e diel, shtator 30, 2007


Thought there might be some readers that are missing Shkoder...or maybe some that know nothing about it.

Anyway, here for you are some photos from a you tube link from someone called "luckygirl1982", with music from Bujar Qamili. Good work Luckygirl!


e shtunë, shtator 29, 2007

Zef Pllumi

Zef Pllumi died in Rome on the 25 September 2007 (last Tuesday).

He was one of Albania's best known priests of the Catholic church and suffered greatly during the communist era.
Twice he was imprisoned. Once for 3 years and again in 1967 for a further 23 years.

In 2006 he was given the title "Nderi i kombit" from the then President, Alfred Mosiu.

e premte, shtator 28, 2007

Never forget what happened here! (John Paul II 1993)

Here is an extract from an interesting article on the influence of Catholicism in Albanian culture.
It is well worth reading in full.

"This is a people whose greatest national hero, Skanderbeg, defended the Christian faith, sword in hand—a people whose outstanding modern ideal was Mother Teresa, and a people who gave so many creative minds and martyrs to the Church. They must not be forgotten. We in the West must remember the promise made by John Paul II that we would act speedily and generously to help restore Albanian Catholic culture."

e enjte, shtator 27, 2007

Coca Cola or Fanta ?

Some things in Albania are known by the producers name. Much like in the U.K. we call all makes of vacuum cleaner "a hoover". The Albanians call a satellite dish "Sharp", or lemonade " Coca-Cola".

Many times each week i shop at "Supermarket Merxhani". The shopkeeper , Merxhani, was well known all over Shkoder.
Most days I would buy a bottle of Coca Cola. The conversation went as follows...
"A bottle of Coca Cola please",
Merxhani would reply, " E zeze apo e verdhe?" ("Black or yellow?" i.e. Coca-Cola or Fanta?)
I would reply, " E zeze " ("Black")
It did not matter that every day I bought Coca-Cola...Merxhani still would ask me the same question.

One day i decided to get him NOT to ask me that question. So I entered the shop and asked for a bottle of Fanta.
Merxhani replied, " E zeze apo e verdhe?" ("Black or yellow?")

We miss Merxhani!

e mërkurë, shtator 26, 2007

Pope to visit Albania

Pope John Paul II with Sali Berisha 1993

During a recent trip to Rome , Pope Benedict XVI accepted an invitation from prime Minister Sali Berisha to visit Albania.

Pope John Paul II was the last pope to visit in 1993.

I would imagine that any visit, would include a trip to Shkoder.

e martë, shtator 25, 2007

Buying property in Albania

Recently the centre pages of the Sunday Times in the UK, carried a property page advertising new apartments in Albania.

At the same time, I heard Rick Stein in a cookery programme on the BBC claiming that within 10 years " we will all be buying property in Albania".

It is true, house prices are rising daily. In some cases they have increased 3 times in price within a year!

I would just like to offer some advice as one who has bought land, and an apartment in Albania.

1) Be very careful as to who the owner of the land is. Many houses and apartments have been built without permission. You may end up buying land/property from someone that has paperwork, but does not own the land!

2) Take great care even when the owner is known. Sometimes the whole family(i.e. everyone over the age of 16 years) needs to sign the papers, or else they are not valid.

3) Even if you are buying a new apartment be very careful.
Are all the documents correct?
We bought a new apartment but the owner reduced the floor space making numerous changes to the original plans.
We paid for the apartment and ended up in a dispute over water asnd electricity. The owner had not made a contract with the electricity firm and it left us 2 months without electricity!

4) Someone needs to overlook the Albanian workmen. Usually they get quality work on the outside, and pay cheap labour to do all the work on the inside. This needs to be checked daily!

5) Never pay until you have ALL the documents. I sold an apartment here, went to the bank, arranged with the manager that we return and get the money transferred to my account. I then completed all documentation at the notary office. When we finished at the notary office the buyer told me that the money in the bank was not his, it was his employers and that he could not pay me!

6) Get a good lawyer! (Albanian one)

e enjte, shtator 20, 2007

New Pyramid Scheme in Albania

This seems to be the new "pyramid scheme" in Albania - a human pyramid for putting up scaffolding on a building site!

Everyone is buidling in Albania. I just hope that their safety measures are better than we see here.

I know a builder and he recently bought safety belts for his workmen to use on the roof of the building he is working on. The shopkeeper told him that it was the first time in 15 years that anyone had ever bought them!

e martë, shtator 18, 2007

Albanians Rediscover God, If Not Old-Time Religion

Please see the following link for a very good article from the Washington Post on religion in Shkoder. (Article dated 4 April 2007)

Higher religion in Albania?

Photo of the view from my apartment

Lord Byron once wrote,
"Land of Albania! let me bend mine eyes
On thee, thou rugged nurse of savage men!
The cross descends, thy minarets arise,
And the pale crescent sparkles in the glen,
Through many a cypress grove within each city’s ken."

Childe Harold's Pilgramage

I don't know what Byron would write now - one thing is for certain, he would not say that the cross descends!
When I arrived in Albania in 1995 the mosque was just opening. I remember speaking to a young boy who was very enthusiastic. He told me that the minarets of the mosque were taller than the "kisha e madhe" ( big Catholic cathedral in Shkoder). A few years later, the Catholics rebuilt the clock/bell tower that had been knocked down in 1967. It was taller than the minarets. The Franciscan church has now built a large bell tower with an illuminated cross at the top, which shines down over the town.
I wait to see what is built next!!

e diel, shtator 09, 2007


This is my first blog on life in Shkoder, Albania.
I am from Scotland, but am now living in Shkoder.

Shkoder is a small town in the north of Albania close to the border with Montenegro.

The town is roughly 50% Roman catholic and 50% muslim.

This is a photo of a statue of Mother Teresa opposite the mosque on the main street.