I am going to fill you in on some things you should know before traveling to Albania soon enough, but first I wanted to share with you the main reason why I decided to go when I did. A reason that turned out to be more than just a “good idea”, it turned out to be a once in a lifetime travel experience.
Before I even left the station in Macedonia for Albania, I knew that I was in for something special given the amount of energy permeating from the Albanians on the bus. And permeating for good reason – it was November 28th after all, Albanian Independence Day.
Driving into Tirana, I could see why my Albanian friend was adamant that visit during this time. The place was absolutely out of control and it should have been since the country was not only celebrating Independence Day, but its 100th Independence Day. The one hundred years as a nation that Albanians everywhere were commemorating for the entirety of 2012 had FINALLY arrived. And so had I.
November 28th, 2012 turned out to be a day that I will never forget. Massive festivities ended up taking place all around the country with the biggest parties of all happening in Vlorë, where Albania’s declaration of independence happened 100 years ago, and of course Tirana, the capital. It was pure madness from the moment I stepped off the bus until I finally reached my friend’s apartment where even Google was celebrating.
As tired as I was, I knew I had to get down to Skanderberg Square to see all the action that was being broadcast on her TV with my own eyes. Luckily we were right in the center so within three minutes of walking out of her building we were already involved in one of the biggest celebrations to hit Tirana within the last century.
Words can’t describe the sentiment on the streets so I’m hoping that at least these photos and videos will give you an idea. Albanians are extremely proud and patriotic people so it’s not surprising that this Independence Day turned out to be one for the record books. Talk about checking Albania off of My European To Do List in style…
This is a pretty cool video clip if you enjoy zealous political speeches and are interested in hearing about Albania and Kosovo’s plan to join the European Union in the near future.
For once in my travels I actually put myself in the right place at the right time and couldn’t have been more stoked with how it turned out. I may not have seen as much of the rest of Albania as I would have liked on my first visit, but hanging in Tirana for such an important holiday and the days that followed turned out to be pretty damn cool on its own. A travel experience that for sure can’t be duplicated…at least not for another 100 years.