5 May

When asked during a drinking game in Hostel Albania, Tirana, if I knew any famous Albanians, I couldn’t think of any, except Zinedine Zidane, and he’s Algerian / French. While my team sipped their beverages dutifully at my incorrect answer, the staff team answered their own question; Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, a.k.a the infamous Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta. Who was born in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia… which is really Albania. Or Greece. Or Serbia. Or a mixture. Or actually no, it’s Macedonia, depending on who you talk to. But we didn’t get into it, we swallowed our finger of raki, martini, beer and white wine and thought of a different question. Everyone understood, drinking games and international politics go together like raki, martini, beer and white wine.

We hung out in Tirana’s trendy cafe and bar block, previously a gated community for the communist-era hierarchy. I was a difficult customer at the top of the ritzy Sky Tower, sending my French Twist cocktail back twice to be remade with much less lemon juice (there really was way too much lemon juice, one could hardly taste the Gran Marnier). We ate qoshte (sausage) sandwiches and drank beer next to the castle ruins late at night and early in the day. The food markets near Hostel Albania were brilliant. All sorts of olives for 1.5euros a kilo. Tonnes of fresh produce; fish, meat, cheeses, nuts and veg. An Italian deli owner took a shine to us and gave us a big slab of strong Italian cheese. Axelle lost a race and had to buy, cook and clean dinner for us both. Tirana was a good time.


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