The Plaza Tirana
Albania: the man who left his mark
Former basketball star Edi Rama was voted prime minister of Albania after ten years as mayor of Tirana. His first act as mayor was to sweep away the city’s numerous hawkers and tackle a long-standing problem of trash, clearing the streets, parks and squares for its residents to enjoy.
A Byronic bunch in Albania
I urge my lazy chestnut horse up the mountain track to Hoshteva, southern Albania, as the harsh noonday sun blasts off the white stone walls lining the final bends into the village.
Europe’s “Wild West” is in the South
In the afternoon, the pace slows to a walk as my horse No Name tackles the narrow paths of the mountains, grunting resentfully as his hooves slither for grip on shifting stones or slide perilously over rock.
Welcoming passing strangers warmly
Hello Albania, which remained isolated under Europe’s last Stalinist dictator as the other Balkan states juggled for position in the 20th century. Emerging from decades of isolation only in 1992, the country now welcomes passing strangers as warmly as it did in the time of Lord Byron, the English poet who enjoyed its hospitality under an earlier, even more brutal dictator.