Albania

The road across the mountain from Kosovo to Montenegro felt like one of the longest I had ever travelled. It was narrow, twisty and seemed like it would never end. The only thing it had going for it was a complete lack of traffic, not a single car did I see. It took most of the day to do the short distance across the mountain then the road opened out a bit, becoming much easier before I reached Podgorica. There was still a week or so before I had to head for the Horizons Unlimited meetup in Montenegro, so after spending the night in Podgorica I headed south across the border into Albania.

I had heard lots of stories about driving in Albania, until the fall of communism in 1990 few Albanians owned a car so it was a new adventure for them. However, from my admittedly limited experience in driving the 150Km from Podgorica in Montenegro to the Albanina capital of Tirana it was not too bad. I had seen far worse from the Italians, who keep their place firmly at the top of my list of worst drivers in Europe.

If no one owned a car before the 90’s then they hadn’t wasted any time since catching up with the rest of the world. Traffic was busy just like everywhere, and Tirana didn’t seem any different to any other capital. I found a room to stay for the night and set off for a quick look around and something to eat.

A common site in Albania are the bunkers, built in the 70’s and early 80’s, thousands of them litter the country. One such bunker in the centre of Tirana forms the entrance to BUNK’ART 2 and leads down to a series of rooms documenting the history of the Albanian Ministry of Internal Affairs from 1912 to 1991 and reveals some of the secrets of the Sigurimi, the political police during the regime of communist head of state Enver Hoxha.

Cameras looking through walls and bugs in broom handles, ashtrays and clocks

There are some ingenious high tech (for the time) spying devices used to keep tabs on the population as well as some very depressing displays of torture methods. It’s quite sobering to think this was all going on in living memory.

Share