e martë, prill 29, 2008

Road Accident.

Driving in Albania can be crazy most of the time...
...and I mean CRAZY!

I don't understand the reason why...
Is it people thinking there is no state, so they drive anyway they want to?
Is it people driving who don't have enough experience?
Is it young people who are too immature to be driving fast cars?
is it people driving after drinking?
Is it just driving too fast?

The number of deaths in road accidents has quadrupled(x4) in the last 5 years.
From January-July 2007 there were 200 deaths on the road - more than one per day.

Unfortunately, many drive so badly, that it is the other drivers that suffer from their bad driving as they have to swerve and avoid them.

There is one thing for sure - there are far too many accidents on the roads!

Yesterday, i was with my wife making our way back to Shkoder from Tirana.
I was directly behind a large bus, and we were crossing a bridge. I must have been driving about 80km/h and I reckon the bus was doing the same speed.

Towards us there was a long line of traffic and I saw I could not pass the bus.
Just then, a white mercedes pulled out of the oncoming traffic and directly in front of the bus. The bus driver had little time to react, and they collided. The car was crushed under the front of the bus.
One woman was killed, and there were 3 other passengers injured as well as 2 small children.

I have no idea why he/she pulled out....but being directly behind the bus, we saw the whole thing.

The Police took ages to come, and the ambulance longer. Most of the victims were already taken away by other drivers to get aid at the nearest hospital.

My thoughts are with the family of the woman who died, and those that are injured.
But also for the bus driver who had nothing that he could have done to avoid the accident.

I am also thankful to God for his care over us yesterday and also for the many times we have travelled on difficult roads.

e hënë, prill 28, 2008

Filing System - Albanian Style

Went to pay the water bill the other day.
This was their filing system.

I pity the poor office worker that has to look through THAT to find a bill!

e shtunë, prill 26, 2008

Large oil find in Albania?

I grew up in Scotland in a fishing town called Aberdeen.
I was a small boy when the oil boom hit and oil was discovered in the North Sea.
Suddenly, everything changed.

The fishing boats moved to a different town.
Aberdeen became the oil capital of Europe.

Almost overnight house prices doubled, as oil workers from the U.S. came to live in Aberdeen. Our local shop was bought and became an American Food Store and none of us locals ever shopped there as it was so expensive - yet it was packed with Americans all day!

Suddenly there were jobs everywhere in the oil business,(and for BIG wages!!) and new firms opening up their offices in Aberdeen.
All this...just because oil was found in the North Sea.

Now oil prices are at a record level of $120US a barrel and it could hit $150US this year!! :-(
(Yes, you better go fill your car up with petrol NOW!)

So what would happen if COMMERCIAL oil or gas was discovered in Albania!?
Now there is a thought!!
I think the problem of foreign investment would be a thing of the past....and every business would be investing as much and as quick as possible in Albania to get cheapest prices before "oil madness" takes over.

DWM, a subsidiary of Manas Petroleum, announced a new exploration project on Monday to refine nine identified prospects of oil and gas reserves in Albania.

"In January, the company announced the find of a vast oil and gas reserve in the north of the country.

The find was based on an independent report compiled by Gustavson Associates LLC on behalf of Manas Petroleum Corporation, which has been awarded a contract by the Albanian government to explore the north for oil and gas reserves.

According to their findings, the unproven reserve holds up to 2.987 billion barrels of oil and 3.014 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

If the oil is capped with a layer of gas, Gustavson calculates the field may total 1.4 billion barrels of light oil and 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

If only gas is present, the reserve is expected to contain 28 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Of the approximately 345 million barrels of oil reserves in the Balkans, 198 million barrels are located in Albania ."

As i say, if this oil or gas is commercial and anywhere near the estimates....then you are going to have SHELL and others keeping a VERY close eye on Albania!!

I just can't get my mind round the figures they are claiming!!
I hope you realise how BIG this could be!

And if these reserves are confirmed at the rates above, then there will be plenty of companies interested in drilling a well to try to get a commercial flow.

