Author's quotes in bold.
My comments in italics.
The book opens with the authors arriving in Durres and travelling to Tirana although there were not too many cars to travel in…
“Don’t stay in Durrazo (Durres). There’s nothing to stop for in Durrazo unless you want to sketch the old walls that the Venetians made…”
I find that funny. First impressions really do last, and this is the last of Durres that we hear about - yet they really seem to like some other places e.g. Elbasan.
My first impression of Albania was arriving near midnight in March 1994, staying in an apartment in Kombinat with serious damp problems! , and sleeping on an old communist style couch.
Still, I fell in love with Albania.
Next morning I had a beautiful breakfast of warm Albanian bread and “çaj mali” (mountain tea...though i think it is more of a medicinal plant boiled in hot water)
As a capital Tirana was hardly impressive. It looked at first to us like the bazaar part of an Eastern city, but which had lost its city. Rows upon rows of meagre houses hollowed out into shops and hot with the tired heat of the end of a languid afternoon. There were 3 hotels…” all were full and the reason…” The parliament is sitting. Deputies are sleeping two in a bed.” Sorry but that last sentence makes me laugh! We can’t get 2 deputies now to agree on anything let alone share a bed!
In the end Tirana pleased us well in its way. It was an excellent town from our points of view. Essentially we are lazy travellers. Give us a decently warm climate, a chair outside any too respectable café, a refreshing drink and tobacco and we will sit and sit for hours on end, cheerfully contemplate.” You can begin to realise why they enjoyed Albania!
“And for the evening’s amusement there were two cafes where gypsy orchestras played queer and thrilling music, and where gypsy girls danced the most trivial and uninspiring dances that it has ever been out lot to witness.”
For all its Parliament, Albania is an autocracy, a tyranny, to use the word in its Greek sense, and about all a deputy can do is to job jobs in the civil service, the police or the army.”
5a.m. they left Tirana…
“Tirana still slept. All her political aspirations, jealousies, quarrels, intrigues were numb for a few hours. And how sweet the air tasted.”
Tomorrow they travel on down ( or should that be up and over into Elbasan)
Please see here for more information on Jan and Cora Gordon.