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Tirana, The Beating Heart of Albania

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It's time to bid goodbye to Kosovo and travel to the southwest border which is Albania. Albania is a small country in the Balkans Peninsula on the Adriatic and Ionian Sea within the Mediterranean Sea. The capital city, Tirana is the city I'm intend heading to from Pristina. There is no rail connection to Tirana and hence, the ideal option is by taking bus. 

2019 Bus Pristina To Tirana
#1: Bus from Pristina to Tirana

From Pristina Bus Station, search for the bus with the sign to Tirana. The bus ticket can be bought from the ticket counter on the same day of your departure time. If you like to know more about the bus schedule between Pristina and Tirana, you can check out here but it's in Albanian. A single journey costs €10.50 and the ride takes nearly 4.5 hours. 

2019 Albania Tirana Bus Station
#2: Tirana Temporary Bus Terminal for international bound lines - Behind a sport centre (Pallati Sportit Asllan Rusi)

Before reaching Tirana, I did my research from Wikitravel (the site I always rely on for almost all my trips), it stated that Tirana doesn't have any permanent bus stations like the rest of the cities and the bus driver might simply drop the passengers at various location. Too be honest, I was quite worry and anxious as I was all alone by myself. Thankfully, the bus stopped behind a sport centre (Pallati Sportit Asllan Rusi) which is about 25 minutes of walking to the hostel I booked in Tirana and it's near Skanderbeg Square. It's just a temporary bus terminal for international bound lines cause there are other bus terminals for the domestic line. Sounds confusing right? Therefore always be prepared with offline map which can be downloaded from Google Map. 

2019 Albania Currency - Lek
#3: Banknotes and coin of Albania

The official currency of Albania is lek, though Euro is widely accepted. However, I would recommend to exchange to lek as you'll get better deal. Albanian is a closed currency, which means it can't be exchanged outside the country. It's wise to exchange them, or spend them before exit the country. 

€1 = 123 lek

2019 Albania Tirana Hostel Taipei 101
#4: Love the way they decorate the wall - filled with postcards from the countries that the owners been. 

2019 Albania Tirana Hostel Taipei 101 - Dorm
#5: A female dormitory room with 6 bunk beds

Hostel Taipei 101 Tirana
Date Stayed: 19 April - 21 April 2019 (2 nights)
Room Rate: €16 for a bed in 6-bed female dormitory room for 2 nights (Booked from Booking.com)

The hostel I stayed in Tirana is kinda special and unique to me cause it was owned and managed by a Taiwanese couple. Hence, they named their hostel as Taipei 101 - which it's pretty obvious. The lady owner is significantly attentive and friendly and you can't imagine how happy I was that time cause finally I can communicate with someone for more than an hour, especially in Mandarin language and also exchanged our almost similar culture. Both of the owners are also world travellers and they have been to more than 70 countries before decide to settle down in Albania. One of the reasons is because the living expenses in Albania is pretty cheap compare to the rest of European countries. What an interesting life they have but for me, I still prefer to live in Malaysia. No matter how many countries I've been, no matter which country that capture my heart, still Malaysia is always the place I want to live and stay forever. 

2019 Albania Tirana Mural Art
#6: Fascinating mural art of Tirana

Tirana is relatively small enough to be explored by walking. However, be cautious while walking around Tirana because the pathway is not well maintained and some have large holes due to the heavy construction and development.  

From my hostel, I walked to the one of the oldest and most historical residential neighborhood in the city which locally known as Pazari i Ri and it takes approximately of 15 minutes walking. My intention of visiting here is to catch a glimpse of the local market where there are more than 300 farmers selling various of items; from fresh fruits, local vegetables, daily products, seafood and even spices. Besides being a marketplace, there are countless of bars and restaurants too. Probably because it's was weekday by the time I was there, it was quiet and not busy as I thought. Maybe it's best to come and visit during the weekend. 

2019 Albania Tirana Fish & Meat Market
#7: Pazari i Ri - a marketplace in Tirana 

2019 Albania Tirana Fridge Magnets
#8: Look! I found magnets here.

Skanderbeg Square
You might have come across the name of this square before from my Pristina post but Skanderbeg Square of Tirana is the nerve centre and symbolic site for the country. Locally known as Sheshi Skenderbej, the square is the ideal place to start witnessing Tirana's daily goings-on. The square is named after the Albanian national hero and his statue is built in the middle of the square.

2019 Albania Tirana Skanderbeg Square 1
#9: A statue of Albanian hero Skanderbeg stands in the square with the Albanian flag on the side.

2019 Albania Tirana Skanderbeg Square 2
#10: Government building featuring Italian architecture

2019 Albania Tirana Skanderbeg Square 3
#11: National History Museum

Actually there are more attractions in Tirana where you can include in your itinerary such as BUNK'ART, an underground anti atomic place but it's located in the outskirt of Tirana which you might need to spare few days in Tirana. Though I stayed in Tirana for 2 nights, I didn't manage to visit BUNK'ART cause I have other plan in my mind. And if you are into mountain scenery, you can consider heading to Mount Dajti National Park and riding on the cable car.

#12: Tirana is where the old and new Albania meet

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