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A city break in Tirana

Tirana day one

View Tirana 2023 on ToonSarah's travel map.

Albania from the air

An early departure time saw us at Heathrow‘s Terminal 5 before 7.00, where we had to collect our boarding passes even though we’d checked in online. The BA staff were very helpful and efficient, so we were through security with plenty of time left for a coffee and pastry. However once at the gate we were delayed by the non-arrival of our co-pilot.

Heathrow's Terminal 5

Take off from LHR

Once on board we were told he was ill and someone had stepped in from the back-up team. In the end we were less than an hour late taking off, and with a shorter flight time landed only 30 minutes late. On route I passed the time pleasantly enough reading, taking a few photos and chatting with Chris. Coming into land we had good views of the coastline and mountains, and the Albanian guy in front of me started up a conversation about his country when he heard me commenting on the beautiful scenery.

The coast of Albania


Landing in Tirana

Airport terminal in Tirana

Taken from the taxi

The airport terminal was so new it was still having a sign attached! We were soon through passport control and exiting the small baggage and customs area, to be met by our pre-booked taxi driver. Some confusion then ensued as I’d assumed that booking through the apartment would mean that he would have been told the address, which seemed not to be the case. And my booking info gave the street and name of the tower block but not a street number! The confusion was compounded by the fact that he spoke no English and I no Albanian!

Luckily he had WiFi in the cab so I was able to call the apartment manager on WhatsApp who then spoke to the driver to give him directions. Once that was sorted we had a pleasant ride into the city. We established that he spoke some Italian so were able to chat a bit about English football (unfortunately he was a Man United fan!) and understand when he pointed out a few sights.

Arriving at the apartment in the trendy Blloku district of the city we got in using the key from the secure key box and found a large light sitting room, small but comfortable bedroom and modern bathroom and kitchen. We unpacked and got organised then went out to explore our immediate surroundings.




The apartment in Blloku, Tirana

We had gelati in a nice Italian coffee shop, Chocolatitalinai, then walked around the blocks on either side of our temporary home, checking out restaurants and taking a few photos.




Around Blloku

Then we returned to the apartment to settle in further. I received a message from the manager to say they wanted to come to collect the payment which surprised me, as I’d assumed Booking.com would handle that and the info on the property description wasn’t clear. But luckily we had enough cash with us.

And as it turned out we were quite glad that someone came to collect the money. It meant that we were able to get help to operate the heating in the bedroom as the apartment was decidedly chilly and we couldn’t get it to come on. Fortunately he was able to get the remote control working and explain the settings.

Mugo, Blloku

In the evening we had dinner at a restaurant a block away, Mugo, with an eclectic menu. We shared some excellent spring rolls followed by OK burgers. With a beer each this cost us 3100 LEK – about £12 a head! We had a night cap of Jägermeisters in a bar on the main street from where we could observe the disconcertingly incongruous mix of bright young things on a night out in the area's trendy bars and young children begging from passing drivers

Posted by ToonSarah 15:32 Archived in Albania Tagged restaurant flight airport city tirana albania street_art

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Thanks for your story, Sarah! Have a great stay!

by Vic_IV

I've never been to Albania. From your pictures Tirana looks quite quirky. I thought at first the man climbing up the wall near the airport was a sculpture, but I take it it's a painting that looks very 3-d.

by irenevt

Thank you Victor and Irene. Yes, I think that's a painting although this is the only look I got at it, so I can't be 100% sure! Tirana is an interesting city to visit - very modern in places and very lively, but with echoes of Albania's dark past as you'll see in my remaining posts.

Victor, we were only there for a weekend so have been back home for a couple of weeks now, but I only just got around to starting to post about our trip!

by ToonSarah

the first day seemed to be a success, so I guess nothing but great times ahead! :)

by Ils1976

Yes, it was a great little city break Ils :)

by ToonSarah

Finally I've got some time to start reading these! Our visit to Albania were so brief that I hardly got any feeling of the place so it is nice to get a re-visit from your point of view!
Lovely looking restaurant! :)

by hennaonthetrek

Thank you Henna :) The restaurant was lovely to look at but proved to be my least favourite of the ones we ate in as far as the food was concerned!

by ToonSarah

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