The flight to Albania went pretty smoothly -- there actually weren't many people on our flight from Charlotte to Frankfurt so I had to seats to myself! I've been to Albania before because I was born there and I've been here a few time since I moved to the US when I was 5, but it was always to visit family. This is a new experience for me. I've never lived in Albania on my own and my family here was a little worried about how I would handle it. I wasn't expecting much culture shock because I understand and am part of Albanian culture. However, when I took a taxi and drove through the city to my apartment (that I share with two other girls from Michigan) I felt 'foreign.' It was an interesting feeling because I am Albanian -- that is an integral part of my identity but I felt less Albanian when I arrived in Albania. The way my identity changes will be interesting to look back on when I leave Albania.
I'm planning on each blog post to have a little information about Albania and the various sites I visit. Since I am interning at the Ministry of Tourism I want to do my part as an 'ambassador' of Albanian culture so each post will have a theme. This post is going to be about the coffee culture of Albania and what to expect.
The restaurant/bar/coffee culture is completely different than in the US. I've been to Albania a few times, but I still cannot get over how much coffee they drink. As an American I always grab my coffee and run, but here people will sit down to have their coffee and they go to the cafes probably three times a day. Once in the morning, during lunch, and then in the late afternoon. Of course not everyone obeys this schedule because some people have jobs that don't allow for this, but in general it's true. Generally people will stay at the cafes for around an hour because it is a time to talk with friends and family that you haven't seen and want to catch up with. Cafes in Albania tend to be very trendy and unique in their decor or their location. Today we went to a cafe called "Sky Tower." For a small fee you can take a elevator surrounded by glass that takes to the very top of a very tall building. There you go inside of a room that spins around and gives you a panoramic view of Tirana -- the capital city. If you're ever in Tirana this is a great place to visit to get some amazing views of the city. It's a little bit pricey for Albanian standards. At local cafes coffee ranges from 50 cents to $2, while at sky tower they range from $2 and up. However, it is worth it for the view and ambiance.
"Makiato e ftohte" -- cold macchiato
Inside the "Sky Tower"
View of Tirana from the "Sky Tower"