Now that would be interesting for Albania!!

You can take a look at Manas website and report on the work here.

e martë, prill 22, 2008

Olta Boka - Zemren e lame peng (Albania Eurovision 2008)

Eurovision is coming….May 20th-24th.
For those who have not yet heard it, here is the Albanian entry for Eurovision Song Contest 2008 in Serbia.
I find that really funny that this years contest is in Serbia.
I wonder how many votes we will get from Serbia?!
I wonder if they will give Kosovo a late entry to participate?! ;-)

Anyway, all the best to Olta.
She is great singer and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this song….except that I think it is not the kind of song that wins the Eurovision Song Contest.

Still she is considered a better chance the the UK and the German entry, so what do I know.

It must be rather disheartening though, to realize that one of the favourites is a singing turkey!!

And they call it a “song” contest!

Rather than waste 3 hours of your life….why not buy “Blood on the Tacks” (click on Listen to samples)by Bob Dylan and give that a listen!

e diel, prill 20, 2008

Computer problems - again!

Sorry, but I have not been posting recently due to computer problems.

A blue screen appeared on the computer telling me I had a hard disk error. In fact it appears that the problem was the motherboard with its connection to the graphics card. It appears to be sorted now, after a week, but they had to re-format the computer. Not only is it working slower now, but I had to re-configure my internet connection and I fear I have not done it properly.
First of all it did not let me open ANY blogspot.com addresses and now it does not open the majority of my web pages, and the connection speed is SLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW.

I will take it back tomorrow to try and sort the connection problem.

Sorry, but I hope to get back posting this week ....sometime.

e premte, prill 11, 2008

Sali Berisha - BBC Hard Talk

Sali Berisha has given an interview on BBC's Hard Talk.

He was questioned on NATO, corruption, Gerdec, pyramid schemes, his relation as doctor to Enver Hoxha and the 2009 elections.

When asked to describe himself he said that he was "a man on a mission!"
As I have said before you either love him or hate him.
Some hope he succeeds in his mission, others would love to send him on a one way mission to the moon...

Among the highlights was his comment that of 71% of people that had said they had paid a bribe during the last year, was "too high!".
I take it he meant the 29% that apparently DID NOT pay the bribe was too high!
I mean - who were those 29%?!
They must have included in the survey, government officials and the workers inside the institutions that obviously don't need to pay the bribe!!

Sorry, but I can't seem to post it to the blog, so you'll just have to click on the link.,

e martë, prill 08, 2008

Airport extension at Rinas.

Glad to hear of further investment to the airport at Rinas. It really has improved down there, and hopefully the extension will encourage further airlines to come to Albania.

Of course, my hope is that with further airlines, the prices will get cheaper. Travelling back to UK with 3 children is not the cheapest thing to do!!

In fact, this summer we are planning to leave through MonteNegro because the prices were cheaper. Living in Shkoder means that the airport at Podgorica is almost the same distance as Rinas...so it gives us this option.
It is not something we want to do...but in the end the price meant it was the most sensible thing to do. It is cheaper to fly Podgorica-Frankfurt-Birmingham-Aberdeen than Tirana-London-Aberdeen.

Less money for Albania , a few more EUROS for Montenegro.

I have e-mailed Easyjet asking them to please consider at least a flight once or twice a week to Albania. I am sure the flights would be packed!!

Here is the article on the airport extension...
EBRD funds Albania airport expansion
7 April 2008
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development will provide funds worth 46 million to Tirana airport for modernisation. The loan includes projects comprising the extension of the new passenger terminal at the Albanian capital’s Mother Teresa International Airport, TIA, constructing additional airport buildings and investments in new equipment and systems, reads a press release. Airport officials say that the extension will increase passenger traffic to 1.5 million a year, a 50 percent rise. “This project is crucially important to Albania’s economic development. The terms of the new loan send a clear and positive message about the state of development of the commercial, political and legal environment for public-private partnerships in Albania,” said Sue Barrett, EBRD Director for Transport. “Its innovative structure makes it a showcase for private-sector investment in medium-sized airport operations in the region. This is a model that could well be replicated elsewhere in south east Europe,” she added. Construction is set to start this summer and be completed by late 2009.

