - 15:00. Closed Sun. 70. Buses to Kosovo departing from behind the National Museum. Pristina office tel. 044 25 36 39. Sondor E-4, Blv. Zogu I, tel. 22 50 63/069 239 49 29. Buses to Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro. Car rental Renting a car costs from around €45 per day for the cheapest model. Make sure you have the helpline number, a mobile phone and a good map. Petrol costs 125-130 lek per litre, diesel is 120 lek per litre. Avis H-5, Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit, Rogner Europapark Hotel, tel. 23 50 11, fax 23 50 24, reservations@ avisalbania.com, www.avisalbania.com. Avis operates a fleet of brand-new Opel vehicles, from the Corsa to the 4x4 Frontera. QOpen 08:30 - 18:30, Sun 08:30 - 14:00. Also at Hotel Sheraton (tel. 26 63 89/068 20 55 806, open 08:30 - 18:30, Sun 08:30 - 14:00) and the airport (tel. 068 20 55 807). A Europcar E-5, Rr. Durrësit 61, tel. 22 78 88/068 20 93 922, fax 24 61 92, europcar@abissnet.com, www. europcar.com. QOpen 08:00 - 18:00. Closed Sun. Hertz E-4, Sheshi Skenderbej, International Hotel, tel. 25 50 28/068 20 58 775, hertz@albaniaonline.net, www. hertz.com. QOpen 08:00 - 19:00, Sat 08:00 - 16:00. Closed Sun. Also at Rr. Ded Gjo Luli 1, and at the airport (tel. 068 20 58 775, open 08:00 - 19:00, Sat, Sun 08:00 - 16:00). Buses Despite the importance of bus travel in Albania, Tirana has no bus station. Most departures are in the morning, with Sixt E-3, Rr. Kavajës 116, tel. 25 90 20, www.e-sixt. only services to popular nearby cities going on till the late com. Also at the airport (same times, tel. 069 206 85 00). afternoon - so it’s best to start early. QOpen 08:00 - 17:00, Sat 08:00 - 14:00. Closed Sun. Large, comfortable buses are becoming more common, and often have air conditioning. International buses often depart from behind the National museum, where you’ll also find most of the agencies. Buses to Shkodra depart every From Tirana hour between 06:00 and 18:00 from the First Last City Duration Departs from Price ‘bus station’ on Rr. Karl Gega, taking 2hrs (hrs) 15m; tickets cost 200 lek. Less regular large 07:00 17:00 BERAT 2 Sheshi 21 Dhjetori 300 lek buses depart to Berat (250 lek), Elbasan 07:00 17:00 ELBASAN 1 Rr. Elbasanit 200 lek (100 lek), Gjirokastra (600 lek), Pogradec 05:00 16:00 GJIROKASTRA 3 Sheshi 21 Dhjetori 800 lek (400 lek), Korca (500 lek), Kukes (700 lek), 07:00 16:00 KORCA 4 Sheshi Italia 600 lek Saranda (800 lek) and Vlora (400 lek). 06:00 16:00 KUKES 4 Durrës highway, 1000 lek Furgons (minibuses) depart as soon as they’re Shkodra intersection full. See the timetable for approximate operating 07:00 17:00 POGRADEC 3,5 Sheshi Italia 500 lek hours, prices and departure points. 05:00 15:00 SARANDA 6 Sheshi 21 Dhjetori 1200 lek Interlines Blv. Zogu I, 39, tel. 25 18 07:00 18:00 SHKODRA 2 Sheshi Zogu i Zi 300 lek 66. Daily bus to Greece via Durrës and 07:00 17:00 VLORA 2 Sheshi 21 Dhjetori 500 lek Gjirokastra. Tickets €25 one way. QOpen Approximate times only – inform locally for more details. 08:00 - 21:00. Furgon (minibus) schedule International bus schedule From Tirana To Tirana Dep. Arr. Days City Dep. Arr. Days Company 15:30 06:30 1−−456− ATHENS 08:00 20:00 1−−456− Interlines 04:00 19:00 −23−−−7 ATHENS 09:00 21:00 −23−−−7 Interlines 18:00 05:00 1234567 PEJA 06:00 17:00 1234567 Sondor 18:00 05:00 1234567 PRISTINA 06:00 17:00 1234567 Sondor 18:00 05:00 1234567 PRISTINA 06:00 17:00 1234567 Monopol 18:00 05:00 1−3−5−− SKOPJE 18:00 05:00 1−3−5−− Sondor 21:00 05:00 1234567 TETOVO 21:00 05:00 1234567 Sondor Schedule correct at time of publishing in November 2007. Check all times before travelling. From Blv Zog I Blv Zog I Museum Museum Museum Museum Museum Price €25 €25 €20 €20 €20 €20 €20 Tirana In Your Pocket 2007 - 2008 30 GETTING AROUND Public transport Tirana’s city buses run from 06:00 - 22:00 and tickets, purchased on the bus, cost 20 lek. The old and dilapidated buses that sometimes conked out have now been replaced by sparkling new ones covered in advertising. Tirana has a few bus lines, marked on the map in this guide. The private minibuses that used to follow the bus routes have been terminated. Train schedule From Tirana Dep. Arr. 05:55 06:55 06:30 07:30 09:30 10:36 11:55 12:54 14:20 15:14 14:55 15:55 16:15 17:15 18:30 19:30 05:55 09:45 11:55 15:52 14:15 18:00 05:55 12:43 11:55 18:57 08:20 11:53 13:18 17:03 06:30 11:37 14:55 19:45 City DURRES DURRES DURRES DURRES DURRES DURRES DURRES DURRES ELBASAN ELBASAN ELBASAN POGRADEC POGRADEC SHKODRA SHKODRA VLORE VLORE To Tirana Dep. Arr. 06:10 07:16 06:45 07:47 08:15 09:15 09:50 10:50 10:24 11:24 13:05 14:06 16:00 17:00 18:45 13:45 05:35 09:15 07:45 11:24 16:05 19:45 04:50 11:24 13:18 19:45 06:40 10:18 12:15 15:41 05:50 10:50 11:55 17:00 Taxis Taxis are a useful form of transport in Tirana, and after 22:30, they’re the only game in town. It’s best to negotiate the price beforehand, since few drivers speak English, and none of the taxis have meters. Only the yellow taxis are licensed - these are a little more expensive, but more reliable. Taxi drivers are generally honest, although some will charge foreigners more than locals. A trip from Sheshi Skënderbej to the university (just over 1 km) should run about 300 lek - but you’ll pay more if you pick up a taxi from one of the big hotels. Radio Taxi: tel. 24 44 44; tel. 37 77 77; tel. 25 55 55; tel. 25 15 00; tel. 25 88 88; mob. 068 22 25 657. Trains Train station B-4, Blv. Zogu I, tel. 25 10 94. Tirana’s train station is a basic concrete shed next to a dusty bus parking place. Tickets can be bought just before departure. The train station has no luggage office. Train travel is slow going, so unless you’re a rail travel buff with lots of time, we recommend you only use the train for the short trip to Durrës. Travel Agents Albania Experience J-5, Sheshi Italia, Sheraton Hotel, tel. 26 63 89, fax 23 50 24. Q A Albania Travel & Tours E-3, Rr. Durrësit, pall. 102, tel. 23 29 83. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00, Sat, Sun 08:00 21 37 390, albesturist@abissnet.com.al. Behind the Tirana International hotel. QOpen 08:00 - 19:00. Closed Sun. Albtours H-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, near the Sky Tower, tel. 25 33 43, fax 25 33 42, albtours@albaniaonline.net. Also at Rr. Mine Peza 102. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Arjon Travel H-4, Rr. Ismail Qemali 7, tel. 23 24 67, fax 23 85 46. QOpen 08:00 - 18:00. Closed Sun. ATHS E-3, Rr. Mine Peza 102, tel. 23 24 24, fax 23 39 13. QOpen 08:00 - 21:00. Concord E-3, Rr. Durrësit 12, tel./fax 24 72 67, concord@abissnet.com.al. QOpen 09:00 - 18:00. Closed Sun. Dea Lines Tirana airport, tel./fax 052 303 86, dealines@dealines.com, www.dealines.com. The only travel agent at the airport. Arranges tours and books flights, hotels and ferries. QOpen 09:00 - 18:00. Guliver D-4, Rr. Asim Vokshi, tel. 26 32 22/069 20 51 140, guliver_al@yahoo.it. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Joy Travel I-3, Rr. Sulejman Delvina, near the stadium, tel. 27 30 90. QOpen 08:00 - 18:00. Closed Sun. Magic Tours D-4, Blv. Zogu I, 72, Veve Business Center, tel./fax 22 89 87, magictours@albmail.com. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Meridiana Travel & Tour H-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, pall. 7/1, tel. 25 80 10, andialimehmeti@hotmail. com. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Neckermann E-4, Rr. Ded Gjo Luli 1, tel./fax 27 35 55, neckermann@icc-al.org. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Premier Travel H-5, Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit, Hotel Rogner Europapark, tel. 23 20 11/069 20 60 114. QOpen 08:30 - 18:30, Sat 09:00 - 13:00. Closed Sun. Union Travel E-3, Rr. Mine Peza 2, tel./fax 25 65 59. QOpen 08:00 - 18:00. Closed Sun. Venus Travel & Tours F-5, Rr. Abdi Toptani 7, Torre Drin Center, tel. 22 94 44, fax 23 30 33, www.travel-venus. com. QOpen 08:00 - 21:00. Closed Sun. Albes Turist E-4, Rr. Urani Pano 11, tel. 26 61 60/068 - 14:00. The New Tirana bus JvM Land of Mercedes It may be one of the poorest countries in Europe, but wherever you go in Albania there is no getting away from the three pointed star. Many of these Mercedes are 15 to 20-year old saloons with a six-figure mileage, but they are tough enough to cope with Albanian roads. In the city don’t be surprised to see the newest, biggest and most expensive models cruising the streets. Tirana In Your Pocket 32 GETTING AROUND Tirana Flight Schedule From Tirana To Tirana Days Dep. Arr. City Days Dep. Arr. 1–––5–– 10:00 11:20 ANCONA (6P) 1–––5–– 17:50 19:05 1–3–5–– 08:30 11:05 ATHENS (OA) 1–3–5–– 07:05 07:50 1–3–5–7 14:20 17:00 ATHENS (OA) 1–3–567 13:00 13:40 –2––––– 14:10 16:20 ATHENS (OA) –2––––– 13:00 14:10 –2–4––– 11:00 13:00 ATHENS (LV) –2–4––– 14:00 16:00 ––––5–7 18:30 20:30 ATHENS (LV) ––––5–7 21:30 23:30 1–3–––– 08:30 09:20 BARI (LZ) 1–3–––– 10:10 11:00 –––4––– 15:00 15:50 BARI (LZ) –––4––– 16:40 17:10 1234567 18:30 19:20 BARI (ZY) 1234567 10:00 10:50 1–3456– 06:15 07:25 BELGRADE (JU) 1234567 21:35 22:45 –2–45–7 12:50 14:30 BERGAMO (LZ) – 2 – 4 5– 7 15:30 17:10 1234567 15:25 16:45 BUDAPEST (MA) 1234567 13:20 14:40 1––4––7 05:10 06:30 BUDAPEST (MA) 1––4––7 23:05 00:25 1––4––7 16:20 18:10 CUNEO (LZ) 1––4––7 19:00 20:50 1–3–56– 18:10 19:40 FLORENCE (LZ) 1–3–56– 20:30 22:10 –––––6– 06:30 09:15 FRANKFURT (LV) –––––6– 10:15 12:40 –2––––– 11:15 13:35 FRANKFURT (LV) –2––––– 15:10 17:40 –2–4––7 18:00 19:40 FORLI (LZ) –2–4––7 20:30 22:10 1–3––6– 18:00 19:50 GENOVA (LZ) 1–3––6– 20:30 22:30 1–3–5–– 09:00 11:30 ISTANBUL (LV) 1–3–5–– 12:30 13:00 ––––––7 13:00 15:30 ISTANBUL (LV) –––4––7 18:30 19:00 1––4––– 10:00 12:40 ISTANBUL (TK) 1––4––– 08:15 09:00 ISTANBUL (TK) –2–––67 18:45 17:30 –2–––67 18:30 21:10 LJUBJANA (JP) 1234567 13:15 14:40 1234567 15:10 16:30 –––––6– 06:00 08:30 LONDON STN (LV) –––––6– 09:30 14:00 –2––––– 14:30 17:00 LONDON STN (LV) –2––––– 18:00 22:30 12–4–6– 19:15 16:20 LONDON LGW (BA) 1 2 –4 – 6 – 14:30 16:30 ––––––7 14:10 16:20 LONDON LGW (BA) ––––––7 09:2 5 13:25 1234567 05:00 07:00 MILAN (AZ) 1234567 09:25 11:20 1234567 16:45 18:45 MILAN (AZ) 1234567 22:30 00:25 1–3––6– 12:50 14:40 MILAN (LZ) 1–3––6– 15:30 17:20 1234567 06:25 08:20 MUNICH (LH) 1234567 21:25 23:15 MUNICH (LH) 1234567 21:25 23:15 1234567 12:05 14:00 PARMA (LZ) –2––5–7 10:30 12:10 –2––5–7 08:00 09:40 –––––6– 16:20 17:50 PERUGIA (LZ) –––––6– 18:40 20:30 –2–4–67 07:10 08:50 PISA (LZ) –2–4–67 09:50 11:10 ––––––7 10:30 11:15 PRISTINA (LV) – – – – –– 7 12:00 12:45 ––3–––– 14:45 15:30 PRISTINA (LV) – – 3 – –– – 16:45 17:30 –2––––– 08:30 10:00 RIMINI (LV) –2––––– 10:50 12:20 ––––5–7 20:00 21:30 RIMINI (LV) ––––5–7 22:20 23:50 ––3––6– 05:55 07:25 ROME (LV) ––3––6– 08:25 10:00 1–3––6– 08:10 09:40 ROME (LZ) 1–3––6– 10:30 12:00 1–3––6– 09:00 10:30 ROME (LV) 1–3–56– 11:30 13:00 1234567 12:10 13:40 ROME (AZ) 1234567 14:25 15:25 ––––5–– 04:20 06:20 SOFIA (FB) –––4––– 17:20 17:20 ––3––6– 18:00 19:50 TREVISO (LZ) ––3––6– 20:40 22:30 1–3–5–– 08:30 12:10 TURIN (LV) 1–3–5–– 13:00 15:00 ––––––7 07:45 09:45 TURIN (LV) ––––––7 10:45 12:45 1– 3 4 5 – 7 09:30 11:40 TURIN (6P) 1– 3 4 5 – 7 19:45 21:25 VENICE (E8) 1234567 15:45 17:15 1234567 17:55 19:25 ––34––– 20:10 21:40 VENICE (E8) ––34––– 18:00 19:30 1–34–67 12:50 14:30 VERONA (LZ) 1–34–67 15:30 17:10 VERONA (6P) 1–––5–– 07:30 09:10 1–––5–– 19:55 21:35 1234567 16:40 18:35 VIENNA (OS) 1234567 13:45 15:30 1234567 14:15 16:15 VIENNA (OS) 1234567 10:50 12:40 1– 3 – 5 – 7 05:00 06:35 VIENNA (OS) 1–3–5–7 22:25 23:55 Airline codes: 6P Club Air, AZ Alitalia, BA British Airways, E8 Alpi Eagles, FB Bulgaria Air, JP Adria Airways, JU Jat Airways, LH Lufthansa, LV Albanian Airlines, LZ Belle Air, MA Malev, OA Olympic Airways, OS Austrian Airlines, TK Turkish Airlines, ZY Ada Air Schedule is valid until 1 April 2008. This being the Balkans, be sure to double check all details before flying. The numbers indicate days of departure: 1 is Monday, 2 is Tuesday, etc. Tirana In Your Pocket 34 MAIL & PHONES Post Central post office F-4, Rr. Çameria, tel. 22 62 82/25 07 30. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. (08:00 - 13:00 for parcels). Telephone calls International calls Dial the international access number (00), the country code, the area code and the subscriber’s number. Call 12 for international directory assistance. National calls For calls outside Tirana, dial 0, the city code and the subscriber’s number. Call 124 for domestic directory assistance. Local calls: Tirana numbers have six digits, all starting with a 2 or a 3. Mobile phones all begin with 068 or 069. Calling Albania from abroad Dial the country code (355), then the city code (Tirana’s is 4). To call a mobile phone in Albania from abroad, dial 355, then drop the 0 and dial 38. Express mail DHL E-4, Rr. Ded Gjo Luli 6, tel. 23 39 32, fax 25 72 94, al.customer@dhl.com, www.dhl.com. QOpen 08:00 - 18:00, Sat 08:00 - 12:00. Closed Sun. EMS F-4, Rr. Çamëria, Central Post Office, tel. 24 53 09. QOpen 08:00 - 13:00. FedEx F-6, Blv. Zhan D’Ark, tel. 25 32 03, fax 25 36 30, fedex@icc-al.org, www.fedex.com. QOpen 08:30 - 16:00, Sat 08:30 - 12:00. Closed Sun. TNT E-4, Rr. Mine Peza 2, tel. 23 49 14, fax 23 54 89, ilirjan@icc.al.eu.org, www.tnt.com. QOpen 08:00 - 17:00. Closed Sun. UPS H-4, Rr. Pjeter Bogdani, pall. Teuta, tel. 25 97 42/068 209 00 00, fax 25 97 