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Albania

Albania is a poor country, in comparison to the rest of Europe. It became a communist country at the end of World War II. Not only did it isolate itself from western Europe, but it also did not have any contact or relations with China, the USSR or, even, Yugoslavia. In 1992, when their long-time leader, Hoxha, died, the communist party relinquished its power and the country became a multi-party democracy.

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Attractions

The Mediterranean climate of the southern coast attracts many tourists. Whether you just like lying on sandy beaches with turquoise waters or actively participating in water sports, this is the place for you. One of the most popular cities along this stretch of sandy beaches is Vlore. You can check out more of what Vlore has to offer here.

Albania is also the home of many castles. There is the Skanderbeg Castle in Kruje, the Rozafa castle in Shkodra, the Petrela Castle near Tirana, and the castle of Berat.

For the history nut in the family, you can go to Palasa. This is the village where Julius Caeser had rested his army in the Pursuit of Pompey. This village is very clean and has nice beaches and plenty of beautiful scenery. There aren’t any hotels, but apartments are cheap to rent. Palasa lies in the municipality of Himara.

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Local Food & Drink

Albanian cuisine is very similar to Turkish cuisine. Due to the climate, grapes and olives are able to be grown. Tomatoes, onions and potatoes are other vegetables commonly found in Albanian food. Lamb is the most common of the meats found in Albania. Expect to be eating it with every meal. Albania is also known for its cheeses. The predominant type of cheese is feta. There is a feta similar to the Greek style but many others to choose from as well. One of the local specialties is Byrek. This is a savory pie. It can be filled with onion and beef or spinach and cheese. Baklava is also quite popular in Albania.

The popular drink in Albania is raki. Raki is produced in other countries (such as Turkey), but the Albanians are the only ones who make it with mulberry and plums. Beer and wine are also quite popular. The ingredients and tastes of all three drinks vary dramatically from area to area so plan to try out as many as you can. A non-alcoholic drink known as boza was created in Albania. It is a sweet drink made from corn and is quite popular with the locals, but also has the popularity of being the best boza in the world.

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Safety

In Albania “guests” are highly revered so foreigners are hardly targeted however, it is good to take the usual precautions one would while going on vacation as some pick pocketing can occur. When you’re in Albania make sure to drink bottled or potted water. During the summer be careful of what you eat as there is generally poor refrigeration when it comes to food. While at the beach, you may want to wear shoes in the water as there can be broken glass and sea urchins (you don’t want to step on either). Also, Albanians are smokers. If you don’t like cigarette smoke, this might be something to consider before planning your trip here. In Albania, stores are closed from 12 noon to 4 p.m. so if you think you are headed somewhere that may require a first aid kit, make sure to pick one up at a pharmacy in the morning.