The advantage of being in NATO!

I sarcastically commented on Albania's invitation to join NATO that it means absolutely nothing at all, except Albania will be able to send more troops to Afghanistan.

....and look what i find today....

TIRANA, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Albania would send another two batches of troops to Afghanistan to help train the Afghan army, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha said on Monday.

Berisha said that the tiny western Balkan country would also send an army unit to Darfur, Sudan, to join the peacekeeping forces there.

Albania already has a total of 350 troops in EU-led mission in Bosnia, NATO-led mission in Afghanistan and the U.S.-led forces in Iraq.

"Discussions were underway to increase that by another 100," Berisha said.

Albania, along with Croatia, was formally invited to join NATO at the alliance's summit in Bucharest, Romania, last week.

Welcome to NATO, Albania!

Now for more troops to Iraq and Bosnia!

e shtunë, prill 05, 2008

Watch out for the Train!!

Travelling from Shkoder there is a turn off at Vrak. You have to cross the railway line, but there is very poor visibility.

The video tells the rest of the story!

Welcome to Albania!

e mërkurë, prill 02, 2008


Just back from the hospital with my wife.

She needed (another) operation to remove her wisdom tooth. The tooth was coming in sideways pressing on her jaw.
Hygiene left a lot to be desired at the dentist!
And getting the tooth out with a hammer and "screwdriver" type instrument was a bit barbaric.
This is the second time she needed to get a tooth out like that.
This time I went for moral support....but I got left outside...which was probably just as well because the sound of the hammer was enough to scare me from the dentists for a LONG time!

I try to avoid dentists as much as possible.
The first time I went to the dentist in Albania was in 1996. The fact that the dentist was smoking a cigarette whilst treating me, and his cat was sitting by his instrument tray was a little unusual...but I seemed to have survived!!

Anyway here are some wise words from Robert Burns, the Scottish poet in his "Address to the Toothache."

My curse upon your venom'd stang,
That shoots my tortur'd gums alang,
An' thro' my lug gies mony a twang,
Wi' gnawing vengeance,
Tearing my nerves wi' bitter pang,
Like racking engines!

Ode për dhembjen e dhëmbëve

Pushtove nofullën e tërë,
Sulmove qiellzen me gjilpërë,
Shigjetat nise sërë-sërë,
Më çmende pak nga pak
Dhe me lajthite e më ke bërë
Të sillem si në çark.

Kur barku si me brisk na pret
Dhe kur përdhesi kockat nget
Na mblidhen miqtë rreth e rreth,
Me mall na qajnë hallin,
Ndërsa kur dhëmbi na rrënqeth,
Na qeshin dhe na tallin.

Më mbushet goja me pështymë,
Karriget flak e s'marr dot frymë,
Por fqinjët duke qeshur hyjnë,
Sikur t'i merrte malli
Dhe zbardhin dhëmbët, gazin shfryjnë,
I gudullistë djalli!

Kam parë halle pa mbarim,
Hambarë bosh, tufan, thëllim
Dhe skamje, borxhe dhe mjerim
Nga horra dhe memurë,
Por nuk ka parë trupi im
Si kjo torturë!

Dhe jam i bindur se në ferr
Do shkoj një ditë pa fener
Se Zoti veç atje më merr
Ashtu siç ka vendosur
Por ti do jesh më i madh tmerr
O dhëmb i farmakosur!

Ti, frymë e luftës me rrebesh
Ti, djall me gjemba dhe me lesh,
Që sillesh rrotull midis nesh
Dhe vjen na kap për këmbësh,
Armiqtë e popullit skocez
T'i grish me dhembje dhëmbësh!

e martë, prill 01, 2008

First for Photos

A couple of photos here of Shkoder lake.
Taken from Shiroke looking back across the lake toward Shkoder and the mountains behind.
Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me, so these were taken on my mobile phone.