Notes on Traveling Through Tirana

When doing research on flying to Rome, I discovered it was going to be much cheaper for me to leave from Tirana, Albania than Pristina.

At first, I considered renting an airbnb in Tirana the night before my flight. But then I would have to spend time/money getting back out to the Tirana airport (which is 18 kilometers outside the city center). Also, the bus from Pristina to Tirana stops at the airport on its way into downtown Tirana.

I had United Airline miles that were set to expire soon, so I decided to use them to book a room at the Hotel Airport Tirana. My cost for the room was only 16 Euro, after I used my miles.

***

As my bus crossed the border from Kosovo into Albania, I looked out the window and thought, “Albania is so beautiful.” A second later, someone coughed on me.

***

There isn’t much to do by the Tirana airport. I bought some snacks and spent the afternoon reading on my balcony (a fine way to begin a vacation, by the way). When I got hungry, I debated ordering room service. I’m not keen on eating in restaurants alone when I don’t have to, but room service is generally expensive. I’ve only ever taken one business trip (to Nashville, TN), and that was the last time I ordered room service. The fee was something like $16. Sixteen dollars is an obscene amount of money to order a mediocre cheeseburger, even if someone else is paying for it.

I called the front desk, and learned that the fee for room service at the Hotel Airport Tirana is 1.50 Euro.

WHAT?! SEND IT UP!

I ended up getting two room service meals during my stay, and the total cost for food + fees was 11 Euro. (Oh, Eastern Europe, how I love thee!) I got to eat dinner in my pajamas! In bed! 🙂

So, my total cost for traveling through Tirana, Albania was 10 Euro for the bus, 16 Euro for the hotel, 11 Euro for room service, and probably 3 or so Euro for snacks. (Free breakfast was included in the price of my room.) The 40 Euro I spent (plus my 70 Euro flight) was still significantly cheaper than flying to Rome from Pristina.

tirana airport
The airport view from my balcony

The Tirana airport is across the street from the hotel, which makes this the only time in my life I have ever walked to catch a flight. 🙂

The Accursed Mountains

Last week, in a post about Istog, Kosovo, I mentioned Albania’s Accursed Mountains. One of my blog readers (hi, Mindyandy!) asked about the name.

The Accursed Mountains (or Bjeshkët e Namuna in Shqip [Albanian]) got their name because of their massiveness and density. My friend Ingrid wrote this guest blog post about her adventures hiking in Albania.

You could see the craggy peaks of the Albanian Alps in the distance. They looked imposing. Another name for them is the Accursed Mountains. This part of Albania is known for its rugged isolation, both of the environment and its native people, and until recently, few outsiders ventured there.— Ingrid Lantz

Albania (well, all of the Balkans) has a varied history. A book that’s on my to-read list (I first saw it in a bookstore in Tirana, Albania) is Albania’s Mountain Queen.

albania-mountain-queen

Here’s a description from Amazon:

Young ladies in the Victorian and Edwardian eras were not expected to travel unaccompanied, and certainly not to the remote corners of Southeast Europe, then part of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. But Edith Durham was no ordinary lady. In 1900, at the age of 37, Durham set sail for the Balkans for the first time, a trip which changed the course of her life. Her experiences kindled a profound love of the region which saw her return frequently in the following decades. She became a confidante of the King of Montenegro, ran a hospital in Macedonia and, following the outbreak of the First Balkan War in 1912, became one of the world’s first female war correspondents. Her popularity in the region earned her the affectionate title ‘Queen of the Mountains’ and she is fondly remembered in Albania until this day. Marcus Tanner here tells the fascinating story of Durham’s relationship with the Balkans, painting a vivid portrait of a remarkable, if sometimes formidable, woman.

The book was nearly 30 Euro at the bookstore, so I didn’t buy it. But once I track down a (hopefully cheaper) copy and read it, I’ll post a review.

I hope this post answered your question, Mindyandy!

If anyone is interested to learn more about Albania, here are some links to previous blog posts I’ve written: