More Tirana

Nightlife in Tirana also looks a lot like in western cities. It’s cooler in the evening and people fill the numerous caf├ęs, especially in Tirana’s new hip party district, Blloku. That means “block” and it was reserved for the communist party elite. They didn’t seem to have seen the contradiction in this term.

Joined a walking tour to get some local background. Albania went from a totally isolated stone-age communist open-air prison to democracy in 1991, and it was not easy for the older generation. Suddenly they had unheard-of new things, like bananas, Coca Cola, banks, money instead of vouchers, supermarkets, and cars. (Driving licenses came later.) People started calling all these new things “banana” and proudly placed empty Coca Cola bottles on their mantelpieces. The younger generation caught on very quickly.

Today Albanian identity – according to the guide – is defined by four things: the country, the language, driving a Mercedes, and raki schnapps.