43, uadvisors@albmail. com, www.ups.com. Internet cafés Expect to pay 100 lek per hour for internet access, and plenty of noise from kids playing Counterstrike. ADN G-4, Blv. Gjerg j Fishta 10, tel. 25 17 56. Eight F@stech H-4, Rr. Brigada VIII, tel. 25 19 47, apapa@ computers, printer, free scanning, no smoking. fastech.com.al, www.fastech.com.al. Internet access for 400 lek an hour. Postal & Express Mail rates Postcards Letters (<20gr) Albania 15 lek 20 lek Italy, Greece, Kosovo 20 lek 30 lek & Macedonia Rest of Europe 30 lek 50 lek Americas 50 lek 90 lek Other 40 lek 60 lek Rates for sending an express mail package with documents from Tirana, weighing a maximum of 500g: London New York DHL €44 €48 FedEx €25 €32 TNT €37 €44 UPS €37 €52 club with 24 computers. The club also offers a cinema where DVD movies are screened. Top-Net H-4, Rr. Vaso Pasha. Basement internet café with decent connection, helpful staff, and a screen for DVD shows. QOpen 09:00 - 02:00. Net 1 I-4, Rr. Nikolla Tupe 1b, tel. 25 74 33. Good internet Laptop login National telecommunications provider Albtelecom provides internet access from fixed phone lines. Using your dial-up software to access tel. 717 11 11, enter username and password “albtelekom”. If you find the line busy, try later. Calls are charged 150 lek/hour to the phone account you are using. Mobile phones Two rather expensive providers are active in Albania, with a third one in the works but currently entangled in a Balkanic mess. AMC numbers start with 068, Vodafone numbers with 069. You can easily purchase pre-paid SIM and recharge cards for either operator for around 2000 lek at many kiosks and shops; no local address or ID is necessary. National rates for pre-paid calls are between 30-52 lek per minute. AMC (Albanian Mobile Communications) J-5, Sheshi Italia, Sheraton Plaza, tel. 23 49 15. Also in the airport arrivals hall (open 09:00 - 17:00 and 11:00 - 19:00 on alternating days). QOpen 08:30 - 21:00. Vodafone G/H-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit 5, tel. 283 201/2/069 222 0111, www.vodafone.al. Also at the Torre Drin shopping centre. QOpen 08:30 - 21:00. Albanian telephone codes Berat 32 Kuçova Durrës 52 Kukës Elbasan 54 Laç Fier 34 Lezhë Gjirokastra 84 Librazhdi Kavaja 554 Lushnjë Korça 82 Peqin Kruja 511 Përmet 33 24 30 36 353 35 512 813 Peshkopi Pogradec Saranda Shijak Shkodra Tepelena Tirana Vlora 373 832 85 571 22 814 4 47 International country codes Albania 355 Australia 61 Austria 43 Belgium 32 Bosnia-Herz. 387 Bulgaria 359 Canada 1 Czech Rep. 420 Croatia 385 Denmark 45 Finland 358 France 33 Germany 49 Greece 30 Hungary 36 Ireland 353 Israel 972 Italy 39 Japan 81 Macedonia 389 Moldova 373 Montenegro 382 Netherlands 31 Poland 48 Romania 40 Russia 7 Serbia 381 Spain 34 Sweden 46 Turkey 90 Ukraine 380 UK 44 USA 1 Public telephones Some pay phones do work, but those at hotels and post offices often work better. Telephone cards are available at post offices. 50 unit cards cost 560 lek; 100 units 980 lek; 200 units 1800 lek. New cards should be wrapped in clear plastic. People on the street also sell cards; beware that you’ll likely be paying 20% more for the card. Don’t let the card vendor get away until you have checked the units on your card at a public telephone. If you don’t plan to talk away a whole card, you can rent one from the ‘businessmen’ lingering near the phone boxes. Prices will run about 15-20 lek a unit. Tirana In Your Pocket 36 LANGUAGE Albanian is an Indo-European language with a 36-letter alphabet; like the country itself it is one of a kind. There are distant links with Romanian, and many words on loan from Turkish, Greek and Slavic. An increasing number of Albanians speaks a foreign language: Italian is extremely widespread (thanks to satellite dishes and emigration), English is catching on fast, and many Albanians in the south understand Greek. Pronunciation a as in father c as in pizza ç as in church dh as in that e as in set ë as in term gj as in dodge i as in machine j as in year II as in still nj as in union q as show r as in rope rr is a trilled r x as in judge Niceties & Necessities Yes No Good Please Thank you Sorry! Good morning Good day Hello Good night Good luck with your work! Cheers! All the best! Excuse me! How are you? Practicalities When? Where? Who? Why? What? I have... I am... What’s your name? My name is... I’m from... ...UK ...USA ...Germany I don’t understand I don’t speak Albanian A ticket, please How much does this cost? Signs Open Closed Entrance Exit Push Pull Po Jo Mirë Ju lutem Faleminderit Më vjen keq! Mirëmëngjes Mirdita ç’kemi Natën e mirë Punë e mbarë! Gëzuar! Gjithë të mirat! Më falni! Si jeni? Kur? Ku? Kush? Pse? Çfarë? Kam... Jam... Si quheni? Quhem... Une jam nga... ...Anglia ...Amerika ...Gjermania Nuk kuptoj Nuk flas shqip Një biletë, ju lutem Sa kushton? Hapur Mbyllur Hyrje Dalje Shtyj Terheq Numbers 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 20 50 100 1000 Days Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Months January February March April May June July August September October November December Time Now Later Today Tomorrow Yesterday In the morning In the afternoon In the evening At night zero një dy tre katër pesë gjashtë shtatë tetë nentë dhjetë njëzet pesëdhjetë njëqind njëmijë E Hënë E Martë E Mërkurë E Enjte E Premte E Shtunë E Dielë Janar Shkurt Mars Prill Maj Qershor Korrik Gusht Shtator Tetor Nëntor Dhjetor Tani Më vonë Sot Nesër Dje Në mëngjes Masdite Në darkë Natën One of Tirana’s colourful buildings JvM Tirana In Your Pocket 38 SHOPPING The ladies love Tirana. You may be surprised, but the city is actually a great shopping destination. The city centre is small and you can easily walk everywhere, and without exception the staff is friendly and reasonably competent. Especially shoe shopping is good; they’re cheap (around 30% less than in other European cities), most are of Italian quality, and there’s great variety. For clothes the story is slightly different, as not all international brands are represented yet. Shopping is still best in the established areas such as in the bllok district and along Rruga Myslym Shyri; you’re more likely to find bargains and groovy stuff there than in the malls. So leave your moody boyfriend at home, nick his wallet, and hit the streets. SHOPPING International Book Shop E-6, Rr. Hoxha Tahsim 1, Stephen Center. Books, newspapers and magazines, including some on religious themes. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sat. Librari Albania H-3, Rr. Sami Frashëri, tel. 27 17 49, www.albaniabook.com. A decent selection of magazines and Albania-related books. