Albania – The Low Down Adventure
I don’t think I’ve ever written a Low Down as a love letter – not to a person I met or to a country. But when I sit to write about Albania… everything in me says that it’s a love story.
Love is hard for me to describe but I feel it all the time when discovering new places, tastes, and smells. The word love is sprinkled heavy in most of my writing. I love to love. And in Albania – I fell hard and big. It was fast and I never wanted the trip to end. It’s the type of love that inspires.
When you have no expectations, you let love happen naturally. You don’t get disappointed because there’s nothing stuck in your mind to disappoint. You aren’t making comparisons, you aren’t wishing for something, that thing, to happen.
After a few days of puttering in Tirana, I hired a driver for the weekend. We drove from Tirana to the historic settlement of Butrint, making time to stop at (almost) every beach along the Albanian Riviera. After that? Continued south to hit as much of the coastline as I could possibly squeeze in. The water so blue, so clear, so clean… but it wasn’t just the beaches that blew my mind. The views driving over the pass down to the Riviera – stunning. So much so that I kept stopping along the way so I could snap one more photo… one more… ok, one last photo.
Road trippin’ is so important to RAD AND HUNGRY – it totally fuels us. It’s how we get to experience the unfiltered, non-touristy stuff that makes our low-down travel what it is. The people selling goods along the road, the fruit stands, the homie laying on a lazy-boy along the highway, reading his newspaper while basking in the sun. The men pushing wheelbarrows full of corn, sharin’ the road with semis plus the occasional horse-drawn carriage… the farmers herding their sheep and cows… the people gathered at unmarked stops waiting for buses that don’t operate on a set schedule… the old-school mixed with the new. The architecture random and massive, the big chunky buildings swallowed up by massive fields.
Everywhere I looked – be it in a city, town, or a barely-there hamlet that you’ll miss if you blink – everywhere we drove past, there were half-built buildings and homes. Abandoned? Nah – the homes were almost always occupied. I kept asking people why homes were built this way. What I learned? Albanians build the foundation and the number of floors they aspire to build out – even though they can only afford to build out the main floor right now. Intentionally half-built. Glass half-empty or half-full?
Neither, really. It’s the Albanian way. What’s the opposite of a ghost town? A skeleton town? But what if it has a heart? Because that’s how Albania feels to me. Emerging, bare bones, surviving, heart beating, BIG hugs and smiles. Dream up, dream big.