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Albania

Closed to outsiders for much of the 20th Century, Albania is situated on the Southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula, is a small country with Adriatic and Ionian coastlines and an interior crossed by the Albanian Alps.  You'll discover its fascinating history and natural beauty, as well as mouth-watering Mediterranean cuisine, remnants of ancient Greek and Roman sites, and crumbling castles that stood as witness to countless battles throughout Albania's history. 

Tirana, Albania's capital, has undergone an amazing transformation since awaking from its communist slumber in the early 1990s and is well worth a visit.  At its centre you'll find sprawling Skanderbeg Square, named after the Albanian national hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu.  It is also the site of the National History Museum, with exhibits spanning antiquity to post-communism, and frescoed Et’hem Bey Mosque.  The total area is about 40.000 square metres with the Skanderbeg Monument dominating the square.

Albanians have maintained some wonderful cultural quirks, such as, when they nod Albanians mean 'no' and when they shake their head they mean 'yes'. All of this will make for some amusing attempts to try and break through the language barrier. Some towns will also grind to a halt in the early evening, when everyone comes out for xhiro. Basically, it's a traditional constitutional walk at the end of the day where Albanians will enjoy the company of their friends and talk about the day they have had.

Other must-see places to visit in Albania include the UNESCO-listed Berat, aka ‘the town of a thousand windows’, The northern capital of Shkoder which is thought to be one of the oldest cities in Europe and Kruja, just north of Tirana and home of national hero Skanderbeg.

                              

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