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Rogner Hotel H-5, Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit, Hotel Rogner Europapark, tel. 23 50 35, ext 802. The hotel’s gift shop stocks books on Albania, newpapers and magazines. QOpen 09:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Tirana International Hotel Shop E-4, Sheshi Skenderbej. The gift shop has a good selection of newspapers and magazines and a few books on Albania too. Q Open 08:00 - 23:00, Sat, Sun 09:00 - 13:00, 16:00 - 22:00. Nino Vitali F/G-3, Rr. Myslym Shyri, tel. 243 28. Q Open 09:00 - 14:30, 18:00 - 21:30. Also at New Pazar, tel. 25 01 81 and Rr. e Kavajes, tel. 27 44 70. Pierre Cardin E-4, Rr. Ded Gjo Luli. The latest Pierre Cardin. QOpen 08:30 - 20:00. Closed Sun. 39 Shopping centres Much to the delight of locals and foreigners alike, Tirana has been enriched with several malls or smaller shopping galleries over the past years. The launch of the QTU centre along the Durres highway in 2005 was a revolution in itself – the complex is huge, has a good supermarket, underground parking and a free shuttle bus. In early 2006 the Galeria mall raised the standard, offering a more qualitative and fun-orientated shopping experience spread over four floors. This complex is more intimate than the highway mall and is in the centre of town. It’s a matter of time before the concept spreads further in Tirana and other Albanian cities – Vlora already has a pleasant new shopping mall and more are to follow in Albania’s ongoing retail revolution. Flowers Flower Shop J-5, Sheshi Italia, Sheraton Plaza, tel. 068 20 60 568. Flowers and ceramics. QOpen 08:00 Garden Joy H-5/6, Rr. Elbasanit, tel. 37 41 46. The owner learned the trade in Greece and does it well. QOpen - 18:00. Closed Sun. Art Galleries Galeria Te & Gi D-2/3, Rr. Durrësit 144a, tel. 23 04 16, tegigallery@albmail.com. Tirana’s first gallery, located in a strange modern building, is still going strong, selling traditional, abstract and modern paintings, including some very nice landscapes. QOpen 09:00 - 14:00, 16:00-20:00. Open 09:00 - 14:00, 17:00 - 20:00. Fashion Benetton E-3, Rr. Mine Peza 2. Elegantly designed shops are spreading beyond the malls now, witness this bright Benetton outlet north of the main square selling fashion for both sexes. Also in the Galeria mall. QOpen 08:30 - 20:30, Sun 09:00 - 14:00. Comptoir de Paris D-4/5, Rr. Barrikadave, kulla 4, tel. 068 20 22 684. Expensive brand-name fashion for men, women and children. Considered the ambassador of French fashion. Estel E-3, Rr. Kavajës, tel. 068 20 34 473. Italian fashion for men and women. Near the corner with Rr. Kont Urani. Q Open 08:00 - 13:00, 16:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Firenze D-4, Blv. Zogu I, 72, tel. 24 04 41. A good array of women’s and men’s clothes, and real Versace ties. High prices and quality. QOpen 08:30 - 20:00, Sun 09:00 - 14:00. A Glamour I-4, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri 4, tel. 068 20 60 176. Italian fashion at reasonable prices. QOpen 09:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. 09:00 - 21:00. Merkom E-3, Rr. Kavajës, tel. 25 47 70. Next to Samsung. Also delivers. QOpen 08:00 - 20:30. Natyra H-5/6, Rr. Elbasanit, tel. 23 06 16. Flowers from Greece arrive three times a week. Good at arranging colourful bouquets. QOpen 09:00 - 19:00. Souvenirs The best souvenir shopping is north of Tirana in Kruja, where shop windows are full of jewellery, antiques and knickknacks. If you don’t have time to make the trek there, check these shops in Tirana. There are also some kiosks selling Albania mugs, plastic guns, dolls and bunker ashtrays at the southern end of Rr. Barrikadave. icc.al.eu.org. Philatelic shop of the Albanian postal service, selling recent commemoratives. QOpen 08:00 - 16:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Altin Celmeta D-5, Rr. Barrikadave. Albanian folk costumes, copper and bronze knives and pistols, marble and plaster eagles and busts of Skanderbeg in the famous ceremonial helmet. Tobacco boxes, jewellery. Near the ItalianAlbanian Bank. QOpen 08:00 - 18:00. Closed Sun. Art Forever G/H-4, Rr. Vaso Pasha 99, tel. 24 63 86. If you’re looking for folk costumes, antique chests, wood carvings, or old books, check out this one-man show. This snug, dimly lit place is a hang-out for Tirana intellectuals and art lovers. Near the corner with Blv. Bajram Curri. QOpen 10:30 - 21:00. Closed Sun. Lleshi E-3, Rr. Durrësit, tel. 26 30 30. Albanian folk costumes, handknit vests, men’s felt hats, dolls in folk dress, rugs with national motifs. Near Rr. Asim Vokshi. Q Open 08:00 - 14:00, 16:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Pirro Souvenirs I-4, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri, tel. 22 55 87. A good selection of handicrafts and souvenirs; Albanian flags,keyrings and T-shirts, and must-have mugs depicting Enver Hoxha, King Zog and Mother Teresa among others. Also on Rr. Durrësit. QOpen 09:00 - 21:00. Rreli-Erebara E-4, Rr. Ded Gjo Luli, tel. 22 12 82. Traditional folk costumes from all over Albania, as well as wood, bronze and silver souvenirs, pottery and ceramic wares. Antiques. QOpen 08:00 - 21:00, Sun 08:00 - 14:00. tel. 069 209 69 25, www.panteongallery.com. A private gallery with modern and colourful Albanian abstract art and sculptures. QOpen 10:00 - 12:00, 15:00-21:00. Closed Sun. Panteon Art Salon H-4, Rr. Vaso Pasha, pall. Agimi, Galeria G-5, Blv. Bajram Curri. Housed in the European Trade Centre behind the pyramid, the Galeria mall has excited ladies across Albania. It’s a pleasantly air-conditioned four-floor complex, with plenty of choice in its 70 shops, bars and cafés. There’s a decent Conad supermarket on the ground floor. A welcome addition to Tirana’s retail therapy options. Sheraton Plaza J-5, Sheshi Italia. A mall attached to the Sheraton hotel with a popular café, a food court with three restaurants (Mexican, Italian and Asian), a good little supermarket, several upmarket shops and a JiangLing (Chinese car) showroom. Books Adrion E-4, Sheshi Skënderbej, Palace of Culture, tel. 22 62 56, books@adrionltd.com. The best selection of books on Albania (or on anything else) in English. Lots of magazines as well. QOpen 09:00 - 20:00. Albapost F-4, Rr. Reshit Çollaku, tel. 23 21 33, alpost@ Smart Shopping G/H-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, Sky Tower, tel. 24 65 09, www.smartshopping. com.al. A well-organised mall with expensive brandnames and gifts. There’s a good Illy Caffe too. QOpen 09:00 - 20:00. Closed Sat. Torre Drin F-5, Rr. Abdi Toptani, tel. 23 51 95. Tiny bar, travel agencies and fashion shops. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. tel. 38 01 00, www.qtu-al.com. Just west of town along the Durres highway, the 13,600 square metre Qendra Tregtare Univers shopping centre has a bar, restaurants, a Euromax supermarket and electronics store, and 30 other shops including Mango, Hilfiger, and Vodafone. Driving from Tirana, look for the QTU sign about a kilometre past the Shkodra turning. A free shuttle bus runs between the National Museum and Univers every 20-30 minutes between 08:00 and 22:00. QOpen 09:00 - 21:00. Open 09:00 - 22:00 in summer. A Univers (QTU) Durrës highway, 6km from Tirana, Supermarkets Conad G-5, Blv. Bajram Curri, European Trade Centre. The Italian supermarket on the ground floor of the Galeria mall. A decent selection of food, with imported meats and cheeses. QOpen 08:30 - 21:00. Euro Market H-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, next to Manhattan Bar. This Western-style supermarket carries many goods imported from Greece and Italy. QOpen 08:00 - 22:00. Euromax QTU, Durrës highway, 6km from Tirana. Tirana’s largest supermarket, inside the QTU mall on the outskirts of town. QOpen 08:30 - 21:00. Tirana In Your Pocket canned fish, Italian cheeses, special liquors, quality coffee, and more. Near the intersection with Rr. Kavajës. QOpen 08:00 - 21:00. Supermarket I-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit. Not spacious or well organised, but carries a huge selection. With persistence, you can find almost anything. Near Hotel President. QOpen 08:00 - 23:00. Super Market E-3, Rr. Bogdani. Hard-to-find goods like Read Tirana, Shkodra and Korca In Your Pocket at www.inyourpocket.com 2007 - 2008 40 DIRECTORY An A-Z listing of Tirana essentials. Banks 27, tel. 23 95 55, fax 20 23 93, www.albambank.com. Housed in the most colourful bank building we’ve ever seen. Also at Rinas airport, and in Durres, Elbasan, Fier, Vlore, Gjirokaster, Lushnja and Korca. Their ABAnet ATMs accept international debit and credit cards that are compatible with MasterCard, Visa Electron and Plus. QOpen 09:30 - 15:30, Sat 10:00 - 12:00. Closed Sun. BKT (Banka Kombetare Tregtare) Bul. Zhan D’Ark, tel. 25 09 61, www.bkt.com.al. Albania’s second bank, voted Albanian bank of the year 2006 by The Banker magazine. Now also with an office in Pristina (tel. +38138266276). Emporiki Bank Albania Rr. e Kavajës 59, tel. 25 87 55, fax 25 87 52, headoffice@emporiki.com.al. Also with offices on Rruga Ismail Qemali, Bld. Bajram Curri, Bld. Dëshmorët e Kombit, along the Durres highway and in Saranda, Vlora and Fier. QOpen 08:30 - 15:00. Closed Sat, Sun. International Commercial Bank Rr. Ded Gjo Luli 3, tel. 23 75 67, icba@icc.al.eu.org. QOpen 09:00 - 15:30. Closed Sat, Sun. Italian-Albanian Bank (Banca Italo-Albanese) Rr. e Barrikadave 3, tel. 23 39 65, fax 23 57 00, biatia@adanet.com. al. Q Open 08:30 - 13:00, 14:00 - 15:00. Closed Sat, Sun. National Bank of Greece Blv. Zogu I, Veve Business Centre, tel. 23 36 12, fax 23 36 13, bgtirana@albaniaonline.net. QOpen 09:00 - 15:00. Closed Sat, Sun. ProCredit Bank Rr. Sami Frasheri, near Sheshi Wilson, tel. 23 34 96, fax 23 79 58, www.procreditbank.com.al. ATMs accept international debit and credit cards, and some can dispense euros as well as lek. Q Open 09:00 - 13:00, 14:00 - 15:30. Closed Sat, Sun. Raiffeisen Bank Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, Rogner Hotel, tel. 22 45 40, fax 24 79 12, www.raiffeisen.al. ATMs accept international debit and credit cards compatible with Visa Electron and Plus. Tirana Bank Blv. Zogu I, 55/1, tel. 23 34 41, fax 23 34 17, www.tiranabank.al. QOpen 08:00 - 15:00. Closed Sat, Sun. 25 07 23. 62 88. Noli Business Centre H-4, Rr. Ismail Qemali 27, tel. Tirana Business Centre D-4, Blv. Zogu I, tel. 25 Veve Business Centre D-4, Blv. Zogu I, tel. 23 50 Zajed Business Centre I-3, Rr. Sulejman Delvina, tel. 25 71 67, zayedbc@albmail.com. Alpha Credit Bank Blv. Zogu I, 47, tel. 24 04 78, fax 23 21 02. QOpen 09:00 - 15:00. Closed Sat, Sun. American Bank of Albania (ABA) Rr. Ismail Qemali 52. Business information Institute of Statistics (Instat) D-4, Rr. Leke Dukag jini, tel. 22 24 11, fax 22 83 00, mekonomi@instat. gov.al, www.instat.gov.al. Publishes a yearly report called Albania in Figures (Shqipëria në Shifra). Clinics Clinics do not usually take patients outside office hours. For emergencies, go to the Military Hospital of Tirana (in Lapraka, on the road to the airport) or to the Civilian Hospital (in the northeast, on Rr. Dibrës). ABC Family Health Centre D-5, Rr. Qemal Stafa 260, tel. 23 41 05, www.abcalbania.org. Christian-run, Englishspeaking clinic practicing ‘Biblical medicine’. QOpen 09:00 - 13:00. Closed Sat, Sun. DSF Medical Centre Rr. Irfan Tomini 5, tel. 23 27 99. Q Open 08:00 - 14:00, 16:00 - 20:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Luigi Monti Clinic E-3, Rr. Kavajës 120, tel. 22 39 06. Part of the Catholic Diagnostic Center. Q Open 08:00 - 14:00, 16:00 - 19:00. Marie Stopes Clinic Rr. Tefta Tashko Koço 10, tel. 24 10 18, www.mariestopesalbania.com. Family planning clinic providing safe, comprehensive reproductive healthcare and education, in a country where contraception and abortion were illegal until 1991. QOpen 08:00 - 16:00. Closed Sun. Currency exchange Depending on your home bank’s fees, it’s probably cheapest and safest to get Albanian Lek from one of many ATMs around Tirana. ATMs in Albania do not charge anything for the transfer. Cash can be exchanged by banks and exchange offices, and also by the dodgy-looking men hanging around the park on Skanderbeg Square waving thick wads of banknotes at passing drivers. Surprisingly for Eastern Europe, most of them are honest businessmen. Beauty & Wellness tel. 22 49 27. Chinese doctors perform therapeutic foot (45 mins 1500 lek) and body (60 mins 3000 lek) massages, acupuncture and herbal baths (15 mins 500 lek). QOpen 09:00 - 12:30, 15:00-21:00. Closed Sun. Tuttestetica I-3, Rr. Nikolla Tupe 27, tel. 24 36 91. A wellness centre with sauna, beautician, fitness and more. QOpen 09:00 - 19:00. Closed Sun. Da Shanghai Health Centre I-3, Rr. Perlat Rexhepi, Business centres Tirana’s main office buildings. European Trade Centre G-5, Blv. Bajram Curri. Houses Gjerg ji Centre F-5, Rr. Presidenti George W. Bush, tel. 25 11 81. the Galaria mall and offices. Emergency numbers: Police 129, Fire 128 Tirana In Your Pocket Albacredit E-4, Rr. Ded Gjo Luli 5, tel. 23 09 56. Also at Rr. Durrësit 102, tel 22 89 29. QOpen 08:30 - 18:00. Closed Sun. Alog E-4, Rr. Mine Peza, Pall. 102, tel. 068 20 88 334. QOpen 08:30 - 18:00. Closed Sun. Aris E-5, Rr. Luig j Gurakuqi 2, tel. 24 88 67. QOpen 08:00 - 18:00. Closed Sun. Deni & Kristi F/G-3, Rr. Myslym Shyri 60/3, tel. 22 93 66. QOpen 08:00 - 18:00. Closed Sun. Iliria 98 F-4, Sheshi Skenderbej, tel./fax 24 88 21. Next to the Puppet Theatre. QOpen 08:30 - 15:30, Sat 08:30 - 14:00. Closed Sun. Joard E-4, Rr. Ded Gjo Luli 5, tel. 23 31 58. QOpen 08:00 - 18:00. Closed Sun. Mi & Ko E-4, Rr. Ded Gjo Luli Nr 6, tel. 24 01 47. QOpen 08:00 - 18:00. Closed Sun. 42 DIRECTORY Dentists In Albanian, ‘dental clinic’ is ‘klinika dentare’. Easy. Now floss. 