Monday, 22 October 2012

A very sunny weekend in Tirana

All my preconceived ideas of Tirana have been proven wrong, but I guess part of it, a big part even, may be because of the spectacularly good weather we have been enjoying since we arrived here on Thursday.
The sun is shinning over the dreary old Communist buildings or over the even more scary colourful post-communist buildings.
All buildings are painted like different ice cream flavours - pistachio

The empty Pyramid - falling in disrepair
When the Communist system fall at the end of last century people here decided that they were over the grey igualitik buildings, but they went a bit OTT and some buildings have not stand that well the pass of time, specially some of the colours, everything is a bit like Alice in Wonderland

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Kruja Castle, Albania

During the last few months people has given me funny looks or have just laughed at my face when I have mentioned that I was going on holidays to Albania. At times, if I am completely honest I did wonder if going to Tirana was just that bit too much off the beaten track and that I was going to get bored senseless, argued with my friends or get robed.

Landing in Tirana everyone seem to be proven right, there was a long queue to let all foreigners in and only two bad tempered guards which had decided that stamping your passport was well below their station, I even had to go back to get mine stamped. I have had problems trying to leave countries when I had not been  stamped properly.

However, from that moment on the trip has been a complete treat, amazing views, friendly people and stunning blue skies. We have spent the day visiting Kruja castle which has been fortified since ancient times, and seems to be dedicated to the memory of  Skanderbeg, the local hero / king. To me he looks more like a viking tall and broad that a local Albanian, who are very friendly but short and round.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Wasabi and a lot umbrellas in Andinos Bogota with some social commentary

When I started writing this blog, during my long trip around the world,, 360 days, 360 degrees, I got to know a lot of the markets, this time around I am getting to see a mixture, and the life of those that have, as oppose to the have nots.
Having Sushi on a trendy restaurant near Andinos
Talking with the team in Colombia we all agreed that life for the middle and upper classes is nice and easy in Colombia. For a sector of the middle class life is probably easier here that in the UK.
'Art' with the Andinos Shopping Area

However, below that life is very hard, poverty is still rampant and even in chic and elegant spots as the Andinos shopping area you get glimpses, like the passing of a cart, pulled by squalid horse, as they collect some scrap metal or cans to recycle.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Going to Down to Hell in Bogota or a Mojito in Andres

A little Mojito, or what I like to call a Tapa 

In the lower stages, Infierno = Hell
I had been before  here, during my first visit to Bogota with work, but this time I felt much more comfortable., I guess it makes a big difference knowing the people you are with and actually wanting to be there.
Andres is a strange theme bar, on several floors it is based around the Catholic after life Hell, Heaven and even the intermediate stage the Purgatory.
That is one Big Bib for a Big Messy Boy

You get huge mojitos, huge bibs for those like me that have a tendency to get messy. There is a surreal element that I loved all colourful, a bit like Alice in Wonderland.