Lively, colourful Tirana has changed beyond belief in the last decade from the dull, grey city it once was. It’s amazing what a lick of paint can do – covering one ugly tower block with horizontal orange and red stripes, another with concentric pink and purple circles and planting perspective-fooling cubes on its neighbour.
Trendy Blloku buzzes with the well-dressed nouvelle bourgeoisie hanging out in bars or zipping between boutiques. Quite where their money comes from is the subject of much speculation in this economically deprived nation, but thankfully you don’t need much of it to have a fun night out in the city’s many bars and clubs.
The city’s grand central boulevards are lined with fascinating relics of its Ottoman, Italian and communist past – from delicate minarets to socialist murals – guarded by bored-looking soldiers with serious automatic weaponry. The traffic does daily battle with both itself and pedestrians in a constant scene of unmitigated chaos. On any given day half the roads seem to be dug up, although it can be hard to tell where the roadwork ends and the potholes begin.
Loud, crazy, colourful, dirty – Tirana is simply fascinating.
Last updated: Oct 24, 2008
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