16:00 - 20:00, Sat 08:00 - 13:00. Closed Sun. Ledismile Dental Clinic Rr. Ifran Tomini, tel. 068 256 00 00. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Mazreku H-6, Rr. Qemal Guranjaku 260, tel. 24 02 92/068 20 47 908. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Tirana Centre G-3, Rr. Myslym Shyri, tel. 25 74 46. Near Albanian Telecom. QOpen 08:00 - 19:00. Closed Sun. UFO Clinic F-2, Rr. Kavajës, tel. 24 00 28. Who wouldn’t like their dental work done by Martians? Behind the Central Bank building. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Dervishi F-1, Rr. Muhamet Gjollesha, blloku Vasil Shanto, Pall. 3, Shk. 2, Ap. 3. Q Open 08:30 - 14:00, Dry cleaners Fast Clean D-4, Rr. Barrikadave, tel. 23 74 14. Near the Sami Frashëri school. QOpen 08:00 - 16:00. Closed Sun. Pastrim Kimik I-3, Rr. Sami Frashëri. The best dry-cleaning in Tirana. Fast service, good prices. Next to the ProCredit Bank. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sat. Embassies Many of Tirana’s embassies and consulates can be found near Rruga Skenderbeg, which is closed off to all traffic, and just to the east of the bllok area. It’s highly advisable to phone in advance to check the opening times or to make an appointment. The opening times listed here refer to the working hours of the visa/visitor departments. Closed Sat, Sun. Bulgaria E-2, Rr. Skenderbej 12, tel. 23 31 55, fax 23 22 72, bgemb_@interalb.net. QOpen 08:30 - 12:00. Closed Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun. Croatia F-5, Rr. Abdyl Topani, Torre Drin centre, tel. 22 83 90, fax 23 05 78, croembassy@albaniaonline.net. QOpen 09:00 - 11:00. Closed Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun. Austria E/F-2, Rr. Frederik Shiroka 3, tel. 23 31 44, fax 23 31 40, tirana-ob@bmaa.gv.at. QOpen 10:00 - 12:00. Mercedes mash-up AT Czech Republic E-2, Rr. Skenderbej 10, tel. 23 40 04, fax 23 21 59, tirana@embassy.cz. QOpen 09:00 - 16:00. Closed Mon, Sat, Sun. Denmark H/I-4, Rr. Nikolla Tupe 1, kati 4, ap. 4, tel. 28 06 60, fax 28 06 30, tiaamb@um.dk. QOpen 09:00 - 12:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Egypt E-2, Rr. Skenderbej 1, tel. 23 30 22, fax 23 22 95, egyemb@albnet.net. QOpen 09:00 - 13:00. Closed Sat, Sun. France E-2, Rr. Skenderbej 14, tel. 23 42 50, fax 23 44 42, ambafrance.tr@adanet.com.al. Q Open 09:00 - 13:00, 14:30 - 17:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Germany E-2, Rr. Skenderbej 8, tel. 27 45 05, fax 23 34 97, german.embassy@icc.eu.org, www.tirana.diplo. de. QOpen 08:30 - 12:00. Closed Fri, Sat, Sun. Greece E/F-2, Rr. Frederik Shiroka 3, tel. 27 46 44, fax 23 41 40, gremb.tir@mfa.gr, www.greekembassy. al. Consulates in Gjirokastra and Korca. QOpen 08:30 - 16:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Holy See D-4, Rr. Durrësit 13, tel. 23 35 16, fax 23 20 01, nunapal@icc-al.org. Hungary E-2, Rr. Skenderbej 16, tel. 23 22 38, fax 23 32 11, huembtia@icc.al.eu.org. QOpen 09:00 - 12:00. Closed Sat, Sun. China E-2, Rr. Skenderbej 57, tel. 23 23 85, fax 23 31 59, chinaemb_al@mfa.gov.cn. QOpen 09:00 - 11:00. Closed Mon, Wed, Thu, Sat, Sun. Iran H-5, Rr. Mustafa Matohiti 20, tel. 22 76 98, fax 23 04 09. Italy H-5, Rr. Gjon Pali 2, tel. 23 40 45, fax 25 09 21, www.ambtirana.esteri.it. Consulates in Vlora and Shkodra. QOpen 08:30 - 16:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Macedonia F-2, Rr. Kavajës 116, tel. 23 09 09, fax 23 25 14, makambas@albnet.net. QOpen 09:00 - 11:00. Netherlands H-5, Rr. Asim Zeneli 10, tel. 24 08 28, fax 23 27 23, tir@minbuza.nl. QOpen 09:00 - 12:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Norway H-4, Blv. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, Pall. 5, Ap. 3, tel. 22 11 41, fax 22 16 66, emb.tirana@mfa.no. QOpen 10:00 - 12:00. Closed Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun. Palestina D-2, Rr. Skenderbej 6/1/1, tel./fax 26 58 04, palembalb@yahoo.com. Poland D-2, Rr. Durrësit 123, tel. 23 41 90, fax 23 33 64, polemb@albaniaonline.net. QOpen 10:00 - 12:00. Closed Mon, Fri, Sat, Sun. Romania H-5, Rr. Themistokli Germenji 1, tel./fax 25 60 72, roemb@adanett.com.al. QOpen 09:00 - 11:00. Closed Mon, Wed, Sat, Sun. Russia H-5, Rr. Asim Zeneli 5, tel. 25 60 40, fax 25 60 46, rusemb@icc.al.eu.org. QOpen 08:00 - 12:00. Closed Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun. Serbia H-4, Rr. Donika Kastrioti 9/1, tel. 23 20 91, fax 22 20 89, ambatira@icc-al.org, www.tirana.mfa.gov.yu. QOpen 10:00 - 12:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Spain D-2, Rr. Skenderbeg 43, tel. 27 49 60, fax 22 53 83, emb.tirana@mae.es. QOpen 08:30 - 14:00. Sweden H-6, Rr. Pjetër Budi 76, tel. 34 34 86, fax 37 44 16, info@sweden.gov.al. QOpen 08:00 - 16:00, Tue, Thu 10:00 - 12:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Switzerland H-6, Rr. Elbasanit 81, tel. 23 48 88, fax 23 48 89, vertretung@tir.rep.admin.ch. QOpen 09:00 - 12:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Turkey I-6, Rr. Elbasanit 65, tel. 38 03 50, fax 34 77 67, turkishembassy@albanianonline.net. QOpen 09:00 - 15:00. Closed Sat, Sun. United Kingdom E-2, Rr. Skenderbeg 12, tel. 23 49 73, fax 24 76 97, consular.tiran@fco.gov.uk, www. britishembassy.gov.uk. United States I-6, Rr. Elbasanit 103, tel. 24 72 85, fax 23 22 22, tirana.usembassy.gov. Open for foreigners from 14:00-16:00. QOpen 13:00 - 15:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Tirana In Your Pocket 44 DIRECTORY Hairdressers Ardi Hair Fashion H-3, Rr. Vaso Pasha 7, tel. 068 20 26 118. Professional ladies and gents salon with ammonia-free hair colouring. QOpen 09:00 - 19:00. Closed Sun. Artemisa I-3, Rr. Nikolla Tupe, tel. 22 80 74. Bona & Jona D-4, Rr. Maliq Muco, Pall. 46, Shk. 6, ap. 1, tel. 22 74 88. Evropa F-4, Rr. Reshit Çollaku, tel. 23 31 13. High-quality salon for men and women. Genci C-5, Rr. Siri Kodra 13, tel. 23 07 22. Men’s hairdresser. QOpen 08:00 - 22:00. DIRECTORY Lincoln Center H-4, Rr. Ismail Qemali 31, tel. 2 3 0 8 8 0 , w w w . l i n c o l n - i n t l . o r g . A l b a n i a n fo r foreigners as well as En glish, German and Spanish courses. Inside Enver Hoxha’s old villa. Also at Rr. Qemal Stafa 184. 45 NGOs Albania’s non-governmental and international organisations. Rr. Skënderbej 12, tel. 23 49 73, fax 24 76 97. Old habits - new leks Old habits die hard, old Albanian habits in particular. Take the currency, the lek. In 1964 and 1991, a zero was cut from the currency and new banknotes and coins introduced to make the numbers easier to handle. But still, you’ll get sometimes get quoted amounts in old leks in shops, so you’re told to pay 1000 lek rather than 100. This is not to rip you off – it’s just an old habit that’s just as comfy as those awful slippers you wear at home, and even if you do put down ten times the amount necessary, you’ll get the right change. Even though all the signs and price tags in shops are new lek, not all Albanian minds have made the transition. Lawyers & Consultants Deloitte & Touche F-5, Rr. Murat Toptani, Gjerg ji Center, tel. 23 38 83, www.deloitte.com. KPMG H-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, tel. 23 55 32, www.kpmg.com.al. TBI Law Firm D-4, Blv. Zog I, Veve Business Center, tel. 22 89 62, olsi@tbi-al.com, www.tbi-al.com. DFID (Department for International Development) EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit 26, tel. 23 23 68/23 28 98, fax 23 05 80, www.ebrd.com. ECAM (European Customs Albania Mission) Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit 32, tel. 25 71 68, fax 24 48 75, ecam@octas.com, www.octas.com. Chambers of Commerce American Chamber of Commerce H-4, Blv. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, pall. 1, tel. 25 97 79, info@amcham.com.al. Tirana Chamber of Commerce and Industry E-3, Rr. Kavajës, tel. 23 02 83, fax 22 79 97, cotr@abissnet. com.al, www.cci.gov.al. Libraries American Reading Room I-4, Sheshi Nënë Tereza. Inside the University Library. QOpen 08:00 - 13:00. Closed Sat, Sun. National Library E-4, Sheshi Skënderbej, Palace of Culture, tel. 22 38 43. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00, Sat 09:00 - 14:00. Closed Sun. University Library (Biblioteka Universitare) I-4, Sheshi Nënë Tereza, tel. 26 94 54. Insurance companies Insig Rr. e Dibrës 91, tel. 23 41 70, fax 23 41 80, marrja@ insig.com.al. QOpen 08:00 - 16:00. Closed Sat, Sun. Sigal Blv Zog I, Pall 57, Pallati i Diplomatëve, tel. 25 34 07. QOpen 08:00 - 16:30. Closed Sun. Sigma Rr. Abdyl Frashëri, Sheshi Wilson, tel. 25 82 Rr. Donika Kastrioti 1, tel. 22 39 42, fax 23 32 47, ecmm-mot@icc.al.eu.org. European Union Rr. Donika Kastrioti 42, tel. 22 83 20, fax 23 07 52, www.delalb.ec.europa.eu. GTZ (German Projects Office) Rr. Skënderbeg 21/1, tel. 27 45 05, fax 23 34 97, gtzofficetir@albaniaonline. net, www.gtz.de. IMF (International Monetary Fund) Rr. Lekë Dukag jini 3, tel. 23 08 21, fax 22 77 35, www.imf.org. IOM (International Office for Migration) Rr. Brigada VIII 33, tel. 25 78 36, fax 23 04 41, www.iomtirana.org.al. fax 23 59 94, www.osce.org. ECMM (European Community Monitor Mission) 23 98 72. Fatime Meta D-3, Rr. Durrësit 118, Shk. 1, Ap. 1, tel. Kalo & Associates E-3, Rr. Kavajës 59, Tirana Tower, tel. 23 35 32, fax 22 47 27, www.kalo-attorneys.com. Studio Legale Tonucci H-4, Rr. Ismail Qemali 27, Noli Business Center, tel. 25 07 11, fax 25 07 13. Media lish-language news website for subscribers. Tirana Times, tel. 27 42 03, www.tiranatimes.com. Albania’s weekly and only English-language newspaper, with national and international news, features and events. For sale in hotels and newsstands fro 350 lek. Also offers an online daily news subscription. OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Rr. Donika Kastrioti, Vila 6, tel. 23 59 92, SNV (Dutch Projects Office) Rr. e Elbasanit, tel. 22 Opticians Italoptike D-5, Rr. Dibrës 271, tel. 22 29 85. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Optika Bruna G-4, Blv. Bajram Curri, tel. 24 63 61. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Optika Centrale E-3, Rr. Kavajës 130, tel. 25 38 83. Q Open 08:00 - 14:00, 16:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Uzllova Clinic Kamëz, 8km from Tirana on the Durrës road, tel. 22 83 97, klinika.ulzllova@icc.org. QOpen 08:00 - 16:00. Closed Sun. 54. Albanian Daily News, www.albaniannews.com. Eng- Language courses International Language Centre D-5, Rr. Barrikadave, tel. 23 61 41. Albanian lessons for beginning to advanced students. 88 73/23 52 35, fax 3715 59, registry@snv.al.eu.org. UNDP (United Nations Development Program) Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit 35, tel. 23 31 22, fax 23 20 75, www.undp org-al. UNFPA (United Nations Fund for Population) Rr. Donika Kastrioti 1/1, tel. 23 55 20, fax 23 22 83. UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) Rr. Donika Kastrioti, tel. 25 02 06, fax 22 84 92, www.unhcr.org. Elbasanit 125/1, tel. 27 33 35, fax 23 00 28, www. unicef.org. USAID (United States Aid) Rr. e Elbasanit, tel. 24 72 85, fax 23 22 22, www.usaid.gov. WHO (World Health Organisation) Rr. Lekë Dukagjini/4, tel. 37 25 22, fax 37 18 31, www.who.org. World Bank Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, tel. 24 05 87, fax 24 05 90, www.worldbank.org. UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) Rr. e Pharmacies Arça I-3, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri, tel. 068 213 00 30. QOpen Farmacia 7 C-4, Blv. Zogu I, tel. 22 22 41. Next to the Tirana Bank. QOpen 08:00 - 23:00. Farmaci Regi dhe Bime Mjeksore H-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, tel. 22 67 59. Q Open 09:00 - 14:00, 17:00 08:00 - 22:30, Sat 10:00 - 14:00. Closed Sun. Notaries These offices provide notary work and legal assistance. Some also do written translations into and from English, French, German, Italian, Greek and Turkish. tel. 25 81 84. Agim Robo H-4, Rr. Ismail Qemali 27/1, tel. 24 88 40, fax 25 11 07. Boga & Associates H-4, Rr. Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, tel. 25 10 50, fax 25 10 55, www.bogalaw.com. Dhimitra Qarri G-3, Blv. Gjerg j Fishta, tel. 25 12 00/069 20 95 571. QOpen 08:00 - 18:00. Closed Sat, Sun. - 20:00. On duty 24hrs. Farmatech D-5, Rr. Barrikadave, tel. 23 65 84, info@ farmatech.net. Modern pharmacy, English spoken. QOpen 08:30 - 22:00. Rudi Farma D-4, Blv. Zogu I, tel. 24 89 51. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Agim Ibrahimi & Kujtim Capo G-2, Rr. Myslym Shyri, Photography A. Rreli C-4, Blv. Zogu I, 30, tel. 22 79 65. A chain of modern photo labs. Digital developing too. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Deutsche Color KoKona F-4, Rr. Myslym Shyri, pall. 47, nr. 30, tel. 24 22 33. QOpen 08:00 - 20:00. Closed Sun. Ital Kumi H-4, Rr. Brigada VIII, 3/1, tel. 24 68 98. QOpen 08:00 - 20:30. Closed Sun. Tirana’s phone code: +355-4 Tirana In Your Pocket Real estate Ag jencia Inf 93 Rr. Luig j Gurakuqi, tel. 23 05 15, genti@abissnet.com.al. Real Estate Imobiliary Rr. Kavajës, Pall. 3, Shk. 7, Ap. 66, tel. 23 31 18, reale@icc.al.eu.org. 2007 - 2008 0 Scale 1:1,880,000 0 25km 50km Albania Street register All Tirana streets below are prefexed ‘Rruga’ (Rr.); boulevards are listed as ‘Blv’, squares as ‘Sheshi’. 4 Dëshmorët C-6 28 Nëntori F-4/5, E-5 Abdi Toptani F-4/5 Abdulla Keta D-5 Abdyl Frashëri I-3/4/5 Adem Kruja G-2 Ali Pashe Gucia C-5/6, D-6 Andon Zako Çajupi H-3 Asim Vokshi D-3/4 Asim Zeneli H-5/6 Bardhok Biba D-4 Barrikadave B/C-4, D-4/5 Beqir Luga E-6 Besim Imami F-2/3 Bilal Konxholli C-5/6 Blv. Bajram Curri H-1 to G-6 Blv. Dëshmorët e Kombit F-4 to I-5 Blv. Gjerg j Fishta H-1 to G-4 Blv. Zhan D’Ark G-5 to E-6 Blv. Zogu I C/D/E-4 Bogdani E-3 Brigada VIII H-3/4 Çamëria F-3/4 Çerçiz Topulli C-4, D-5 Ded Gjo Luli E-4 Dervish Hatixhe D/C-4 Dervish Hima I-5/6 Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit G/H/I/J-4 Dhimitër S. Shuteriqi J-1/2 Dibrës C/D-5, B5/6 Don Bosko B/C-2 Donika Kastrioti G/H-4 Dora D’Istria K/J-4 Durrësit D-2/3, E-3/4 Edit Durham E-2 Elbasanit G-5, H-5/6, I-6 Emin Duraku I-2, H-3 Fadil Rada I-2, H-3 Faik Konica I-6 Fatmir Haxhiu G-5 Frederik Shiroka F-1/2, E-2 Gjin Bue Shpata H/I-3 Gjin Kuqali I/J-3 Gjon Buzuku B/C-5 Gjon Muzaka E-2 Gjon Pali II G/H/I-5 Grigor Heba I-2, J-2/3 Hajdar Hidi E/F-3 Haki Mborja J-1 Halim Xhelo E-2 Haxhi Hysen Dalliu D-3, C-3/4 Haxhi Sina C-6 Him Kolli F-3 Hoxhe Vokrri D-6 Hoxha Tahsim E/D-6 Ibrahim Dervishi I-1 Isa Boletini C/D-5 Islam Alla E/F/G-3 Ismail Qemali H-3/4/5 Jani Vreto E-5/6 Jeronim de Rada F-5 Jordan Misja A/B/C-3 Jul Varibova G-5 Justin Gadari E/F-2 Jusuf Vrioni I-2 K. Shijaku B/C-4 Kajo Karafili E-3/4 Karl Gega B-4 Kavajës F-1/2/3, E-3/4 Komuna e Parisit H-2/3, I-2 Kont Urani E-3 Kristaq Mema D-2/3 Lek Dukag jini I-5, J-4 Lidhja Prizrenit I/J-4 Liman Kaba J-2/3, K-2 Luig j Gurakuqi E-4/5 Mahmut Fortuzi B/C-4 Maliq Muço D-4 Margarita Tutulani J-3/4 Medar Shtylla I/J/K-2 Mehmet Brocaj D-3 Mihal Duri E-3 Mihal Grameno G-6 Milto Tutulani I/J-3 Mine Peza C-2, D-2/3, E-3 Muhamet Gjollesha D-1/2, E-1, F-1, G-1/2, H-2 Murat Toptani F-4/5 Musa Agolli B-5 Mustafa Lleshi G-6 Mustafa Matohiti G/H-5 Myrtezim Këlliçi E/F-5 Myslym Shyri G-2/3, F-3/4 Naim Frashëri E/F-2 Nasi Pavllo H/I-6 Nikolla Lena F-2 Nikolla Tupe I-3/4, H-4 Papa Kristo Negovani C-4 Perlat Rexhepi C-4 Petro Korçari I-1 Petro Nini Luarasi F-6 Pjetër Bogdani D-3/4 Pjetër Budi H-6 Prek Bibë Doda H-2 Presidenti George W. Bush F-5 Prokop Myzeqari D-3 Punëtorët e Rilindjes see Presidenti GWB Qemal Guranjaku H-6 Qemal Stafa E-5, D-5/6 Ramzan Farka B-6 Reshit Çollaku F-4 Reshit Petrela B/C-4 Robert Shvare I-1 Sami Frashëri G-3 to J-4 Saraçëve D-5 Sermedin Said Toptani F-4 Shaqir Ofshafi C-5/6 Sheh Ahmet Pazari I-6 Shenasi Dishnica D/E-5 Sheshi 21 Dhjetori F-1 Sheshi Avni Rustemi E-5 Shesi Fan Noli E-5 Sheshi Italia I-5 Sheshi Nënë Tereza I-5 Sheshi Skënderbeg E/F-4 Sheshi Zogu i Zi C/D-2 Shyqyr Bërxolli E/F-3 Shyqyr Ishmi F-6 Siri Kodra B-4 Skënder Kosturi B/C-4 Skënderbeg D/E/F-2 Stavro Vinjau H/I-6 Sulejman Delvina H-2, I-2/3 Sulejman Pasha D-3/4, E-4 Tafaj C-5/6 Tefta Tashko Koço E-6 Thanas Ziko B-5/6, C-6 Themistokli Gërmenji H-5/6 Thimi Mitko E-6 Unaza C-2/3/4 V. Karapici E-6 V. Luarasi C-4/5, D-5 Vaso Pasha G/H/I/J-4 Vëllezërit Manastiri D-2 Viktor Eftimiu H-1, I-1/2 Xhezmi Delli E-2 Xhorxhi Martini E/F-5 Ymer Kurti I/J-3 Zenel Baboçi D-5 50 INDEX Alcora Alpin Ambasador Amor Apollonia Arber Archaeological Museum Areela Art Gallery Ashiana Bardhe e Zi Berlin Berluskoni Billionaire Bogova Briker Brilant Buda Bar Bujtina Shqiptare Bulevard Café Café Albert California Calvin Cameleon Canon Capriccio Carlsberg Casa di Pasta Cathedral of St. Paul Catholic Church Central Market Centre Andre Charl’s Bistro Chateau Linza City Lounge Clock Tower Coffee Shop Comfort Dafina Diesel Diplomat Diplomat Fashion Doro Dreri Efendy Elysée Emblema Endri Epër shme 7 Era Espagna Et'hem Bey Mosque Fan Noli Statue Fashion Ferari Firenze 18 12 10 17 15 9 24 10 24 17 14 17 18 20 19 12 10 20 12 20 14 10 21 20 20 14 15 18 25 25 22 12 20 9 14 22 14 9 12 20 9 9 10 18 19 10 15 12 14 15 17 22 25 21 12 10 Flares 20 Flex 20 Fortress of Justinian 22 Friend's Book House 14 Grand 9 Grand Park 25 Green House 15 Guva e Qetë 12 Haxhiu 12 House of the Dervish Khorosani 22 Iliria 10 Il Passatore 18 Infinity 20 Irish Bar Tirana 21 Juna 14 Juvenilja 18 Kalaja 12 King House 17 Kolonat 15 Kruja 10, 26 La Cantinella 18 La Tavernetta 18 La Voglia 19 Lion Park 18 Living Room 21 Lollipop 21 London 17 Loro Borici 19 Lugano 10 Lulishte 1 Maji 17 Martyrs' Cemetery 22 Metropolitan 15 Mimi 16 Miniri 10 Mondial 10 Mount Dajti 26 Mozart 19 Mr. Chicken 16 Mumja 21 Napoli 18 National History Museum 24 Natural Sciences Museum 24 Nëna Mbretereshë 18 Nirvana 10 Nobel 13 Orthodox Church 25 Parlamenti 13 Pasticeri International 14 Pasticeri Twin Towers 14 Patisserie Française 16 Pension Andrea 12 Pension Strazimi 12 Petrela Castle 26 Petro's Kitchen Club 15 Piazza 15 Piazza Café 14 Pike Loti President Primavera Prince Park Pyramid Queen Park Quo Vadis Relax Republika Rinia Park & Taiwan Rock ‘n Roll Rogner Europapark Rosafa Palace Royal Rozafa Sarajet Serenata Serendipity Café Shalom Center Shanghai Shanghai 2 Sheraton Plaza Food Court Sheraton Tirana Hotel & Towers Skanderbeg Square Skanderbeg Statue Sky Club Sky Club Café Sofra Sofre e Ariut Stela Stephen Center B&B Stephen Center Café Take 5 Tanners' Bridge Terminal Thai House Tirana Backpacker Hostel Tirana International Tomb of Kaplan Pasha Tourism Development Committee Unknown Partisan Statue Valle Verde Venecia Venue Dance Club Victoria Vila 31 Vila Ambasador Chocolat Vila Logoreci Vila Tafaj Vila Verde Villa Amsterdam Villa Palma Vinum Wine Shop Zanzibar Zoo 13 9 17 18 22 18 14 14 13 25 21 9 21 17 17 15 15 16 13 16 16 16 9 23 25 17 14 19 18 10 12 14 20 23 21 19 13 10 23 22 25 14 19 21 10 15 17 18 10 13 17 14 15 21 21 23 Tirana University AT Tirana In Your Pocket TO GET THE CARS FROM START TO FINISH YOU NEED FORMULA ONE™ DRIVERS. TO GET THEM FROM FINISH TO START YOU NEED ALFREDO ROSSI AND HIS TEAM. ™ As the official logistics partner for Formula One, DHL moves over 30 cars and thousands of spare parts to every overseas track on the circuit. To meet this enormous challenge, Alfredo Rossi and his team cover over 70,000 km across 4 continents. It’s one more example of the dedication we deliver to all our clients, no matter what their business. At DHL, we race, you win. www.dhl.com/weraceyouwin >> ALFREDO ROSSI >> DHL MOTORSPORTS OPERATIONS MANAGER REGION: GLOBAL ASSIGNMENT: WIN THE RACE BEFORE THE RACE

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